SURVIVNG A GREAT DEPRESSION
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we are faced with a number of challenges every day. This article speaks to surviving the doldrums.
Okay, so the topic may sound a lit dramatic, but finding the right tools to get you through tough times can often be the deciding factor as to whether or not you and your business make it through or close doors. If you don’t have enough of the right stuff to call upon, you may well fail. Regardless of how much you effort you have put in over the years/months, etc.
So what is the right stuff? In my opinion, the most important things to have are a deep and very clear understanding of your end game. Why are you doing what you are doing? What motivates you and moves you forward? What drives your decision each day? This is often our reason for starting our companies, but is quickly forgotten or lost in the noise of the day to day. If you plan to survive, you need to have a reason to go on. I’m not big on war, but picture this being the pilot’s picture of his family stuck to the cockpit.
The second is an understanding of what makes you happy outside of just work. Use this to help you unwind and regroup. Just as the first points reminds you of what is worth fighting for, let this help you remember that there is more to life than your company, and you need to take time to immerse yourself in other things to make sure that you don’t lose touch and are still able to switch your lens when needed.
The saying fail to plan, plan to fail is one that comes back to bite many of us during difficult times in so many ways. It’s as if it lurks in the corner waiting to spring out and laugh at our shortcomings. The best way to keep the little beast at bay is by listening to the warning. Take time to (at the very least) jot down your plan and vision for the future. Use your drivers above to help you. Then, take a few moments to think about the absolute worst case for each. Do this when times are good so that you have a clear, calm mind to make decisions with. What will you do if and when disaster strikes? How much will it cost? Oh, you haven’t done a budget, maybe you should put one in place, quickly. What sort of cashflow should you have to survive? If you are a new business with limited cashflow and reserves as well as little to no credit, who will you turn to for help when times get tough?
Another key to surviving, is knowing who you can turn to. Surrounding yourself with a solid support who are capable of giving honest, objective feedback, asking tough questions and giving insight will make the works of difference. Don’t wait until you are knee-deep in problems to try and find help. Start forging your relationships early. Give them time to grow and become some of the deepest, most meaningful you have. Work with a mentor or a coach to help harness the great times and build on your strengths. Use your time with them to propel your dreams to new heights. Do this early so that you are already ahead of the game if and when the low points hit. And trust me, as a seasoned entrepreneur working with entrepreneurs daily, there are bound to be tough times.
In the dark, depressed moments in your business, your planning, preparation, reason for existence and resilience, coupled with a solid support system will help see you through. Let these things slip, and you will find it a difficult and lonely road.