The Covid-19 pandemic is causing gut wrenching fear for a large number of business owners-the type of fear that most of them will never have encountered before, nor contemplated as a real possibility.
But it’s here now.
The most frightening aspects for many are
- They have no control whatsoever over their circumstances or trading conditions-most are not even allowed trade
- The prospect of simply being unable to trade and meet ongoing obligations like loan repayments, rent, rates, vat, prsi.
For those of us who have been around a while, hustling and grinding and stroking and living by our wits for much of the time, it is not quite as seminal. We have seen business and/or financial catastrophe in the recent past-for example the property crash in 2007.
Guys like me remember the 1980s and the appalling state of the economy, exorbitant interest rates, rapid fire general elections with collapsing governments, debate about getting a bail out from the IMF, towering rates of unemployment, nixers and the black economy, prodigious emigration, and so on.
I am not smug about the current situation and know it is catastrophic for vast swathes of the economy. But when you have been around a while and have seen peaks and valleys, booms and busts, it is probably a small bit easier to deal with.
One of the strongest weapons in dealing with this, or any, catastrophe, is the ability to identity things you have some control over and those matters over which you have no control.
It is blindingly obvious that if the government decides your business is “non-essential” and closes you down you have no say and no course of action open to you but to adhere to the guidelines.
On the other hand there is nothing to stop you from doing some valuable work at home, even if it is only having a cold, hard analysis of your business, how you operate, the strategies and tactics you adopt on a weekly and monthly basis, and other concentrated, distraction free thinking. This could prove to be immensely valuable work in the future.
By contrast if you have a share portfolio you will know that the stock markets across the world crashed with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no point, therefore, checking the value of your portfolio at the current time. There is nothing you can do about the crash or the current values of your shares, and you will only end up in worse humour.
So, control the controllable, forget about the stuff you cannot control, and take some time to recognise the difference.
Now might be a good time to do some clear headed, stillness assisted thinking. Because it is a long road that has no turning and this too will pass.
In the meantime you get to choose what you do with your time. No, you don’t have to learn conversational Chinese, or learn how to crochet or knit, or read Ulysses, or learn how to cook or bake.
But you can avail of the time to be still, concentrate and focus on where your business is, where it might be headed, and how you are going to get there.