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The Survival of Your Business Is At Risk

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Denial, misinformation, and lack of information are the enemies

This week I have had a flood of watershed moments trying to unravel the hairball of facts from the fiction flying around in cyberspace. I began the week believing that Covid-19 was most likely more serious than the annual flu but not a major threat. I was most concerned about the panic in the markets, but markets run on emotion. Dozens of analysts have been predicting a recession for months. The current economy has been growing for ten years and a recession was said to be a strong probability, but others disputed this. The 2020 Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum did not mention anything like a “Global Financial Contagion,” but all manner of other risks of Biblical proportions were charted. The use of the term “contagion” is completely coincidental and also highly ironic. The term refers to “the spread of market disturbances – mostly on the downside – from one country to the other, a process observed through co-movements in exchange rates, stock prices, sovereign spreads, and capital flows”. Sound familiar?

This is actually my third post on Strategic Planning which I began on January 2nd here on LinkedIn and on my YouTube channel, Mayo615. My original point in January was simply that entrepreneurs and small businesses should use the New Year hiatus to seriously analyze the year ahead in terms of macro-economic and industry risks. As if to make my original point, since then we have been hit by the Covid-19 virus and the looming prospect of a global recession. To make matters worse, Donald Trump, the gaslighter in-chief, has grossly mismanaged the American response to both and spread misinformation.

The gaslighter-in-chief

Trump’s egregious falsehoods and bungling have led directly to a media campaign and a bogus debate in which one side claimed that Covid-19 hysteria was the problem causing a global recession. It’s the hysteria stupid! There is no problem! This week those claims have gone silent. The WHO now officially declares that Covid-19 is a pandemic. It is not containable. An exponential increase in cases worldwide is now nearly certain. Trump fired the entire CDC pandemic preparedness team in 2018. The prospect of public health officials in a nation of 330 million people being unable to adequately test, obtain data, and protect the nation affects every one of us worldwide. So that leaves us with the problem of those still pretending there is no problem. Like King Canute, apparently they thought they could stop the waves. Meanwhile, northern Italy is on quarantine, or metaphorically “Rome burns.” This week I have personally communicated with people in the global tech community, people who are in positions of senior management responsibility. Some of them are managing prudently and preparing their companies. Others, apparently are managing from the viewpoint that the hysteria needed to be downplayed and “contained,” as if over-reaction and alleged hysteria were the problems.

Entrepreneurs need to grasp the true reality of the current situation, think carefully and act. Covid-19 is an opportunity for better preparedness, and for radical changes in how we conduct our businesses, as more uncertainty lies ahead. Covid is real, not hysteria. The recession is also real so deal with both, don’t be in denial, and begin your long-term strategic planning ASAP. Studies have shown that companies with a higher-level, long-term strategic plan, and who act on it, are more likely to survive a 100-year event like this.

Fortunately, there are guideposts out there. We have seen all of the major Big Tech companies make public announcements about preventative measures they are implementing. They are setting examples of responsible corporate policies. The SXSW Conference is the latest in a growing list of events that have been canceled as acts of prudent pro-active management. I have read a number of excellent articles and editorials in the tech media, suggesting new ways of doing business to survive. CNN broadcast an excellent piece on remote work and teams via streaming SaaS digital communication tools.

That is a good place to begin: remote work and teams. Simple, immediately available and easy to implement. Last week, the New York Times published an editorial by Kara Swisher that explores “How Tech Will Help in a Time of Pandemic?”

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“Three letters: WFH.”

That’s “work from home.” using popular software that allows users to conduct video-conference meetings from different locations. Thus, in a time of restricted business travel and increasing pressure on companies, schools and other public gathering places to put epidemic plans in place, digital communication companies are available to respond.

The primary takeaway from my article should be that it is in the nature of humans to focus on self-preservation in a time of confronting the unknown and probable danger. We see some evidence of hysteria in natural disasters, but thankfully not everyone gives in to hysteria. People also go into denial as a psychological self-preservation strategy, like the people who refuse to leave their homes in a mandatory evacuation. But even with denial, it eventually passes and the real work begins. This perfect storm of global contagion and economic change is a precursor of more change ahead. It offers us a unique opportunity to respond to it, and to be better prepared. We have no other choice.

Post Author: David Mayes

Founder, Mayo615 Technology Partners Ltd., UBC adjunct faculty, Intel alumnus, technology assessment, international business, cleantech, fly fisherman, native Californian and citizen of France, who has been very fortunate to have traveled, lived and worked all over the globe. My wonderful wife, Isabelle has reintroduced me to my French Provençal heritage.

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