Business owners, this is going to hurt, so get scrappy.

While we are waiting to see the effect of the COVID-19 virus spreading across the nation, business owners are already feeling the impact of the response.

A manufacturing client of ours is wondering what they will do if someone gets sick. Do they shut down production? How long? How long can they survive without revenue? Will they lose customers? Will they have to lay off employees? Can they even afford to pay employees who might miss work because they are sick? How will these employees live without getting paid for a few weeks?

Another client of ours holds regular events. Do they still have the events? When do they make the decision to cancel? How do they replace the revenue? Do they give refunds to attendees whose employers aren’t allowing them to attend public events?

Another client of ours has a major supplier in Italy who has shut down production. They cannot get the parts they need to make their product. How do they decide which customers get product and which one’s don’t.

Our hospital and healthcare clients are dealing with different challenges. How can they handle a potentially large influx of patients? How do they educate their own staff on how to handle these situations? How do they avoid large scale quarantines through exposures to patients who walk in the wrong door?

A Nonprofit we’ve worked with is facing the cancellation of their major fundraiser. How will they replace the lost revenue? Do they postpone the event or do something differently?

Even People Centric is dealing with challenges? How do we support these clients who are struggling in different situations. How do we handle traveling to work with out of town clients or do we move all of our meetings online? How do we handle our own events?

If you aren’t a business owner and you are reading this, I hope you can see the challenges that business owners face. The average business in the US makes only 8 cents for every dollar sold while public perception is that they make 5x that. Many business owners will have tough decisions to make and many of them will sacrifice their future to help employees and keep things going.

If you are a business owner, here is my message to you. It’s time to get scrappy. It’s time to innovate.

In just a few weeks, the game has really changed. The market has changed. Your customers have changed. Your suppliers have changed. Things are really different. This is when you’ll need to innovate and find new ways (or old ones) to deliver value to your customer and keep the ship running.

Don’t struggle with this alone. While nobody would choose this situation, you actually have an opportunity to bring your team together. Nothing inspires a team better than working together to navigate a difficult situation. I know your instinct might be to protect your team and shield them from worry, but this is not the time. You will likely need all hands on board.

You have a big choice to make right now. Will you look ahead these coming weeks and months and just see an endless series of problems? Or will you look ahead and see a series of challenges to solve with your team?

It’s time to get scrappy and you might not just survive this challenge, you might even thrive.