6 ways to deal with business uncertainty during COVID-19

6 Ways to deal with business uncertainty during COVID-19

business uncertainty

6 Ways to deal with business uncertainty during COVID-19

One saying that is very accurate is that “change is a certainty.”

However, a by-product of change is the uncertainty it brings. Especially if the change is unexpected, unplanned and out of your control. So, in the current pandemic with so much difficulty and unknowns, this brings problems in itself regarding how to deal with business uncertainty during COVID-19.

Sadly we are all experiencing challenging times, especially for those business owners trying to cope with the effects and changes that COVID-19 have brought to their businesses. It requires a level of resilience to be able to adapt to the ever-changing situation. Sadly, along with the pandemic it has brought so much uncertainty, it can be hard to know what to do for the best and how to deal with your business during COVID-19.

No one could have expected or planned for a pandemic to happen or what the effects on our businesses would be. But sadly there has been so much uncertainty, worry, and continuous need to make decisions on the spot, due to the ever-changing political and economic environment. Many aspects will feel out of your control for a business owner, which, can create a certain degree of worry over the uncertainty and unknown as to what will happen to our businesses and when can we expect to return to some level of normality.  

It is often said to be successful in business today you need to be good at dealing with uncertainty, able to take risks with the information to hand and have the believe things will get better. Which I certainly believe makes for a more resilient mindset.

But sadly, this can be hard to achieve in our businesses as uncertainty brings new complexities to your business which means decision making is often tricky. Still, the uncertainty has other impacts on you as a business owner, such as stress, worry and anxiety.

As Psychology, today states; Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, and the body’s response to it, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism, muscle response (aches & pains), memory capacity and even your logical decision-making processes.

Some stress is necessary; it is the means by which we encounter and respond to the challenges and uncertainties of life. The perception of fear sets off an automatic response system, known as the fight-or-flight response, that, activated through hormonal signals, prepares an animal to meet a threat or to flee from it. This is often how people feel when sudden negative changes affect one’s business and when they feel they have no obvious control or solution to the cause.

Source – https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/stress

For some business owners, they may be experiencing this fight or flight response from the stress of the uncertainty, regardless of the size of your business, we all function and respond in similar ways. Also while you may have a sensation during these times of having little or no control over things, it can make running a business more challenging and present new challenges such as how to deal with business uncertainty during COVID-19?

COVID-19 has brought a lot of external change and stress to business owners.  However this reaction to the uncertainty is only useful when you can actively correct the situation around you, which is causing the challenges.

If you are like me and have a logical, structured mind, where you like things to make sense and have a sense of control within your grasp. You are probably someone who deals best in a black and white, yes or no situation, problem and solution.

But as I have personally learnt over the whole of my career and especially now I work with so many small business as a Business Advisor I have learnt that businesses just like someone’s personal life isn’t like that. Life is unpredictable.

However as a human being, we all require a certain amount of certainty in our life as well as within our businesses. This certainty provides reassurance that we understand where our businesses are heading, that we are in control of our destiny and goals, that with hard work we can achieve progress and if we cant achieve these positive outcomes we have within our grasp to control and change our outcome to ensure our business can survive.

Therefore, during this time where our businesses are all affected by COVID-19, it can be challenging to accept so much uncertainty surrounding every aspect of our businesses that is out of our immediate control.

Many business owners I have spoken to are starting to wonder will my businesses recover, can I make ends meet, will I be able to rebuild my business after all this, among many other thoughts…..

Stress Anxiety Worry

There are so many uncertainties and unknowns, all brought on by external factors and decisions outside of our control, it feels daunting and stressful knowing how to deal with business uncertainty during COVID-19

Stress, anxiety or worry alongside other responses, which sadly often cause a negative effect such as feeling as though you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Especially when so much is out of your control.

And in some ways you may be right in thinking this; however, this is also not wholly accurate.

There are some great ways you can help yourself during these challenging times.

6 ways to deal with business uncertainty during Covid-19

1. Have confidence in your choices.

There is rarely a right or wrong choice or decision, but one that came from a carefully considered number of factors. Believing in yourself and your choices will help you build confidence in the decisions you make and your ability to respond to what you can not control. If you trust yourself and the reasoning you used to make your decisions, you will find you start to develop more confidence in your choices and start to cultivate a positive outlook. Often this will lead to an increase in self-confidence and belief that you can make the best decisions in any situation.

There is no right or wrong choice or decision; it is what is right for your circumstances, based on the information and knowledge you have to hand. A Choice is “an act of choosing between two or more possibilities or factors.”

2. Adaptability

It is important to realise that there is an inherent need as a business owner to be adaptable to situations. As I mentioned before the only certainty is that change is inevitable. Therefore developing a mindset where you can accept that things will evolve and change over time, whether due to good or bad circumstance, it will support you in building a more resilient attitude which in turn requires the ability to be adaptable.

Adaptability can help to create a more proactive and positive mindset. If you have find yourself accepting that being able to adapt to changing and challenging situations is a standard part of running a business, when the unexpected does happen, you will have developed a level of strength both mentally and physically.  This in no way diminishes the significant and daunting effects that events such as COVID-19 has on your business, but what it does mean is that getting to the place in your mind where running your business is a journey where positive and negative events can occur but that those negative will have a lesser impact on your ability to be that strong and adaptability business owner, you’ll be able to see ways through the period of disruption.

