In times of crisis, all of us find comfort in a plan that makes sense and helps guide us forward in a logical manner that addresses the most important issues we face. The completion of tasks results in a certain amount of euphoria, and euphoria brings new rivers of energy flooding in upon you. And right now, we all need energy.
1. Do Not Panic – There is a pathway forward but it will not be seen if you are flipping out. You are the leader of your business – even if it is just you – so you need to be solutions-oriented and not go down the rabbit hole of “what ifs”…that will not be productive.
2. Get Organized – Assemble all of your documents, accounts, and paperwork relative to major categories that affect your cash flow. For example:
Employees, Healthcare, Rent/Mortgage, Business Loans, Utilities, Insurance, Raw Materials/Supplies, Transportation, Equipment.
3. Prioritize Issues – This should likely be the size of cost for you on a monthly basis.
4. Assemble Your Questions for Each Priority – Each call you have to address the items on your list to address have questions you need to be answered. Write them down so that you can cover all of them with one call.
5. Be Patient and Communicate Clearly – Everyone is presently under stress, however, everyone also wants to help. So be patient. To help you and whomever you are calling, being organized with your information and having specific questions will help bring order and focus. To have a productive interaction, communicate slowly and clearly.
6. Confirm Next Steps – Make sure you are writing down the steps you need to take, forms you need to be filled out, a process that will be followed. Understanding the process and following it will help minimize wasted time and minimize mistakes.
7. Expect Delays/Missteps – There are so many moving parts that you have to be prepared for delays and administrative missteps. Do not let those throw you off of getting accomplished what you need to be done. Remain patient, be prepared, communicate clearly. There is an old say, “Please and Thank You will get you around the world.” Now more than ever, practice that.
8. Tough Decisions First – If you have employees, you must make decisions regarding their future as soon as possible. Why? First, they need to know. Second, it is a cost center that you must get under control. Third, paperwork related to laying them off or letting them go takes time and can be confusing, so you must confront that reality in a clear and aggressive way. You owe it to them to provide clarity and to your business to survive. It will be one of the worst decisions you will ever make – because it affects someone else’s livelihood – but it cannot be ignored.
9. Communicate – Employees, Customers, and suppliers need to hear from you. Do not ignore them. Even if there is no business to be transacted. Those are critical relationships to sustain. When things return to normal, your bond will be stronger and it will position you for long-term success.
10. Reflect and Plan – Unexpected downtime is a great opportunity for you to evaluate all you do and develop a plan for changes you want to make going forward. This is an opportunity created by unique, uncontrollable circumstances. Take advantage of it.
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