16 Apr Entrepreneur challenges in the time of Coronavirus
It’s not enough that you’ve started a business and entered the new world of business ownership with all the entrepreneur challenges that brings, now the very world we live in has changed too! Most of us have never seen or experienced anything that’s prepared us for the business challenges that Covid-19 brings with it. This isn’t merely a financial recession, many of us have ridden that wave. It’s not only a dramatic and sudden shift to social norms or how our institutions function. Nor is it just an industry redefining, disruptive change to the way we work. It’s all of the above and more. And, at least a good part of it will never go back to the way it was.
That puts an enormous stress on all of us, not least to the leaders of small business. Small business constitutes a major force in virtually every economy around the world. Big businesses may dominate the headlines and rule the stock market, but it’s small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups that keep our economies around the world moving. SME’s around the world provide the crucial link between community and business. They are also collectively significant employers. In India 40% of the population work for SMEs. The 30 million small businesses in USA in 2019 accounted for 47% of employment. In Europe, according to Eurostat, that figure reaches as much as 75% in some countries and well over 50% of the EU-28 workforce as a whole. Now more than ever it’s vital that small business continues. That you survive and thrive driving growth and pulling what will be a decimated global economy back on track.
What direction do I go in?
When you started your business and as it got off the ground and started to prosper you could not have possibly imagined or prepared for this. You did nothing wrong. There’s not a Pestle, SWOT or any other analysis that could have seen this coming here and now.
There is a lot of advice out there, not least from your own accountants, lawyers and financial advisers, listen carefully, ask them for clarification if you’re uncertain, and apply for all the financial aid you are entitled to. Now is not the time for false pride or stubborn independence. Now is not the time to refuse help. Take it. Survive.
Then and only then start to figure out which direction to go in. The world has changed and none of us know how long it will take to settle, if this is a one-off hit that can be controlled going forward or if it’s round one of a heavy weight battle. The temptation is to wait and see. Tread water. Do nothing. If you do, you’ll get swept along on the tide with little or no control of your destination.
Plan your move and get moving
The same entrepreneurial spirit that got you started, will guide and drive you now. Develop multiple future scenarios (use a tool such as xyz) then identify what you’d need to avoid failure and gain success for each scenario. It’s impossible to know if the moves you make will be exactly the right choice but it’s far better than watching your hard work and dreams shatter against the rocks of inaction. One of the side benefits of scenario planning is the discovery of what are known as “pre-determined outcomes” these are changes or outcomes that are already an inevitable consequence of events that have happened or trends that are already well established. If it snowed heavily in the mountains this winter the fields on the plains will be watered in spring. Remember the rules of supply and demand still apply, just look at what happened to oil during the lockdown. Be aware of timeframes, how long will situations last? How quickly will economies recover? Play your scenarios out over short, medium and the longest possible timeframes to get the most value. Throw out conventional wisdom, these aren’t conventional times. Don’t rely on one person in the room to drive the thinking. The most junior and quietest might just be the most in touch. This comes with a warning that in times of unprecedented upheaval it is unusually difficult to predict with any certainty so just because you didn’t think of it in your scenario analysis doesn’t mean that’s not what’s going to happen watch closely to see where your analysis aligns with reality and equally hard to see where it diverges.
This exercise and the insights you gain may not give you the golden ticket out, but it will give you back control of an otherwise impossible situation. Take the opportunities that present themselves now and plan for those that have the potential to arise. Meanwhile have your eyes wide open to the potential threats of the business landscape as it emerges from the storm. New competitors will emerge from adjacent or radically diverse industries. If you’re a brick and mortar business, you may need to re-align your resources, skills and consider new channels to market. New shorter supply chains may appear. If you’re already online, new competitors are coming, and they may leapfrog you to adapt to emerging platforms and capture new audiences. Either way acting now will allow you to be more agile, move faster and adapt quicker when the time comes to start ramping back up.
It’ll also give you some peace of mind and ease the stress of doing nothing.
WHAT STAGE IS YOUR BUSINESS AT?
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