Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder
If you’re like many small business owners you’re probably astounded by how the world has changed in a very short time. Some business have thrived while others have withered. This is one of my favorite quotes from Nassim Taleb’s book. The idea that many things actually get stronger when put under pressure.
It’s the same with business. Yes, your business might have changed drastically in recent months. There is good news in that, too. It means your business is stronger and more adaptable and that you can find ways to survive.
Here are some lessons learned from resilient businesses and business owners during COVID-19.
1. Resilient businesses are adaptable
There are ways to adapt many small businesses to ensure they can continue operating during a crisis. The question is whether you’re willing to make the adaptation or are fighting to keep your business exactly the same as it was before.
You might miss the old ways of running your business. Missing the old way of doing things, however, doesn’t mean you have to hold firm to them. Operating a store online, allowing your restaurant to focus on take-out, offering classes online, adapting your goods or services, and letting employees work remotely are all changes that can ensure your business stays open after COVID-19 is over, and even save you money in the long run.
2. Resilient business owners plan ahead
While almost nobody saw a pandemic coming, some experts warned about the possibility of a recession and how to prepare for it. Unfortunately, many small business owners limit their planning to a crisis that lasts only a few weeks, which is where they get into financial trouble.
Disaster can strike at any time, and it doesn’t have to be a global pandemic. Having a healthy cash flow, a savings account with enough built up to cover costs for at least a few months, and a plan for addressing recession scenarios will help your business survive tough times, whatever brings them about.
You don’t want to be reactive to an emergency situation, because that’s when terrible decisions get made. Instead, plan ahead so you’re prepared and don’t have to make tough decisions based largely on emotion. Prepare for an emergency that lasts months, not just weeks.
3. Resilient business owners pay attention to what others are doing
In situations like COVID-19, business owners can learn from and help each other. Take a look at what others in your industry are doing, and even look outside your industry for inspiration. Seeing someone move their services online might give you an idea for how you can provide yours remotely. Noticing how businesses similar to yours adapt can influence you to make beneficial changes to your business.
Reach out and talk to other business owners, and to your customers, to find out how you can help them. At times like these, you aren’t alone in trying to keep your business operational. Everyone is looking for solutions and there’s a good chance you can help each other.
Global pandemics can devastate a small business and have lasting impacts on an industry. There are many lessons that small business owners can take away from COVID-19 to help them survive the next economic emergency. Being adaptable, planning ahead and paying attention to others can all help your business through any economic disaster.