Down to business

by Rebekah King
| April 29, 2020 1:00 AM

What did you do this weekend? If asked prior to March 16, I bet your plans would have been vastly different than what you actually did this weekend. The end of April is usually a busy time in Bigfork. Volunteers gather together for Clean Your ‘Fork and then celebrate our village and restaurants with Taste of Bigfork, all in preparation for summer.

We should be getting ready to welcome Spartan Racers and tourists, but that is not our current reality. We are staying home, ordering takeout and hesitantly visiting stores, supporting our small businesses the best way we can.

We are all anxious to find out what the new normal is going to look like. Things are changing quickly around us. What we knew to be true yesterday may not be true tomorrow or next week. Bigfork, like many small towns, can be resistant to change, thinking we are fine the way we are. But change is inevitable and now is the time to be strategic as we adapt to the new rules.

If I had one superpower during this time, it would be to see the future. I wish I could tell vacationers what the Fourth of July parade was going to look like and when travel restrictions would be lifted. I would love to reassure business owners that visitors are going to flock to Bigfork and support them. The truth is I do not know, none of us do, but I am confident that we must not linger long in the status quo. Now is the time to be strategic.

Four weeks ago, most of our restaurants transformed their business plan overnight. Menus were streamlined, service was honed and non-essential anything vanished! Now, as we began phase one of re-opening, our brick and mortar retailers are doing the same. As we, the community, embark on this next phase, we must follow the example of our restaurants in their resiliency. If we do not continue to adapt and enhance our offerings, we will not be fine. While I am unable to see the future, I do know it is going to be tremendously different from anything we have experienced before.

It is difficult to imagine our current situation as a time of opportunity, but perhaps, in fact, it is. Whether in your business or in your life, now is a great time to look at what hasn’t been working and fix it — or get rid of it completely! Consider the advice you would have given yourself 10 years ago and use it. Take a hard look at who actually supports you, not who you think does, and make sure what you are providing supports them. If McDonald’s can quietly do away with their breakfast all-day menu amid this pandemic, you can certainly make the tricky decisions necessary to optimize your business and life.

Decide how you are going to evolve and start taking the steps to make it happen.

As we move forward, we are not answering the question, “What are you doing this weekend?” Instead, we are answering the question, “What could you do? What should you do? What will you do?” Because in Bigfork, we are not talkers, we are doers. I know our small businesses will survive. I know our community will continue to support them. I know our visitors will come back when the time is right. And I know we are resilient. The real testament to Bigfork will not be surviving and getting through this. It will be seeing the successes in how we have embraced the changes, the new ideas, practices and technology, and how much better we are for it long after the pandemic is gone. ■