by Matt Thomas

Like most small businesses we have taken our lumps in the past 30 days. After a strong start to the year, we anticipated a record-setting Q1 and were bullish that our momentum would carry into the second quarter. Then the stay at home orders were issued. And then came the first call. A local non-profit organization we have been working with for over a year needed to press pause. Bummer. We love these guys, the work they’re doing, but we understood. A few days passed and the second call came. A private equity group unsure how the virus would impact their portfolio canceled their engagement. Not a big surprise but concerning nonetheless. Only the bleeding hadn’t stopped. In the next two weeks, 36% of our monthly recurring revenue would evaporate. Basically any “non-essential” business we were working with went on a hiring freeze. Most pausing their engagements, a few canceling altogether.

I’ve watched as close friends have lost their businesses overnight. Most non-essential businesses in a poor cash position have taken debilitating blows, many will never recover. Some found their survival wholly dependent upon relief from the SBA in the form of a forgivable loan (I’m going to stay away from diving into the PPP and EIDL since it’s fairly fresh, there’s still quite a bit of unknown, and rollout has largely been a cluster). For the majority of small businesses, this virus and its impact on the economy have been a blood bath.

Early in my career I absolutely loved sending fiery emails. I am not just comfortable in conflict, at my worst some part of me enjoys it. After a particularly reactive response to an angry email from a vendor my manager pulled me aside and suggested I make a habit of taking 24 hours before replying to any email that ruffled my feathers. I had a ton of respect for this individual so I took his advice to heart, deciding then and there that I would implement his counsel as a discipline in my personal and professional life. I hold to it, as best I can, to this day. 

I’m sure it comes as no surprise but neuroscience tells us that we make our best decisions with a level head. Emotion triggers the fight or flight response in our brains, and unless we have time to settle down we are going to react from a hyper-aggressive or fear-motivated posture. Believe me, I’ve been the initiator of the former more times than I care to remember. 

In my lifetime, outside of 9/11, I can’t think of another time where it was more critical for leaders to keep a level head.