I don’t need to tell you that the world is crazy right now, because everyone else is already doing so. If you’re a small business owner like me, you’re probably feeling uncertain about what lies ahead. In the last several weeks, my team and I have invested time in reviewing our business finances and running projections to decipher what the future may hold for us. Needless to say, it is easy to let fear of the unknown drive how we lead in these uncertain times.
What I would like to tell you is that for small businesses, there is a path out of the storm. With courage and perseverance we can make it through tough times like this, come out better and stronger, and ultimately stay the course on our path to success.
At Long Capture, I feel we are one of the few fortunate businesses that find ourselves in a good position during these times. However, that hasn’t always been the case. Like many of you, the early days of building my business were daunting. I’ve always enjoyed delving into the works of JRR Tolkien (yes, I’ve read The Silmarillion multiple times…) and I’ve recently found myself ruminating on a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring that got me through many tough times during the early stages of my startup:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
At this moment in the story, Frodo is facing struggles he never anticipated and was unprepared for on his quest to destroy the ring. He’s confronting despair, evil, and uncertainty. The weight of this responsibility that was thrust upon him comes crashing down. Gandalf responds with words of hope, encouraging Frodo to make the most out of this responsibility that fate has given him. These words give Frodo the courage he needs to stay the course and ultimately complete his quest to destroy the ring.
In the early days of building my business, I was often faced with impossible decisions with completely unknown outcomes and I found solace in these words. The first year of this journey was demanding and wearisome. My wife and I drained our savings account, I faced countless “what-ifs” and unpredictable outcomes with no idea on what would actually work. I remember staring at the wall of my home office months into this journey thinking this isn’t working. I had walked away from the security and benefits of a well-paying career just to strike out on my own.
Yet, something about stepping back from all the unknowns, focusing on these words and this moment allowed me to stop overthinking and take action to move my business forward. After all, all we can do is make decisions where we are right now with the information we have. No more, no less.
We’re all probably feeling a bit like Frodo right now. A few short months ago life was normal and the economy seemed strictly confined to the up and up. In the wake of COVID-19, we’re facing tough decisions that impact not only our own lives but those of our employees because of a situation we can’t control and couldn’t have anticipated.
Friends, take courage. We do not have to be all-knowing. We do not have to predict the future. All we can do is use the information we have at hand to make the best decisions possible, keep moving forward, and lead our teams through these trying times. In the words of Gandalf, All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.