In one of my favorite Stephen King short stories, The Mist, the protagonist David Drayton flees his home to escape from giant killer insects (unleashed by a US Army experiment gone wrong).
And, *spoiler alert*, the story ends with David sitting at a gas station.
Alone. With an empty tank. Surrounded by monsters.
But tuned into a radio station from Hartford that offered the one thing he needed to keep going…
As small business owners, busy parents, or just as citizens of a world gone mad, you might feel like David Drayton right now … Nearly (and I repeat nearly – not fully) out of hope.
Fortunately, there is good news.
Below you’ll find 7 urgent tips for every entrepreneur.
While the #1 tip applies solely to American business owners, chances are that a similar Act exists in your country. But you must move on the act fast so that you can get the relief you need.
Your job, as an entrepreneur today, is to act like an ER doctor in New York City dealing with Covid-19 patients.
You must relentlessly and ruthlessly triage every problem and opportunity into “most urgent”, “urgent”, and “can wait” so your business survives — and potentially even thrives in this crisis.
A smart, savvy, hustling, committed business owner can do a LOT to stem the bleeding and hold on to what they have so that they can start again.
Please go through this list immediately, see uplifting stories of how my clients from around the world are responding, and take action.
Find the hope. Keep the faith. And move fast.
1. Act on the CARES Act
My business partner Matt Smith reports:
“On Friday the $2 TRILLION Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. If you’re a small business owner, you should take a serious look. To point you in the right direction, I’m sharing a note I just received from my accountants.”
These loans are not just for “big corporations”, but also sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals.
2. Ask Your Staff for Help
If you want to keep your people working as long as possible, and get them back to work as quickly as possible … you must ask them for help.
We are all in this together. Any animosity that might have existed between staff and owner in good times has been all but forgotten as we fight for survival.
Open up the lines of communication. Ask them what they would do if they were you. Ask for ideas on generating revenue, cutting expenses, or getting better terms with vendors.
For example, one of my clients, Danny Lehr owns a coffee subscription company. Sales are holding strong, but when he went to his team for help they provided a home run of an idea.
“One of my staff found a large stock of resistance bands from a previous giveaway,” Danny said, “She suggested we offer that as a home workout bonus for all new coffee orders. We sold out in 3 hours and have dozens of new customers!”
Like every strong relationship in life, the small business owner and team member one must be based on excellent communication and respect. Now’s the time to improve yours.
You could never built a business all on your own, and now is not the time to start.
3. Hustle — America (and the World) is Still Open for Business
No one has welded shut the cash registers of the world. Sales are still being made. Online shopping is happening — even for businesses otherwise decimated by foot traffic restrictions.
I’ll share what my now-shuttered fitness locations are doing in a moment.
But first a great story of hustle from my friend Rusty, a Made-in-America t-shirt manufacturing company in South Carolina.
In week one of the crisis Rusty’s business was devastated. But his team’s spirit was not.
Working together they put together a “South Carolina Strong” t-shirt line with proceeds going to support the state’s health care workers. (check it out here –> https://palmettoshirtco.com/collections/south-carolina-strong)
The promotion sold over 4,000 units in 48 hours, generated free PR (via a virtual TV interview), and created 30-hours of work for his production staff — all while raising $8,000 for the workers.
As my friend Grant Cardone said to me, “If you’re committed, you’ll get creative.”
4. Work Harder and Longer Hours
One politically incorrect truth generated from this crisis is that too many of us have gone soft.
I’m hearing from too many people that they are burned out working six days in a row.
Maybe it’s just the farm boy in me (where you were expected to work every day — after all the cows don’t take a day off eating), or my mentors (who all worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and thought anything less was lazy), or that I just love the work that I do so much…
But a few weeks of working 6 (or even 7) days a week isn’t that bad. It reminds me of the month of May in Southwestern Ontario where I grew up.
My dad was in the fields from 7 am to 8:30 pm and my mother was in the garden.
Planting time was equally as long and important as harvest time — when both my parents (and I) would again be consumed with this essential physical work.
