2020 has been a very difficult year for everybody due to COVID-19 and it has disrupted the way we do business. As I speak with clients this year, I notice that many of them are waiting for everything to pass before they do any investing into their initiatives due to the need to conserve cash flow and resources. Although I understand the need to be cautious during this period of unknown, it is also a perfect opportunity to use this time where everybody else is retrenching to actually grow and gain market share. The Status Quo is easy because it is comfortable, but it is not your friend, it is your biggest enemy. It makes you feel that you are reducing risk and that the outcomes you see today will be the outcomes you see tomorrow. Nobody likes unknowns and we as leaders are taught to mitigate risk. However, a courageous leader knows that you are falling behind if you are not marching forward.
For example, I considered postponing the startup of my business Proformance Consultants until next year due to the Coronavirus, but I started thinking about it and came to the conclusion that starting my business during this economic climate was actually the perfect time. There are many companies looking for ways to reduce spending or gain revenue and I am actually helping organizations achieve their goals and thrive in a bad market. You see successful companies looking outside in times of crises to determine where to save costs and make responsible business decisions. Whenever one of my clients achieve success as a result of my advisory services, I realize I made the right decision to take action instead of being satisfied with the status quo.
Understand that during every economic downturn, you have a reshuffling of the deck and you have courageous leaders seeing the downturn as an opportunity. A simple analogy is when is the best time to invest in the stock market? Do you invest when everything is great, and the stocks are high or is it better to buy stocks when the prices are low and undervalued. People tend to go into their bunkers and ride out the storm but while you are doing that, your competitors are leaving you behind. It is not easy to make decisions when there are so many unknowns, but courageous leaders see this as a time for action.
Did you know that there are many businesses that are ripe for startup innovation this year? Home Improvement has a 140% growth in consumer interest. Gardening and Plumbing has seen a 245% increase in page views this year as people are learning to do some of the chores, they used to contract out themselves. Other areas of growth include Pet Products with 50% growth in consumer interest. Did you known that people in New York have adopted 10x as many pets this year as normal and that Los Angeles has seen a 70% increase in adoptions from shelters. Home Beauty Products, Gaming, Fitness and Health are all seeing huge amounts of growth. If you are an entrepreneur, this is your moment.
I admit that is can be very tough because you must be in a position of influence where you can drive organizational change. It is sad to see innovative staff leave risk-averse organizations and thrive with success in organizations that appreciate action and innovation. For a person who embraces change, it is very frustrating being in an organization unwilling to make calculated risks or innovate. As a leader, you need to destroy the Status Quo but also be a beacon of change and courage by allowing you staff to grow. Most organizations do not reward independent thinking or risk-taking. Unfortunately, many organizations equate courageous unconventional thinking to being risk-excess or foolish. I would never recommend making a decision without careful planning. However, many organizations allow the status quo to survive because they are unable to make a decision due to analysis paralysis. Below are the five steps a courageous leader can take to challenge the Status Quo.
If you follow the steps outlined above, you can build and lead a team with a culture of courage in a time of unknowns. You can grow your business or organization and compete in a dynamic market while staying ahead of your competitors who are playing it safe during COVID-19. There is still a world of opportunity out there during these crazy times and by growing in an economic downturn, you are well-positioned for ongoing success when things return to normal.
James Proctor, Managing Partner