It's not business as usual, by Lisa Larter

It’s Not Business As Usual

Last night, I decided to pull the plug on this week’s typical message and blog. Because it’s not business as usual. I shared this with my newsletter community today:

Over the last week, I’ve spoken to a number of business owners who are trying to balance business as usual with everything that is happening in the world with COVID-19.

I’ve heard stories from people in retail who can’t get their products out of China, people who can’t get their exports to China, service providers who can’t travel because their clients have set travel bans, workshops and events that have been cancelled… and that’s just a small portion of what is happening.

It’s not business as usual. When you are in the midst of a health and economic crisis, you may feel as though you should soldier on and pretend all is normal – but it’s not.

The impact of this virus is far-reaching, whether you think it is a big deal or not.

As a leader, you need to make decisions right now about your own health and well-being, and the health and well-being of your family, clients, employees and business.

I’m not going to tell you to wash your hands, buy toilet paper and pretend all is normal when it’s not. That would be minimizing what’s happening and, truthfully, none of us really know what will unfold over the next few weeks.

Here are 3 things I suggest you do:

1. Listen to your intuition.

Trust yourself to do what is right for you and your loved ones. Don’t worry about what other people think, don’t buy into hysteria and keep yourself educated on what is happening in the world. Things are changing rapidly, and you have a responsibility to be educated – not ignorant – about what is happening.

2. Prepare for a drop in business – and, if things remain good, that’s a blessing.

When I say prepare, you should do two things:

  1. Start taking preventative action, and start preparing for contingent action. Preventative action is what you can do right now. Contingent action is what you will do if things get worse and you have to make key decisions for your business. Don’t panic, but think about these things seriously. You do have some control over your response. And you have even more control if you’ve spent some time thinking about what action you will take.
  2. Start by asking yourself how you can prevent loss of business by doing things differently and what your course of action will be if you do experience a downward trend. For me, this means delaying big financial decisions until things have calmed down, looking for ways to interact with my clients virtually instead of in person, and delaying unnecessary travel to events and conferences until I know more.

3. Take care of your loved ones, especially those who are seniors and are at high risk.

Do what you can to protect them from illness. I don’t think you need six months of food and toilet paper, but you should be sensitive to the fact that if you’ve been around a large group of people or someone who has been sick that it can take days for symptoms to arise. My mom has COPD, and there’s no way I would go near her right now and risk infecting her if I had recently been at a large event or even on a flight. You have a responsibility to consider how your actions can impact others.

There’s a lot of fear, panic and overreacting happening in the world right now. And, at the same time, the impact of this situation is very real. There is much that is still unknown.

It’s not business as usual. But it is, however, a time when you as a business owner and leader can do the right thing for your clients, your team, your family and yourself.

Here are some resources to stay informed:

  1. Facebook’s Accurate Health Information For Business Communities
  2. Facebook’s Resilience resource hub for business owners 
  3. Medium Blog: Why You Must Act Now (Very Factual)
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