When my Grandma was asked the question, 'How are you doing?', she always answered, 'Coping'. This was well before 2020! Now when I ask my business owner friends how they are doing, that's the answer I get.
2020 was a heck of a year. Because we live next door to our largest trading partner, we've been caught up in their political and economic drama. Try as we might, we have to pay attention to what's going on because decisions down there affect us up here.
COVID gave us a reminder that despite what we plan, sometimes we will get punched in the stomach. That has been the reality for many small and mid-size businesses who have had to close or reduce service due to lockdown rules. We can't predict future government policies but it would be a safe bet that we'll be living with rapidly changing and seemingly arbitrary policy changes well into 2022.
We can whine or we can cope...
Here are the things I share with the budding entrepreneurs and small business owners in my Business Class at George Brown College:
- Be prepared. Now more than ever it is important to plan for the absolute worst! Months without revenue, additional months with reduced revenue, increased COVID compliance expenses. I suggest they run multiple cashflow scenarios to show these worst-case outcomes in their gory detail.
- Stay agile. Make your plans, crunch your scenarios. Then be ready to change on a dime. I use the Business Plan Canvas Model in this course. It's a simple one page document to look at new opportunities quickly.
- Keep connected. Talk to your friends, mentors, advisors, partners. Share both your fears and your ideas for coping.
- Look for opportunities to solve problems. This is the heart of every business. The key is to evaluate the idea quickly to see if you can make money from it. I use the tried-and-true SWOT Analysis: Look at the strengths and opportunities; Analyze the weaknesses and threats.