It’s time to get real.

This fog of business uncertainty is not clearing any time soon.

The rough seas and head winds will continue. BankRate reports:

  • Of all businesses that closed in March, more than half (or 55%) have become permanent, according to a Yelp’s July Local Economic Impact Report.
  • Researchers at Harvard, the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago estimate that nearly 110,000 small businesses have permanently shuttered between early March and early May.
  • Once unemployment is elevated, history indicates that it will take a while for it to return to previous levels.
  • Joblessness during the Great Recession peaked at 10% and took nearly 7 years to return to its pre-recession low.
  • The unemployment rate has climbed even past that, and at the worst of the crisis, about 1 in 4 U.S. workers had applied for unemployment benefits.
  • Unemployment lags partially due to this lingering uncertainty as employers are hesitant to make investment or hiring decisions.

So what’s your plan?

  • Stay in port, and wait this out, hoping it’s just a short-term inconsistency.
  • Watch your competition set sail and snatch your business forever?
  • Pivot to a new business (e.g. the acrylic retail display company makes protective desk shields, the brick oven pizza company that now heats and molds face shields, the gymnastics wear company now makes medical garments) Read post 1 and post 2 on pivot success factors and strategies.
  • Sell your business and retire or work for someone else.
  • Close down your business and start anew.

For proud business owners, selling or closing can mean surrendering and that can be a tough pill to swallow. But, if you can mindfully re-frame this as transitioning, your spirits can be lifted and you might be released to find a new, more profitable path. This also could mean saving money to invest in a new venture or even boost your retirement savings. I often think of how I could have done that after 9/11 as I watched my business struggling.

But, I imagine that a competitor like you isn’t going to accept any of those options. So, how do you get beyond the fog?

First, you will benefit from getting calmer, becoming clearer and gaining confidence. Journaling is the best way to get ideas out of your head and on paper for real evaluation.

Second, you need to venture out to sea and start excelling at these three core business things using them as your light house to guide you to your destination

  • Vision – you must get your leadership team on the same page with where you are going and how you are going to get there. This means reviewing and updating all aspects of your company vision. This Vision Traction Organizer VTO™ tool of 8 Questions will guide you on creating key success drivers like core values, core focus (your sweet spot), marketing strategy and 5, 10 or 20-year business targets.
  • Traction – now more than ever, your leadership team will benefit from instilling more accountability, discipline and focus that works to achieve every part of that updated vision. Tools like Rocks™, Scorecard™ and Level 10 Meeting Agenda™ help bring that vision down to the ground so you can execute on it daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly.
  • Healthy – you must get cohesive, functional and healthy. Core values and this People Analyzer tool will assure that you have the right people – culture fits, who are invaluable now. Those are Right People. You need to combine that with Right Seats – people with a God-given talent to do a great job.

Finally, you will benefit from taking a break on a regular basis to get more calm and clearer, and confidence and ultimately success will follow.

You will leave the fog and competition behind, really.