As business leaders, the job comes with few certainties, and many more questions than answers. It was the beginning of March, and I vividly remember a call with a client in Spain. This person was visibly startled, shaken by the damage he’d seen COVID-19 leave in its path.
For some context, this person wasn’t just a client. We had a deeper, more personal relationship.
The Leaders Who Helped Me Carve Out My Path
He was someone who helped shape me over the past year and a half. He showed me the path that was possible for the model we have today. This person is someone I deeply respect, and whose perspective I greatly value.
Our business relationship was put on pause by the pandemic. At that moment, I realized this was just the beginning of something much larger. I sensed this same challenge would continue to perpetuate unless I changed my attitude, focus, behavior, and even direction.
Over the next two weeks, our company lost 25% of our revenue.
By the last week in March, I started to question the future ahead of us. I felt a lot of anxiety and fear. This fear wasn’t just about the pandemic: it was a fear for our business, our team, and our clients.
Our team at BW Missions has worked so hard to carve out our path since we launched a year and a half ago. I wasn’t ready to bow down to short-term storm punches. I wasn’t going to let us back down.
I started asking myself:
“How can we make it through this?”
“What do we need to do now to get in front of this storm?”
“And what does the future look like on the other side when this all passes?”
To find our way out, it started with a change of attitude, thinking, positivity, and behavior. It was a mindset shift. I doubled down on our strengths: storytelling, content, and community. We organized content campaigns that not only would lift my spirits and keep me energized, but also be valuable for our audience, clients, and team.
Leaders Can Leverage Content to Spark Hope
While we doubled down on figuring out how to navigate our own business challenges, however rocky, we also cemented strategies with our clients to pave a path forward and find a way out. Most importantly, we’re lucky enough to have clients who could see the forest through the trees, too.
Just six weeks after that significant call with our client in Spain, I’m proud to say that BW Missions has not only recovered the 25% loss in revenue, but also even made it to the other side better off. Right now, BW Missions is in an even stronger financial position than before the pandemic started. We’re even making a new full-time hire, who’s starting in June.
This is our story. Drawing from this experience, I want to share my learnings around the following question:
“How can business leaders prepare themselves for life after the pandemic?”
At first blush, the question may seem a little outrageous. People are taking pay cuts, companies are furloughing or laying off employees in record numbers, and in many places, the pandemic is just beginning to reach its peak.
Many organizations are in survival mode. Amid the chaos, it’s easy to feel like now is not the time to plan ahead.
I would almost argue the opposite. Now is exactly the right time to plan for the future…
Right now, the nation is grappling to figure out how we can adjust every aspect of society: everything from our healthcare systems to our social interactions. This is a compelling reason why businesses need a plan that enables them to hit the ground running when this is all over.
As a business owner, I’ve learned how critical it is to always be investing, searching for the next opportunity, and pushing myself to be better. Most businesses probably aren’t in a place right now to make substantial capital investments.
Nonetheless, we can all use this time to reach out to others, strengthen our professional relationships, and find the next best opportunity.
We must leave no stone unturned.
Now is the time to see the opportunity in areas where others do not
There can’t be an email you’re too important to respond to. There can’t be a Zoom call you aren’t willing to hop on. There can’t be a LinkedIn message that just sits in your inbox.
You must constantly plant seeds, especially when things look bleak. As a leader, it’s your job to figure out the right crops to sow and understand how to harvest them. More importantly, you have to maintain this mindset even after life returns to normal.
As I think about how we have carved our path the past month, we’ve made it a priority to continually invest. We have continued to invest in our people, infrastructure, marketing, and our clients. We have never taken our foot off the gas.
During this time, one of the big projects we’ve undertaken is working with our business coach Mark Green to define our role descriptions, setting KPIs, and prioritizing measurable results over the next eighteen months.
We’re looking to the future, because we, too, know this storm shall pass. No matter how distant it may be, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
People are ready to get back to their office with their teams and collaborate. We’re all eager to interact with the world and share our stories and connect with humanity and belong to pushing centralized missions forward.
When all of this is over, the companies that will succeed are equipped to meet these needs. They’re the ones who never stopped investing. These businesses are the ones constantly looking around the corner and building out their path. They’re the ones who shaped their mentality to see the glass half full.
Pathfinding is a long term process, and it isn’t easy.This kind of work requires looking within, finding the right people to help you through, and creating the opportunities to stand out. All these steps are essential if you want to make it to the other side.
For the time being, though, we must stay home, continue to check up on our loved ones, and plan for the future.
We must keep going.
We must keep doing.
We must keep improving.
5 Key Takeaways on Transitioning out of COVID-19:
- The Importance of Continual Investment: Right now, when many are pulling back, we are finding new areas to double down on the areas in front of us. The score takes care of itself, and putting in the right inputs to garner the right outputs is critical. Keep making deposits in the areas that produce long term results.
- Turn on the Storytelling Engine: Understand who your audience is and the type of content they need to help make it through the storm. Share with them. Be a light in the darkness.
- Plan in Quietness: Right now, we have more time than ever to be thinking long term. We aren’t at coffee shops, going to the gym, etc. We are at home. We have time to get big picture things done. Think long term and be intentional.
- Make Small Behavioral Changes: Everyone is feeling a lot of worry, stress, and even fear right now. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there. Even the smallest positive changes in attitude, focus, and movement can go a long way.
- Glass Half Full: It’s easy to find the negativity in this situation. My willingness to find the positives in this situation and adopt a “glass half full” mentality has been instrumental to keeping us going.
I hope this inspires you. Please share with someone who this may be able to propel on their path forward.