How to Operate Your Business in a Bad Economy

COVID-19/Coronavirus might cause long-term impact or entrepreneurs and business owners, what can you do?

Resources: Last updated March 28, 2020

These are definitely unprecedented times and there's not really a playbook out there. I had heard over and over again about there possibly being an economic downturn “soon” so I was trying my best to prepare for it and recession-proof the business but I don't think anyone thought it would be due to the coronavirus or COVID-19. The reality is that it has impacted businesses hard and while it was an option to go digital, it's now a requirement. We also have many videos going live on CBNation.TV that showcases some of the things that can be done to prepare for the current time.

Having started my business back in 2012, it was after The Recession, I read as much as I could about things that could be done when there's a bad economy. I also tried to glean as much information from anyone that had a business before 2008 and I also understood that many businesses started in 2008. The biggest thing that I understood and heard multiple times that during an economic downturn there were opportunities and many of the Fortune 500 companies were started during similar times.

I had compiled a list of some of the things that I looked at and read below but here are some points that I think are important as well:

  1. Stay positive & prepare your mind – Above all stay safe and healthy. Many times you can cultivate your mind and stay strong but the actions that you take. This can include lowering the amount you watch the news, staying active (yoga, home workouts), watching motivational videos on YouTube, journaling or meditation. Use the phone and video to connect with friends for coffee chats or even happy hours. The most important thing is to know thyself and understand that what you do to stay positive and prepare might be unique to you so if you find something that works, keep doing it.
  2. Make sure to invest in digital – Check out many of our CEO Hacks for your business like Zoom, Asana and Basecamp. Also, investing in making your services digital through eCommerce platforms like Shopify and marketing your services online (see below). You could start a podcast or a Youtube Channel. Look to creatively leverage digital products.
  3. Make sure to invest in yourself – If you continue to sharpen the saw (from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), you will always be able to be abreast of changes and adjustments made in your industry and continue to improve your skills. That could be taking a course Udemy or listening to a podcast (e.g. CEO Podcasts–shameless plug) or download a book from Audible or Kindle.
  4. Continue to build relationships and connections – Network and reach out to your clients and customers and see how you can be of service and to help. Be a listening ear. Not necessarily to “sell” them something but just to be a listening ear. People will remember this during tough times. Also, look to collaborate with referral partners as well.
  5. Double down on marketing, sales and public relations – Most businesses will pull back on their marketing, sales and public relations. This is one of the most obvious opportunities for you. Those that cut their marketing and sales activities usually don't survive. Because when times are more difficult, you will have to market and sell MORE…not less. Double down to take market share for those that are taking their foot off of the pedal. Improve your visibility especially online, tweak or revamp your website, create content, be a guest on podcasts (e.g. I AM CEO Podcast), guest blog (e.g. CEO Blog Nation) or market online. Think creatively with contests, offering the option for clients to purchase gift cards, or creating an direct to consumer option like eCommerce. (See: You Are a Media Company – YAAMC for strategy information)
  6. Look for more ways to generate revenue – This might be a side business or a different service that you are providing within your business but look to generate revenue. One other really big thing you could do as if you provide B2B (business to business) services, look to the industries that perform the best in a “bad” economy (digital services like digital marketing or virtual assistant services, alcohol, discount services). If you're just starting a business, look to start one in the businesses with a bad economy. Think creatively on what solutions you can provide within your current skills.
  7. Protect cash flow  –  Where you can see if you can trade one-service for another and reduce your expenses. Be wary of cutting core and necessary services but see if you can come up with creative solutions. (see below)
  8. Reduce your expenses – Look at personal and business expenses where you can “trim the fat” without disrupting the core of your business.
  9. Be nimble – The companies that will survive are able to pivot almost immediately. The lean companies and organizations are able to grow tremendously during a time like this. Look for opportunities, pivot and go. Like Nike says “We are on offense–ALWAYS.”
  10. Ask for help – This is a difficult time and one of the hardest things that people don't do during this time is to ask for help. You must have a lot of guts to start a business and an “ego” but it's important to not let your ego be your downfall.

If we can be of any help, please let us know! We can always schedule a time to see if you need to pivot.


Please note: I'm still working on this list as I read more and find more valuable content. Please check it out online and also a master list HERE:


CBNation helps entrepreneurs and business owners succeed with visibility, resources and connections. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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