The COVID-19 Pandemic: Drawing on the Lessons of the Past

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Drawing on the Lessons of the Past

Near the conclusion of our recent roundtable discussion, a key question was poised to our panelists, namely, “What were you doing during the last economic downturn and how do those lessons apply to the current downturn sparked by COVID-19?”

The panelists for this discussion included Bob McCormick, Managing Partner at Murphy McCormick Capital Advisors; Scott Bushkie, Founder and President of Cornerstone Business Services; John Howe, past chairman of the M&A Source and current chairman of the International Association of Business Intermediaries; and Sara Burden, President of Walden Businesses. They had some excellent observations that all business brokers should consider during the pandemic of 2020.

Bob McCormick pointed out that now is the perfect time to begin working on your own business. He noted that those working in the industry are constantly emphasizing to clients the great importance of succession planning and how to handle issues such as the business owner getting sick or becoming disabled. But they often don’t adequately prepare themselves.

Additionally, McCormick encourages all business brokers and M&A Advisors to reach out to potential buyers and sellers. You shouldn’t be focusing on trying to sell right now, but instead you should be focusing on building relationships. A smart move is to try and be there for your clients as an advisor.

During the roundtable discussion, the panelists repeatedly echoed, in one form or another, the notion that when times are rough, people remember who was there for them and who wasn’t. This is a key fact and one that all business brokers should remember.

The panelists agreed that now is the time to think about market positioning and not zero in on selling. You want to use the pandemic as an opportunity to truly step up your lead generation activities. Step back and think about how you can reach more prospective clients and do so more effectively. The panelists agreed that you want clients and prospective clients to understand that you are there to help and contribute during difficult times.

Sarah Burden added that now is the time to be creative. Business brokers should be looking for ways to diversify away from what’s selling right now and “move towards things that potentially can sell.” Burden’s view is that you want to keep community at the focus of everything you’re doing. Your communications should stay positive.

Ultimately, everyone must adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that brokers also must adapt. As of the penning of the article in May 2020, there is no way to know how long the pandemic will last and what its long-term consequences will be.

Business brokers and M&A Advisors should focus on what they can do now to position themselves for the period of recovery that will inevitably arrive at some point. Remaining positive and conveying that positivity to clients is a must. It will help you bounce back faster once COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror.