In the past 10 days, three of my Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) clients arrived at exactly the same conclusion: “Don’t let Covid be our excuse”. This is remarkable and obvious for different reasons.
Let me explain.
Let PPP be our bonus
It is remarkable to see the resilience of American companies in this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. (I call it once in a lifetime, as today’s generations will likely learn the lesson and will not fall into this trap again for another 100 years. Like our forebears had learned it with the Spanish flu.) Already in May and June, I noticed that many of my clients were treating PPP grants as reserves, not to be tapped into. They were trying to make their numbers anyway, treating their government grants as potential bonuses. I was amazed by, and loved their natural audacity.
The other thing I heard was: “How can we take advantage of the opportunities created by Covid?”, and “How do we prepare for harvesting the catch-up effect after the country opens up again?”. These were exactly the right questions to ask. Entrepreneurship is all about creating value, especially when there is massive change. Change inevitably creates opportunities, alongside risk.
Europe: defense, US: offense
Before we take these attitudes for granted, let me share with you a different perspective. Earlier this week, I spoke with a friend of mine in Europe. He heads a regional office of a major London-based law firm. His office is doing well (as a law firm should do when there is change), but his clients are apparently in a state of paralysis. Most have lost their vision and many have dropped the ball and relaxed during the summer, taking their clues from their paternalistic governments. According to my friend, many now expect a deep recession, about which they feel powerless. So the mediocre companies are doing nothing, and the good ones are focused on cutting staff and postponing projects. Playing defense, not offense.
In the meantime, some American businesses hit all time records. The stock market had a bumper year for the most part, driven by tech companies that responded to the crisis by innovating. Tesla has become the most valuable car company in the world by far, and Zoom has brought video meetings mainstream. Snowflake delivered the largest software IPO of all time. I bet innovators have created 5 years worth of productivity improvements in 5 months. These may well add double digits in growth to our economy in the coming years.
Covid is just an “Issue”
Isn’t that obvious? There is no reason to let Covid be the excuse. Unless for making long overdue improvements in effectiveness and quality. Why should you hang on to underperforming employees, as unemployment edges up. How can we justify wasting time and energy with travel when video meetings are almost as effective. We save two hours a day not having to commute which many of us can invest into our business. (Unless you have small kids to look after, in which case this does not apply.)
Let’s face it, entrepreneurial businesses always have issues. Covid is just one of them and not even the worst kind. How about when you lose your major customer that generated 30% of your revenue last year? Or when a disruptor snatches your market share like the iPhone did to Nokia and Blackberry? What about being a financial company during the 2008 meltdown? What if your management team were killed in a plane crash? Any of these events would be worse disasters for your business than Covid.
In some ways Covid is just a difficult business issue that needs to be handled with a cool head, creativity and resilience. Yes, you will probably have to work twice as hard for a couple of years than normal. Yes, you may have to clean house. Yes, you will probably have to reinvent your business. Maybe you have to do a couple of these at the same time.
It’s time to fix your business
Big deal. You should be doing these things every few years anyway. Covid just keeps you on your toes and brakes your complacency after 9 years of unprecedented growth
Don’t let Covid be your excuse. The pandemic is here to stay. Get down to the hard work of fixing your business NOW!
PPP and EIDL funds are running out. There is no more time to lose.