Essentially the markets all around the world have crashed. And global players from Tesla to Apple have lost monumental value on the stock markets. Somehow every business on the planet will be affected by this Black Swan, made worse by social media, misleading news and the incredible speed of which bad news travels.

We went through something similar in 2009. Some rotten loans started a landslide of insolvencies, Chapter 11s and spawned a global recession. We had ourselves to blame. Greed and complex business schemes got us to the breaking point. Then.

This time it seems we had nothing to do with it. However, this virus has the worlds’ best PR machine, and sets a new global benchmark of efficient communication. Fuelled by fear of the unknown, lack of information and the human nature of reacting emotionally to — anything.

Speaking to CEOs of both small and big companies in the Nordics after several countries have gone into lockdown, we all agree that the entire turn of events happened extremely fast.

Businesses, that were thriving only a week ago are now on the brink of insolvency. Startups that had funding secured suddenly find themselves on the very edge of existence. And of course, the travel industry — already trapped by high costs and unpredictable demand — is facing the monumental challenge of pure survival.

A multitude of companies around the world are shutting down all external activities, cancelling contracts, stopping projects, and reducing marketing and innovation spending.

All of this happened in a week.

Imagine an airline reducing their capacity by 50 percent. The consequences are severe. Apart from a large number of employees (like the 5000 employees of being put on leave, the consultants that helped them on their business development are out of contract. The advertising agency is being put on pause and media spend is dramatically reduced. Airports receive less landing fees, fuel companies distribute less fuel (which hits the oil prices) and the hotels that were supposed to receive the travellers stay completely empty.

Our global economy is obviously not ready for this type of Black Swan. Not Apple, not Adidas, not Nike — coincidentally all companies that get the majority of their supply from Asia.

Will there be winners? Certainly. The ones with large cash reserves can go on a buying spree. Virtual meeting solutions, and home delivery services will thrive, and the non-advertising financed streaming services may see a massive increase in members around the world.

So what can we do? The small ones that want to change the world and the large ones that are making society work? Should we wait? Should we tell everyone to stay at home for a week or two? A month?

Can we as business owners do something to keep the faith, keep the market alive? The answer is probably somewhere in between giving up and pretending to be business as usual.

This sequence of events will undoubtedly end some businesses, and certainly give birth to new ones, but going forward, we should keep ambitions high, serve our customers in the best way possible and adapt to a new business landscape with less physical meetings, more focused work, and higher competition within the different niches.

It is not business as usual, but if businesses are to survive this, we need to adapt, find new ways, and create a positive environment which keeps enabling growth and opportunity. Even if it means doing that from the safety of your own four walls and a laptop on your lap.

Originally published at on March 16, 2020.

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