It’s easy to run a business in default mode, to operate reactively instead of proactively. Many business owners do it. They allow systems to develop by happenstance in their business rather than designing them with intention; they keep their business afloat on referrals and word-of-mouth instead of developing a Marketing Strategy to attract their ideal customer; they pass their finances off to their accountant without a second thought. A business can survive, and even thrive, this way when things are going smoothly—but not, it turns out, when extreme challenges arise.
We’ve seen the harsh reality of this in the last two months as many owners have closed their businesses. Many didn’t have a contingency plan or enough cash in the bank, while others simply didn’t know how to keep it going. For the business owners who’ve held on, the challenges they’ve faced have uncovered the truth about what’s broken in their business. It’s become clear where that default mode has created problems so deeply entrenched in the fibers of the business that it's almost too overwhelming to address.
We’ve talked to a lot of these owners. In the beginning of lockdown, they were all saying the same thing: “I need to get it together and fix my business now.” They were feeling surprisingly motivated.
And yet as we inch toward a post-lockdown economy, the sentiment is shifting. Instead of feeling motivated to change, owners are now facing apprehension over what to do next—and that apprehension is slowly but surely leading many into a fatal state of indecision. Afraid of the unknown, many are choosing to not choose.
This is the most dangerous thing you can do for your business.
But it’s not uncommon. It’s that default mode. Many business owners have a history of not choosing, which makes this moment especially difficult. Somewhere along the line as a business owner, they chose to not choose; a choice happened to them and narrowed their path. So now they find themselves stuck in this moment without a clear vision for the future.
As the leader of your business, the most important choice you’ll ever make—but especially now—is to choose what happens to your business next. Because the truth is, if you don’t move now to fix the glaring vulnerabilities you’ve seen in your business and create a more resilient model that aligns with your goals, your path will be chosen for you. And you’ll be forced to react.
Trust that making a choice—even when the future is unknown—is better than letting it choose you. This may be the defining moment of your business, and the defining moment for you as its leader.
So ask yourself:
- What is my path through this?
- What are things that I can do to fix what’s not working in my business?
- Who can I partner with now to help get my business into a position where I feel safeguarded, so I don’t ever end up here again?
The best path forward is one with guidance and accountability. Find someone who can reflect what they see back to you and help you define your path: a mentor, a business coach, or simply a friend. Find someone you trust to help you see clearly so you can choose the way forward for you and your business.