Note: It may not be business as usual, but you still have a business

Hazel Butters/ April 18, 2020/ Business in COVID-19

It’s time to stop watching Netflix and take some action…

“Unprecedented.” The word repeatedly used to describe what’s happening in our current world. Everyone’s life has been disrupted, changed temporarily, or changed forever.

If you’re a business owner or are self-employed, it’s easy to feel stuck, surrounded by uncertainty. It can be hard to know what to do – and for many of us, when we don’t know (or think you don’t know) what you can do next, it’s easy to fall back to a default of doing nothing at all. This is where a lot of business owners are right now, stuck.

I admit to having moments of overwhelm – my in-person sales training work for 2020 has vanished overnight, and I am juggling a nine-month-old baby whilst trying to change my products and services, refill the emptied pipeline, and finishing up existing client projects. There are moments when it feels relentless.  

It can also be easy to take refuge in distractions: watching Tiger King on Netflix, scrolling through endless news on social media, or hitting refresh on a newspage in the hope of a different headline.

But the wheels of many businesses continue, and there are still opportunities. It’s not business as usual, but if you’re a business owner, you still have a business and it’s up to you to take action.

Some things I’ve done to re-focus myself:

1. Create a schedule (even if the baby doesn’t respect it)

Right now, one of the most important tasks you can do as a business owner is to take ownership of your time and schedule tasks. I know it’s easier said than done, and we are each coping with different situations. You may have had a brick-and-mortar business that has been deemed ‘non-essential’ and you need to bring money in. Or for the first time, you are figuring out how to work and sell remotely. You may be suffering from anxiety, supporting family or friends who are caregivers or first-line responders, finding yourself looking after children at home and homeschooling. On top of whatever your day-to-day situation is right now, there’s the overlay of general unease that none of us know how long this is will last.

Take back a semblance of control with your schedule.  I have a ‘house schedule,’ which includes vital sales or client-facing times where some blocks where I know I don’t have to watch the baby and keep a running list of outstanding work items I can work on before 7am and after 8 pm when the baby is asleep. Yes, it can feel relentless, and things can slip (the baby has little respect the schedule), but I need time to focus on work and came to realized I also needed some for myself.

2. Take decisive action

Create a system to take action. You need to take action right now because it’s the one thing that’s going to help you, and shift your results. No, doing something to help your business can’t stop a pandemic (unless you run a world-leading virology lab), but will help you step out of uncertainty because you’ll have the certainty created by your behavior. Trust yourself on this. And it will help you step out of the lack of control you may have around what’s happening to your business.

3. Think laterally

If your business is something that you think you can’t pivot, then think about ways that you can turn what you do into a service, or reach out to your customers and ask them to support you in return for something else. For example, once a year before the quiet season in our very seasonal-town, a local restaurant does a voucher giveaway where you pay $25 to buy a $50 food voucher you can spend in the quieter months. One of my favorite coffee places has pivoted to curbside pick up and is doing a fabulous business in freshly-made donuts. My favorite yoga instructor, already a phenomenal lateral-thinking business owner, offers virtual classes, meditations, and online rituals while also continuing to partner and support other business owners, healers, and coaches in our community. Gym owners have moved classes online and are offering discounts on virtual personal training – and I know of a martial arts school in the Carolinas that created a virtual dojang with Cisco Webex.

So take the time to think laterally. And ask – how you can help others, ask for ideas, help, support, and share ways your community can continue to be part of your business success story, and you can be part of theirs.

Feeling stuck and want to talk about some ideas? Get in touch and let’s talk about your business.

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