Tough Times In Business? Discover Business Strategies For Tough Times & Think Outside The Box

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At the time of writing this, our society is more restricted than ever. The coronavirus has curtailed our freedoms—both legally and socially—and restricts us from traveling, gathering, and doing many things we used to consider normal.

For entrepreneurs and business owners, these are tough times. In addition to having our personal freedoms restricted, our businesses have been restricted in many ways. Certain businesses are better off than others, but nearly every business has been affected by these tough times.

So, what are the best business strategies for tough times? And how can you, as a business owner, use this time in a positive way rather than focusing entirely on the negative? It all comes down to staying creative and productive, and recognizing this situation for what it is—training!

Training with weights.

As our society goes through these tough times, it’s as if we’re “training with weights.”

This is a common practice in athletic training, where a runner will train with a weight vest to increase their resistance. They get used to working with this additional resistance and then, when it’s time for the race, they take off the extra weight. If you’ve ever done this yourself, you’ll know that everything becomes easier when you take the weights off.

I believe that businesses are going through the same thing right now during these tough times. We’re all operating within constraints, and it’s just like an athlete training with weights. We’re putting additional resistance on our businesses, forcing ourselves to find new business strategies for tough times and utilize new technologies to keep everything going.

But imagine what will happen when the restrictions are lifted!

If you can find ways to keep your business afloat during these tough times, you’ll be set up to thrive when the restrictions are lifted. And those entrepreneurs who have developed entirely new business strategies to cope with these tough times—adding new revenue streams or dramatically changing their businesses—will see rapid growth as the restrictions are lifted and their normal operations come back, in addition to the new revenue streams they’ve acquired.

Just as a runner feels like they’re soaring when they remove their weight vest, these businesses will truly soar to new heights and everything will feel easier when they’re no longer being constrained. Any business that’s able to continue operations and stay productive during these tough times will discover newfound abilities, increased productivity, and opportunities for growth once restrictions are lifted.

Constraints increase creativity.

My good friend Peter Diamandis recently said something very powerful on one of our podcast episodes. He said, “A lot of people think creativity is thinking outside the box. But, actually, people who are very creative operate in smaller boxes. They make the box smaller.”

I think there’s a lot of value in this, especially for entrepreneurs. Our natural inclination is to think outside the box when it comes to our businesses. We develop new business strategies by thinking in ways that no one else does, and we purposefully don’t restrict ourselves.

So what happens when we’re actually forced to restrict ourselves and our businesses?

Contrary to what you might think, constraints can actually accelerate creativity because we’re forced to find unique and inventive ways to perform. Instead of just thinking outside the box and coming up with a totally new business strategy, we now need to think inside the box and find something that will work for our business within the current confines.

Business owners should be asking themselves: “How can I perform in a better way?” and “What new ideas may I have because I’m restricted?” This increased creativity is what has allowed many businesses to develop new business strategies for tough times like the ones we’re in now.

Just look at restaurants that have created outdoor seating areas overnight and completely revamped their takeout processes. Look at how quickly in-person events have gone virtual. Look at real estate businesses that are capitalizing on people leaving cities, even as commercial properties are falling by the wayside.

Outside of business, there are also many examples of being creative within constraints. William Shakespeare, for example, wrote everything in iambic pentameter. He was restricted to ten syllables per line, yet created some of the greatest literary works the world has ever seen. If he can do that under such rigid restrictions, you can develop new business strategies under your current constraints.

Remember: You’re the one that’s restricting you. It’s not the circumstances that are restricting you!


Looking for tips on how to stay productive and profitable in your business? Download The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Productivity.


Increased creativity at Strategic Coach.

At Strategic Coach, we’ve also been forced to alter our business strategy to accommodate our clients during these tough times. Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs need guidance and support to keep their businesses going, develop new business strategies, and set themselves up for success in this new normal. But with in-person events out of the question, we had to rethink our process and get creative within our constraints.

We’ve switched to holding virtual events via Zoom, offering nearly all the value of an in-person event but without the hassle and expense of traveling. We’ve expanded our podcasts and now host live webinars where we walk through our Strategic Coach concepts.

And perhaps most important, we’ve taken this time to create more Strategic Coach materials than ever before. As everyone in our business left the office to work from home, we realized that now is the perfect time to buckle down and create more materials to help our entrepreneurs during these tough times.

These constraints have led us to new business strategies and increased our internal capabilities. We’ve been able to continue to bring value to entrepreneurs around the world without having to meet them in person. And the best part? That isn’t going away when things go back to normal. We’ve just added an entirely new business strategy to Strategic Coach under these constraints, which will allow for massive growth once the constraints are lifted.

So, are you going to let COVID restrict you and your business? Or will you get creative and develop new business strategies? Once you start thinking inside the box, you’ll realize the only thing holding you back … is you!

About the Author

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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