Until my wife put her foot down I was a wannabe motorcycle racer. Navigating COVID as a business owner reminds me of navigating a dangerous sharp curve on a racing bike. Proper preparation entering the curve is critical to avoid serious injury or even death. Death of the business is a serious risk in the case of an economic downturn like this. Efficiently exiting the curve with max momentum determines long term success of both as well.
On a motorcycle you have to let off the gas and gradually start ramping up the brakes as weight shifts to the front tire where nearly 90% of your braking power is. The game here is all about conserving traction. You run out of traction, it is game over. In the case of my business, it was about turning off certain types of advertising such as pay per click, reducing overhead, applying for working capital loans, and working out a lifeboat plan assuming income will fall off drastically. For the business it is all about conserving cash flow. If the business runs out of cash, it is game over.
Then we enter the economic downturn and I have to decide what speed I can maintain. In the case of the business it is how much income is coming in. In the case of the motorcycle, how much do I need to lean the bike over to ride through this curve. Before reaching the apex of the curve I should already be looking to the exit. The bike will follow my eyes and I might crash if I put them on the edge of the road. Same with the business, I need to be focused on a positive exit as I ride through the turning point of the economic downturn.
I will be taking my business out of shutdown this Friday. I am past the apex and so now it is time to start applying the gas. Not too fast since I first need to get the weight shifted to the back tire where all the acceleration will be applied. Also the front tire is still being used for the turn so I need to keep it on the ground. Pulling a wheelie out of curve can be exciting but is does not provide maximum traction. In the case of my business I want to ramp up revenue as fast as I can but I have incurred a huge debt load, we will be working overtime since we have over a thousand orders in the queue, and I need to be careful with the cash flow. I want to turn on advertising but I need to be careful about burning out my employees and disappointing customers with multi-week delays on shipping.
As I start coming out of this curve I need to be looking down the road for the next curve. In this case it looks like the curve exited the pavement onto a dirt road meaning a new normal for a while. In the case of the business it means new policies like taking temps of employees, not sharing computers and tools, and wearing masks at work. There are also rumors this might be an s-curve so I have to be ready to jump back on the brakes, drop the bike into another sharp curve, and drag my knee some more just like this past one.
Photo by Joe Neric on Unsplash