Going through macroeconomic turmoil; a recession or global health crisis, doesn’t have to mean panic and disorder. It doesn’t have to mean battening down the hatches and binging on boxsets, either. Downturns, whether real or media-made, don’t always mean doom and gloom.
There are opportunities to make the best of every situation and it’s mostly in the framing. Instead of recession, think reset, reinvest, revaluate and reinvent. Instead of idle self-isolation think productively working from home.
It’s easy to manage a business when macroeconomics is on your side, but it takes deft skill and planning to thrive in crises and uncertainty.
How to thrive in a crisis
1. See past the crisis
At some point in the future everything will be back to normal, whatever your version of normal is. This too shall pass. In five years’ time, you might not remember a specific crisis. You will, however, remember how you handled it, as will your customers. It’s not just an opportunity to come up with ideas and make the best of an imperfect situation, it’s an opportunity to show compassion and kindness, strengthen affiliations and help people around you.
Bulldozing through the weeks making rash decisions might help in the short term, but the long term it brings damaged relationships, loss of trust and a business that isn’t future proof.
Each individual person and business is affected differently and can choose their course of action according to their own needs. Making assumptions or sweeping statements or assuming everyone has the same needs will miss the bigger picture.
2. Avoid the hype
Constantly checking the news for updates zaps productivity, increases anxiety and isn’t useful to anyone. Limit your checks. Avoid opinion pieces and stick to the facts. Don’t fall for the clickbait and don’t feel the need to understand what’s happening, blow-by-blow, in every part of the world. You can catch up when you’re done with your own plans.
Not only can you avoid the hype, you can avoid feeding it. If you’re creating content or adding commentary of any sort, stick to your own expertise. From Forbes’ own contributor guidelines, “Do not write outside your swim lane. If your beat isn’t healthcare, you should not be writing about treatments, disease spread, etc.” Don’t give or share medical advice unless you’re a medical professional.
If a topical issue or its resolution concurs with your brand and expertise, there are ways of adding value tastefully and helpfully. For example, culture expert Jane Sparrow is currently running free webinars on how companies can facilitate working from home, in response to news of companies around the world instructing their teams to do so. It’s an area she knows inside-out so she’s taking the opportunity to add value to her network, with an issue they might be struggling with.
How to thrive in a crisis
3. Be indispensable
Future-proofing your business and remaining viable throughout turbulent times relies on you being indispensable to the customers you serve. What do they need, right now? A business’s normal operations being affected doesn’t mean giving up on marketing or throwing strategy out the window. It means being smart, pivoting, and spending the time wisely.
As the owner of a social media agency, being indispensable to our clients means looking after their best interests no matter the macroeconomics involved. Creating the assets that will serve them well going forward. Positioning them as essential, not optional, to their customers in turn. It means knowing what to say and what to do and how our actions will best help our clients thrive.
Get into the minds of your customers, understand their concerns and take steps to pre-empt and alleviate them.
4. Become an ideas machine
When everything is going swimmingly it’s easy to take it for granted. When things are a bit rocky, come up with all the ideas you can. How else could we spend this time? Where can we repurpose resources? How else can we keep in touch? What is the most effective thing for us to do, right now? What can we create?
Entrepreneur accelerator Dent Global created a useful factsheet entitled Avoid the CRASH which includes 5 steps to recession-proof your business. Andy Stubbs, owner of Birmingham-based BBQ food vendor Low ‘N’ Slow, is pre-empting his events being disrupted and has started cooking, packaging and delivering his food to people’s homes complete with reheating instructions. Entrepreneur Natalie Sisson is currently making the most of 14-days self-quarantine in New Zealand by writing her new book. She created an Instagram post encouraging others in the same position to “start a business… start a podcast… start a blog… start writing your damn book!”
See mandatory self-isolation as an opportunity to test a company-wide working from home programme. See the increased productivity as a chance to create new products or solutions or future plans. See an economic downturn as a chance to refine and develop your core offering. Ideas and breakthroughs turn obstacles into milestones.
See the opportunities to progress your plans and serve your audience in different ways, whilst remaining true to your business’ mission and unique abilities.