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As a business coach, I am committing a considerable amount of time to reading about impacts and new trends for businesses arising from this unprecedented situation that we find ourselves in. In order to clearly identify the opportunities, it is good to understand the parameters and rules of the game.What I am hearing again and again is the negative outlook business owners have and not enough constructive optimism. I was on a weekly call with my fellow ActionCOACH business coaches (Thanks Bruce) and the topic of the five stages of grief came up. I had not heard this concept being used in business before so I was intrigued and did some research. To my surprise I found there is quite a bit written about this in the business context and I think it is especially relevant in our current scenario. Here is a brief explanation of the five stages of grief for the entrepreneur:

STAGE 1 – DENIAL This is a natural “coping” reaction in most of us. Things are not going according to plan but it’s not a real problem. Everyone is in the same boat so we will all come out of this relatively unaffected or, at worst, affected to the same extent. Sit back, relax and enjoy the well-deserved time off. C’est la vie.

STAGE 2 – ANGER Who wouldn’t feel angry at being rejected by clients or for the financial losses right? The problem with anger is that it detracts from the real issues and ultimately the necessary solutions. It is not a very productive emotional response. At the heart of it, anger is a waste of valuable energy.

STAGE 3 – BARGAINING This is where you hear many “If only I had done…” statements. This is the stage where answers are sought but unfortunately not in a constructive manner. The answers are sought in order to distribute and deflect the blame. “How could this possibly be my fault?” or “Who could’ve predicted this?”.

STAGE 4 – DEPRESSION The honeymoon is now well and truly over as reality sets in and the full impact becomes more real. Money is running out fast and clients are abandoning ship. And being isolated will not help. This is the stage where self-reflection and self-doubt are most prevalent. It will do one of two things; push you to Stage 5 or swing you back into Stages 1-3 until you eventually face the reality and are ready for the final stage.

STAGE 5 – ACCEPTANCE Finally you arrive at the constructive stage of the grieving process. It’s here that lessons and experience gained are used to find creative solutions and innovation can occur. You feel motivated and empowered and are ready to overcome the obstacles. Carpe diem.

By now you will realise that the smart move would be to fly through the first 4 stages and jump straight to Stage 5 and you would be right in a crisis. The business owner that is looking ahead to post-coronavirus and working ON the business rather than IN (or even worse – not working at all) will be coming out of this ahead of the curve and best positioned to take advantage once the lockdown is over. Leadership is key at a time like this. Seek out the opportunities that absolutely do exist. There is always something that needs to be done and if you are uncertain what it is, get yourself a business coach to help unlock that which already exists. If done right, you could come out of this stronger than you were going in.

- Robin Olivier (ActionCURVE NZ)

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