Out of Control – Getting back to the Roots

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I am writing this blog in the middle of the 2020 pandemic. Many, many businesses were hit by the measures imposed by the different governments, and as time goes on, the real impact becomes clearer. It is devastating, and it will take a long time for many of those businesses to recover.

Some won’t!

I have been approached by many current and former clients who been hit the hardest, looking for ways to deal with this situation. And honestly, I don’t have the answers. This is a new territory for everyone and I don’t believe anybody knows what the right thing to do is.

Where does this leave us, the ones struggling to keep afloat, trying to save our businesses?

What should you do?

Should we hang on and fight for it, or should we let it go and start again with something else? What happens if we hang on but never recover? How deep will we be in it?

Under normal circumstances, I would most often advise to keep going, learn from the mistakes, improve, and make it work. There is this thing about time that plays a major role in every business. The business idea is just the spark, but the real work is about learning, practicing, improving, and repeating it over and over again.

But this will only work if you know where you’re going. When you believe that your idea has value and can be marketed right.

Is this still the case?

If you believe that, keep going. Everything you’ve done so far and all the time you’ve spent on developing your business will be on your side.

We all know, that for a business to create long-term success, it requires the trust of your customers. It requires a good brand and a good track record. This takes time and every business needs to invest in that time.

If you give up now, the time you’ve invested so far is lost and you need to start again. Sometimes this can be the right decision to take. Especially if you don’t believe that you will make it, or if you just can’t see a way forward.

The business or you?

A business has to work both ways: You need to support your business and your business has to support you. In the beginning, it is usually you who puts in most of the work. But the reason you’re doing it is that you believe at one stage in the foreseeable future the business will give you back what it owes you for all your effort.

For some, it is not so easy. If you’re invested everything you have into your business, you can’t easily walk away. Where will it leave you? In this case, you’ll have to find an angle for your business to get the advantage you need to move on and grow your business. Even if you don’t know where this all will go. You just have to trust yourself that you will find the right way.

These are the times when you need everyone on your side. Your purpose needs to be clear. You need to know why you’re doing this.

If that is not clear, you need to go back to your roots and you’ll need to start again. Not your business, you!

Why did you start your business in the first place?

Was it because you wanted to make money for the sake of money, prestige, or any other selfish reason? This is not meant to sound negative. For some, this is a legitimate reason to start a business. Who are we to judge?

If that is the case, you might want to consider a different business. The risk is probably far too high to continue. Cut your losses before you sink deeper into it.

Was it because you wanted to provide a better future for your family and kids? A valid reason for starting a business. Again, who are we to judge?

In this case, you might want to find a way through it. But you will need your family on your side. They need to know and understand why you’re doing this. It might be really difficult and you will need their support, trust, and belief in you.

Was it because it was in front of you and you just jumped on it at the time? In this case, it depends on how much this is you. I had a few of those businesses myself. They were opportunities I grabbed at the right time. Those are the ones you need to let go when it is time to leave. This could be the time, depending on your situation.

What’s your purpose?

The time ahead will be hard, long, and probably very costly. If you don’t have a real purpose to keep your business alive, you might better let it go. Get out of it without too much damage and cut your losses. Nobody will look at you funny for this decision. You know what you’re doing and you believe it is the right thing to do.

If you let it go, don’t hang around it and cry for your losses. Find the next thing and put your energy into it. It doesn’t matter if you go back into employment or start a new business. Take what you learned and put it all into the new venture.

If your business serves your purpose, fight for it. Put it all in and go all the way. The only way to win is to fight, practice, learn, improve, and repeat it all over and over again. Time will be on your side. Again, nobody will look at you funny for this decision. You know what you’re doing and you believe it is the right thing to do.

Think survival. Talk to people about possible strategies. If you have loans, speak to the bank and talk about your struggles and ask for advice. Talk to your customers and suppliers, look at different business models, and check out what your competitors are doing. Learn, be open, and understand that you don’t know it all yet. But as you keep going, you will get better and you will make it bigger than it ever was. Trust yourself to find out.

What’s the decision?

It doesn’t matter which decision you take. Neither of them will be easy. There is no easy way out.

But like with any change, it always comes with opportunity. Opportunity for the continuation of your business or opportunity for a new business. You just need to look and be open to find.

In the meantime, I am available if you just want to chat, get your thoughts straight, or look for some inspiration. You know where to find me.

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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