By Marc Beauchamp
What a difference a few months can make. It seems like just yesterday the stock market was roaring higher, merchant volumes were rising and many ISOs were having a killer start to the year. Now, as I pen this article, we are facing business closures, merchants are struggling just to keep the doors open and the majority of the country is under quarantine. I don't think any of us can say we've seen or experienced anything like this – even the 2008 financial crisis, as scary as it was – didn't shut the entire county down.
Things are evolving at a rapid pace, by the time this article is published; the environment will have most likely changed again, hopefully for the better. Like everyone else, I'm trying to figure out what this means for my business interests and personal finances as well. The only thing I know to be true is that I can control only what I can control. I cannot control the trajectory of a virus pandemic, who is infected by the virus, government policy or when a vaccine or treatment modality will be brought to market.
We've all heard it before, and we now have an opportunity to put it into practice: You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it. I believe this to be true for me. I believe it, because I've experienced the negative effects of not following this maxim in my own life. Today I choose to focus on what I can do in the situation rather than thinking along the lines of: what happened to me, what they did to me or what a bad hand I've been dealt.
I'm not suggesting we ignore reality; let's face the reality of the situation and see how we can intelligently and rationally deal with it. So choose to focus on what you can control and don't get a "virus" of the mind. If you succumb to such a virus, it will stay with you much longer than the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Here are five tips for managing the current crisis:
Evaluate your merchant portfolio and come up with an estimate of how your residuals might be impacted over the coming months. Project your cash flow based on outgoing expenses and incoming revenues. At this point, you may have to make some hard decisions. You must live to fight another day, so do whatever it takes to ensure you have enough cash flow to weather this storm. In this type of environment cash is king.
Stimulus packages are great, low interest rates are wonderful, checks to workers help, but don't count on the government to save you. Certainly, apply for any help that you can get. But the reality is that the only one that can save you is you!
Merchants will have more time on their hands and are looking for ways to reduce overhead and save money. Look for key verticals that you can target that are still operating and potentially expanding their business. Yes, some still exist out there. I spoke to an agent the other day who was doing great with butcher shops, small grocery stores and online ordering for restaurants. People still need to eat.
This is the question I'm asking myself right now: How can I turn this challenge into an opportunity? This is just beginning. Stay strong and take care of your loved ones, especially those at risk. You will weather this storm and be prepared to capitalize.
Marc Beauchamp is author of Survive and Thrive in the Merchant Services Industry and founder of Bankcard Life, a community for payments professionals. He is offering a free copy of his book to all payment professionals at www.bankcardlife.com/greensheet. Marc welcomes your comments and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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