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The Rainy Day Has Arrived

My last two columns have focused on obtaining PPP loans and how to use and track those funds. As I thought about this month’s article, I kept thinking of the old saying, “save for a rainy day.”

All across our country, cities, states, towns and counties have what we in the financial services industry call “rainy day funds.” Those are funds that many municipalities have set aside for difficult times when they may need cash that is not otherwise available.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen these accounts almost exclusively held by state and local governments. It’s rare that I’ve seen them opened or maintained by businesses. The reasons for this are many.

I would suggest it’s mostly driven by the idea that businesses both large and small, public and private, are reluctant to set aside significant amounts cash that is not providing the highest and best return. If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout my career, it’s that things can change in an instant. Those changes can be either good or bad. The last four months have shown everyone in our country just how quickly things can deteriorate.

As we started this year, we were enjoying the strongest economy our country has experienced in many years. Unemployment was at an all-time low, wages were up, the stock market was operated at record levels, housing was strong and businesses across the country were thriving. Nobody could have imagined that before the end of the first quarter, all those economic successes would evaporate.

Combine those challenges with more than two months of protests, riots, violence and looting, and we have a situation in our country that few, if any, could have imaged only a few short months ago.

What we are facing in our industry today is the proverbial “rainy day.” Even though we are deemed an essential industry, we are facing issues that did not exist as we began 2020. Some of us have maintained our businesses without much impact, while others have struggled with the loss of clients whose businesses have closed temporarily or completely gone out of business. Still others are not sure which clients will make it through these difficult days.

My friends, the “rainy day” has come. Surviving and thriving is completely dependent upon your ability to lead your company and your team through the uncertainty that lies ahead.

The challenges we faced in the midst of a very strong economy have been replaced by concerns about our client’s viability, our ability to operate while protecting ourselves and our employees in a pandemic, and uncertainty about the availability of credit to keep our businesses afloat during these difficult days. So what can we do to keep our companies on the right track?

While none of us can eliminate the challenges I’ve listed above, we can definitely set an example for everyone on our team to follow. Great leaders always rise up during times of crisis. I would encourage you to embrace the three principles below to help your team get through these difficult days.

Plan with Vision

Times may be difficult and uncertain. However, as the leader of your company, you can take some degree of control (and provide comfort to your team) by ensuring that you have a good plan of action. Your plan should show everyone on your team not only where you are but, more importantly, where you are going.

Proceed with Enthusiasm

Great leaders always have a way of inspiring others during difficult times. In times like these, if you can provide any degree of enthusiasm for your team, it’s contagious and will spread throughout your organization. As the leader of your organization, your team will emulate whatever mood you establish. Enthusiasm is a must.

Execute with Excellence

Regardless of the size of your company, insisting that everyone on your team operates with a commitment to excellence will help you survive these “rainy days.” Good enough is not acceptable.

The only thing that separates your company from your competitors is the way you take care of your clients and team members. Satisfied clients and team members who feel valued and appreciated will get you through almost any “rainy day.”

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