In 2008, we watched the business we built for 10 years nearly get destroyed in 10 days by the 2008 financial crisis. We made it and sold our company to great success. There were many times that we needed to turn a dollar into ten. The same way entrepreneurs feel now.
Let’s face it – we are facing a crisis. And for all of you lonely entrepreneurs out there, there are specific things that you need to do in the coming weeks and months to survive and thrive. Here they are:
Conserve Cash: look at each and every place you are spending cash. If it is not absolutely critical, you must cut it. You must operate like revenue is going to be $0. Every dollar you spend must be a “must.” Talk to every vendor you have and work with them to restructure how you pay.
Build a Plan: you need a plan and need to execute to it. What will revenue be? What expenses are essential? What efforts and initiatives are critical? The plan must only include the essential activities. Build your plan as it must guide your effort.
You Effort Must be About Execution – Not Emotion: all of your time and effort must be spent executing your plan. While it is natural, any time spent on the “what if” is a waste of time. Resiliency comes from discipline to execution and progress on your plan.
Employees: this is tough stuff. You must reduce your employee expenses. And for many of us this is a large portion of our expenses. But you must reduce these costs. This can take the form of layoffs, but you can try to be creative to help employees. Restructure your compensation to tie to results. Split one job into three. Have people work for health insurance only. Ask them to work for free for a while. These are tough decisions that require leadership but everyone must understand these times. In the end, they need to do what is best for them and their families but sometimes in a best case scenario you can use these creative means to keep them aboard until the virus wanes.
Be Creative About Resources: Unfortunately, there are lot of people out there that are or will be out of work as a result of this crisis. See if some of them will help you and tie their compensation to results. You may also have to take things offshore. Look at resources like Upwork for lots of opportunities to get low cost resources. Also look at college or high school students who are stuck at home with a lot of free time.
Focus: eliminate all time, effort and focus on anything that is not essential to your plan. There is no time to waste.
Discipline: no bullshit. At it every day. No excuses.
Wartime CEO: you need to eliminate a lot of the normal time and energy spent on garnering consensus, and debate. This is not the way you should operate when things calm down. But for now, we are at war with a virus. Make decisions decisively. There will be risks with every decision. Make it. Accept the risk. And execute your plan.
Focus on the Tasks of The Day: you have a 100 things to do and 10 hours of time. Each day, pick the 5 things you are going to do and get them done. Don’t worry about the 95 you are not getting done or the “what if”.
You Need a Release: all of this requires great energy and commitment. But we are human and need a release. Every day must have one of those releases. Could be a sweat, time with your child, yoga, a drink or whatever lets you rest and recharge.
You Need to Sleep: entrepreneurs tend to say “who has time to sleep when the world is collapsing.” I said the same thing. That’s wrong. You need to be at your best. Take a 30 minute nap every day. And get 8 hours at least one day of the week.
You Need to Be Where You Are: when you do take time away from work, be there. Don’t think about work when you are with your child or eating with your spouse. If all you are going to do when you are away from it is talk about work, then go back to work. But if you are away from it, be present.
You Need to Embrace the Time: when again in your life will you have the opportunity to spend time with family like this. I know it is under terrible circumstances. But take advantage of it. As many of you know, when I was completing The Lonely Entrepreneur book, my father was very sick. I spent every day over the course of 4 months in the hospital. We laughed, reminisced, cried and shared in a way I would have never been able to share. I feel so lucky to feel so close to my father and to have the unique time to be with a man that I love so deeply. Embrace the time.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. But things get less desperate if you follow these steps.