Many of us have enjoyed twelve years of up-and-to-the-right success in the market. Prophets like Gary Vee warned us it would shift one day. A bull market couldn't last forever. At the time, we would have all nodded our heads. 

"He's right," we'd say..."but its not going to come right now."

Who would've thought that things would turn so quickly with a health virus from China? However it came doesn't matter. The new recession is here now. Its so new that it doesn't even have a nickname yet.

I was in my mid-twenties in 2008 when the last recession hit. I didn't own a business, have employees, own property, or anything in terms of investments. I didn't have any family to provide for. So this one is different. I've never been through a downturn with this kind of responsibility. 

Walking new paths, we get to define ourselves in new ways. We can set new patterns, develop new habits and take new ground. We get to ask:

"Who do I want to be when times get tough?"

I know Warren Buffett's quote about how he credits his success to being brave when everyone is afraid and being afraid when everyone is brave. But that's Buffett. He's larger than life. His quotes look good and sound good but who has billions to play with when times are tight.

With A Little Help From Mentors

I talked to two business mentors today. Both were excited about the downturn. I couldn't figure it out. They weren't moping like most of the people I had spoken with in the past few days.

Though they do not know each other and come from entirely different industries, their tone was similarly positive and their their message was unified.

"Downturns are not disastrous to your business," they preached.

In fact, they are fantastic opportunities to gain market share.

The image my one mentor gave me was memorable. I will be referencing it often however long this season lasts for.

He said basically,

Jon, in this season there will be a lot of business leaders who are afraid. Like turtles, they will put their head in their shell and hide. Their hope will be nothing more than to endure until things get better. But there will be others who will seize this opportunity to be innovative and courageous, reaching new people and helping them win. They will come out ahead at the end of this season.

That was a powerful moment.

I pictured all of us coming out of a season of plenty and dividing into two lines: the lions and the turtles. The turtles will go where they are safe and comfortable - their shell. The lions will go where they are fewer, more vulnerable, and need to exercise courage. 

To me, being a lion means:

  • Having the courage to stay motivated, keeping your head in the game and working every day at what you do best.
  • Continue to focus on your core values as a business.
  • Doing the right thing and not getting desperate in getting sales. "Commission breath" always stinks.
  • Keeping the hope that better days are to come and preparing accordingly.
  • Trying new innovative ways to serve current clients
  • Providing value for free with no strings attached in order to reach new people.
  • Working hard to add great content on social media as cancelled events will result in more time for people staying at home and looking at their phones.
  • Protecting my heart from a scarcity mindset that could cripple my entrepreneurial optimism.
  • Keep morale high on my team as we leverage this season to grow as people and as a collective.

How Will You Respond?

As we walk into new ground in the days during and after the Coronavirus, my question to you is the same as my mentor inadvertently asked me:

Will you be a lion or a turtle?

Go be a lion.