Embrace Uncertainty

How entrepreneurial thinking might outwit coronavirus

Are entrepreneurs better equipped to manage the uncertainty of COVID-19? Is being able to navigate the unknown a factor in resiliency, or simply a necessary evil of business independence? It’s impossible to know the answer to these questions right now, but historically, philosophers believed that embracing uncertainty had its own reward.

Let’s take the pandemic out of the equation for a moment. We all willingly enter into situations where the outcome is undetermined. Look at falling in love, speeding, gambling or watching a horror movie, yet most of us find these activities thrilling!

Just like starting your own business. Were you sure you knew what was in store, or was your thinking more along the line of just going for it and seeing what happened? And if you did prepare, could you predict a positive outcome with 100 per cent certainty?

What makes the difference in unknown circumstances is how we entrepreneurs manage our reactions. Our perceptions, attitudes and emotions allow us to think that we can handle the unpredictable, be successful regardless of the obstacles or overcome what gets in our way.

So, now what?

The ancient Stoics’ creed was “Change what you can, accept what you cannot.” Those who learned to live by this credo would be “invincible” in the estimation of these philosophers. The circumstances have obviously changed, but the idea of focusing on what lies ahead instead of navel gazing on how to recoup what’s lost still rings true. Things have changed. So, what now?

Unfortunately, not everyone is nimble enough to refocus their thinking. Some become mired in self-pity, anger or reflection about what life would be like if the virus hadn’t altered their business plan and taken away potential revenue. This is destructive thinking and pointless since it can’t and won’t change anything.

It’s understandable to be disappointed. Do take some time to acknowledge that you suffered a loss. Then, take the next step towards recovering by recognizing that you couldn’t have prepared for this, and, just as importantly, you’re not alone. Everyone’s reality is altered.

Entrepreneurial strengths

But now, capitalize on what made you successful in the first place: your enterprising attitude and capability to look beyond the uncertainty of the moment. Begin envisioning how you can turn the situation to your advantage or how you can transform your business to create opportunity in the future.

Retooling your mindset is a good place to start. Examples abound. Distilleries transitioning to hand sanitizer production or automotive component manufacturers making ventilators. What do — or will — consumers need that your company could provide?

Include your employees in this process. Brainstorming is an awesome way to rally the team and get some free ideas. Uncertainty stimulates our desire for knowledge, and great creativity can lead to innovative discoveries. Like a vaccine or customized masks.

Invest some time

And think about where you want your company to go. If you’ve been meaning to work on the company culture or look for ways to increase productivity, now’s the time to flesh out the details. Read our last month’s blog Company Culture = Future Resilience for some ideas.

If adding staff or hanging on to your existing skilled workforce is top of mind, consider getting quotes for benefits plans. Next to salary, benefits are a key consideration in retaining and attracting employees.

Lastly, make use of all of the resources available to SMEs from the provincial and federal governments. Now isn’t the time for pride or toughing it out. Too many people are counting on small business for products and services to get them through this ordeal.

Will small business owners be the ones to come out of COVID-19 thriving? We’ll see. If we’ve retained our tenacity for getting things done, and our tolerance for facing the unknown head on, the odds are good.

Bensol Consulting provides benefits solutions for small business. We’re evolving, too, and are ready to help in your business recovery. Follow us on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook for tips and resources, and reach out to let us know how you’re doing. We’re all in this together. Stay safe and well!