How to Survive & Thrive in Challenging Times Without Risking Everything

two people standing side by side flexing their arms

Are you living with this same knot of uncertainty in your gut?

These are challenging times.

Of course, you hardly need reminding, because you’re living with the reality.

The thing is, that knot of uncertainty, that nervous anxiety, comes from a hard-wired response deep in your most primitive brain. It’s a response dating back some 30,000-70,000+ years, one designed to protect you from threats to survival, both seen and unseen.

And for good or ill, we all still carry it with us today.

In fact, if we’ve achieved nothing else as a species over the millenia, we’ve managed to finely tune our capacity for imagining the worst.

Which means two of the most dangerous words for any of us, if we give them headspace, are…

 “What if…”

To be clear, I don’t say this to be glib or dismissive about our current situation. The challenges we face are real.

But complementing that primitive instinct to run and hide is another very powerful ability: to CHOOSE how we respond.

Your response can be either productive or destructive. You grow or you die. You choose.

Just remember it has to be one or the other. Stasis is not an option.

It’s true for you. And it’s true for your business.

So for what it’s worth, here’s my 3-step guide to surviving & thriving, and coming out the other side stronger, fitter & bounding ahead of the competition:

Be mindful

If there’s just ONE thing you do to help yourself, let it be this: protect your mind

There’s a reason we’re glued to the torrents of doom slung at us with abandon by the mainstream media. (Well, you might be glued to it. I’m not. I gave up following mass-media news several years ago.)

That same stress response that kept us alive 30,000 years ago draws us inexorably towards negative headlines.

I could so easily have written a piece headlined “We’re all fucked. And here’s why” and it would no doubt have attracted more eyeballs.

But that’s not the game I choose to play.

Instead I choose to be more mindful, more consciously aware of what I’m feeding my mind.

You may be familiar with something you could call the Creative Process:

Your thoughts generate feelings which dictate your actions which produce results.

It’s a universal and inescapable law. And those results are either ones you want or ones you don’t.

So be careful how you think. Be extremely wary of negative headlines driven to serve a particular commercial agenda. Be careful of the conversations you engage in and the information you absorb.

Give your mind a chance to dwell on things that are motivating and exciting, that inspire gratitude, that provide a more positive focus and impetus. 

Of course, worries and negative thoughts will creep in, just don’t let them take root because once they do they will multiply and overwhelm you – like weeds, that’s just what they do.

Be adaptable

If you’re a business owner like me, you can’t just ride this one out. Well you can try but history suggests it may not be the cleverest idea. 

Events with the power to cause significant cultural change – the 9/11 terrorist attacks spring to mind – tend to have an impact that extends well beyond the timeline of the event itself.

So what can you do to adapt to the environment we’re in right now, and the one that may well follow when the immediate threat subsides?

What can you do to ensure that displaced teams, locked-down communities and fearful customers can still access your products and services

Even if the current pandemic causes (or exacerbates) a recession, people will still be buying. How can you position your business now so you’re ahead of the competition and front-of-mind when customers come looking for whatever it is you do. 

In my home village, one of the local independent stores has started offering a delivery service. A nearby restaurant is providing a new take-out menu. The gym at which I’m a member has made arrangements to move classes and PT sessions online.

This week the team at Airbase have been working with a client who had been planning to stage a number of in-person seminars in the coming weeks and months. Those events are now going to be run as a series of online webinars.

All of these changes represent new opportunities for the businesses concerned, and potential new streams of revenue even when normality returns.

They have the opportunity to reach new customers, using different channels, leveraging their existing knowledge, skills and services to develop the business in ways they hadn’t anticipated.

What about you?

Be smart

This is survival-of-the-fittest territory.

Those businesses that are equipped to maximise their existing customers, their lead-flow and their sales, with minimal operational impact, will be the ones who emerge from all this in the strongest state – ahead of the game and ready to enjoy the fruits of growth.

You could say ‘twas ever thus. And that’s true. But sometimes it’s truer than others.

As tempting as it may be, now is not the time to cut off the oxygen supply to your business. As long as you’re leveraging your budget to get the best return on investment, don’t stop spending on sales and marketing activity.

Instead, take the chance to get your processes right: leaner; more focused; with targeted and personalised messages to help strengthen new and existing customer relationships.

Use technology to help where you can.

Just don’t batten down the hatches and expect the world to look the same when you emerge from your shelter.

As the Scouts would say: Be prepared.

And be well.


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