The Business Instructor discusses uncertain times, flexible thinking, and new opportunities

“Uncertain times” is perhaps an understatement to describe what’s going on in the world right now.

It’s hard to keep up with the daily (or even hourly) changes to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting impact on the economy.

It’s even harder to keep up with contingency planning for your own business or firm – what seemed like best practice yesterday could become the wrong approach tomorrow.

Perhaps the hardest thing to deal with is not the uncertainty, but the fear it creates – fear of loss of business, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of “what if I don’t take the right action at the right time?”.

I’ve experienced this fear myself in the last few days – a suffocating feeling of overwhelm and panic at seeing my carefully-crafted business plan for the year going out of the window and feeling powerless to do anything about it.

But we aren’t powerless about the way we think or the way we act.

Uncertain times need flexible thinking

What I’ve learned in the past (and had demonstrated to me vividly again in the last 48 hours) is that uncertain times need flexible thinking. Focusing on the plans we had, or the opportunities we’ve lost, slows you down. Instead, flexible thinking means being prepared to start a new plan – from scratch – based on the current situation and a reasonable forecast of what might happen in the coming months.

When we shift our focus to what’s possible in the new reality we’re facing, rather than holding on to our old reality, we open up our thinking to new opportunities.

In my case, one of the new opportunities presenting itself is changing a previously-arranged live event to a virtual event – to avoid people having to travel or meet together in the same room. This could be attended by many more people than the original event would ever have attracted, because it would be open to anyone in the UK rather than just those within a 15-20 mile radius of the event location.

That’s not to say it all looks rosy – the virtual event will be more work to organise, and I’ll still have to pay cancellation charges for the original event location. But I can see there could be an upside in the longer term. And whether or not it works out ‘better’ in the long run, it’s a way to move forwards with a new plan, rather than being stuck with an old plan that no longer works.

Take action

Think flexibly about new plans, rather than hang on to old plans. That might mean looking at new opportunities and new directions, or it might mean putting more time and energy into the things you already know you need to do – like increasing your visibility to new potential clients, or encouraging existing and past clients to work with you again.

Either way, it’s about taking action.

If you want help and support to review and sharpen up your existing practice growth plan, come to my next 1-day virtual workshop ‘Profitable Practice Secrets’ for the owners/senior partners of small law firms.

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