When things are shaky, focus on the bottom rungs of the prosperity ladder.
Business contractions, especially those that come on as suddenly as the COVID 19 business contraction has, can feel like the ground is shifting under your feet. It makes sense. The world is indeed shifting. Change is everywhere.
To compensate, place your attention on the bottom rung of the prosperity ladder, data. Knowing clearly and without confusion where you are financially, helps ground you and put you back on solid ground. Even when the data isn’t pretty. Good data beats no data or too little data. Knowing is always better than not knowing. Once you know you can prepare.
Place your attention to the next rung on the prosperity ladder once the lower one is handled.
Step 1. Develop regular, accurate data you can rely upon
Step 2. Weekly, review your cash headroom report and re forecast cash flow
Step 3. Manage your net income percentage
Step 4. Get clear on your personal lifestyle and business goals
To keep your head level and to stay fully informed, start each week by reviewing your cash headroom and cash forecast. If you can’t see a three to four-month runway of cash, put all your efforts into solving this dilemma. Once cash is handled, put it aside and focus on the rest of your business.
Focus on what you can control.
In each recessionary cycle, clients call me to say, “This time is different.” “Things will never be the same again.” And similar dooms day predictions. My response is always, maybe. No one knows the future. Even the best economists, the best futurist, have their best guesses, but little or no certainty about when their predictions will come to pass.
Rather than waste your precious time and energy, focus on what you can control. Let go of what you cannot control. This basic prescription of focusing on what you can control is a recipe for peace in any environment. Focusing on what you cannot control is likely to lead you down a path you will come to regret.
“Wherever attention goes, energy flows.” – David Daniels
Every downturn includes opportunity points. Here are a few examples.
· As unemployment rises, you talent options increase. Use this time to hire more A team members and offload some C team members.
· Interest rates may drop giving you the ability to lock in low rates for years to come.
· Use your down time for all the things you’ve put off, like upgrading your marketing plan, updating your strategic plan, reviewing your HR plan and policies
· Get lean. It is easy to get fat and spend money on non essentials when times are good. Recessions invite us to bring our attention to what is really critical and important in our spending.
Keep things in perspective
When fear is winning, stop and ask, has this event changed by three year plan? my five year plan? my ten year plan?
This one set of questions can keep you sane. Rarely is the answer yes. In which case you have to ask yourself, why am I sweating this?
This question assumes you have a three, five and ten year business plan as well as a three, five and ten year personal financial plan.
The naysayers tout that planning is futile. Nothing ever turns out just like you plan. Yes, how very true. At the same time this truth in no way belittles the value of planning. Business or personal financial planning includes stress testing and planning for good and bad times. Having a plan gives you a heads up when things go unexpectedly sideways or down, because you have already thought about it.
Plan for the best and prepare for the worst. Always have a minimum of three to six months of cash on hand. Always keep an unused line of credit. Keeping an open line might cost you a small fee each year at renewal, but your line of credit can become a life line when things go sour. Keep your balance sheet strong and your debt to equity in line or below your industry.