Just because you can get money, does not mean you have money.
I often tell my clients that just because they can get money does not mean they have money. The idea is that there is always some way to get money: obtaining a bank loan, finding an investor, selling a piece of equipment, withdrawing from insurance or pension savings, using a credit card, or factoring your accounts receivable. The most inexpensive method of getting cash right now is the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). I understand that cash is a huge problem for small businesses, so you should take that money. But it is not the only problem. Getting PPP money, or any money, to survive could obscure the decisions that must be made. It is time to start considering the long-term problems and their solutions.
I know you have a great sense of relief that some cash has come in and you have a way to pay your employees and maybe some rent or equipment leases. I know you just hope you can spread the cash out until things get back to normal. But a business must earn money. Getting money from PPP is a distraction. In fact, getting cash without a plan is often the death knell of a business. You see cash hides things like changing customers, bad business plans, and poor value propositions.
I ask you: Is waiting for government money and hoping for the best a business plan? I have never seen a business become successful because they received money as a grant from the government. In fact, nowhere in life has waiting for money as a gift from anyone created success. You also cannot rely on hope as a plan. You have to put your shoulder to the wheel and think through some options and how your business will handle them.
Your business' biggest long-term problem is likely the changing business environment due to the impact the virus will have on how we interact with each other. No one really knows what that will look like, and if they tell you they do, they are lying. Regardless, we must start laying out some options. Here is one hint on how to forecast the changes to your business environment: consider that the changes anticipated in your industry will be accelerated by the current crisis. For example, the higher education industry has been trending towards online platforms for years. Now, every school must have a high functioning online program or risk irrelevance. Changes like these must be grappled with to ensure that, once you survive, you can thrive.
My uncle always told me to work my hardest during the summer when everyone was taking time off. He told me that this would set me apart from the crowd. Similarly, your hard work now, while everyone is waiting around for things to get back to normal, will set your organization apart when normal is here or when things fail to get back to normal. Do not hang with the crowd. They may be all waiting in line at the bankruptcy court. Stand alone and chart your own path to success.
Here are three steps to get you started:
Accept the reality – Take a good hard look at the world. Stand up straight, stare it down and do not flinch. Then accept that complexity and the fact that it is your job to overcome. This may be your biggest step.
Assess the situation - The external environment is changing, so start your assessment by looking at those changes. What are your risks in this new environment? What are the opportunities? Then clearly look at yourself internally. How do the risks and opportunities match up with your organization’s strengths and weaknesses? How can I take advantage of these to limit the risks and take advantage of the opportunities?
Action steps – Even slow motion is motion. Action is always better than inaction. Ask yourself, “What must happen NOW so I can perform THEN?” Simply put a list together and start creating movement: step by step - little by little - will get the job done.
I want to help you think through the steps of accept, assess and action. Go to www.fixedfocusconsulting.com and schedule a free one hour consultation.