Tips for Entrepreneurs in Tough Times

Let's face it, we're all at the helm of business in good times and in bad, and we're often turned to when times get tough to have answers, to affect change in the right direction, now.

 

Most business owners have seen a lot up until now; I started my career just as the twin towers came down on 9/11. We've seen SARS, MERS, H1N1, and the last meltdown of 2008, and here we are, at another crossroads where we're expected to have answers to...

 

What do we do now?

From a business perspective, having a business for our customers and employees to come back too must become a priority. Our companies are all essential, essential to our families, essential to our customers, essential to our employees. In the past 20 years, many of us, including me, have done well through adversity we didn't create, we've put other family's children through school, we've paid mortgages and put food on the table for other. Business is all too often boiled down to supply and demand, missing all of the details that make a company great. We're leaders of our teams, servers of our customers.

 

Our next step is the survival of ourselves, our mental states, and business operations so we can continue contributing to society in ways we're often vilified for instead of celebrated. In the good times, we are vilified for being disproportionately successful; in the bad times, we are vilified for making cuts to survive. Our fulfillment must come from the same source that our success came from, never giving up, never throwing in the towel.

 

During this stoppage, we need to fight once again to promote slowing down, not stopping. Instead of leaps and bounds, let's focus on those inches. Let's focus on our core clients and learn who they are, not just who they are to us. Let's become an essential part of our clients' lives.

 

How do we become essential to our clients?

 

Many of us haven't been expanding during this pandemic; many are folding altogether. What we built was built on a foundation of the last great decade, and that wasn't a good litmus test for strain. Now we're strained, and orders have been canceled.

 

Our contacts may not have been in the upper echelon of their company, as we are in our own companies. As entrepreneurs we need to focus on other entrepreneurs, our clients are just like us at the core, you may have been working with a Brand Manager, it's time to work with the Director of Marketing. We may have been working with the Property Manager, now is the time to work with the Property Owner.

 

We need to create marketing communications that appeal to the Directors, the C-Level, the Proprietors. During good times, these business leaders have been removed from the day-to-day to focus on management. By leaning out their companies, these leaders are now micro-focusing on their business and the operating essentials. Marketing communications need to communicate our "Why" instead of our "What." Instead of "I sell X because X makes Y work for $19.99," messaging needs to shift to "I sell X because X makes business an essential part of your customer's lives by fulfilling X, Y, and Z." We need to take a micro-focus of the big picture and analyze and fulfill all of the steps of our customer's journey.

 

How do we focus in a time like this?

When everyone looks to us as leaders, it's challenging to handle; I know it just as well as you do. I don't have all of the answers, although this has happened before, it's rare, and we often forget the strategies that brought us through difficult times. When the chips stacked against us, we saw the wave of doubt coming, but we survived just fine. 2008 is a distant memory, but remember that feeling? Similar to now, right? Yup. It absolutely sucked, this absolutely sucks, but one thing I can guarantee is this will end, we will move on and become more robust and even more resilient if we focus. This pandemic is a challenger like we haven't seen in over a decade, but instead of despair, you can feel those hairs standing up on the back of your neck, and the determination that got you through that will get you through this.

 

Look at this as an opportunity to go back in time to a decade ago and teach a younger you, everything you have learned to this point, and rewrite your business with the hindsight you now have.