Week 9 is officially in the books! In this edition, Mike Schuster of FiddleSmart Marketing shares seven ways he’s improving his current situation during the pandemic while paving the way for a more productive future. James Kademan, author, business coach, and podcaster, offers advice about dealing with business setbacks and charting a new course (if necessary). James owns Draw In Customers Business Coaching, wrote The BOLD Business Book, and produces the Authentic Business Adventures podcast.

Mike Schuster, President, FiddleSmart Marketing 

Would one of these 7 actions make a difference for you?

“I feel like my brain is mashed potatoes.” Those are the words one colleague used to describe the challenge of remaining focused. I can relate…maybe you can too.

If you’re like me, your tolerance for reading “surviving the pandemic”-type posts or related marketing messages is waning. If one more person says, “We’re all in this together,” I’m going to grab a pillow and scream into it. Heck, I might not even grab a pillow. After all, “these are turbulent times. ”

As one popular meme correctly stated, we may all be in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. Some of us lost jobs or have spouses who lost jobs. We’re working from home, some for the first time. My consultancy is still in its infancy. I’m the sole employee. Others of you have teams of people in your care.

For some, we have kids at home all day, every day. I have three. Luckily, they are all older. However, they finish their schoolwork way too quickly. And, as the random noises and chaos of sibling debates build each afternoon, my ability to focus for long periods evaporates. Maybe you can relate!

So, what can you do to survive now so you can thrive in the future? I don’t have the perfect answer. Just like marketing solutions, the answer is likely different for each one of us. But, here are seven ideas based on what’s been working for me:

  1. Determine the 1-2 things that, if changed, will make all the difference. Make sure those are at least 80 percent within your power to change. For instance, I’ve discovered that not opening Facebook when I have downtime makes a big difference in my mental state and ability to focus. The snooze for 30 days option is great too.
  2. Reframe your perspective. Find the opportunity in the obstacle. I’ve chosen to think of this time as a “strategic pause” for my business. That doesn’t mean I’m not active. I’m taking time each week to reflect on what I’ve learned over the past year and how to use that information to improve the services I offer.
  3. Keep your customers (and employees, if you have them) at the heart of any decision. It’s the right thing to do. You’ll sleep better at night.
  4. Shut the door and turn off the lights. Pick a time each night to shut the office door or put away the computer. I try to close my door by 6 p.m. each night. Then, connect with a friend, spend time with the family, get some exercise, binge watch a series on Netflix, or read a good book.
  5. Try something new that’s slightly outside your comfort zone. Don’t do it to master a new skill; do it to break up the monotony. You never know if it’ll become the next big thing. In the past few weeks, I’ve attempted to make my grandmother’s famous tissue-paper strudel recipe. And, I’m contributing to this blog.
  6. Take it one day at a time. The future is too uncertain. Focusing on what I can do each day to make a difference for my clients, family, or business is enough (for now, at least).
  7. Get outside. It’s amazing how a walk through the neighborhood clears my mind. I always return focused and ready to knock a few more things off the list.

James Kademan, Owner, Draw In Customers Business Coaching

Business challenges? Consider these next steps before deciding what to do

“How do I stay home after I’ve lost my home?” That’s what the picture of the cardboard-and-magic-marker sign read that my sister sent me. You see, my sister is a cosmetologist, which means she takes care of people’s hair. To do that, you need to get close to them. Right now, that is pretty taboo, although rules may change with the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling.

My sister reached out to me because she was feeling stuck. She has only cut hair and done a few short-stint odd jobs her entire adult life. She loves cutting hair and is incredibly talented at it. Now, the world was telling her she was not essential. How’s that for a pride booster?

On top of that kick to the ego, she needed to pay for frivolous things like rent and groceries. As about 25 percent of the once-working population has recently learned, it is tough to pay for stuff when you cannot bring in any income.

My sister is not one to save for a rainy day. Most people that cut hair are not, simply because their wages are pretty low compared to the people that tout saving for a rainy day. So her cash dried up faster than you can say, “Six feet, people!”

She came to me for some advice. Should she skip the hair thing and find another job? Should she protest the decision made by people that seem to have very recent well-groomed hair? Should she become homeless and live like she feels the world is telling her this is all she deserves? Should she wait until this all blows over, whenever that may be?

I may not have been the best person to ask. I was the guy that said a few weeks ago that there is no way the government would shut everything down. I even wrote a blog about it back in March, though that seems like 12 years ago.

But my sister came to me for advice, maybe a bit of motivation, and a clear vision for her best next steps.

So I will share with you what I shared with her.

Step 1: Get your mindset right.

We, as business owners, have made a commitment to ourselves, our customers, and our employees. That commitment is that we will play the game. The game, of course, is making enough money to be able to afford to grow as we navigate the challenges of business. Whatever it is, we as entrepreneurs must remain vigilant, decisive, and seize this opportunity. We are the leaders. We are the risk-takers. We are the ones who play the game to protect our employees from having to do so. If we do all of that correctly, we get paid. If we don’t, then we don’t.

Step 2: Understand that only you have the answers.

You know most of the webinars coming out about how to pivot are put on by people that have never experienced pivoting. You can get feedback and advice, but your decisions will be yours and yours alone.

Step 3: Take a bird’s eye view of your life and business.

Take a few minutes to write down why you are in the business you are in. Do you like it? Did you like it a year ago? What would you want to change? If everything was back to what it was in February, were you OK with the time, money, and effort exchanges that you had to make? Consider the devil you know with your life as-is vs. the devil you do not know. A new opportunity could mean a different business, a (don’t say it!) job, or just selling it all, buying a motorcycle, and seeing the world with cheap gas.

Step 4: No shame, whatever you choose.

Understand that there is no shame in walking away. Many businesses do not stay open for several reasons. Just because the business fails does not mean that you, as the owner, are a failure. Literally everyone who has achieved anything of value has had setbacks.

Step 5: Get to work.

Crying in your cereal won’t make it any crunchier. Now (as soon as you finish this incredible article) you need to define the next three steps you will take to achieve whatever you decided on in step 3.  Call up five other entrepreneurs and tell them what you will be doing. They will keep you accountable, just as you will hold them accountable.

Step 6: Enjoy It!

Every good story starts with a problem. Your job is to make sure your story has a happy ending.

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