What to focus on during a crisis for business owners

There are different crises that can affect a business at any time, from pandemics to economic downturns or even extreme weather events. Being able to lead in a time of crisis is what sets successful business owners apart from others. So, how do you become a great leader? By focusing on what matters during a crisis.

What are the characteristics of a successful business owner? 

A successful business owner has a number of character traits that see their business grow during the good times and flourish during a crisis. The most important characteristics of a successful business owner are that they:

1. A growth mindset

A growth mindset relates to how a leader responds to a challenge. It’s the opposite to a fixed mindset. A growth mindset sees opportunities where a fixed mindset would only see barriers. 

A growth mindset can relate to being open to learning new skills, open to hard work and the effort needed to grow, taking on feedback rather than taking it personally and learning from mistakes rather than shifting the blame. 

2. Can delegate responsibility

Being able to trust others with important information and tasks allows a leader to focus on what matters in a business during a crisis. It’s like steering a ship. If the captain spends their time fixated on what everyone else is doing, who’s got their hands on the wheel?

3. Are focused on the big picture

Being able to delegate and having a growth mindset allows business leaders to focus on long-term goals. By not spending all your time micromanaging employees or by setting up automatic processes for your business, you’ll have time to sit down and write down exactly where you want to be in 3-5 years. Once you know where you want to be, you’ll be able to navigate turbulent times with more confidence. 

4. Are empathetic and open minded

Having empathy doesn’t mean you can’t be decisive, but it does mean you listen to others and use their expertise to inform your decisions. During a crisis, other people both in and outside your business can give you insights to help you stay on track and even pivot your business.

What should a successful business owner focus on during a crisis? 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when building a business during a crisis. Focus on some of the below principles each day, looking for ways to bring them to life in your business. 

1. Staying people-focused

Whether you’re a personal trainer or run your own gym or studio, your people and community are what will get you through a crisis. 

Avoid getting bogged down by numbers or daily news cycles and instead stay connected with people every day. Try brainstorming ways you can lead with empathy that puts people first. 

2. Communicating well 

Are you communicating with people regularly and effectively? Good communications will help grease the wheel of your business. Look for tools and methods that can automate some of your communications, so you remain responsive to people. For instance, automated customer lifecycle notifications and emails, making sure people who haven’t been to your studio in a few months remember you’re still around. 

3. Your mental health

Check in on yourself during a crisis. The notion that leaders must be stoic brick walls through a crisis is unfortunately still perpetuated throughout the media. However, those in your community will find more value in seeing that a crisis affects everyone, so don’t be afraid to open up to your customers and your staff. Doing so will give them the green light to be more open with their own challenges. 

4. Focus on life after a crisis

Look beyond a crisis and envision the future. This is a form of goal-setting, allowing you to plan for the other side of a crisis. If you’re running your studio virtually through a pandemic, for instance, what will things look like once people can return in full numbers? Will virtual classes end or can they be a way to broaden your customer base beyond geographic limits?

Take a breath before you act

When a crisis comes along, it can be hard to take stock of the situation before acting. 

Assessing the crisis and deciding on how you will approach it as a business leader will save you from acting reactively and instead create proactive decisions. Take a breath and go through the above. Ask how your immediate choices for your business reflect the characteristics of a strong leader. 

Developing your understanding of what makes a good leader and how to approach challenges and crises is an ongoing journey, but one that is never too late to start. Remember that you can’t develop as a leader without making mistakes and learning from these. No amount of reading can prepare you for what you can’t foresee. Embrace your setbacks, learn from them, and you’ll be on your way to becoming an exceptional leader.

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