The Small Business Mindset You Need Right Now



Small Business Crisis Mindset

If you’re a small business owner, there’s really only one question on your mind; how do I stay in business through this COVID-19 crisis?

We’ve never seen anything like this before.  But then again, we have had disruptions that have shuttered businesses before.  Maybe you’ve lived through some of these;

  • The energy crisis in the 1970’s with cars waiting in line for gas and inflation rates through the roof.
  • The stock market crashes of 1987, 2000, 2008, and now.
  • September 11

Millions of businesses didn’t make it and attributed their failure to the crisis.  That’s normal.

And yet, there were businesses in the same industries that succeeded.  They not only survived, but thrived in the face of a crisis.



Small Business Crisis Mindset

What was different?

Choose: Victim or Victor

Let’s pretend that what’s different is who you are in the face of a crisis. Who do you say you are? Victim? Or Victor?

The question you have to ask yourself is where do you want to be when we are all on the other side of this?

It may seem like you have no choices, but the choices you have are numerous.

You get to say whether you’re a victim or a victor. No one else. And how you say is how it is.

It’s a choice.  In the same way you choose to put on a red shirt or a blue shirt.  You choose what mindset you want to put on in a crisis.



Following is a list of mind-shifting and transformational ways of thinking and being that you can choose right now to immediately shift your mindset from victim to victor.

Speak With Power

What you say to yourself (and others) about the way things are is how things are. Your family and your team are looking to you for clues about how to react.

As the leader of your family or your team, you must be responsible with your speaking.

Look back on the last few conversations and reflect on what you said about the current situation.



Was the conversation hopeful or hopeless?

Let that sink in.

It’s all about the filter through which you view and live your life.

If you see this crisis (any crisis) as a threat to your business, then it’s a threat to your business.



If you see a crisis as an opportunity and the inevitable fumbling and messiness as part of the process, then that’s what it will be.

From this day forward, speak powerfully. If you don’t see the opportunity, look for it. Your outlook and attitude in a crisis will influence the outcome.

If your biggest customer cancelled orders for 60 days, what will you do with the time you have? If you have excess inventory, what other distribution channels can you try to get your goods and services into someone else’s hands?

Follow the money.  In every crisis, someone is making money.  Who are those people in your world? Right now, everyone is focused on loss.  You focus on gain. Where is the gain. Look for it and you will find it.



Reframe Reality: Things Happen FOR You, Not TO You

Despite what others want you to see and believe, tell yourself that this is happening FOR you and not TO you.

This mindset will give you a sense of control. And, while you can’t control events and people, you can absolutely control how you view them.

What if the latest crisis is something that happened FOR you?

Imagine that?



What if it was some kind of gift?  Seems odd and counterintuitive to look at a crisis as a gift. But give it a go.

What if this massive shift in how you work and how your business works was an opportunity for transformation.

You have the time, just sit with it.

What are some things you never thought you would do in your business , but now these wild ideas might actually be something worth considering?



Focus on Courage not Fear

Fear is an appropriate human emotion. But, left unchecked, your fear will drive you out of business.  Don’t let some external crisis define you or your business.

Give yourself the time and space to acknowledge your fear.   And then let your courage take over.

Courage means being afraid and doing it anyway.  Think about what you can do now — and what you can do once things pick up again. Brainstorm expansion ideas.   Make a list of things that a courageous person might do in your situation.

This list is just for you, so don’t edit yourself.  The best ideas are inelegant ideas. You have very little to lose in exploring.



Here are 5 questions you can use to prompt idea generation:

  • What’s missing, that if it were present, would blow the roof off of your sales?  Do you need to hire another salesperson? Run more ads? Or perhaps a targeted email marketing campaign to existing customers at a level you’ve never done before?
  • What are some things that you would NEVER do in your business? Now, what if those were things you always did in your business?
  • Instead of focusing on your product or service, think about your capabilities. What other things can your business produce or provide with the tools, resources or people you have?
  • In what ways can you pre-sell your customers? Are there creative credit solutions?
  • What have customers been asking for that your business hasn’t provided up to now?  Review customer service feedback. Can you figure out a way to deliver?

If you need more ideas, read:  Your Coronavirus Marketing Strategy.

See yourself as a hero.  What would a hero do?

Replace Worry with Action

By taking action, you replace fear.  Instead of worrying, pick a task and devote your entire attention to it.



Fear, uncertainty and doubt get pushed aside when your mind has to focus on an activity.

Think of five projects you never seem to have time to do. Now is the time to tackle one of them — maybe more. The same goes for keeping employees productive — give them projects to do.

Here are just a few projects you might tackle to put your mind on something productive and keep employees contributing:

  • Hold a “clean out and organize your email inbox” day.  If your inbox drives you crazy because you have a lot of unread emails, now is the time to go through them.  Unsubscribe from newsletters you no longer read. Change social media settings so you no longer get a notification for every little thing (notifications you don’t read!). Make it a team challenge.
  • Improve your website. Websites often get neglected during busy times. Slow times are great for updating your website design such as updating product pages, landing pages and images..
  • Compose blog posts and social media marketing updates.  Even if you can’t use them now, create them as drafts. Stockpile them for when activity picks up.  You’ll hit the ground running.
  • Brainstorm new marketing and sales ideas. Make a list of 13 different ways you can put your product or service in front of your customer.  Even if everyone is working remotely, you can do brainstorming in an online conference call over a shared brainstorming document with your team.
  • Develop a stockpile of custom social media images.  A simple tool like Canva can make great images for sharing on social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram —  either now or when activity picks up.
  • Install new software. Have you been thinking of implementing a CRM system? What about online appointment scheduling, or a way to accept online payments? A new accounting system?  Now is a perfect time to address any such systems and improvements you want to make.
  • Work on your business continuity plan. Every business needs a plan. The current situation will help you think of holes and items missing in your disaster preparedness plan.
  • Organize your tax documentation.  Tax day has been pushed back to July 15, 2020.  But don’t wait — use this time to gather and organize your documentation, if you haven’t already done so.

These may seem like minor activities in the midst of a major crisis.  But they will get you back to feeling in charge. Once you accomplish a few proactive activities, you will feel more confident in the face of bigger issues.

Find the Good Feelings

It’s easy to feel down and out.  But so much better to feel good and happy.

What makes you happy?  It might be as simple as enjoying the sunshine, petting your dog or cat or going for a walk.  Do that. Talk with your family and neighbors.

Find something to do that will provide immediate results.  Clean something, do laundry, read a book.

Did you know that whatever emotion you are feeling right now will multiply?  Left unchecked, your mind will spin and churn on negative thoughts if that’s all you feed it.

While it may seem impossible to shift from despondent to joyful, it’s a lot easier to shift from despondent to grateful. Then you can move from grateful to hopeful.  And finally from hopeful to joyful.

March to Your Own Drum

Sure, people will call you NUTS for not freaking out with the rest of the world.  But after reading this, you know better.

I’m not saying to ignore the news or pretend like everything is peachy.  Don’t be irresponsible when it comes to health matters. I am encouraging you to not bury your head in the sand. Get comfortable with “what’s so” and look for opportunities that are hiding below the surface. More in: , 2 Comments ▼



Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

2 Reactions
  1. Crisis management is essential for a business. It is all about listing possible disasters and having a contingency plan for this.

  2. Hi Aira — You hit the nail on the head for sure. Unfortunately, Crisis management is something that seems like a luxury when you’re doing your best to sell and service customers. And — now we know.

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