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How to Make Small Business Decisions During Coronavirus

“51% Say Their Business Will Only Be Able To Operate For 0-3 Months”

“Coronavirus Cases Double in Two Days”

“Stock Market has Worst Week in 11 Years”

How do these news headlines affect our thinking? Our feelings? Our actions?

COVID-19 has impacted NiceJob and other small businesses, like yours, in ways we could never have imagined.

But it is possible for our small businesses to not only endure this, but to come out of this stronger than they’ve ever been.

So how are we going to do that? We don’t have all the answers but...

There is one fundamental principle that can mean the difference between success and failure for every business weathering this Coronavirus pandemic:

Our thoughts lead to feelings, and our feelings lead to actions.

What we think about determines how we feel and how we feel determines how we act.

The information we consume online, including social media and news reports, will directly affect our ability as small business owners to survive this economic downturn.

Being informed is vital for all of us that operate a small business. The danger lies in reports designed to trigger emotional responses rather than logical ones.

When enough of these emotional triggers are consumed, they begin to change our feelings. We start to see a rise of doubt, anxiety and fear.

These 3 emotions result in decision paralysis.

Interestingly, the human reflex to this trio of feelings is to continue feeding these emotions with whatever information validates them.

The result? At the very moment our small business needs us more than ever, we lose our ability to effectively run it.

What’s the solution?

We take charge of our thinking

1. Source accurate information:
We need to do our best to find accurate sources of information about coronavirus. Don’t skim read. Don’t be satisfied looking at colorful data visualization charts or reading opinion pieces.

Dig deep. Get a real understanding of this pandemic, and how it’s impacting your world. For almost all of us this type of in-depth research and critical thinking won’t be the reflex reaction. This takes time, effort and objectivity.

2. Really understand how Coronavirus is affecting your business:
Next, we need to understand how Coronavirus is affecting our business today, and how it will likely affect our business tomorrow. This requires first principles thinking.

Try this exercise:

Take a piece of paper and list the root causes of the challenges your business is facing due to this pandemic. Ensure that you’re looking for causes not symptoms.

For example, if lost revenue is a symptom, work to discover what the potential cause(s) may be:

  • Are customers no longer comfortable with the service we offer? If so, what makes them feel that way? Are the reasons different for different customers?
  • Does our service have less value to customers than it did prior to the outbreak of Coronavirus? If so, why?
  • Are our customers no longer able to afford our service?
  • Do local restrictions prevent us from providing our service? Does it restrict everything we provide or just a subset of our services?

Before we start looking for solutions, we need to truly understand the cause(s) of the problems, not just the symptoms.

We focus on solutions

Only once we understand the problem, we can begin looking for solutions. Making the conscious decision that we’re going to find solutions creates the emotions that lead to success: confidence, hope and joy.

These emotions have the very opposite impact of doubt, anxiety and fear. They move us to make good decisions and act on them.

Don’t enter the solution space on your own. This is the time to take advantage of our communities.

Search out other proactive problem solvers in our industry. Join conversations with them focused around solutions for the specific problems we’re facing.

A word of caution, if the conversation fosters anxiety, doubt or fear - stay away. Find like minded individuals that are looking for real solutions.

And then start looking for those solutions.

Like with our problem space, it helps to visualize this.

Try this exercise:

Take a piece of paper and write down every potential solution that you or the community can come up with for the problems you're facing. Remember, make sure the solutions solve the cause of the problem, not the symptom.

Using our above example, don’t look for solutions for lost revenue. Look for solutions for the cause of the lost revenue.

This is not the time to validate your solution or decide if it's good or bad. No idea is too far fetched. Write them all down.

We choose the right solution

The single most important strategy here is to not let emotion dictate our choice of solutions.

Choosing a solution emotionally is really a popularity contest. We’ll end up choosing a bad solution because someone else did, and rejecting a great decision because no one else is doing it.

An example of this is, the first decision many small businesses make during an economic crisis is to slash marketing budgets. Now there may be cases where this is necessary. But is it generally a good solution?

Without marketing, revenue loss will be amplified. Leading to reduced operations and layoffs. Leading to further reduced revenue.

Generally, trying to save money by reducing marketing budgets leads to amplifying the economic hardships rather than relieving them.

We saw this was true during the 2008 economic crisis and those companies that continued their marketing efforts came out on top.

Using this same example, a solution that makes existing marketing spend more efficient will increase your return on investment and help you weather the storm.

We take action

Thoughts lead to feelings lead to actions.

Once you’ve decided on solutions, there is still a danger. With so much uncertainty we can decide not to act. That we’ll just wait and see.

Though that may feel like we are doing the wise thing, biding our time to put our decision into action, it's often a symptom of procrastination caused by doubt, anxiety and fear.

How do we combat this? What if we find we’ve already been frozen by Coronavirus?

Start with putting a small decision into action. Something that you can accomplish in a day.

If at all possible, find a way to measure the impact your decision has. With each successive decision you put in action, confidence will grow and fear and anxiety will fade away.

Not every decision will be a winner, but every decision you take action on will put you one step closer to your business coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever.

To wrap-up

There is a lot of uncertainty in today’s climate. But great companies will not only make it through this, they will come out of it stronger than ever.

Now’s the time to become better leaders. Better decision makers. And more productive members of our communities.

Thoughts lead to feelings lead to actions.

Our success or failure during a time of crisis starts with what we choose to think about.

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