Wow is this a wild time to be in business, especially if you’re also trying to home school kids or you’re keeping little ones out of day care. Even if you don’t have kids, like me, these tips about how to keep your business flowing during a crisis will help. This advice extends far beyond the unusual time we are in right now with the Cornona Virus.
Small people or no small people… life sometimes gets in the way of business. It has happened to me many times. Illness (both mine and others), moving house, death of loved ones, taking a trip overseas, friends coming to stay, or just needing some time away from the grind. Stuff happens, life happens. The benefit of being self employed is that we get guilt free time out … in theory…
Here are some tips that I use in my business to dial my business down during a difficult time without losing the flow altogether.
Be 100% in or 100% out!
Women’s guilt drives us to feel like we need to be in multiple places at once. The kids are at home and want your attention but you also have a business to run. So what do you do? Sit at the computer feeling distracted, guilty and non-productive. You’re not 100% in your business, you’re not 100% with your kids. You feel ineffective as both a parent and a business owner. You get nothing done and feel like you’re letting everyone down.
People energy are mood are low right now, and we need to allow ourselves to aclimatise to current conditions. If you’re sit at your computer and trying to cross something off your to-do list, but you just can’t focus then you’re not 100% in, you’re not 100% out. You still feel like picked crap wrapped in a trash bag and you didn’t achieve anything in your business. Give yourself permission to be 100% in or 100% out and ease your guilt.
So how do you keep your business flowing when you're on holidays or unplanned leave?
1. Be Realistic about the time you really have available
Don’t commit to things you can’t achieve like managing small humans while running a business 40 hours a week. Something has to give right? I have the same conversations with clients over and over again even outside of the Corona virus madness. I see their annual plans and their January sales targets and know they have kiddies that they desperately want to spend time with.
When I call them out on their crazy plan to do it all I see the guilt of not showing up as a business owner all over the faces. Juggle, juggle, juggle. Something ultimately gets dropped, because no one person can or should be trying to do all the things.
2. Have your plan ready
When you have a solid plan in place you can adjust as you need to. If you know you have a big block of holidays coming up you can plan around it. If you have a solid plan and you or someone you need to care for becomes ill you can modify your plan to accommodate the time away from your business. Likewise, if you have a solid plan and the entire world is essentially on lockdown, you can make adjustments.
Will this “fix” your business?
No, of course not. What it will do is show you the facts as they are. You will see in black and white the affects of said event are going to have on your business cash flow, your sales goals, and your marketing. So much of the fear and panic in business exists within the unknown. When you don’t know where you are today, navigating your way out is near impossible.
Think of being lost on a highway in the middle of nowhere. If you have zero clue, you’re going to need to take chance that the direction you choose to go in is the right one. Maybe it is.. maybe it will lead to a deadend and waste what little fuel and energy you had left. Often when people are lost, and direcitonless they choose the least scary option which is to do absolutely nothing. To stand completely still in fear and overwhelm.
If you, at the very least, could figure out where you are your chances of navigating back to the right track are so much better. You will be able to chose a direction and look for the signs along the way to see if you need to change course.
I want to give you a couple of real life examples to help you understand the value of a plan.
I made an absolute mess of my ankle a couple of years ago. The pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. I could barely make it to the fridge for self-pity snacks and I knew I would not be able to focus on work for at least two weeks. Pain medication and business are not a good combination!
I was able to grab my Plan and Track and quickly make modifications to my sales targets, expenses, and marketing. I already had prewritten content scheduled and old content in re-cycle mode. I then made adjustments to my targets to absorb them into following months. It took all of 2 hours to put my business into a holding pattern for two weeks. I then sat on the couch in a non-stressed Codeine haze eating Cheezels and M&M mix-ups, watching non-stop Dr. Phil until I felt like I could get back to work. The most I did each day was 15 minutes on email to keep in contact with clients and to let any potential new clients know when I would be back on deck.
With all of my clients and Members Club team we are right now making adjustments to our Profit Lovers Plan and Track. It is still uncertain as to when life will return to some semblance of normalacy, and we will likely have to keep modifying as we learn more but we know where we are at and what impact the Corona Virus is having on our businesses today.
2. Get ahead with your marketing
During the great ankle tearing debacle of 2017 I had to put all of my own advice into practice. Luckily I was already 6 weeks ahead with my marketing. That meant I could do the minimum amount required to ensure my clients were looked after and money was still coming in, but I could drop a whole lot of other stuff from my to do list.
Becauase I had weeks and weeks of pre-scheduled content my business appeared to carry on as usual for the most part. When I was ready to get back to work I didn’t need to restart my marketing machine. It had already been running.
I know right now you might not feel like thinking about marketing, especially if you’re unsure how you’re making it through this period of uncertainty or even if you will make it through with your business in tact. If you have the headspace and the time, then please consider stockpiling some marketing content for the future. I am working on mine right now, I want to make sure I do use this time effectively, even though I honestly don’t always feel like it.
When you do feel like being 100% in creating your marketing schedule for the future is something useful you can do that will pay off in the future.
3. Plan your cash flow past the crisis
I know how my Profit Lovers squeal with delight when I mention cash flow planning (kidding.. no one squeals with delight).
When you plan ahead you can spread an income buffer over several months. If you know kiddies are on school holidays during September you can bump up your sales targets in July and August to cover the slower month. You will push that bit harder before the holidays, but you need to have a target! You need to know what you’re working towards.
Knowing exactly what it costs to run your business each month will ease your mind if you need to bail on your business for an emergency or unscheduled break. I know the minimum dollar amount I need. If I had to take a month off tomorrow I could figure out what the financial effect would be in less than 10 minutes.
4. Remove all non-vital tasks from your to do list/Perfect Week schedule
If, during this time you don’t have the hours you usually would or you don’t have the focus to work your normal hours slash your to do list. Every frickin influencer out there telling people now is the perfect time to write their first book, or learn a new language.. christ on a cracker… who are they talking to? Certaintly not self employed people. Not business owners. Definetly not anyone responsible for a human under 18.
I am single with no kids, are they talking to me?
I won’t be using this time to write a book or learn Spanish, two things I would love to do. Why? Because my business just had a 70% reduction in revenue I need to focus on that. I will instead, as I mentioned earlier be managing cash flow and stockpiling my marketing content.
I will also spend a fair amount of time facetiming with friends, playing games online with my friends kids to give their parents a break, and watching entire Netflix series in one day. Because right now, I don’t need any extra pressure especially the pressure of writing a book. So if you’re like me and a vortex has not opened up where all responsibilities and fears have disappeared then don’t feel guilty. Reduce your load, don’t increase it.
Anytime you do have, in my opinion, should be spent on figuring out where you in your business, creating some balance and planning for the time when it we will all be getting back to work. I have taken off my list a lot of the “to do” tasks that really don’t matter. I don’t have the headspace right now.
There will still be some stuff you will most likely need to keep up with. Tasks like customer service, stock control, invoicing and paying bills need to happen.If you have kids at home, or life feels really hard right now do the minimal amount necessary to keep your business afloat. The rest is no where near important as your own mental health, and looking after your family.
Stay safe, stay well and reach out if business is getting to heavy.