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How to Conquer the Economic Rollercoaster of COVID-19

Carolynn Duncan | special instructor

Thanks to COVID-19 (or not), everything in life seems to have flipped and the economic road ahead is unfortunately unpredictable. No matter what industry or business model you have, you, your team, the supply chain, the market, investors, access to capital, buying trends, and every aspect of business has been or will be affected.

Yet, there is hope to be had––especially for entrepreneurs. When things shift, that’s when innovation, disruption, problem-solving, job creation, and new ways of doing things become not only welcome, but essential.

Yet, there is hope to be had––especially for entrepreneurs.

WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE NO OPTIONS, OR IF YOU HAVE TO SHUTDOWN

But, sometimes this problem solving doesn’t pan out with the results that you may want. It may feel like things have taken a plummeting nosedive and you’re backed into a corner with little options. If that’s true for you, take hope regardless of your outcome. If pivoting new ways of running your business just simply isn’t possible, you are not alone. Shed your tears (yes, you have permission to cry), and accept your reality as quickly as you can. Get back up and wrap up all the necessary loose ends to leave a clean slate for the future. Say your “thank yous” to your business for teaching you important lessons, and move on. Your personal and occupational recovery will be better for it.

GET HELP OR MAKE RAPID CHANGES

Now, if you’re in the other group of businesses that have more options, there is practical advice and useful tools available for you. For many of us in the North Shore community, longevity is key. There are many things we can do individually and as a business community to ensure as many of our local companies, nonprofits, & organizations stay in business as long as possible and will be able to re-start and grow again in the future (hopefully soon!). 

With regards to navigating the crisis during this COVID-19 pandemic, here are some solid action items from Steve Blank (a silicon valley entrepreneur and author) and a list of finance-oriented steps from a long-time VC investor from Bessemer Partners. The essence of both is to extend the financial runway you have in your organization, communicate proactively with anyone affected within your company, and reach out to mentors and other resources for assistance and guidance. Asking for help when you need it is essential

Remember this: asking for help is not a sign of weakness; not asking for help however, can be a sign of stupidity. So, go ask for help if you need it.

Along with these action items from reputable entrepreneurial and business professionals, there is a podcast available from Willes Center’s very own Carolynn Duncan (previous CEO, CFO and investment professional). Her advising company, TenX, provides real life advice that can help you contemplate, plan for, and redefine what the path ahead looks like for businesses longevity:

  1. Navigating Crash Landings––when things go south
  2. Navigating Cashflow Dips––when funds are tight
  3. Take Care of Your Team––do right by your employees and take care of yourself
  4. Deals Fall Apart––when deals fall apart or things fall through

GO GET THE MONEY

There are also many federal and state financial tools at hand that can help weather the storm. You can apply for (if eligible) and use the following:

  • Payroll Protection Program Loan through the SBA (PPP)
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Hawaii Unemployment Insurance (HUI)
  • Applying for lines of credit through your existing bank, Square, PayPal, or QuickBooks Online

To be eligible for these, you may need to clean up various financial systems, like filing past taxes or getting your books onto a formal accounting software (QuickBooks Online is a great resource, both for cost and ease of use). If you are interested in using these aid options, be prepared for required paperwork, which can be a hassle. 

However, the hassle is worth it––at least to know you are doing all that you can––to keep your business, payroll, and household afloat. No matter what is happening to your business, family, organization, nonprofit, consulting, or other self-employment efforts, there are always options ahead. Think positively and think creatively. There are resources that can help you. Use them! 

MANAGE THE FEELS & INTANGIBLES PROACTIVELY

There is a foundation underneath it all that is essential––our personal management of the “intangible” aspects of crisis. We can manage them or allow them to overwhelm us. These intangibles include:

  • Stress or stress management
  • Decision making or lack thereof
  • Hope or despair
  • Anxiousness or calmness
  • Fear or faith
  • Insecurities or confidence

As you can see there is always a choice to move forward or stay stuck). These can show up in work / business situations or home and with family & friends. Choose hope. And if you’re not in that “hope” category yet, now is the perfect time to refine your crisis skills. 

Here are few reminders to persuade you to choose hope and get back on your feet:

  • Remember that in any climate, there are ups and downs in business; don’t focus too much on the good or bad times. Stay level headed. 
  • Invest proactively in things outside of business: hobbies, relationships, family, self care. These will never go away, unlike business which can be temporary or be lost as market conditions change. Take comfort in the personal aspects of life to carry you through.
  • When things turn south, shore up your problems and liabilities by using honesty, problem-solving, and action to avoid preventable losses and reduce negative impacts. 
  • When things are going well, set aside extra for the rainy day. Treat your team with the utmost respect and kind leadership, and help your friends and neighbors. 
  • Do not lose your courage or faith during hard times, and do not lean on ego or self-congratulatory measures during the good times. 

Reach out to your mentors, advisors, and the Willes Center at BYU-Hawaii if you need extra hands on deck to get through the rollercoaster. There are also plenty of Facebook Groups (like Oahu Small Business, Impact Hub HNL, & the SBA PPP Loan Group).

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND MOVE FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE

Stay safe, be nimble, and let’s do our part as entrepreneurial-minded people, to bring our A-game to inspire faith, confidence, and provide opportunities to our families, communities, and business networks. 

The city of Lāʻie is known as a puʻuhonua, a city of refuge and a safe harbor. We honor this sacred land’s heritage and those who have built this community, by standing strong during our own difficulties and cultivating resilience. So, stay positive, choose hope, be strong. In years ahead, we will talk about the amazing things we did during COVID-19 that preserved and strengthened our community, and you are a part of it.

Even though all of our lives and businesses have flipped through the course of this pandemic, you have the tools to navigate through this storm and come out conqueror. 

Use these tools. Share them with your friends, your neighbors, your business associates. 

Your friends need you. Your neighbors need you. This academic community needs you. Your business and business network needs you. This puʻuhonua needs you.

Remember to choose hope. You can do this.

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