Fighting Through the Fatigue

As I was going through articles I’d saved about how the COVID-19 Pandemic will affect the foodservice industry and how restaurants will need to respond to changing guest expectations, I came across this article in Inc. Magazine by Brian Hamilton that I saved from the beginning of the crisis. 6 Actions to Take in the Next 90 days to Save Your Business was not only relevant back in April, but might be even more applicable now that we’re all suffering from information fatigue and burn-out due to the stress of so much uncertainty.  

This applies to every business owner that’s either struggling to keep their company viable or on the opposite end of the spectrum and struggling to keep up with added demand under adverse production conditions. The 6 items that Brian laid out in April are still very valid now to help all of us fight the fatigue associated with the pandemic:

1.      Vigorously control what you can.  Vigorously ignore what you can’t.

This is a principle that I talk about often. I’m sure my three children can recite my version by heart.  All you can control is your effort and your attitude, the rest you leave for God.  This, more than anything else helps me fight through the fatigue of constant uncertainty.

2.      Guard Employee Morale.

Now even more than 6 months ago, employees are feeling the stress and the strain of all the sudden changes and uncertainty.  Be honest with them and lead with Radical Candor.  If you want to know more about how to lead with Radical Candor, read Kim Scott’s book or watch her Ted Talk. Remember our people are our most precious resource. 

Radical Candor graphic - Starr Design

3.      Preserve cash where you can.

We’re 6 months into this mess and it seems like it can easily go on for another 12 months.  I’m finding it very easy to slip back into old habits of spending impulsively on little things. Most companies that are feeling squeezed by the pandemic have already eliminated the major non-essential expenses and many companies that are seeing a deluge of work need to remember that this workload probably won’t last indefinitely; so we all still need to watch the small discretionary spending preserve cash to either save our resources during a drought our save them for when the drought comes.

4.      Be first in line. 

Many organizations still have PPP forgiveness applications to submit, debt restructuring and / or new loans to secure  to continue growing if your products or services are in heavy demand.  Either way, the squeaky wheel gets the grease; so, keep in front of your bankers, accountants, and financiers.

5.      Get back to the basics.

Start with maniacal customer service.   Great customer service always begins and ends with empathy.  It’s easy to get caught up in your own craziness, but is incredibly important to think of others and remember that they might be going through something far worse and your help might really make a difference for them right now.

6.      Pivot your product or service to new conditions.

I really struggled with this one because all I heard for 3 to 4 months was “pivot.”  I felt like I was caught in the episode of Friends where Ross is trying to get a couch that clearly won’t fit, up a flight of steps.  All he kept yelling was “Pivot, Pivot, Pivot.”  That’s great, but many of us, like me, have spent their entire career focused on one niche that they love and don’t want to leave that niche. Then a close friend reminded me that a true pivot in sports is keeping one foot planted and rotating your body around that foot.  I found that to be excellent advice 3 months ago and continuously need to remind myself of it as I work through the many options, alternatives and even opportunities in front of me. Stay in your niche, but look for other  opportunities revolving around it. 

I liked Brian Hamilton’s article back in April and appreciate it even more in October.   

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