April 29, 2020
This is why this worldwide pandemic has knocked us so far off our game. It feels like we’ve been stripped of all control. I’m talking to business owners every day. Some have lost a significant portion of their business. Others are busier than ever and hiring. And yet — they’re all panicked at precisely the same level. Everyone is feeling like they’re on a fault line, just waiting for the earthquake. They don’t know when or if it will come or how powerful it will be. And so, they assume the worst and get paralyzed.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You’re actually in total control. You may not control all of the variables, but what you do control is the final result. You possess everything you need to guide your organization to the other side.
You need five mini-plans of action. But before we get into the mini-plans, let’s agree on some truths.
Truth #1: Here’s the most important truth that I think you need to internalize and whisper to yourself when you feel the fear creeping in. You’re going to be fine. You’ll be able to keep feeding your family. You’re not going to lose your house. You may have to completely reinvent how you go to market or who you serve — but you’re good at this.
Truth #2: You can’t control how long this crisis will last, how your clients will react, who will be ready to buy, or how your team will respond. But we can manage our way around them. You’ve been doing it for years.
Truth #3: This crisis is going to shine a blinding light on all the places within your business that have flaws and cracks. You can wallow in the brokenness, or you can be grateful for the insight and fix what needs to be fixed.
Truth #4: You can shed the malaise and get to work today. Or next month. The only difference will be how many competitors got out ahead of you. Don’t give away your advantage by staying stuck for too long.
Here are the mini-plans I suggest you have in place within the next few weeks:
Operational/financial plan: How will you get the work done on time and on budget? Then, determine the minimum acceptable profit margin for your business and manage your way to never dipping below it.
Team plan: How will you keep them motivated, efficient, profitable, and striving to serve each other and your clients?
Client plan: You need to proactively guide each client into a position of readiness so that when they can step back in — they’re ready and more prepared than their competitors.
Prospect plan: What can you talk about that will be valuable, based on what your prospects are ready to hear at any given moment in time.
Vision of the future plan: What parts of normal are worth rushing back to, and what could/should be different? How do you get even better?
With every one of these plans — you get to set the course. I’m not saying any of this is going to be easy or without sacrifice. But what I am saying, as loudly and clearly as I can, is that you can do this. You don’t need one thing more than what you have right now.
And how we show up right now as leaders both internally and externally is the most critical marketing we can do right now.
Originally published in The Des Moines Business Record as part of Drew’s weekly column series.