Every business has a life of its own. It moves from infancy to maturity, experiences ups and downs, good times and bad. When you’re running a business, you can never be sure what obstacles are waiting just around the corner. Covid indeed drove this home. But even when you’re doing everything right, unknowns occur. Your largest customer or supplier could go out of business. A heavily invested product or service may not provide the expected ROI, or you find out a valued employee is going over to the competition. Regardless of the challenge, there are ways to move past them, find solutions, and plan for better days.

Expect the unexpected

It’s safe to say that since Covid, business owners can’t take anything for granted. Just because business is up 20% this year doesn’t mean that something entirely outside of your control won’t have the company down next year. It’s vitally important to recognize the unpredictability of business and to position your business in a way that can weather turbulent times. In good times, purposely increase cash reserves and find ways to reduce or eliminate wasteful spending in leaner times.

Regroup and reevaluate

It’s crucial to recognize why things go wrong. Chances are, it was multiple factors, and difficult to pinpoint just one. But regrouping and strategizing around the problems, laying out solutions, and setting firm goals will help you bounce back and be ready for the eventual upswing. Don’t let the bad times pass without defining why they happened and what needs to change in the future. 

When things are going well, it’s an excellent time to evaluate why that is. Assuming a “good” time in business is during a growth trajectory and profitability, what was the catalyst that began driving the change, and can it be replicated? Actively seek out opportunities and new ways to deploy resources when the timing is right.  

Don’t be afraid to move on. 

When you’re an entrepreneur, you need to make hard decisions and stick to them. Whether it’s a product or service that just isn’t working, a toxic employee, or the entire business itself, know when it’s time to move on. For instance, many people start a business with family or friends. This might seem like the right fit initially, but the dynamic can shift and sometimes create hostility, which ends up hurting productivity. Don’t let relationships or the business suffer. Figure out a way to make it work, or walk away. 

On the flip side, if the business is reaching new heights, then perhaps it’s time to consider selling and moving onto the next challenge. There is no shame in selling a successful business at the right time. Exiting a business for maximum value is a long-held strategy that can set you up for your next venture. 

Invest in yourself

When times are good or bad, planning for the future and learning new skills is invaluable. Regardless of your business or industry, there is always more to learn. Look for new creative outlets, double down on what’s working well, and educate yourself about recent trends or prospects.

Also, remember to get some distance from your business when needed. As discussed in a previous blog post, every business owner needs to manage stress, so taking time to recharge will help you gain perspective and help you focus your energies.

Remain positive no matter what

Owning a small business is an emotional process. You pour your time, effort, and energy into the success of your business day in and day out. Running a business means you need to wear a brave face no matter what happens and set an example for those around you. Finding the confidence to push forward whatever the hardship is the mark of a great business owner and entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean it won’t be emotionally draining at times, but knowing when the chips are down, you can still see the light at the end of the tunnel makes the difference.

Bad times give you a chance for growth and to test your mettle. The bad times in business do provide an opportunity for personal and professional development. Stay motivated to learn and advance knowledge, and be ready to scrap whatever is not working. When things are going well, take a step back and appreciate the value of what you’ve built and find time to enjoy it. Just remember, in business, as in life, you have to take the bad with the good.