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How to Handle a Crisis

<p>Whether it is the current crisis or any situation beyond our control, we are never fully protected when our world turns upside down. The consequences may even be greater when you are self-employed or a freelancer. A few weeks ago, Alexandre V&eacute;zina from the<em> Clinique d&rsquo;accompagnement entrepreneurial du Qu&eacute;bec</em> conducted a webinar on how to deal with the Covid-19 situation. We have provided a recap of his advice in this article.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>What You Need to Do Now</strong></h3> <p>To start, we would like to remind you that you are not alone in facing this crisis. If necessary, do not hesitate to ask for help from economic development organizations in your area, be it SADC (The R&eacute;seau des SADC et CAE) or CDEC. They can help you find everything that&#39;s available to you and your business. So, use these valuable resources if you feel lost or overwhelmed by the situation.</p> <p>&nbsp;Now, the first thing you should do to deal with a crisis is to evaluate your situation and look at your cash flow. You need to see what the impact is on your cash flow and understand what your projections will be in three months, six months or even a year. We have talked several times about the importance of having an emergency fund in our articles, including the one on the 5 mistakes to avoid when managing one&#39;s finances. It is precisely for this kind of situation that it is vital to have money set aside. Understanding your situation will give you the knowledge you need to stop any financial drains in turn easing financial pressure. Try to reduce your costs and expenses as much as possible. This will help you be less anxious. Don&#39;t hesitate to take advantage of the mitigation measures offered by the government or financial institutions. Ask them what they can do for you right now. For example, several banks offer deferral of certain payments. Before you agree to an arrangement like this, take note of what these deferrals will have as an impact on your business.</p> <p>Then let&#39;s talk about your customers&#39; bills. In these uncertain times, you must collect the fees you charge as soon as possible. We know that the situation is complicated for many and it is good to be accommodating so as not to harm the relationship you have with your business partners. If necessary, make payment agreements, stagger payments or request deposits before starting any new projects. The important thing here is to put everything on paper, like on a service contract. The sooner you have that money in your pocket, the better. This will take enormous pressure off your shoulders and allow you to keep your business going for longer if the crisis drags on. According to recent estimates, 75% of businesses in Quebec are currently in a bad position. This is not to say that there are no professional opportunities. If these opportunities do arise, keep these two questions in mind: does it allow me to generate additional sales, and does it add value to my business now and in the future when things turn around?</p> <h3><strong>Get into Problem Solving Mode</strong></h3> <p>&nbsp;Once you&#39;ve had a chance to evaluate your situation, it&#39;s time to reassure your company&#39;s stakeholders. To get started, contact your employees, suppliers, (or service partners) and customers. See what&#39;s going on with them and let them know that you&#39;re still here. Then, on your end, how can you provide your services? Protect what you have achieved, try to keep your commitments as much as possible. The keyword here is to adapt. Be in solution mode, adjust to the new situation. If necessary, take a moment to do some introspection. What capabilities do you have? What are you able to offer? What are your talents, skills, and access to equipment? Ask yourself how you can make yourself useful.</p> <p>&nbsp;If you get the chance, take the time to contact your top five customers. Ask them these two questions: how can I be useful to you now and what do you expect from me when the situation starts to turn around? This valuable information will help you respond better to the realities of your customers and preserve the bond you have built with them over the years.</p> <h3><strong>&nbsp;Getting Better, Adjusting and Reinventing Yourself</strong></h3> <p>The current situation is the time to improve your business and surroundings. See how you can perfect your ways of doing things to better meet the needs of your customers. Use your creativity! Look for new ideas. To help you, there are several sites, including TrendWatching, SpringWise, HelloBiz, and TrendHunter that can help you find the right ideas for your business. Keep in mind that consumption habits will change. It is therefore essential to anticipate the needs of the future. To sum it all up, start by reducing your financial pressure so that you can have more room to maneuver, then get into problem solving mode while remaining open to new ideas.</p> <p></p> <p>In conclusion, we know that this is a difficult time to go through but do not give up. Do not hesitate to properly document all the impacts of the current crisis (loss of contract, layoff, lost money). Every situation should have an evaluation and this one is no exception. Doing this will prepare you if another situation like it happens. Our final word: be resilient, proactive and continue moving forward. Good luck!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Alexandre V&eacute;zina is a consultant for entrepreneurs and the co-founder of CAEQ. He currently owns three companies and is the author of five books for entrepreneurs. He has provided advice to thousands of entrepreneurs who own businesses with fewer than 20 employees to become more proactive since the mid-2000s.</em></p> <p></p>

Alexandre Vézina