October 2, 2021

3 Signs Your Business Can Survive A Crisis

Originally published at Prodigy in 2020

2020 was supposed to be the year.

With its numbers looking good on printed desk calendars and fancy cafe planners, you may have also hoped that it would be the year in which your business will take off and reach new heights.

And then came the pandemic. COVID-19 has interrupted every facet of our society — including businesses of all sizes. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the global economy to shrink by 3% this year — probably the worst since the 1930’s Great Depression. The only silver lining on the horizon is a global growth of 5.8% in 2021. A “partial recovery” dependent on the improvement of the health crisis.

Read more about the economic impact of Covid-19 here.

Generally speaking, 3% seems insignificant, but the empty tables, closed shops, laid-off employees, dwindling profits, and substantial losses that businesses have been experiencing since the outbreak reveal the weight of such a “small”percentage. It’s a real blow to the economy.

Is all hope lost? Well, not for great companies.

“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”

— Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel

Here are the 3 signs your business can survive this season:

1. You’re not worried…but you’re concerned.

Sounds crazy? What’s the difference? Dale Carnegie penned it best in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (affiliate link), “Concern means realizing what the problems are and calmly taking steps to meet them. Worrying means going around in maddening futile circles.”

Now, look back to how you have been spending your days trying to keep your company afloat. Were you striving for improvement, looking for solutions, and gathering strength as you go? Or were you constantly anxious, paralyzed by fear, and overcome with hopelessness?

Concern helps you objectively look at the situation and calmly act on the problem. Worry saps the life and passion out of you, hindering you from arriving at any productive solution.

Carnegie notes, “Our mental attitude is the X factor that determines our fate.” And this principle applies to almost every aspect of our lives, including our enterprise.

Your mental attitude is the X factor that determines the fate of your business. But don’t mistake this for a delusional Pollyanna attitude, nor a prescription for rose-colored glasses. It’s a mere reminder to examine our emotions before acting upon them, balancing feelings with sound logic and objective reasoning.

2. You can quickly learn complex skills.

In the book Deep Work (affiliate link), Cal Newport emphasizes the value of a growth mindset, “To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things…If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.”

Since our city was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine, every team member at the company were I work has been working from home. Although we were used to the idea of #WFH (we always had the option of working from home at least once a week even before the pandemic), the virtual meetings took some getting used to. Team collaboration was a significant challenge at first. Plus, pivoting a business is no small feat. But, we’re lucky that one of the foundations of our culture is our passion for infinite learning. Learning is our way of coping. Benjamin Franklin was right: “The things which hurt, instruct.”

While it’s tempting to wallow in disappointment, I urge you: don’t. To surrender to self-pity for too long is to settle with defeat. I’m not at all suggesting that you put your feelings in a box and throw it in the ocean. I’m not asking you to invalidate your emotions but to use its power to get you fired up and moving.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb considers systems as antifragile if they get stronger with stress and volatility. Antifragility is beyond resilience — it’s not only about surviving a difficult situation but flourishing in it, too. Today, a lot of companies are striving to develop their version of “antifragility.” Food businesses are now more than willing to spend on delivery services, more and more offices are now open to the work-from-home setup, and brick and mortar stores have explored eCommerce.

How can you develop such a system for your company? Don’t be afraid to experiment. To reinvent yourself and your business. To fail. “A wrong hypothesis should not upset you. A scientist won’t be pissed for this helps him,” explains Ryan Holiday in his book The Obstacle is the Way (affiliate link).

One mistake should only mean one less option on your list. Then, you can try the next solution.

3. You can trust your people.

“Many a businessman is driving himself to the premature grave because he has never learned to delegate responsibility to others, insists on doing everything himself.
Result: details and confusion overwhelm him.
He is driven by a sense of hurry, worry, anxiety, and tension… I also know from experience the disasters that can be caused by delegating authority to the wrong people. But difficult as it is to delegate authority, the executive must do it if he is to avoid worry, tension, and fatigue.”
— Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (affiliate link)

To do all things by yourself is one surefire way to exhaust all the energy and enthusiasm you have towards running your business. And it’s not sustainable to put out fires for everyone when you can teach them how to.

One hallmark of a great company is the strength of its culture. Not only in fun times but in tough ones, too. If you can confidently delegate tasks to your team and get a good night’s sleep knowing and trusting they will deliver, you’re on the right track. However, as author James Collins puts it, “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.”

Like Collins, we no longer embrace the adage “People are your most important asset.” They’re not. The right people are. He expounds the First Who approach in his book Good to Great (affiliate link), which we embraced as part of our company code: good-to-great leaders do not begin by crafting a new strategy but by getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off it. Once the right people are in the right seats, that’s when they figure out where to go.

Without the right people aboard your business, it’s only a matter of time before tasks, responsibilities, doubts, and anxieties burn you out, crash your company, and land your business in mediocrity.

During the beginning of World War II (another crisis of epic proportions), General George C. Marshall told his newly-appointed head of War Plans Divisions for the Far East,

“Eisenhower, the Department is filled with able men who analyze their problems well but feel compelled always to bring them to me for final solution. I must have assistants who will solve their own problems and tell me later what they have done.”

  • Full Disclosure: When you buy a product through my affiliate links, I may get a commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. :)
  • This post was originally published in 2020 at Prodigy’s website before it was revamped. Prodigy is a digital agency that helps purposeful e-commerce businesses grow their revenue through proven digital marketing strategies.
Share post: