Last month I wrote an article about what to do when you have nothing to do. It was designed for individuals who were starting to get tired of walks around the neighborhood and board games and all the things we’ve spent five months doing waaaaay more of than usual. It was a great article, possibly the best thing ever written except for maybe the original Winnie the Pooh stories, and you can read it here.
Apparently, though, some people were expecting me to talk about what businesses can do during unexpected periods of downtime, and so this month I’d like to focus on that. It’s rather fitting for me, since the events industry (of which keynote speaking is a part) is still working its way to back – and it will be back!!
I’m going to skip the ‘find new customers’ and ‘offer new services’ advice, because I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times – and while it’s fine advice, it isn’t exactly the easiest advice to follow. Not that you shouldn’t try, but there are other things worth focusing on as well when your business hits a slump.
Tackle “Ancillary” Business Elements
In my case, being unable to travel and speak in front of live audiences has given me the opportunity to look at parts of my business that needed attention but which always managed to get pushed down to the bottom of the list. I’m talking about riveting things like updating our standard contracts and refreshing some of our marketing materials. As you can see, those aren’t my favorite parts of my job, but they absolutely have a value, and there’s no better time than now to take on those projects which never seem to deserve your undivided attention until there are no other places for your attention to be divided. Consider this the business equivalent of the whole, “well, we may as well make our yard look nice” thing that seems to have occupied every single homeowning human in May and June.
Start Analyzing Your New Practices
Every business has adjusted itself over the past five months. Many of those adjustments were born out of stark necessity, but some of them might end up having some staying power. In fact, some of the things you’ve started doing in the past few months will end up as new ‘best practices’ even after the pandemic is over. But in order for that to happen, you’ll first need to decide which of your new ideas and strategies are working well and which ones need to be discarded or modified.
Make Long-Term Plans
Depending on your circumstances, this might not be possible. But if your business is likely to survive this crisis, then there honestly is no better time than now to put together a vision for where you’d like to be in five years. This is something all of us know we should do, but as I’ve already mentioned, this one frequently falls into the ‘get around to it if I have time’ category. Well guess what? Now you’ve got nothing but time. And businesses that know where they want to go are far more likely to get there than those that never bother to think beyond tomorrow.
Will doing these things distract you from the fact that business today is a lot harder than we’d like it to be? Absolutely not. But doing these things might help you look back on this time as a net positive, rather than an overwhelming negative.