Did you have a “Plan B”?
[Spoiler: I did not!]
A few months ago we were chasing the algorithms of Google and Bing, striving for Page One positioning of our websites in the search engines, tweaking content and reviewing analytics. Today... things are different. For a few, a very limited few, life has not changed. For even less, some things became a little more manageable. For the majority, it has become a time of uncertainty.
There will be many unsettling thoughts and circumstances to deal with in the coming months. I am guessing we will eventually be considering these early months of 2020 as the “easy part” of an ongoing and often frustrating and confusing series of events.
It is not all bleak. It is inspiring to see how well everyone is actually doing – considering the circumstances. That's not to say things are great (or even good) everywhere – but, at least from my daily experience, people are resilient and compassionate. Forget the politics and synthesized-hype that is often the spin in the media sound bytes, people are genuinely acknowledging that “Although distanced, we are in this together.” The common good and a sense of humanity seem to prevail.
So, did you have a Plan B for Covid-19?
Chances are you did not. I did not. I had never even thought about it. I had envisioned a crash of the Stock Market. I have experience with recessions. On a very strange day, I may even have had thoughts of the next World War. Trend changes? Easy to accommodate. Remodeling a business plan? Easy-peasy! Breaks in supply chains? Inevitable but manageable. Extended shutdowns, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders? None of those were in my vocabulary nor in my arsenal.
As the weeks move forward, more and more of my clients do nothing. The reason? They do not envision that there is anything they can (or should) do! I hear, “We will wait and see.” It is a practical approach. It may not be the most the logical approach, but it is practical and understandable.
If you are in hospitality, travel, tourism or food and beverage, even if you opened your doors tomorrow, chances are it will be a long, winding and uncertain road ahead. Even when restrictions are lifted, there is a good chance that “the new normal” will not resemble something we are familiar with. We will be playing in a “new economy.” It is going to take awhile for discretionary spending to reappear. Those that had weathered the storm comfortably will be restocking. Those who had taken a hit will be saving to avoid getting caught in that situation again.
People will be spending less. Small groups will be the norm. Large gatherings and summer street fairs? I'm not very optimistic we will see too much of those for awhile. There will be a fundamental change in society. Not only in our local towns and cities, but in the world society. People have had time to “sit and think.” And, during this period, many perspectives and perceptions have changed. There will be those that will do all they can to bring back the good ol'days of just a few months ago. I wish them luck and strength. At least for now, I believe that to be a futile quest. It may be dangerous. I would love to be proven wrong in both those instances.
Many small businesses started because they could fulfill a need or accommodate customers better than their larger corporate counterparts. Some could do the work at a more reasonable cost. Others could do it with a more intimate or conscientious manner. Some were started simply on a passion. From hobbyists to craftsman – artists, consultants, vendors, laborers, small not-for-profits and neighborhood/online stores – there is an ingenuity and personality found in small business that is often lacking or overlooked in larger enterprises. Your own Plan B should include the new affirmation – we are all in this together. It is not simply a theory, or a reassuring saying, it is a reality. There will be casualties from the virus and there will be financial casualties as the economy readjusts. Your Plan B really isn't going to be too much different from what got you started in the first place. It's just going to be a little bumpier this time around.
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