I am sure, this is a real problem for many small and medium sized business owners, in particular the ones, which can not sell their products or services on-line or the ones which clients have been forced into lock-down as well.
Of course our powers-to-be can not and often do not want to see all the consequences of their decisions. I am also not here to question the wisdom of lock-downs and many of the restrictions. This should be left up to the experts, who are supposed to and most-likely do know this all better.
I am also not interested in entering the forum of the mental health discussion. However, seeing the bills come in and cash going out, can and will impose massive pain on the even most battle hardened business owner. In particular, since our Federal government here has conveniently removed any company director protections, they had in place last year, despite the fact that the currently 2 month long lock-down in Sydney has been extended for another four weeks and most likely will be further extended.
What I am looking at, is how you can keep going under these circumstances? How can you be motivated? How can you want to plan ahead and hope for a future, when all fibers in your body say, stay in the warm bed this morning, forget everything and sleep through the day.
Well, if you have children, they will force you out and maybe their youthful enthusiasm spells over to you. But if you don’t have children at home, what do you do?
There is no recipe suitable for everyone. But we all started our business somewhere, somehow from certain motivation. Maybe our business matured and within changed appearance and approach, but I venture to guess that many of the underlining factors which made you get started once, still apply. So try to remember them.
Ask yourself, what made you happy in the business? Why did you do it? Can these elements be marshaled again? Will they be still valid when we return to a ‘normal’?
Lock-downs with all their negatives, can give us the time to look at the future and how we could possibly mold our business into a new reality. We are sitting at home or in the empty office and feeling down? No, we don’t have to. We can use this time to really re-think. Undisturbed from phone calls, e-mails, employee questions and disturbing customers (:-).
We can look at our business and tidy up. Throw all the things out, which dragged us down. From filing to storage. Clean up your product range. Remember the 80:20 rule. That 20% of our products make 80% of the profit. So consider what you don’t need.
Amazingly, I found that after starting this process, I felt like some unrecognized burden lifted from my shoulders. I found that some energy started to float back. Of course, the real problem of a lock-down was not solved and the future is as uncertain as before.
But, like in my backyard, once I weeded it out, I could see not only the neighbours house again, but further in the distance.
Same in business. Next, ask yourself, what skills and assets do I have, which could get me back and how could they help my enthusiasm. Lets be reminded. As business owners, we are a different breed of people. Somehow. We abandoned for whatever reason the security (maybe less nowadays) of a corporation or a public service position. We were prepared to stand in the ice cold wind of the economy with all its ups and downs. My cold feet in the moment just remind about this, but I also know that in four weeks time, I may complain that it is already to warm.
So we knew that we entered this environment. It is this force in us, which will and can get us going. So look at your skills. Maybe you are great in talking with customers. Not chatting, but in persuading them to buy from you and to come back. Maybe you can use this skill and refine a new mission. Writing about your experience, or like me, start writing these blogs and posts.
Try to step back from the actual problem, look at it from a distance and consider how you could conquer the future. Finding new directions or strengthening what you already did successfully.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and, based on experience, it will grow bigger and stronger. So use your time and think about the time when you come to this light. If you do this, your enthusiasm may come back to get ready for that day. With a clean desk, clean mind and a new perspective.
Get on to the phone and talk to all the people you know. Maintain contact. Humans do need contact. Voice, letter, newsletter, blogs. Take whatever suits you, just remain to be heard.
Edward de Bono wrote a highly suitable book for our times “Marketing without Money”. This comes in handy now, once your government grant has been exhausted. There are lots of ways how you may be able to generate business now or set-yourself up for the day we are ‘free’ again.
You started your business from enthusiasm. Just remember that.
Life has its up and downs. Daily, weekly, monthly, annually. All your life. How many times have we been down? But you got back up. You can do this in a lock-down as well. Otherwise you would not even be here to read all of this. Just stay Covid safe.