What will it take to not only survive, but to thrive through challenging times?

As we know, many small businesses and restaurants are having a difficult time staying afloat due to rising costs due to inflation, supply chain issues, and labor challenges (Although, I’m not so sure about actual worker shortages). Feeling the inflation pinch, as well, customers are being more diligent as to where and when they may decide to enjoy a meal at or from a restaurant or choose to shop at a local business.

Although, as is often the case in challenging times, there are businesses realizing sales increases over pre-pandemic levels. Some businesses are actually expanding. Why and how they are thriving while others are barely surviving spurs a great deal of thought in my mind. I’m sure, there’s a lot to be learned from their success.

But the questions I have of late have more to do with the mindset of these business owners and how they’ve embraced [the need to] change – not just a shift or pivot, but actual change – even of the disruption variety. Changing direction, going against trends, acting on gut instinct, relying on intuition, seeing and acting upon a vision that no one else sees or possibly could even imagine all seem to be common denominators.

As such, would they be viewed as crazy to think different than others, than what might be expected of them or considered by others to be a normal course of action? Should they just go with the flow along with everyone else? Or, should they move toward taking full advantage of circumstances to develop a distinct point of differentiation and as such, a competitive edge?

We’ve been hearing quite a bit of late that entrepreneurship will drive our country to full recovery from the pandemic and from a possible or inevitable recession. In fact, coming out of past recessions, it was entrepreneurship that led the way. So, it does make sense for entrepreneurs to lead the way this time around. Yet, it appears the entrepreneurial mindset and spirit of many have given way to caution and/or, for obvious reasons, mental fatigue.

Feeling defeated and barely hanging on will do that to the best of people. Even ones that had been very successful in prior years. It’s akin to the old adage of playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

For example, a team could defend their goal with extreme tenacity and success, but sooner or later a ball may be deflected into the goal despite their relentless efforts. Unless the defense was complemented with an aggressive offense, the result will have the team on the short end of 1-0 score – best case scenario, a 0-0 tie.

The bottom line – a team cannot win by just being reactive. The same is true in business.

So, what will it take to not only survive through challenging times, but to actually thrive?

Will it take having the same drive and persistence as the Wright Brothers as they attempted to fly in what was essentially a homemade machine? How about with similar commitment and perseverance of settlers trekking across unexplored lands? Or, will it be along the lines of a quest to achieve something never achieved before much like explorers crossing an ocean for a new world or to set a flag on frozen ground in Antarctica.

All were considered to be crazy. Yet, they achieved success. Arguably, unbelievable success!

I truly love the mindset of Steve Jobs shortly after he returned to Apple, the company he founded as he launched the Think Different campaign. He started things off with these words:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!