Leading Your Team Through A Tough Economy

Chances are high that the environmental shocks from major events like the virus can impact your business and those factors can change daily.  You are trying to keep your team and your ship focused and moving forward toward your goal, amidst unknown rapids and unpredictable terrain. It’s not easy. But your people are looking at you. They are counting on you. 

The threat to your business is not the virus or the economy. The threat can be found by looking at yourself and saying, ‘What moves am I making?’  Whether the economy is good or not, it comes back to the leadership team’s ability to manage the business through both good and turbulent times.  What I want to do is help you find a positive way to lead your team through this.  It starts with you – taking a realistic but positive approach. 

Do you remember the tale of the man who had ran a roadside hot dog stand?  He started with nothing but through hard work, built an incredibly successful business:

The Man with the Hot Dog Stand

There was once a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs.  He had no radio, he read no newspapers and he didn’t look at television.  But he sold very good hot dogs. He put up signs on the highway telling everyone how good they were, and he stood on the side of the road and cried out to all that passed ‘Buy a hot dog!  They are the best in town!’

And people bought his hot dogs and he increased his meat and bun orders. And he bought a bigger stove to take care of all the extra business.  And his little business was doing very well!

But then something happened.

His son was home from school where he had been getting an excellent education, and said to him:  ‘Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio or reading the newspapers or watching television? There’s a big recession happening right now. The current business situation is terrible in this country – we have problems with unemployment, high living costs, strikes, pollution, the rich, the poor, drugs, alcohol, capitalism and communism.’

Where upon his father thought, ‘Well my sons well educated.  He reads the papers, listens to the radio and watches television, so he ought to know.’

So his father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down all his advertising signs and no longer bothered to stand by the side of the road to promote and sell his hot dogs . . . . and his hot dog sales fell.

‘You’re right, Son’ the father said.  ‘We certainly are in the middle of a recession.’

I know that your company is facing challenges as this virus is hitting your market, your customers, your team, your family and friends.  And enduring all of that – without having any social interaction, no sports, and no vacations – is a major challenge for you and your team.  Your feelings are natural.  But you cannot sit still.  So what moves do you make?  I believe there are five:


Your team and your people have helped you get to where you are today.  This includes employees, contractors, partners, and their loved ones.  This team has helped you build something great.  And this situation is not their fault.  The fast-spreading virus presents several unique legal and practical challenges, especially to those in retail. You should develop a plan to protect your employees, prevent legal liability and address how work will be done in the event of business disruption.  There is a possibility that some of your employees could be infected, become seriously ill, or God forbid even die.

Employee leave policies should be flexible enough to allow employees to comply with public health recommendations and get the treatment they need. Employers must assure sick employees that they will not be penalized for missing work when they (or their family members) become infected. You need to take steps today to protect your people and protect your company.  

There is no doubt that if you read this far, and given your great leadership, your team will continue to fight for you and help you beat the virus economy.  

“The key to evaluating a great leader is not only about winning.

It’s about being able to bring your team along with you, and winning together.

Gary Ross


In regard to your own business and the challenge that it presents to you and your team, think about ways to make your business more efficient.  Maybe a remote workforce model is right for you.  You may stay in this model after the virus passes.  Did you know that 56% of the country already has their workforce operating remotely?  And that was before the virus.  It’s not just about cutting costs.  As you can see, companies who are already set up for this are essentially operating as usual in this virus economy.  What other ways can you cut unnecessary costs that don’t involve cutting people.  Brainstorm with your team.  Ask them to think like a startup.  Startups know how to run ‘lean and mean’ operations.  Keep some of your costs down, but keep investing in growth and partnerships and product to help your company stay on a growth path. 


If your business is successful, you can help other businesses in need.  Facebook today announced that it will provide $100 million in “cash and ad credits” to 30,000 businesses in the 30 countries where Facebook operates.  Facebook has a lot of small business customers so they are in excellent position to launch a resource hub and a grant to help small-business owners manage during this virus outbreak.  Not everyone has the resources of Facebook, but do what you can.  If you are a profitable business with resources, what can you do with your business to be creative and help other businesses at this time.  Can we help a local retailer or restaurant by promoting their brand through our social platforms?  This could make you the real winner when all the dust settles.  How do you do this exactly?

1. Evaluate your customer base and partners

– Who are your customers by category.  What industry segments are they in.  Which of those industries need help?  Which of your customers in that industry can you help promote?  Get their logos and website links.

2. Leverage your online presence for a customer promotion

– Do you have the followers you need to make an influence

– Do you have the website activity to reach people with a message

If you do, you can help promote those companies who are hurting.

If you do not have a strong online presence, this can be an opportunity for you to set a goal to improve over the next year.


Which of your products and services are recession proof?  Think about this.  Some of your products and services are needed for your customer’s business to be successful.  Focus on those to ride through difficult economic times, because customers will not cut those costs.


It may not be appropriate right now to run your traditional marketing campaigns.  But you should still be doing campaigns, and communicating and being visible.  Do not get insular.  Stay out in front with your messaging.  It does not have to be about selling your products. 

The bottom line is this: You are in the midst of very uncertain, rapidly evolving environment, but I am confident you can rise to the occasion and manage successfully through this!  You should take conservative, smart and action-oriented approach.  What moves will you make?  This could be an opportunity for you – to reset your business model, to modify your offerings, to adjust your marketing on helping your customers, and to look at more remote and fluid operational models.  Get out there and lead from the front.  Establish yourself as the voice of the future.  If you do, you can help take your business through the rapids of this virus economy and all the way to the top!

Ready to explore your potential?

  1. 1-on-1 Coaching: Gary has implemented the ideas above successfully with his own teams, and he is actively refining them today with his CEO coaching customers. Can we help you implement positive results in your company? Contact Gary directly: gary@inspireyourselftoday.com
  2. Learn at your own pace: Join The Growth Cube Academy – a training school for small business CEOs that includes 20-minute video workshops conducted by Gary that you can listen to at your leisure, and focus in on specific topics.
  3. Think – Order Gary’s book, The Growth Cube, or join Gary’s newsletter and stay up-to-date with new successful models and tools!
  4. Learn more about how Gary is applying these principles real-time in his startup company. Go to www.woundwiseIQ.com and sign up to see a demo or invest in Gary’s AI and imaging analytics software products that help improve patient wound healing.