When times get difficult, it’s natural to want to step back, play defense, and wait for conditions to get better.
This is especially the case when difficult conditions are caused by extreme changes, such as COVID-19.
While this is certainly one option of a way to run a business, there is another. It’s the option to be…
There’s both a dumb way and a smart way to be aggressive.
One option is to be in denial about abrupt market changes and continue along aggressively in one’s original plans.
This is the dumb approach.
The smart approach is to fully appreciate the ramifications of abrupt market changes, adapt quickly to those conditions, and find a way to be aggressive in the “new normal” imposed by market changes, as opposed to stubbornly operating in the paradigm of the “old normal.”
Operating in the “old normal” is the surest way to go out of business in a major recession.
Adapting to the “new normal” quickly and aggressively gives you the best chance to not just survive but thrive.
Look, running a business is difficult. You have to deal with hundreds of headaches and problems. It’s a constant issue.
Honestly, if your goal is to just get by, don’t run a business. The amount of work and stress involved isn’t worth it.
The only reason to run a business is to play to “win” (as opposed to playing to “not lose”).
The only way to win in any environment is to be aggressive in the pursuit of opportunities.
The key question is not “if” you should be aggressive during a recession.
The only relevant question is to figure out how you should be aggressive.
The ability to be aggressive under difficult conditions comes from two skills.
The first is the ability to be decisive.
The second is the ability to tolerate discomfort.
Several years ago, I decided to take up jogging. I decided that I would jog in the winter, regardless of the weather.
I would routinely jog when it was 37º F (3º C) outside, pouring rain and windy.
The first time I did this, I was miserable, as I was not prepared nor accustomed to these conditions.
A week later, I wore wool clothing (which still maintains warmth when wet) from head to toe, wore a waterproof headlamp (so I could see), and wore a high-visibility vest with high-visibility blinking lights.
I was completely soaked within three minutes. Every other step I took was in a puddle. I remember looking at the cars driving by and noticing that their windshield wipers were on the “fast” setting.
There was something quite empowering about going for a jog when 99.9% of my neighbors decided not to.
The most important “skill” to thriving in a major economic crisis isn’t some kind of special talent or skill. It all starts with a single mindset trait…
The other skills can be learned. Restructuring costs to improve free cash flow can be learned. Pivoting to target an adjacent market segment can be learned. Reconfiguring a go-to-market approach can be learned.
The only thing that can’t be learned is the determination to win.
That isn’t a skill you learn.
It is simply a choice you make.
As this recession unfolds and potentially becomes an economic depression, what choice will you make?