By Haddon Libby
Wei-ji is the Chinese word for crisis. The written characters for this word are those representing danger and opportunity. While attentions of late have been on the clear and present danger, we also need to consider the opportunities presented to us due to this global economic catastrophe.
Whenever there is a major shock to the system like that brought on by COVID-19, the destruction created affords the opportunistic and forward thinking a chance to benefit in ways previous unavailable.
Looking at the Coachella Valley, the crisis will have a larger negative impact on most businesses and workers than many parts of the country. Not only did we lose our most lucrative time of year for businesses, but our economic problems should continue after we return to whatever version of normalcy is on the other side. The new normal will most likely mean lower tourism for next season. It is difficult to imagine that gatherings of large groups like those at Coachella or the McCallum returning at all let alone to pre-COVID-19 attendance levels until people feel safe again.
So where are the opportunities?
To those with good jobs and investment accounts, opportunities will be plentiful whether shopping at the store or investing for the future.
What about those who are now, or will be, broke?
First, know that you are not alone. People at every level of the socio-economic ladder have been hurt. Between the relief being offered now and stimulus that can be expected, you will make it through. As the state has suspended evictions from rentals and most banks are letting mortgage holders put current payments to the end of the loan term, your largest expense is covered for now. State orders preventing utilities from cutting off service means that you have another payment that can be deferred until the world reopens. While government relief in the form of an enhanced unemployment check and one-time relief checks of $1,200 per person and $500 per child may not be a lot, it is enough to keep you going.
Use this window of time to think about what you really want to do once the world reopens. What is the opportunity that you can get excited about and want to devote your energies toward?
If you could use more education to advance your career, now might be a good time to get student loans to go back to school. Whatever the future world looks like, people with an education will have better opportunities than the less educated.
If you have a kitchen, consider starting a home-based food business. Rules have been relaxed over the last few years making it far easier to start your culinary enterprise.
Think about opening up a storefront on eBay, Amazon or another online retail hub. Selling online is a great way to raise cash and get rid of unused objects. Do this for your neighbors as well and make commissions for your efforts. If you have a creative skill, consider making your own items for resale such as jewelry, t-shirts, or some other creation. Use this time when you are stuck inside to start opportunities that explore your creative side.
Whatever plan you come up with, write it down. Set up timelines and goals to achieve that which you strive for.
Use this time to network with people whom you have not talked to in a while. If you are looking for work coming on the other side, let them know. Your situation is not unique, and many people will assist if you only ask.
While COVID-19 disrupted all of our lives, you can choose to be a victim or a survivor. While survival and future prosperity may come in a different form that you had originally planned, there are good opportunities that you can create. If you are having a hard time figuring out what your opportunity might be, talk to those who know you the best and get their ideas. Once you have figured out an approach, local resources like SCORE, the Women’s Business Center and your city business development officer are people to reach out to for guidance or introductions to those who can help.
Haddon Libby is the Founder and Managing Partner of Winslow Drake Investment Management. To reach Haddon, email Hlibby@WinslowDrake.com or visit www.WinslowDrake.com.