Four steps to thriving as a business leader in tough times:

You are here

Monday, May 18, 2020


How Business Leaders Can Stay Motivated During Trying Times

By: Rebecca Cassel

Life isn't easy. Nothing you've ever accomplished you've done so easily. Think about that degree you earned, that award you received or that business you launched and grew. Whatever it might be, there were likely moments of pain, stress and maybe even some tears and heartache. In the end, you came out a better person — a stronger, more successful person.

If you're like millions of other small-business people across the country, you might find yourself in a difficult situation right now as a result of the coronavirus. It might even seem untenable. But I'm here to tell you: You can overcome this challenge.

I have several businesses, but my largest is a best-practices organization that serves residential contractors. They're small-business people, like you and me. Some we have had to reassure and coach, but it's been more than uplifting to talk to the many who have chosen to approach dealing with this pandemic as a challenge.


One particular client resides not far from New York City, which has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. We have served him for many years. This client chose to be emboldened rather than frightful. He explained that his business has survived multiple recessions, 9/11 and a hurricane, and he would survive this, too. Sure enough, while most of his competitors have closed, he had a call log full of homeowners who needed his team's services.

There's an old quote famously attributed to Henry Ford that I love. He said, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." If you are in a business that is allowed to operate in some form or fashion, and you're looking for some motivation, allow me to share a bit with you.

Four Steps To Thriving In Tough Times

1. Take a break from the constant news cycle.

Millions of people who have been quarantining at home have been tuned in to network and cable news stations for updates and information. But I believe when you consume negativity, you will become negative. Additionally, consuming too much negative news can impact your health and increase feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you are watching negative news day and night while at home and you're finding that consuming so much information is making you feel pessimistic or anxious, stop. It's important to stay updated, so simply set aside a block of time you can catch up on the news, rather than staying tuned in 24 hours a day. Every morning, for example, I go directly to the CDC and Canadian Public Health websites. I read the latest news and numbers, then I turn the news off and move forward with my day.

2. Have a determined attitude.

As a business owner, it is our responsibility to find solutions. We cannot simply throw our hands up in the air and give up. Sit down, and with a deep sense of purpose, think of how you can pivot your business to get back to work and generate revenue. Talk to other business leaders and see if they can provide ideas.

I've had to practice this lesson firsthand. In addition to my best-practices organization, I also own a heating and cooling company in Champaign, Illinois. When the state of Illinois ordered everyone to shelter-in-place, my employees came to me with concern. They could not live on unemployment. I assured them we were not doing layoffs. Instead, we would fight to keep them employed.

Fight we have. We greatly enhanced our safety protocols for our technicians and instituted "no-contact" service calls; our technicians can run an entire appointment by using their smartphones. We also altered our radio advertising to let homeowners know that we were open for business. These changes have kept my team busy.

3. Remember everybody is watching.

You are the leader of your company. Everyone in your company is watching how you react to the current situation. I was reminded of this when my daughter Hannah came to me a few weeks ago.

First, here's some backstory: Hannah is a senior in high school. With the high likelihood of no prom or graduation, she has, understandably, been in low spirits. She came into my home office and said, "Mom, I feel so selfish. I've been watching you fight so hard to save the businesses you and dad own. I'm so proud to be your daughter." Needless to say, it was a wow moment — and a proud moment — for me.

Hannah's comment cemented what we all know but often forget with life's busyness: As leaders, we must be mindful of our actions and emotions. How you react directly influences others. Be strong, and your team will be strong.

4. Approach each day with gratitude.

This might seem difficult to consider now, but bear with me. If you are reading this and have your health, choose to live your life with gratitude.

In our best-practices company, we often help business owners in dire financial situations. They are desperate for help and come to us as their lifeline. We show them how to pick themselves up — and then they do. Their transformations always begin with a determined and grateful mindset.

No matter how bad today might seem, there will always be a tomorrow. Fight your hardest, and when life knocks you down, dust yourself off and try again. The only person who can stop you from fulfilling your goals and dreams is you.


50 Thomas Patten Dr.<br />2nd Floor<br />Randolph, MA 02368<br /><a href="" target="_blank">Directions to location</a>