Entrepreneurs offer advice on thriving during difficult times

We are in the midst of an economic downturn that is unlike anything most us have seen.

How can we prepare to not only make it through these challenging times but thrive? We asked these titans of industry and Advisors in The Oracles, who are in industries ranging from real estate to technology and fitness. Here’s their best advice for preparing your life and business for the future.

1. Reevaluate your priorities.

This situation makes us reevaluate our priorities and cut back on expenses. Then when things turn around, you’ll be prepared to thrive because you aren’t wasting money on excess.

These times are difficult, and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone, but they also offer opportunities. When the stock market goes down, that’s when you buy. For example, I bought Bitcoin when it dropped recently. This is also about more than finances; it’s about focusing on what’s important, like family, and getting back to the basics in life.

We’re learning that in extreme ways right now and will be better off for it. We just have to stay positive. —Tony Hawk, founder and CEO of Birdhouse Skateboards and president of the Tony Hawk Foundation; the most influential and commercially successful skateboarder of all time, with a $100+ million net worth

2. Take advantage of financial resources.

If you’re worried about your finances, take advantage of all the resources out there. Do your homework on the benefits available to you under the CARES Act. Your biggest priorities should be paying for essentials and eliminating unnecessary expenses. Try to refinance your mortgage, or call your landlord if you’ll have trouble making rent. If you have a lot of credit card debt, pay it down now, starting with the highest-interest cards.

The best investment you can make is in yourself right now. With unemployment skyrocketing, reinvent yourself as a more desirable job candidate.

Take online courses and learn new skills so you can repackage yourself for a new economy when we come out of this. —Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group, podcast host of “Business Unusual,” and Shark on “Shark Tank”; follow Barbara on Instagram and Facebook

3. Adapt to sustain your business.

To sustain your business through these challenging times, forget your plans. It’s time to adapt. Consider ways to digitize your products and services; for instance, virtualize your events or offer digital downloads instead of physical products. Use technology to systematize your processes so you’re less dependent on people. 

Cash is king in a crisis, so look at your cash balance daily. Collect from those who owe you, renegotiate payment terms with those you owe, and suspend nonessential spending. Prioritize retaining your existing customers over new business. Ask how you can help them with their challenges.

If needed, ask what you can do differently to keep them, such as deferring their payments. Finally, stay calm. You can’t make intelligent decisions if you’re panicking. —Dan Lok, founder of the Dan Lok Organization and two dozen companies, including Closers.com and Copywriters.com; chairman of Dragon 100, bestselling author, and venture capitalist; connect with Dan on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram

4. Embrace the situation.

A recession doesn’t indicate the end of times, but a shift in people’s needs from the want-to-haves to the must-haves. Like past recessions, this one will birth many great companies and new millionaires. You can choose to be upset, wait it out, or rely on a government bail-out — or you can embrace the new normal, identify the new opportunities, and reposition accordingly.

With a positive mindset, problem-solving, and hard work, this can become one of the best periods in your career. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. In a thriving economy, people are bombarded with marketing messages and struggle to decide where to spend money.

Now, advertising is quiet (buying ads is a bargain), and our needs are crystal clear. If your business addresses those needs the way companies like Zoom, Netflix, and UberEats do, you can thrive. —Mike Peters, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of the Yomali group of companies, which has generated more than $1 billion in sales online; connect with Mike on LinkedIn

5. Focus on solving problems.

When attacking any problem, your mindset determines your outcome. With a poor attitude, you get a poor result. With a strong mindset, you’re more likely to get what you want. Money doesn’t go away in a recession; it just changes hands. So figure out who has money, what new problems they’re facing, and what you can sell them to solve those problems.

For example, people still need to stay fit while gyms are closed; so personal trainers who started coaching online are thriving.

You also must understand how to drive traffic to your website through social media and advertising. In good times and bad, you’ll succeed if you know how to get traffic that converts into paying clients. —Bedros Keuilian, founder of Fit Body Boot Camp, author of “Man Up,” and host of “Empire Podcast Show”; connect with Bedros on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube

6. Invest in yourself and level up.

Right now, there is little “fear of missing out.” No one is getting together, partying, or brunching nearly as much. What we’re going through will not happen again in your lifetime, so use this time to level up.

Don’t be complacent. Find a new hobby, read a book, take an online class, and do things in the now. Focus on you and invest in yourself, and you’ll accomplish anything you set your mind to. —Zain Kheraj, co-founder and CFO of TrustMySystem, a sports consulting and analytics company

7. Keep exercising and learning.

Start each day with a plan and hold yourself accountable. I’ve had to pivot in many ways, but what hasn’t changed is my commitment to exercise, which is critical to staying positive and focused. I like to go for a run or walk. If you don’t, do 15 minutes of floor exercises like planks, jumping jacks, or core work while listening to your favorite sweat songs.

Like many of us, I’ve become dependent on my devices, so I’m using them to learn. Use a motivational app or stream an inspirational talk, such as Glennon Doyle on “Unlocking Us with Brené Brown” or Antoni Lacinai at TEDxVasa. Breathe deeply and tell the universe what you’re thankful for.

We can have post-traumatic stress from this situation or post-traumatic growth. You decide. This could be the incubation period you need to unlock your gifts. —Holly Parker, founder and CEO of The Holly Parker Team at Douglas Elliman; award-winning broker who has made over $8 billion in sales; connect with Holly on LinkedIn and Instagram

8. Prepare for the best- and worst-case scenarios.

It’s hard to say what the future holds, but times like these can benefit those who make it through. Lots of the world’s most successful companies grew out of recessions, such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Airbnb, Disney, and many more. Recessions brim with opportunities because comparatively few seize them. It’s important to recognize that there’s a good chance this coming decade will be very different from the last. Don’t assume that assets that performed well in the past will continue to. Buy some gold instead of just Tesla stock.

If you’re running a company, make conservative enough decisions that you’re in a position to thrive if things get worse.

At the same time, invest as heavily in growth as you can afford to. Keep enough cash in your company’s bank account and then shoot for the stars. —Judd Rosenblatt, founder and CEO of AE Studio, an agile web development and data science consulting firm with a mission to increase human agency with technology; vote for the charity they donate to next month

9. Keep working hard.

The world will always be changing, so you need to be able to change with it. Focus on innovation and adapting to what’s happening around you. Whether you’re learning a new skill or sharpening your craft, do not stop leveling up with a sense of urgency.

Anything in life that’s worth it takes time and effort, so you have to do the work. Like the billionaire CEO Elon Musk says: Work like hell. Put in 80 to 100 hours every week. This improves your odds of success. —Farhaz Kheraj, co-founder and CEO of TrustMySystem, a sports consulting and analytics company

10. Don’t give up.

Stay agile and ready to pivot. Those who will come out of this situation on top will be making moves constantly. That means communicating openly with clients and exploring other avenues for revenue and ways to stay in business. Consider how to use your team best. Is everyone in the right place?

Bill Gerber, co-founder of AccountingDepartment.com

Can anyone contribute differently with underutilized skills? Now is the time to assess everything you have going for you and what you’re missing. Get creative and keep pushing forward, no matter what.  —Bill Gerber, co-founder of AccountingDepartment.com, a virtual accounting service for small businesses; connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Recession-proof your life:How to thrive during difficult times

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