The picture above is a photo of a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Medal. It’s my Eagle Scout medal from 1976. The top of it says “Be Prepared” but it begs the question – Prepared for what?” My perspective – prepared for life.
Right now, we all have been forced to change how we look at life by a situation out of our control. It will test our mettle. For some, it will be a test that they have never dreamed of. For others, it is an inconvenience. For all of us, it will add to our lessons learned repository of memories.
Preparation for unforeseen events is at least as much mental as it is physical. My personal mental preparation started during my time in the US Navy. It was there that I learned some of the hardest and most valuable life lessons I have ever been taught. “Deal with what’s in front of you,” and “Do not get wound up over things that are outside of your control.” To refuse to get “stressed out” over things outside of our own control takes a lot of discipline. I would best describe my mindset over the COVID-19 situation as it relates to both my family and my business as this: I’m not stressed, I’m not alarmed; and I’m certainly not panicking. I am concerned and I remain vigilant of what is going on.
Physical preparations take both time and treasure. My family’s preparation for this event started in 2005. That is when we had a winter ice storm that knocked out power for three days and effectively closed the roads for two. We were mildly prepared in terms of food and water and some basic household essentials but found the lack of electricity to be very annoying. However, I made the mistake of thinking the situation was a “one-off” event and spending the money on a back-up generator was too expensive compared to other needs at the time.
Two years later, though, a tornado ripped through the Sangamon County area knocking out power to much of Springfield (think “grocery stores and gas stations”) and households over a wide part of the county for three to six days depending on location. That event resulted in a paradigm shift and I took a lesson from my late farm-dwelling grandmother, though with some modern twists. We created a rather large pantry with shelf-stable food and added a whole-house natural gas-powered generator for electricity and business continuity.
As a nation, we are now in new and uncharted waters: We are stuck at home to avoid what can be a debilitating and contagious disease. Fresh food may be delayed or in short supply and “going out” for meals is no longer an option. Some states are going full shut-down of everything except “essential services.” Life is disrupted, to some extent, for the nation.
How do you begin preparation for such disruption? Here are some of the ways Midwest Chemical Safety (a home-based business) has prepared for the disruption caused by COVID-19 (or any natural disaster):
- Be confident: America always recovers. Keep optimistic.
- Be flexible: Everyone you are speaking with is going through tough times. Have some grace.
- Deal with what is in front of you: Don’t depend on the government (local, state or federal) to help you with your problems. If they do, great, but don’t hang your hat there.
- Develop a Continuity of Business Plan for your home office that identifies the key business areas and critical functions that have to keep going.
- Have a reserve fund. The best piece of financial advice that was given to me as I became an independent consultant was “have two years of expenses in the bank in cash before you hang out your shingle.” I would add, “leave it there.” The second-best piece of financial advice given to me was “no debt ever.”
- If you’re work-from-home, make sure you have ample food, water, electricity and the ability to make minor structural repairs to continue your job if you can’t get out. MCS has moved most (but not all) of its business resources to the cloud. (I’m still a bit of a Luddite about moving financials to the cloud.)
- Have a colleague available to step into your shoes if you become ill.
- Notify your clients that you have a business continuity plan and that your services are still available remotely.
Read more here about returning to normalcy during Covid-19.
If you were caught off-guard for this disruption don’t sweat it. Get through it and start preparing for the next one – because there will always be “a next one.”