In a fight for the life of the business, you’ll have to sacrifice other things. But fortunately, there are no sports, no cinemas, no concerts, no political rallies… none of these things to distract you.
As the Armenian father of my friend Bedros Keuilian told us, “Work is Holy.”
Let this be your worship time.
5. Cut Out the News and Use Your Free Time to Make More Offers
First, stop watching the news.
There’s nothing on CNN or FOX News, or in the NY Times or the Kansas City Star that can save your business. In fact, those stations are nothing but cancer for the mind and a threat to America with the divisive content created solely for ratings.
In my humble Canadian outside eyes opinion, these stations are nearly as bad for my beloved America as this dang virus.
Second, take that time wasted on the news and put it into creating a killer, no-brainer offer to keep your cash flow coming.
For example, on March 17th my two Fit Body Boot Camp franchise locations shut our doors in South Carolina.
Unlike most gyms that weren’t prepared for this, my business partner Daniel Woodrum and I had been preparing for this moment since March 1st.
Daniel showed amazing resourcefulness in creating a virtual gym schedule — complete with online meditation sessions, daily comedy, nutrition tips, expert interviews, and a powerful community feeling — in addition to multiple live-streamed workouts.
As a result we haven’t only not lost members, we have gained new clients — even though no one can come through the doors of our gym.
We’ll be fine through this crisis, and we’ll even grow as other unprepared gyms run out of cash and the members come over to us.
We’ll continue to make offers and play offense when other teams are throwing in the towel.
6. Play Great Defense
As a hard-charging entrepreneur, I tend to be all about scoring more points (making sales), but fortunately, I also have team members looking out for ways to cut expenses.
There are three ways for you to do this today so you can last longer in this game.
First, go through your PnL with a fine tooth comb. Cut unnecessary subscriptions. Get rid of never-used software services. Eliminate all luxuries.
Second, talk to your accountant to see if you can defer taxes and ask your landlord for rent relief.
Third, and this is a great example of the best offense being a good defense, go to service providers and vendors and ask for a discount. For example, I know good copywriters — whose normal price for a sales letter is $10,000 — now open to negotiation around the $5,000 mark.
Talent is on sale. Invest wisely!
7. Use the Downtime to Up-Level Your Network
In 1999, long before SARS and other viruses began creating worldwide havoc, I had a major problem.
I was an introvert.
But I knew that the only way I would get ahead in life was by overcoming my socially anxious tendencies and building a billion-dollar network.
That’s when I started “virtual schmoozing” from behind a computer screen in my tiny bedroom in a house I shared with four other college roommates.
I started an email newsletter. I interviewed experts. I shared other people’s articles.
In return, I built an audience.
One day I submitted an article to Men’s Health magazine. To my amazement, they published it and put my name in front of 2.3 million subscribers. That opportunity changed my life and gave me the critical credibility to open more doors.
Today I’m known as the Godfather of online fitness marketing, and I have billion-dollar rolodex, with people I can call upon at almost any time in any major city in the world.
If I can do it — a former broke, introverted, socially anxious, binge-drinking personal trainer — can do it, so can you. But you’ll never know unless you try.
For example, yesterday I gave a podcast interview to a 17-year old high school student in The Netherlands — simply because he had the guts to ask and because I love giving back to the next generation of entrepreneurs. This interview will give him credibility to grow his network — using the same advice I’m about to give you.
Here’s exactly what I do to grow my network and drum up business — and that you can use no matter if you are an accountant in Seattle or a kid in Holland.
Make a spreadsheet with three columns:
Name of Contact Date of Last Contact Value I Can Offer
Bob Smith March 19 Send link about tax breaks in his industry
Mary Jones March 21 Offer to connect her with new accountants
I have a list of 1000 entrepreneurs all over the world … and I take 10 minutes to do a few reach outs every day, add value, and keep the conversation going.
This leads to deals, introductions, and opportunities that otherwise would not come without my systematized efforts.
Conversions happen in conversation!
So go start the dialogue with someone today!