If you can call upon your ability and awareness to be adaptable, you are more likely to find that when those unexpected situations occur you have the mindset and ability to react, be calm and see clear actions you can take to ease the uncertainty. This will only help you move past the difficult challenges that live can throw at you with more ease.

3. Realise you do not need to control every aspect of the business.

As a business owner, there will be a number of people involved in the operation of your business, whether directly or indirectly. Such as staff, outsourced services, skills or suppliers, your loyal customer base and a strong reputation etc all of which contribute to the growth and success of your business. But to develop a successful business cannot rely solely on one person, this is not scalable or manageable. Allowing others to provide input, have some autonomy or responsibility will only lead to a more positive environment of growth. Where others feel motivated, they will often be more productive, which in turn means a better end product or service to your customers. More importantly for a business owner, you do not need to do everything yourself, micromanage every aspect of the business or need to know how to do every element required, as this is not realistic, or practical. So being able to allow others to contribute, support you and the business, bring skills and experience to complement yours and the business, creates a more successful and resilient business.  You can focus on the bigger picture during times of uncertainty with the peace of mind that you have the right skills, knowledge, people and a good reputation to make the bigger decisions easier during uncertainty.

4. Learn that uncertainty is a natural part of business.

As a business owner, you won’t always have the full picture. Sometimes there will be missing information, a small degree of unknown factors, perhaps not knowing the real demand for the new offer, or the true interest in the new service, or like now the unknown of when we will be able to go back to work, start trading again, meet customers and most importantly make an income. But if you focus on the part of the picture you have information about, you can still make decisions, choices, plans and actions. Whether you are furloughed or not. You can still make a list of actions and plans for when things do change. If you aren’t furloughed, find ways to keep your business visible, there are many ways you can stay relevant and visible to your customers, whilst you can’t necessarily directly stand in front of them.

Create and maintain your online presence whether website or social media, share the status of things within your business (I don’t mean financial details) but that you are raring to go when the lock down is lifted, let them know what products you have and that you are still available to your customers. The key skill is being able to make the best decision in the circumstances, not the perfect decision. During a time of uncertainty, there is no such thing as a right or wrong choice or decision, it’s the best one for your circumstances.  

5. Be aware that not every decision you make will work out as you expected

Some choices and decisions made during a time of uncertainty may not work out but trying something and it not working gives you a sense of control and ownership for your business circumstances then if you choose to do nothing. This is an intrinsic part of business decision making; there is no crystal ball. We have to expect life itself has an element of uncertainty as with business, and therefore not every choice will turn out as expected, but if those decisions and choices are made on the basis of carefully considered choices and information available to us, then we must accept we are made those decisions with the best intentions and give ourselves a break that we don’t need to get everything right and that during uncertainty it is tougher to know what is going to turn out to be the best outcome. However doing something is better than not doing anything.

This is at the essence of business uncertainty you will not always have the right answers, but making a decision and trying is better than not trying at all.

6. Listen to advice and lean on others around you.

There are many business support organisations, online forums, social media groups and communities as well specific support providers such as business advisors like myself that actively work and support their clients to not only help them with the practical and operational aspects of the business but also the personal, emotional challenges during both good and bad times. Running a business is a very complex task, with many various elements that I like to call “the recipe” that contribute to the success and challenges you can experience.  This is why it is viewed by many that running a business can be the most challenging but also the most rewarding jobs you can do.  

As a business owner, you should not place the pressure on yourself, to have the answers to every situation and event that affects your business. This is why it is important, to build business communities and networks. During times of uncertainty is when these groups, organisations and people can be a vital resource, not only to lean on for emotional and practical support but also so you don’t feel alone in the circumstances you find yourself. Often people feel more optimistic and positive when they can share their challenges with others and realise they are not alone. Do not try and cope in isolation; this can only develop into a more negative and detrimental response. Often it is when communities/groups come together to support each other when positive changes happen.

To Conclude

As humans uncertainty brings many challenges, especially if you are a business owner. You will often find yourself feeling conflicted about what to do. But I firmly believe a robust, sustainable business has a strong and resilient person behind it. We can not know everything, or expect ourselves to be perfect, or know all the answers, or make the right decision every time, but this is not only normal it is also the same experience you will find every other business owner experiencing especially during such unique events such as COVID-19.

Being kind to yourself, understand the choices and decisions you make are based on the best information you have to hand and that sometimes this might mean changing those plans and decisions several times. This is ok, as this is being adaptable to your uncertain circumstances.

But most importantly, never feel alone in challenging times. There are always others out there either experiencing the same as you, have gone through what you have, or can help and guide you through the difficult times.

But remember you can help yourself, you can take some control back over your business, decisions and where you are. No matter what external factors are taking place around you. You can make choices whether they are good or bad, tough or enjoyable, you are the one that knows what is right for your business!

Hopefully these 6 ways to deal with uncertainty during COVID-19 is not only helpful now, but can provide you with a better awareness of how you can deal with difficult times in the future.

With uncertainty being a certainty in life, we should all seek to integrate resilience and adaptability into the way we approach our businesses to emerge stronger and more determined.

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