We all know what hibernation is. We’ve heard David Attenborough describing all manner of wonderful beasts successfully pull off different aspects of this amazing physiological feat.
Bears, turtles, groundhogs, snakes, skunks, marmots and even ladybugs are all associated with various states of mental lethargy (sometimes mistaken as hibernation) to navigate challenging seasons or fallow times.
Whether your business has been in hibernation or you’re tempted to ponder how much longer for, pause and take stock before continuing to slink into your cave or snuggly burrow.
Bears, or other creatures taking to torpor build up fat supplies first. The surplus manages metabolic rates without damaging vital organs and without heart rate or temperatures decreasing.
To successfully pull off the business equivalent is not so easily replicatable. Unless you’re sitting on pots of gold in reserve, using cash in hand or creating cash flow may not work with this strategy.
Many businesses additionally face seasonal peaks and troughs at the best of times. Others are further impacted by contractual obligations or sales cycles.
Without cash surplus or cash flow it’s dangerous to remain in retreat for a lengthy nap. In the animal kingdom vital organs cease to function. Vital organs in business (market share, future sales or brand perception) may take catastrophic hits.
Turtles hibernate successfully through submersion in water. The staple liquid acts as a safe, life stabilising cocoon. In business terms where are our safe cocoons?
The government has taken extreme measures and continues to implement great initiatives to this cause. Yet these solutions are cocoons with a short-term shelf life (jobkeeper and a whole array of grants or subsidies).
Without them we’d already see a greater catastrophic loss than the devastation we’re already experiencing. Yet they’re simultaneously not so fluid or in as great a supply as water.
Even those ladybugs that gather together in the thousands, or hundreds of thousands, hold a secret ingredient that’s counter to our own current experience. They literally, physically, huddle in vast numbers as their mechanism for safety, warmth and survival.
We, on the other hand, are in hibernation through physical social distancing. We’re coming to terms with the mindset and mental adjustments required for solitude whilst also learning not to tear so much on each others nerves amongst your own select minimalist ‘iso’ group.
Ultimately we’ll need to regroup in volumes, mentally in addition to safe closer proximity, once we can do so in order to stimulate the economy back to life.
There is one other common denominator across all creatures that deliberately bunker down for extended periods of idle. They’re hard wired to know there’s an end date.
Even marmots, possibly the largest of true hibernating creatures, may spend up to half their lives in retreated burrows: napping from October to April-ish each cycle. A 6-month period seems about the maximum.
We on the other hand seem to be in a cycle of uncertainty. At one stage we thought we were heading out of the isolation woods only to find ourselves back in the thick of it.
If you’re really considering hibernation, how long do you propose for: 3-months, 6 months or a year or more? We’re all somewhat loose on the details, globally. There is no definitive hibernation termination timeline.
Not even the hardiest creatures can withstand such endurance indefinitely. The same is true for your business. We must find ways to bounce back together.
A safer position to adopt is a different skill replicated as a lesson from nature. Adaptability.
Brainstorm fresh ideas. Almost every major economic crisis has birthed businesses, even entire industries that transform and simultaneously disrupt.
How can you operate?
Which new products might you create?
How can you pre sell or maintain a presence in market?
How can your customer base truly support you?
How can I, as a consumer, support ethical businesses and providers that serve and truly add value to the community?
There’s a whole host of actions we can all take, as business owners and consumers, for our own businesses aswell as others doing it tough.
We’re already seeing the heartbreaking numbers of redundancies, shutdowns or insolvencies. If we don’t band together or get creative we’re going to see far more business carcasses as many will not survive this indefinite period of idle. We’re already up to the 6 month window marmots manage.
Even scarier, the indefinite lockdown and isolation periods have an insidious effect on mental health and risks associated with suicide.
Arise from the slumber or break the marmot type habits of lounging around and eating.
Ask yourself and others, perhaps a mastermind group, better questions and brainstorm with full alertness.
But best leave any continued full-blown hibernation to the animal kingdom. They’re equipped for it. We generally, as human beings and businesses, are not.