Every business – and its entrepreneur – has its ups and downs in life which is normal and natural. However, how do you manage a time of weakness, economically and emotionally, before you die? Here’s my take on what I notice on the four main phases of such a time.
It’s really important for a company to be able to anticipate a time of weakness. This key advice is constantly repeated to all budding entrepreneurs without always being taken seriously. I also received this advice before I broke my teeth which is normal and part of the learning process.
An entrepreneur must know his key indicators, understand them and be able to follow them at a frequency that is relevant to his business model. The most important ones are, depending on the type of business, cash flow, order book, value of opportunities, payroll, inventory, etc.
You can use any tool to analyze them, the important thing is to set up and stick to a monitoring ritual. There are plenty of other indicators, not necessarily business ones, which can be considered such as seasons, events, changes in the legal framework, new market players, new technologies, etc. Being able to see and understand future changes gives an immediate advantage in managing troughs, or even eliminating some of them.
On the other hand, one must accept that it is impossible to control everything. It is a fine balance to be found between moving forward blindfolded and trying to predict the future. It goes without saying that savings definitely contribute to anticipating.
As you notice yourself caught in time of weakness, what do you do? Do you see this tsunami coming at you or are you still waiting and getting swept away? Before reacting, there is this emotional phase of acceptance. Accepting and taking up a challenge that presents itself, gives us the strength to fight it; as with many difficulties in life. This acceptance – not resignation – is a source of inspiration, sometimes genius, which allows the entrepreneur to roll up his sleeves to find the energy and the means to face the challenge.
Talking to those around you, taking the time to listen and going green will greatly contribute to your acceptance and imagination. Eliminate distractions and don’t be jealous of your competitor’s appearing success, he probably has problems too.
In the business world, you have to react quickly, but not in a hurry. A false good solution will cause more damage than it solves. Easy to say, but when everything goes wrong, that’s when humans will be inclined to make the worst decisions. The most common reaction will be to call for help, whether to talk about the problem, imagine solutions, or propose them directly. Here are a few suggestions: ask for an advance (B2B) / a voucher (B2C), ask for an introduction, a contact sharing, a recommendation, a press release, ask for a loan (be careful!), etc.
You have to dare to open up, without giving an image of desperation. You will find humans in front of you, with feelings and very often the pride (or ego) of being able to help someone importantly. On the other hand, sounding too desperate will probably put off the people who could help you which will make you feel even worse.
When the storm has passed, it’s time for reflecting. Our brain is very gifted at quickly at forgetting bad experiences, which is part of our survival instinct to be resilient.
Opening the wounds of the past and staying humble is tough but required for healthly introspection: analyzing the why and the how. What could I have done differently? What is my share of responsibility and what is uncontrollable? What have I learned or not understood? Don’t be too hard on yourself, but be as objective as possible so that you can draw clear conclusions and take action for the future.
No one knows when the next time of weakness might happen and how it might be, but it is your turn to anticipate.
Axel Pasqualini, an entrepreneur among many others.