When Struggle is the Opportunity
Covid-19 and the business shutdowns have created a global community fraught with fears. Not only are there real fears of business extinction due to loss of revenue, there is a secondary consequence of this situation–paying for one’s livelihood. Or, perhaps even worse, that people believe this is a brief blip. This event is already proving to have long-term effects, especially as many regions and states are extending the shutdowns as we work to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It may take 5 or 6 months to shake out, or longer. No matter the length of time, how can we leverage this event to let go of things that are not serving us and not serving our clients. Can we begin to flip the script to struggle is the opportunity? There are an unlimited number of possibilities, but only if you can go from an ‘I Can’t’ (fixed mindset) to a ‘How Can I’ (open perspective).
Defining The New Normal
Even without the necessity of responding to mandatory shutdowns, taking advantage of adjusting to normal business conditions takes focus and determination to make good decisions. According to Brent Beshore, author of Messy Marketplace, “all businesses are loosely organized disasters and some are profitable in spite of it”. Think about that—ALL Businesses.
How much of the normal chaos in your routine is because you were already loosely functioning in a disaster mode, even under normal circumstances? In times where revenue is relatively predictable, we may be tolerating too much chaos. Because money still comes in, we are tolerating gaps, mishaps, dropped balls, and missed opportunities rather than prevention through adapting and training and technology. Now is the time to become more strategic in our thinking as business owners.
What’s In Our Control?
I notice that many of the businesses continuing to struggle because they are thinking about all the things they can’t control. I hear things like, “Revenue has completely stopped and I can’t do anything about it.” Folks, this is a victim mentality. Everyday as a business owner you are influenced by changing market conditions, and most of the time you never even notice! You keep going, managing day-in and day-out the way you have always done; yet these days, a BIG shift happened. Some call it a “Covid Bump”. You didn’t cause it. It's not like the recession in 2008 where it was caused by greed and misdeeds. True, this recession is temporary, and is affecting us all in some way. I find that I continue to shop in stores that presantize the shopping carts, limit the number of people in the store, offer to sanitize my hands as I walk in – open the door for me so I don’t have to risk cross contamination, and that appear to have a low volume of cars in the parking lot – yup, I’ll skip the lowes hardware if they are carrying on like normal saturday traffic pre-C19.
How might you be leveraging the opportunity that has been presented? If you are not seeing this as an opportunity, I encourage you to engage in more self-care so that you can shift your thinking. If you are not sleeping, what actions must you change so that you can? Are you drinking more heavily, are you ruminating on negative thoughts? Are you avoiding taking action and caving under the psychological weight of not taking action? Are you skipping meals and not reaching out to family and friends to just have a “how are you?” conversation? I challenge you to lift your head up and ask yourself, “What must I shift in order to come through this major life event better for it? Where can I be of service to my friends, my family, my community, my clients, my competitors, right now? Yes, shocking! Even your competitors will appreciate it if you are supportive of them.
Thinking Proactively, Creatively
The awareness you have around what is possible, now directly affects your ability to respond to changes in the marketplace that are beyond your control. Just because it's beyond your control does not abdicate your responsibility to adjust. Now is not the time to borrow without being strategic. Look at your products and services. What is most profitable? Which of your clients is purchasing it? How can you serve your best clients right now? How can you adapt your most profitable product so that you can still provide it even when the traditional situation has changed? If you have to run a leaner business—say moving your operating expenses from 75% to 50% of Real Revenue—then you have to figure out how to serve your clients differently with what you do have. What opportunities exist for purchasing a newer piece of essential equipment from a competitor so you can continue to serve your most profitable service? What might be possible if you partner with your competitor strategically to provide a service that you can’t because your equipment failed and you choose not to replace it right now?
Every day, we are talking to clients and business owners who say, “This is the best thing that could have happened to me because it forced me to take actions I’ve been delaying.” Let's look at that delaying. Are you waiting, debating, avoiding, or ignoring? If so, you are most likely reacting this way because of loss aversion (i.e. If I give this up, I’m losing something). Remember, the opposite of loss is gain. What will you be gaining by taking this action?
Yes, you might need to sell equipment. But, don’t sell your most profitable equipment if it is in great working condition. If it is constantly breaking down and you generally choose to keep fixing it and make-do, it is very likely causing you delays in providing the service because of repair time and excessive worry about whether it will last. That in and of itself has an impact on the quality of the work you can provide. Think strategically about the impact of buying a newer piece of equipment and training your people to use it. What are you gaining in the long term, with a short-term investment of time and resources? Can you sustain that in the short term, knowing it will benefit you long term? Maybe? Well then I’d ask you what information do you need to have in order to move from maybe to yes.
I’ve been asking our Better Business, Better Life™ clients, “What is possible now for your business? All of our clients are watching for opportunities to network for hiring purposes or with other business owners who may be selling equipment and assets that you can purchase. How can you create a win-win and better serve your ideal clients in the process?
The market conditions are beyond our control, but our response to them is not. Feeling guilty, feeling loss, feeling powerless—all of this is within your control. It's the choice you make to avoid making changes that creates added pressure on yourself. You are inadvertently choosing inaction and avoiding responsibility that is making the struggle bigger than necessary. You do not have to suffer as a result of what is happening. You can make changes and make improvements and be better for it.
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Stacey Seguin, Strategist at Tap the Potential
As a life-long learner, I’ve had many careers, as a certified corporate paralegal, a help desk manager working with shrink wrap and proprietary software, training and supporting 24/7/365 in a WAN environment, and starting multiple businesses including a lifestyle brand for girls ages 10-13.
I’m a calculated risk-taker.
Profitability brings stability. As a business owner, it becomes a way of life to ride the roller coaster of cash flow management. After 15 years of bootstrapping a multi-million dollar nationwide service provider in the private investigative industry, I know first hand the common experience of skipped paychecks and fear over making the next payroll. I have done the money dance at the post office weekly hoping those promised checks were actually delivered today.
I thrive in an environment of possibility and optimism, and can weather the stress of the unknown, but why do that when there is a better way?
That is what I found as a certified Profit First Professional. A better way. Being a business owner impacts every aspect of your personal life and your success in business is directly tied to your success as a human being.
Working on number management is only a part of what makes a business successful. In 2016 I discovered that Donna Leyens of the Provendus Group had co-created the tools and resources based on the Pumpkin Plan principles with Mike Michalowicz for business owners to bring three essential elements together- 1) knowing who you are as a business leader, 2) who your top clients are and 3) very precisely what you do for them. I knew immediately I’d found my calling as a Provendus Strategist linking everything I know about what makes a business exponentially great.
Experience, insight, and problem solving are my starting point for navigating business challenges. I eat sleep and breathe business and crave conversations with business owners.
My purpose is to bring insight and wisdom to guide direction and decision making for other business leaders and get tremendous satisfaction when helping others advance their goals.