Standing Still Won’t Cut It in 2020

Businesses cannot afford to sit out this moment. They must seize it for a bright future.


Jim Downes

2 years ago | 4 min read

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Many of our clients tell us they want to hunker down and wait out the coronavirus pandemic. Our advice? Don’t do it. As Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec once wrote, “Action is better than inaction. If you stay on the mountain and do nothing, you will freeze to death. You have to try, fail, learn, and do it over in order to grow.”

(By the way, Herjavec wrote this before COVID-19 tore through the economy.) But if you think about it — sharks — his show’s mascot, offer the perfect metaphor for our times. Many sharks must keep moving or they’ll die.

“Sharks ‘breathe’ through their gills, which are respiratory organs akin to our lungs,” explains Joseph Castro for Live Science. “As water passes over the gill's membranes, tiny blood vessels extract oxygen from the water. Carbon dioxide waste also passes from the shark's blood and out of its body through the gill tissue.”

In a similar manner, the economy requires perpetual growth to fuel production and consumption. Harmful imbalance occurs when either contracts. Knowing this truth, small to mid-size businesses can least afford to sit out this moment waiting for things to return to normal.

Instead, it’s time to carpe diem, beginning with reassessing everything about your business. My company, Blueprint CFO, has found the best way to temperature-check is through data. It’s no wonder this commodity is now considered the most valuable in the world.

Jennifer Kovachs, writing for Small Biz Resources, makes a powerful distinction on this point. “Most companies have all the information at their fingertips — but the information isn’t valuable until it’s analyzed.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we emphasize data analysis; not just to look backward, judging past performance, but rather, to plan ahead for our clients’ biggest future. In fact, I was just interviewed on this subject for Forbes.

Returning to the need for reassessment in the COVID-age, it’s imperative we do some intensive soul-searching, beginning with these questions:

Q: Is my business model still relevant? Will it be when public life resumes?

Imagine you own a gym. Prior to the pandemic, you had little reason to believe you would be shut down. Now that this is the new reality, it’s key to ask yourself, can I safely reopen and what will the new customer experience entail?

Q: Going forward, what must I do differently to be more successful?

Maybe you operate a law firm with thousands of square feet of offices for counsel. Since many court related activities have moved to remote, it’s worth reconsidering your monthly expenses. Would it be better to use a virtual office — and consequently lower your costs?

Q: How can I solve more problems for my clients, creating even deeper relationships?

Businesses exist to solve people’s problems. Right now, we have no shortage of these. It’s worth pondering how you can be of even greater assistance to not just your existing clientele, but new potential prospects.

Q: How do my clientele learn about me? (Do I rely on lunches and/or networking events to meet new customers?)

Knowing that many people are still not yet meeting face-to-face, it’s important to explore other options. For instance, I’m a member of ProVisors. Prior to the pandemic, I met with other professionals in large conference rooms. Nowadays, we take advantage of Zoom calls to network. How can you take advantage of similar opportunities?

Q: How can I better utilize tools, like e-commerce?

Retail is struggling in the age of Amazon prime. If you sell a physical product it is more important than ever to employ online selling. Knowing you can take advantage of online orders; how can you get set up for e-commerce or improve your current digital sales process?

Q: Do I have the right people to achieve my goals?

In Jim Collins’ book, From Good to Great, he makes the case that the number one thing a company should focus on is addressing the people problem. “Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus.” Knowing this, it’s worth asking yourself if you have the right team to address the realities of this moment.

Q: Am I using up-to-date technologies that will make me more efficient and effective?

Again, Zoom is a great tool to help in these times, but there are many innovations you could be using to not just sustain your company but take it to the next level. Beyond remote communications, it’s worth considering the latest operations and sales platforms. Likewise, it’s becoming easier and more affordable for smaller organizations to use AI to great effect.

Q: How can I make my business more successful and financially stable?

Ultimately, this is the key question. Everything else begins to fall into place when we consider the big picture. This is why my firm emphasizes strategy so much. Too many companies got by for too long flying by the seat of their pants. Nowadays, thriving in the New Normal requires working smarter, not harder. This is why Blueprint CFO’s first rule of engagement is to put a detailed financial plan in place.

A blueprint for growth, this document won’t just help you to understand where you are, it will tell you what you must do to move in the right direction for success. Not evolving, on the other hand, means you will get passed up by the competition, wither, and die. If that’s not what you want for your business, contact me Together we can put together a plan so you really do achieve your greatest future yet.


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Jim Downes







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