“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
I could pretend that the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t going on right now and write about some obscure strategy development technique, but that would be disingenuous. The reality is that, at least where I live, the virus situation has taken over our whole lives. No school, businesses closed, no other cars on the road – it’s surreal.
In situations like this it’s easy to think the sky is falling, or that nothing will ever be normal again, or life as we know it has ended, or this is the end of civilization. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by suggesting there will be no negative consequences. No one can predict the future, but I can do math, and I’m having a hard time coming up with any math that doesn’t mean challenging times are here to stay for at least a while.
What I would say is that humans have experienced things like this before. There have been diseases, and wars, and natural disasters, and all kinds of terrible things. All of those huge negative events have an impact. The one thing they all have in common is that after those things were over, humans were still around and we eventually figured out a way to thrive. And we will this time, too.
So in the context of your business, how can you prepare yourself to thrive in the midst of chaos? Start by making sure your mind is in the right place. With all the uncertainty we’re living with, it’s easy to be anxious and stressed. Some of that’s unavoidable, but make sure you manage it. If you need help, go get it. Stay in touch with people who give you energy, even if it needs to be digital-only communication.
What might your business do differently? Think about possible scenarios. It’s possible your business might only be impacted slightly by this crisis. What would you do then? It’s possible your business might be impacted somewhat seriously. Then what? How might you work through that? It’s possible this crisis might push your business to the brink of extinction. How might you fight back? What drastic steps that previously would have seemed outrageous might be called for?
Think about your customers. What are they thinking now, and what might they be thinking when this is over? What might their unique challenges be, and how might you help them address those challenges?
At this point no one can reasonably tell you what’s going to happen next. Every day seems like a flurry of new, most of it bad. Just remember that at some point we’ll come out the other side. Will you be ready?