JFK said that the Chinese characters that form “crisis” consist of two parts. The first represents danger, and the second represents opportunity. While this is not technically correct, the formula “danger + opportunity = crisis” is undoubtedly powerful. There’s no doubt that we are experiencing a worldwide crisis at the moment. It’s been ongoing for this whole year so far and will likely continue until the year is close to over. But for business owners, this crisis really could be a valuable opportunity. It’s important that business owners understand that things cannot stay the same. There’s a very good chance that many aspects of life are going to see permanent change from here on so business owners cannot afford to ignore the changing times.

How to use this crisis to your advantage

The first step in the right direction is looking at this crisis from different angles. Figure out what might cause the most problems for you and your business. Widen your view- having a more global focus can help you notice trends in other countries that may not have hit ours. This way you can formulate response plans to problems that could be coming your way in the future.

Next, you’ll want to give yourself some leeway. If you come up with ideas to address issues caused by the crisis and they don’t work out as you’d hoped then you’ve learned a lesson. Failing is an opportunity as well! Keep track of what didn’t work out and what went wrong so you can combat similar issues in the future.

Now is the time leadership needs to step up and control the narrative. Keeping control of the internal and external situation as much as possible helps employees feel more at ease with the situation. If distrust and fear are allowed to fester then this can cause another crisis of its own. The last thing any business needs is an internal crisis on top of the current external one. Even more importantly, leaders need to recognize opportunities when they see them and seize them while they can.

Direct-to-consumer business models are king right now; can you meet the demand? More and more businesses are shifting online to take advantage of the D2C model. But this is not the same as e-commerce! It’s different from selling on a platform. A D2C model requires that it be its own entity, which would require a lot of changes; marketing, supply chains, and most other support activity.

It’s a great time for a reset. Make sure all of your financials are up to date and all in proper order. Look at your financials, business plan and model; figure out what has served you the best and what no longer benefits you.

How to prepare for crises in the future

Start off by coming up with a crisis response plan. Part of the reason that there’s been such a heavy impact on so many businesses is that they weren’t prepared for a crisis. When this crisis is over, analyze exactly how it affected you, your business, and your industry. See what you can learn and come up with a response plan. What worked out? What didn’t? What could be improved upon? How can you avoid the problems you faced in this crisis if you were faced with another in the future?

Imagine what could have happened. The worst case scenario for your business, employees, and customers- what would you do? How would you respond? Plan for the worst, but hope for the best!

One of the biggest challenges so far in this crisis was a lack of developed communication networks. The transition from workplace to home office was very jarring for many companies. Developing a communication strategy is an important preparation to make. Team leaders and business owners need to be able to communicate easily with all employees and each other. What is said is equally important. Employees need to hear some words of optimism so they don’t lose hope in the situation.

Not everything during a crisis is doom and gloom. Savvy business owners can take crises as opportunities to improve and profit in the future. Pay attention to everything going on and you’ll be able to see that there are opportunities around every corner; you just need to recognize them!