A client in New Orleans, like so many other businesses focused on “in person” interaction, is struggling with the impact of widespread Stay At Home (SAH) orders. Her company’s strong growth season is spring, and after early success last spring and additional learnings through the year, she thought she was positioned to really grow the business this year. Then, COVID-19 happened.
As the crisis grew, she and her team made some investments in the business. They implemented a new website platform and took care of other projects which had been put off when they were busy filling orders. They were hopeful that the business would make it through the rough patch, and that things would return to normal soon. But sales had fallen dramatically, and although she had moved some services online, she struggled to keep her head above water.
As we discussed ways to grow her business in the new reality we are facing, she became visibly relieved. She smiled, her shoulders relaxed, she became more expressive. She started to see how she could change the focus of her business and the direction she could pivot. In fact, by “productizing” her business more, she could probably grow larger than the “in person” business had been, because it could scale much better. She had a plan!
But then the clouds rolled in…
She then shared a story with me. One afternoon recently she attended a social-distancing backyard happy hour with some other small business owner friends. She was amazed at how quickly they had transformed their businesses in response to the pandemic. Each woman told stories of what she was doing and how they had pivoted to take advantage of a new opportunity. This business owner was inspired by them but at the same time it made her feel lost and a little afraid. Why hadn’t she already pivoted? Shouldn’t she have been able to do that already, too?
Why was she sharing this story with me now, after becoming energized about the opportunity in front of her? It was as if she was scolding herself for not having thought of changes faster. But in that moment, that was not her strength. Her strength was executing what needed to happen in a way that no one else could, and delivering value to her customers. The rug had been pulled out from under her and she needed the support of others – a business coach, her close business friends, her trusted advisors- to help her assess the opportunities. Then she could choose which ones she was going to go execute in the marketplace. She needed help to make the change.
If you are stuck, ask yourself what it is you really do well, and what you don’t. Take the things you don’t do well and get help from someone else who does to tackle those items. Quit banging your head against the wall, relieve yourself of guilt, and let yourself focus on what you do better than anyone else. Play to your strengths!