I can’t think of anyone running their business in the same way they did before we went into lockdown the first time
For 20 weeks – 140 days – most of the people I work with were isolated.
For most of those days I was in touch with them on Zoom calls.
I heard what each of them was going through.
How they coped with the fear and panic of the early days.
How they coped with isolation or being cooped up with family members.
How they cared for elderly parents or homeschooling children – often both.
How they managed to keep their businesses going while struggling with lack of concentration, exhaustion, loss of purpose and the ever present fear of uncertainty.
More than anything I saw how they cared for each other, turning up on calls when they didn’t feel like talking, just to smile and say a friendly word to each other and to listen to what others had to say.
The generosity of my community has blown me away.
Small words of encouragement, sympathy, admiration, and most importantly, recognition, have made a huge difference.
Knowing that we’re not alone in the way we feel has made a huge difference.
This week, someone dared to suggest we all had a weird sense of humour.
It sounds a bit strange to have laughed our way through a lot of our calls – but weird? I mean who doesn’t talk about fat hedgehogs, crazy frogs, dancing goats and sparrow parties?
The whole experience has been life changing. None of us will ever be the same again and our relationships with each other have deepened in a way that only shared experiences can have.
What comes next?
Now we’re starting to think about what comes next and there’s one thing we’re all sure of now: there’s no going back.
By running our own businesses we have chances that many people don’t. We have a chance to make every day count, to work on things that bring us joy, to work with clients and associates that enrich all of our lives and in our own small ways to make the world a better place.
The way I work with people has changed. I’m much more aware of people’s vulnerabilities. “What’s stopping you?” isn’t a very useful question any more. By understanding what you’ve just been through and what differences you want to make I think I’m becoming an even better mentor and coach than I was before.
You can read about the changes I’ve experienced and what I’m doing about them here on my Medium blog.
Back to basics
While there’s no going back, some things are timeless.
The things you need to run a good business are the same now as they were in 578AD when Kongo Gumi, the oldest, continually operating company in the world was started. (Its a construction company specialising in Buddhist temples and was run by the same family for 1,400 years.)
The enduring things that every business owner needs to manage well are:
And all of these things need to be related to your goals:
- How much do you want to work?
- How much do you want to earn?
- How many sales do you need to make your earnings goal?
- How much time and money will you invest in marketing to get the sales you need?
- How much of the processes will you automate so that you can do the things you really enjoy?
- How much time will you spend on planning each day/ week/ month/ quarter/ year?
If you’re wondering how to plan when you don’t know what’s going to happen, to quote my friend and colleague David Brown – someone who has sailed through the past four months and helped many other people through it too – we’ll learn to dance with uncertainty!
If you have specific questions about getting back to basics I’m happy to answer those. Just email me
Time to move on!