By Julie Wolk
These are challenging times to be sure. I have certainly been on an emotional roller coaster these past few days. From health to money to isolation and everything in between.
There were moments when I literally felt paralyzed, not even able to think about a logistical plan for our family over the next few weeks (and goodness knows I love planning).
But you know what got me out of it?
A powerful conversation with a client about what to do in her business right now.
Sometimes, when we’re supporting someone else, we find the wisdom we need for ourselves.
After this session (which she remarked was the most powerful session we’d done together), it became very clear to me what I needed to share with you about what the heck we’re supposed to do in our businesses during these crazy times!
Here are the questions I’ve been asking (to my clients and myself) that I hope will be supportive to you too.
- Are you taking care of yourself?
Please dear one, be easy on yourself. Have compassion for yourself if you’re not at the top of your game right now! You are not alone. Treat yourself with tenderness and care. Allow yourself to feel your feelings . . . fear, grief, overwhelm, whatever it is, let it be there, know you are not alone, and see what wisdom you can glean simply from allowing yourself to be a mess instead of trying to fix everything, work right on through your challenging feelings, or becoming paralyzed.
- How can you be of service?
How can you be truly helpful to your community using the expertise and perspective that you have? How can you be a leader for your clients and potential clients? People are yearning for support and true leadership from those they trust (and we sure ain’t finding it from our government here in the US). It’s a powerful moment to step up, and share your wisdom and beliefs. And the reality is that there are actually business opportunities right now . . . it’s not just doom and gloom. We need to look for the opportunities to help people during this time — not simply to “capitalize on a crisis,” but to legitimately serve. There’s a very good chance that what you always do anyways is even more necessary right now. It might require some adjustments in terms of how you message or structure it (see below), but you can still help.
So what’s your win-win? How can you serve others and serve your own bottom line? Because there is NO shame in that. We all need to thrive in this world.
I also want you to stay open to the possibility that your business could do BETTER in this climate. For example, if you do your work virtually already, or you can easily shift to virtual work (let me know if you need support with this), you could have more incoming than ever.
- How might you need to adapt?
First, anyone who is not acknowledging in their marketing and outreach what’s happening and how this is impacting folks is going to seem obtuse at best. So you might need to adjust your messaging. Think about the challenge YOUR people are feeling right now in particular. Like for me, what are entrepreneurs most concerned about? For a career coach, what are people who are currently seeking jobs freaking out about in light of COVID-19? For a naturopath, what’s keeping your clients up at night (other than the obvious, perhaps)?
Don’t change who you are or what you do, but be sensitive to what’s happening for your folks, listen for what they need, and address that in your marketing and communication. Even if what you DO is exactly the same, you need to connect with people where they are at now, or you will not be heard.
You might also be open to adjusting how you offer your work. The obvious example is doing more work virtually, even if you haven’t done it in the past. And you can get out ahead of people’s (and perhaps your own) potential objections about doing virtual work if they’re accustomed to in-person by upping your online facilitation skills. What can you do to keep engagement high and also communicate this to your clients and potential clients? How can you communicate the benefits of doing the work virtually?
Or . . . what about meeting outside with one other person and keeping your distance? Not all will feel comfortable with this, but you’ll see an upcoming post about the importance of getting outside right now.
And, there could even be an entirely new need that you could fill. Listen for it and respond. I’m not saying drop everything and change your entire business (unless that makes sense for you). I’m saying look for opportunities, needs, ways you can be of service, and see if you can fulfill them while still staying within the scope of your business.
- How can you grow a more robust business ecosystem (support network)?
In times of struggle, the most important thing we can do is build and deepen relationships so we can help each other out.
I’m ALWAYS a big fan of getting support in your business (so I’m not preaching anything new here), but it’s even MORE important now.
Here are three ways you can grow your business ecosystem:
- First, have biz sisters/brothers (or siblings) – these are colleagues that you can lean on when shit’s hard emotionally or practically in your business. People you can partner and collaborate with. People you can call and lament to and get advice and encouragement from. For free. One of the main reasons I run group programs is so that you can create relationships with these kinds of colleagues.
- If you don’t have an employee or business partner who is also experienced in your craft, I want you to develop or deepen relationships with people who do similar work to you. Create a small network of similar practitioners (anywhere from 2 to 5 people) who can help each other out in a pinch. For example, I have a colleague who is also a biz coach, and when he’s out sick, I coach in his group program for him and vice versa. Ideally, you can cover for each other, and perhaps money’s not even exchanged, it’s simply community support. However, even having people available that you can pay to deliver your work may be better than losing clients completely.
- On the paid front, please hire an admin assistant if you don’t have one! Someone who can keep the bare bones of your business running without you, even if you can’t see clients for a period of time because you’re sick or taking care of a sick family member. For example, they can correspond with clients and potential clients, respond to urgent emails, send invoices, collect payments, and reschedule sessions. They can also create or refine standard operation procedures for your business, implement automation, and keep your marketing going.
I will be writing more over the next few days including on making a revenue plan for your business – and a back-up plan, so check out my blog for that.
Julie Wolk: helps hard-working coaches, consultants, and healers slow down and grow rooted, blossoming, burnout-free businesses modelled after the way nature works. She’s a firm believer that if we step off the hamster wheel, and tune into nature’s rhythms, we can grow more sustainable lives, businesses and even—gasp!—a better world. A lifelong nature freak, she has over 15 years of experience turning vision into and would love to help you create a simpler, more enjoyable, nature-led life and business. She offers private business coaching online and in nature, the annual Replenish Winter Reflection & Strategy Retreat for Women Entrepreneurs, the Roots of Business home study course, and the Redwood Circle Women’s Business Community. You can find her at www.juliewolkcoaching.com.