These are dark, uncertain times. None of us knows what will happen next. Individuals are worried for their families as they quarantine. Businesses are worried about what the economic landscape looks like in the coming weeks and months. I don’t think survival is the main concern as most of us are healthy enough to make it physically, but we worry about what will happen when the world makes it through to the other side of this pandemic. What will our world look like?

Individuals will be hit hard. 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment last week.  Most small businesses I’ve spoken to don’t know if they will be open in a month and those that remain in business are facing reductions in sales of 70-80%. That means less workforce and hard decisions.

I see more than fear, however. I believe there is tremendous opportunity during these times. I think to capitalize on the opportunities we’ll have to be willing to change the way we work. We’ll have to be willing to change the way we view the business landscape. And we’ll have to be brave enough to do what is necessary to thrive.

There are firms out there that will encourage businesses to grab the money while it’s there and focus on short-term benefits. In times of uncertainty, it is tempting to protect what’s yours at the expense of relationships and market share.

But now the opportunity exists. You have an opportunity to work with your community: your debtors, tenants, suppliers, customers. As they scale back and decide who or what gets paid, you have the opportunity to lend a hand and coordinate your efforts rather than just simply grabbing what’s yours.

So how do we capitalize on this opportunity?

We offer people a chance. We offer them time and understanding in the face of this crisis. Offer them modifications now, before they run out of money. Offer to work with them for the long haul.

By doing that we gain respect and admiration in the community, and we make more money from customers who would otherwise turn their backs on us.

But this takes immense bravery. You have to be willing to make the long bet.

Business will come back. Our economy will rise again. The question you need to ask yourself is: where will you be when it returns?

Take the opportunity. Love your family, love your community, and let’s rebuild together.

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