Business Needs to Survive to Thrive

Survive to Thrive Mindset

Just as babies need to crawl before they walk, businesses need to survive before they thrive. Keeping this in mind during a crisis is key to staying focused on the bigger picture. Whether it is a local or global crisis it is important to understand where your thoughts are at, to best serve your business and your community.

Crisis Thoughts

FLIGHT: These are the planning thoughts. A plan for during and after the crisis. These owners will communicate clearly, research and assess resources. Time, Money, People and Skills to create an action plan. They are strategists

FRIGHT: These are the worried thoughts of only treading water and biding time. These owners have little clear communication with their team, customers, and community. They are preppers

FREEZE: These are the panic thoughts of the end of business. These owners listen to the news continuously, have no clear communication, and believe someone or something needs to step in and save them. They are victims

What they all have in common is their leadership or lack of leadership is showing. The good news is leadership is a skill to develop. Every owner can tap into their leader within.

Lately I have seen an increase in requests from not only shop owners but local business owners, industry associations and local groups on leadership advice and next step help.

My Three-Step Crisis Survival System

This system has served me well through a personal and/or business crisis. It has worked for me in multiple businesses.

Step One – Clarity – Identify the crisis. Is it yours or everyone’s? Who will it affect? How do you feel?

  • Stressed– Feeling overwhelmed can affect your eating, sleeping, mood and the quality of your decision making.
  • Concerned– Feeling concerned about the situation while looking for solutions and steps needed, for the next 30, 60 or 90 days.

Step Two – Control – You cannot control the situation, but you can control how you react to it and how you handle it. Crisis affects every area of business. Sales, Marketing, Financials, People, and Operations.

Creating your plan for during the crisis and after the crisis. Understand it will evolve as more information and data becomes available.

Step Three – Confidence – You gain confidence in the doing. Implement the plan. Who will do what and when? Learning and growing from action taken, will open your mind to innovation and creativity.

All Areas of your business will be affected during a crisis

  • Marketing: Assess messaging
  • Sales: Assess conversations
  • Operations: Assess processes and systems
  • People: Assess communication
  • Finances: Assess your numbers

The fact is many of the practices that owners consider necessary now are practices that many made excuses for not doing in the past.

An owner’s role has always been messaging, financials and relationships. The need for these becomes more apparent during times of crises.

Many business owners do not see themselves as leaders. You are a resource to your team, customers and community and you have influence. People come to you for solutions. How you choose to show up and use your influence is up to you.

The challenge with this crisis is we have no idea how long it will last. Safety is a priority. Good leaders will try to survive a crisis. Great leaders will see opportunities and take action to thrive after a crisis. They will see past themselves, their business, and align with the needs of their customers.


When business and life are good, leadership seems easy. When business or life is challenging leadership is more vital than ever.

We are living in a time of VUCA, a concept that originated decades ago with students at the U.S. Army War College. It has been recently used in business management and leadership training. This is what we are facing as business owners and leaders now.

What VUCA Means

  • VOLATILITY – The increasing pace of change
  • UNCERTAINTY – Unpredictability of the future
  • COMPLEXITY – Lack of clarity about the meaning
  • AMBIGUITY – Unclear about the present

Communication is key

I did my research and the next step was a meeting with our team. We had it in the shop instead of our meeting room for social distancing’s sake.

  • The fact: We’re an essential business and needed in the community. We will stay open so long as we have the work to keep our team employed and safe.
  • The plan: To keep the pipeline of work coming in, organizing, and realize the opportunity for more training.
  • How does that play out:  Sanitizing for the safety of our team, customers, vendors/suppliers, and community, increase marketing efforts, Change up our messaging.

My Goal:

I wanted to let them know that we are in this together and give them something they can take home as well.

  • Clarity We can not control what is happening, but we can control how we react to it. How we talk to our family and friends who may be watching the new all day can make a difference.
  • VisionKeep the direction in front of them. Employment. We’ve never missed a paycheck since 1999 and we don’t want to.
  • Understanding – Break down steps being taken so they feel secure. Look into reduced hours if need be to keep insurance in place. Unemployment is the last resort.
  • Agility – Keep everyone updated and get their feedback. I addressed all questions or concerns they had and noted the importance of being focused on the quality of work. I also left resource information in the lunchroom.

Yes, this is a difficult time, so it’s easy to get sucked into the fear. There is a difference between concern and fear. Concerns will lead to a search for solutions. Fear can consume you and stop you from finding solutions.  

The problem with fear is that you will lose time worrying about something you can’t control. I’m concerned about the situation but I choose to spend my time productively because time is one thing I can’t get back.

No Secret To A Better Team

The number one challenge small business owners tell me they face today is finding good help. I hear it from all areas of the country. People are looking for the answers, tips, tactics and all the advice they can get. Many are looking for the secret to a better team.

Their challenges are similar.

  • Not many applicants
  • People don’t seem motivated
  • Lack of accountability

Let’s Unpack This

  • What happened? (Diagnosis)
  • What can the future look like? (Vision)
  • How do we get there? (Plan)

What happened. For years we’ve seen the ripple effect of poor leadership. Many owners didn’t appreciate and value team members as people who could contribute and grow the business. The owner didn’t clearly share their story (purpose) of why they started their business. The challenge: These owners had no clear purpose or lost sight of it. Without, a vision, mission and purpose they created a job for themselves not a business. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. Poor leadership caused the ripple effect and the skills gap we have today. As a result, we have many who are disengaged at work and only work for a paycheck. My coaching purpose: I was frustrated that good people were operating their business out of fear. It broken my heart that many owners felt less than with nothing to sell after years of dedicating their lives to their business while sacrificing other areas of their life.

The future. You have a story. A reason you opened your business. It’s more than money. Money is the result of working. Go deeper. What motivated you and led you to this is your purpose. Keep in mind motivation can be positive or negative. Vision is the future and it’s bigger than your shop or business.  How do you want the industry to be? What do you think needs to change? My coaching vision:  Owners (leaders) realize their capabilities to perform at their best to reach their goals, success and fulfillment.

Getting there. Mission: How you show up every day to be a credit to your community and industry. Learn, ask, share what’s working, lessons learned, support, guide and encourage others. Start with you. Are you the best leader you could be? Why would someone want to work with you? Would they be working for just a paycheck or would they be part of something bigger?  My coaching mission: To guide trade business owners to become high-performance leaders so they can turn their dreams into reality without sacrificing their personal life.

We know we need to maintain our homes, cars and health. How do you maintain your business to keep it Enjoyable, Sustainable and Profitable? Business grows as the owner grows. Plan on developing yourself and the ripple effect will enrich your team, business, and personal life.

So, the secret to a better team is not looking for better people. It’s becoming a better leader and attracting the people who connect with your purpose, share your vision and want to be a part of it. It’s about developing and retaining people who want to grow. They each have a story as well. Learn what motivates them. Be mindful of how you show up each day. Your job as leader is to inspire them.

Comment below. If you have questions contact me here.