• Ellen Contreras

Be Proactive in Business: Respond, Reboot and Refortify

Updated: Mar 17

The world has had its share of ups and down with economic turbulence, natural disasters and political turmoil but we have never seen anything like the Coronavirus crisis in our lifetime. This pandemic brought us – globally – to our knees like nothing else.


Suddenly we find ourselves thrown off a cliff and into a recession putting business owners under a lot of stress trying to “pivot” to keep their companies from going under. No one saw this coming. Or did they? Back in 2015, Bill Gates spoke about the potential for a viral eruption titled, “The next outbreak? We’re not ready.”



In this talk, which you can find on YouTube, Bill Gates said that while countries have done a great job strengthening their armies, not a lot of effort has been put into responding to a microbial outbreak. This situation is very different from the Great Recession. We learned some valuable lessons from that circumstance, however, we ended up getting a bit complacent years after it ended.


Recessions usually do not come on suddenly, it is a gradual process of the economy winding down, leveling off and rising back up again. Business owners often have a bit of time to react and prepare. After the Great Recession was over, banks – the ones that survived – would run stress tests to see how well they were prepared for the next downturn. I think all business owners should have done that for their companies.


Recessions usually do not come on suddenly, it is a gradual process of the economy winding down, leveling off and rising back up again. Business owners often have a bit of time to react and prepare. After the Great Recession was over, banks – the ones that survived – would run stress tests to see how well they were prepared for the next downturn. I think all business owners should have done that for their companies.


As I write this, with one week left to go before the end of April, US jobless claims have reached 26 million since the coronavirus hit virtually wiping out all gains since the Great Recession in 2008. We are waiting for the 2nd round of funding for the SBA PPP loan program and many businesses will not survive this pandemic.


For those that do, here is a 3-part process to consider adopting to hopefully survive and thrive. This is a time to circle the wagons, put a plan together and feel good about being proactive instead of reactive.


Step 1: Respond


Respond to your customers and prospects. Businesses considered non-essential have been shut down while others can continue operating, albeit in a modified way to keep everyone safe. For those who are temporarily closed, get your message out by phone, email and social media. Let everyone know what is happening. If you can find a way to pivot and bring in revenue, then do it. For example, brick and mortar stores can post what they have to sell online and ship or arrange for curbside contactless delivery. Gyms can offer online classes.

If you cannot pivot, you can still create content to stay top of mind for when you do re-open.


Respond to your vendors and companies who you do business with. Explain your situation and see if you can work out alternate payment arrangements to restructure your financial obligations. Many companies are willing and able to do that.


Respond to your personal financial obligations. Again, there have been many companies coming forward in the news explaining how they are being flexible. You will not know unless you ask. Being hands-on will make you feel better about your situation even if it is not too pretty.


Step 2: Reboot


We are seeing a trend, in many parts of the country, where the curve is flattening and many Governors are starting to talk about how to re-open their states for business. Now is the time to plan on how you are going to reopen your company.


How do you prepare your work environment? Do you have to disinfect it? Will that make your employees and customers feel more comfortable? How do you prepare your staff to return? Do they have to wear PPE? Do you have to have a split shift to allow for social

distancing? Do you have to re-arrange the interior? How do you prepare your customers for when you reopen? Do you have to set appointments where prior to the outbreak, walk-ins were acceptable?


Step 3: Refortify


This is where things get interesting. In our personal financial lives, we are routinely told by financial advisors to save for retirement and save for emergencies. According to Motley Fool, 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved in their bank accounts and 45% have $0 money in savings. What came to light when our economy was shut down practically overnight is the fact that many businesses immediately began laying off and/or furloughing employees because they did not have money set aside to pay them. There was a frantic rush to submit loans to the SBA for help.


We have enjoyed a healthy and robust economy for many years now. Business owners have been re-investing a lot of their monthly surplus back into their companies, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, just like in our personal financial situation, companies need to set aside money for payroll and operating expenses – at a minimum of 3 months’ worth.


After the pandemic is behind us and companies have successfully rebooted and have revenue flowing back in again, start setting aside money to refortify your business. When, not if, the next recession or outbreak strikes, you will be in a position of strength to weather the impending storm. The idea of putting your company through a stress test on an annual basis is a great idea to stay ahead of the curve. Let us make a promise to ourselves to not get complacent again.


#coronavirus #businessdevelopment #proactive #pivot #pivoting

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