Now is the time to panic – not!
To ensure you navigate the Covid-19 crisis, your business is now in survival mode and will stay that way until things settle down, advises leadership coach Stew Darling. He offers a five-step plan to get you through. “I know that you’ve been in dangerous situations in the past, you’ve always managed them and it’s all been fine. With […]
To ensure you navigate the Covid-19 crisis, your business is now in survival mode and will stay that way until things settle down, advises leadership coach Stew Darling. He offers a five-step plan to get you through.
“I know that you’ve been in dangerous situations in the past, you’ve always managed them and it’s all been fine. With your background in Special Operations and what you got up to, you were trained never to panic.”
My Non-Executive Director looked right at me and said, “Now is the time to panic”.
That was an excerpt from my book Lead through Life and that business director had a point, the cashflow was dwindling and sales had plummeted (to be honest, they’d never really got started). And we really ran the risk of trading while insolvent.
But panic, really? Is there ever a time to panic? To be clear, there is never a time to panic. When things get bad, when things get rough, as we’re seeing around the globe at the moment, when we’re unsure, when we don’t know which report to believe, we’ve got to believe that we can solve the problem ourselves. We solve the problem with a plan.
But first of all, we’ve got to stop thinking business as usual. For the next few weeks, and I believe it’s going to be around 12 weeks, we need to be thinking like a startup. We need to be thinking in terms of a cashflow runway, shoring up revenue, not having enough people to do all of the jobs that need to be done, and importantly, we need to be thinking about a high stress environment.
Make no mistake, to ensure you get through this, your business is now in survival mode and it stays in that mode until things settle down.
So how do we do it? This is the five-step plan that Lead through Life is using with clients.
It really is as simple as five steps – Prepare. Inform. Implement. Sustain. Recover (PIISR). By working through each of the five steps your business will have a chance of getting through the next 12 weeks. If this goes beyond 12 weeks we roll on month to month, we get in the trenches, and we fight this battle, day to day, week to week, month to month.
Your business plan is out the window; the PIISR must start.
You might be thinking it is too late to prepare. It’s not; you know your business. You know what you need to do to get ready for tough times. You’ll have been in tough times before. Remember those and write it into the first step of your plan. What must you do to survive – what can you give up?
Who do you need to inform? You need to keep your team informed. One of the reasons that the world is in panic at the moment is because most people are using their ‘reptilian’ brains.
Remember the four F’s; Fight. Flight. Fright. ‘Procreate’.
Until you move beyond the four F’s, you will not be able to get into that ‘team’ space. By reaching out to your team, by talking to them, by informing them what you’re thinking, they will be able to help. Their brains will be settling into that mammalian stage where they want to think like a team. You also want to reach out to your customers, reach out to your clients and inform them of what you’re doing and what you’re planning. If you’re part of a supply chain, you should reach out through that supply chain to let them know what’s happening to make sure that you can underpin your business for the coming storm.
Everything that we said we would do when we were preparing; we now implement. It may be that Implement and Inform happen at around about the same time as we’re seeing with many companies currently.
How are you going to sustain your business through the uncertainty of the next three months? How are you going to know where your decision points are? If you know when they’re coming, you can plan for them. These decisions will sustain businesses through. Are you going to put people on four-day weeks, are you going to enforce lower salaries? Know your decision points and remember to inform the team. Are you going to have to delay payments to your suppliers? Inform them, let them know when it’s going to happen. This is all about your survival, but there are businesses that rely on you too.
In 12 weeks’ time or whenever it happens, the world will begin to get back to a new normal. As a business, you need to get back to normal as quickly as possible. What is your plan for recovery? Are you going to need to re-grow your team? Are you going to need to ramp up your supply chain? You’re going have to start selling again. How are you going to attract your customers? Do you have a plan to do that?
Whatever happens in the market it will be less of a PIISR for your business if you get into a startup mindset. Implement PIISR and you will create the opportunity to survive through these tough times. This uncertainty will be short-lived. And, as you’re thinking the start-up way, your business has the chance to survive.
There is never a time to panic. There is a time to plan and to survive. When I was told to panic, I went to the bank. I went to customers. I went to investors. That company, I’m glad to say, is doing well. Yours can too.
Stew Darling is a leadership coach and the author of Lead through Life – a book for anyone looking to tap into their unrealized potential. www.stewdarling.com