April 27, 2020

Business Strategies in a Disrupted Economy

As business owners, leaders, and managers, we have seen (or will see) lots of disruptions in our industries. Most of those disruptions result from something happening in our specific industry or from a decision that we made for our business. None of us have had the devastating experience of a pandemic that brought a standstill to life and extreme disruption to our global economy. So how do we survive and recover from the disruptions of COVID-19 (or any other worldwide disruptive event)? Here are a few ways to manage and come out stronger on the backside of a disrupted economy.

Dust off your business plan

We all have business plans that we’ve either put in writing or have mapped out in our heads, and we’ve used the excuse of being too busy to do anything with them. Now is the time to dust off those plans and put them to work. You have time to think about the future and, rather than panicking, be productive. We won’t be coming back to “business as usual” so be prepared for change. If your plan had you rearranging work-flow, take the step to move desks around, pair people differently in their work environment, lay-out your retail shop for better display and traffic flow. If moving part of your business online has been in your plan, now is the time to act. With the inability to gather as we once did, create a shop online, develop the website you’ve been dreaming about, prepare content to promote your business through social media. Don’t waste this quieter time worrying, spend it productively executing the plan for your post-COVID-19 business.

Be attentive to your employees

We can spend much of our time in a disrupted economy worrying about how to survive, make rent, pay for inventory, and meet payroll demands. Amidst that worry, we forget about the people who work with us. Be attentive to the suggestions and the needs of your employees during times of disruption. We all have great talent at our fingertips, and we often take that talent for granted. Our employees know more about how to do their jobs efficiently and about what our customers and clients are looking for than we do. Seek your employees’ input regarding the business changes you are looking to make. Listen to your employees’ concerns about their working situations and be responsive to those concerns. If working from home permanently is an option, consider it to ease an employee’s fear. If working different hours or a different shift will make an employee’s family life more stable, explore the option. Don’t shut suggestions down out of hand – be open to your employees’ ideas.

Take care of yourself

As business owners, leaders, and managers, we often put our needs last. We make decisions we think are in the best interest of others, and we often shoulder the burdens of change in our businesses alone. But if we don’t take care of our own needs, we won’t be able to help our businesses survive a disrupted economy, particularly a global disruption. Don’t give up your workout routine. Even if you have to adjust your routine because of schedule changes or gym closures, stay physically active and physically fit. Find time to read and reflect, play games with your family, engage in conversation that isn’t work-related.

We are all afraid of what might happen with our businesses and how, or whether, our global economy will recover. Some of those fears are real and some are self-inflicted. As you look to recover from the disrupted global economy, make sure that you are making decisions and having conversations with your teams based on facts, not on fear of an unknown and uncertain future.


Courtesy of Christopher Cipoletti, managing director, Pioneer Fund COS. This blog post expands on our recent Chamber Connect panel discussion on leading in a disrupted economy. Listen to the discussion featuring Chris and fellow leadership experts here.