Apr 7, 2020
Welcome to Small Biz Mama, Episode 2. This is the second in three episodes about things you can control. In this episode - things you can control in your business. Welcome to the podcast. I'm so glad that you joined us.
If you haven't listened to Episode 1, I hope that you'll stop right now, and you'll listen to Episode 1 first because that is the first episode in the series of three about things you can control. Episode 1 is about life, and I think it's incredibly important that we figure out what we can control in our lives first. That will give you the grounding in order to be able to really take control of your business in these difficult circumstances.
Let's talk about what you can control in your business. I know for many of you the virus has either shut down your businesses or greatly impacted your business. You may be sitting there thinking, “I don't even know what the point of listening to this episode is because my business is shut down. So there's nothing I can control about my business,” and that's really not true.
I try to teach my bookkeepers in the Bookkeeper Training School that, as business owners, we're leaders. Even if you have a really small business or home-based business, people in the community look up to business owners as the people that take charge, the people that make the community what it is. It's really hard for a lot of communities right now to see their favorite businesses closed.
There are a number of Facebook groups for my town and for my area, and people are talking about how they miss getting their nails done and getting her hair done. They miss their stylist. They miss their favorite coffee shop. It's interesting how the businesses in our community really help ground us in our routine. People are missing that right now.
For a lot of business owners, things feel so out of control right now. A lot of the strategies that we talked about in the first episode, can help you here as well, right. Hopefully, you'll go back and you'll listen to that.
Let's talk about what we can control.
The first thing that we can control is the action that we take. Even if your business is shut down, you can decide that you can apply for SBA financial assistance. If you go to SmallBizMama.com, we have a whole page that is devoted to resources for business resources, life resources, parenting resources and all sorts of things dealing with the COVID-19 virus. Also in the show notes for this episode, you're going to find the links to applying for disaster assistance. There is a tremendous amount of money out there to help small businesses, but you have to act in order to get it. Some of it is really easy to apply for yourself. There's a grant program, it's $10,000, they're calling it a forgivable loan, but it's essentially a grant, and it comes really, really fast. It takes three days to come. If you qualify, it's something that you could do and something really easy to fill out. It took me about 10 minutes to go through and do it.
I actually walked a whole bunch of business owners through it, most of them, once they sat down and started to act, it took about 15 minutes to fill it out. Take action. Make sure that you're watching your bank balances, make sure that if you're going to get behind on something financially that you reach out, don't wait until your payments are late. Don't wait until you start getting late notices.
I know this sucks to have to call people and say “I can't pay you, how can we work this out?” But that is much better than burying your head in the sand. I know a lot of landlords that are working with people. The utilities are working with people. Credit card companies are working with people. But you have to take action. You can't just sit there and bury your head in the sand. That is not going to get you through this.
I know it sucks. It sucks. Can we just acknowledge for a second that this sucks?!. Okay. All right, Good. Now take action. It's time for you to decide that you are going to keep your business through this.
I've been reading a lot of mindset stuff in the last few days because I have the same issue. For my business (and there are some industries that right now are the busiest they've ever been.) My accounting firm is insane. Crazy-busy because it's technically tax season, even though they extend the deadline to July 15 for everybody - for all payments and for all tax returns. But I've got businesses that want help. They're applying for funding. They've got questions about how they are going to get through this. So, my firm is just crazy, crazy busy right now. But I know that's not the case for everybody.
It's funny because there's part of me that says, could we not be this busy right now? Because I don't have the bandwidth. But I've been doing a lot of mindset stuff, and looking at what I can control. What can I do? What processes can I put in place to make sure that I'm still getting things done?
It's about taking action. I know this is hard because you’ve got your kids home, and you've probably got other family members home. Your spouse is home. Your parents might be there, your siblings are with you. Your college kids are home. I get it. Things are crazy right now.
You may only have an hour, maybe two hours, to be able to do things for your business right now. It's critically important to figure out what are the things that have to get done. I will tell you that sometimes what has to get done changes after you've made your plan for the day.
Yesterday I had all these plans for what I was going to do. Then I started getting notified from clients that said, “Hey, the disaster relief application is out, can you help us with it?” And my entire day just pivoted.
I had to decide that, no, I'm not going to do what I was planning to do today. I'm going to go help people instead … which was absolutely awesome.
That leads me to my second point. You can control how you treat people, and yesterday was a great day because I got to help a lot of people yesterday.
We get to control how we treat our employees, and we can control how we treat people when we’re going to the grocery store or getting delivery.
Funny story: Erik and I made this little sign that says “Thank You.” When we get something delivered, we knock on the window, and when the person turns around, we say “Thank you,” and hold up the sign. We wave and smile. We're trying to do what we can to treat people well because it's critically important. Everybody's on edge right now. Everybody is at the end of their rope. If we can't treat each other well, and with dignity and respect, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
You really can control how you treat people. Are you going to get into that fight with somebody online? Are you going to yell at the customer service person who picks up the phone?
You can decide.
I had to call Target the other day because they missed something in one of our orders and they charged us for it. It was something for Erik. But I always make sure one of the things that I do before I pick up the phone is take a couple of deep breaths and say “OK, who do I want to be on this phone call?” I want to be calm. I want to be nice. I want to show the person that I understand that they're going through a lot, and it's not their fault that my order was wrong.
That's an easy thing that we can do. My next point kind of ties into how you treat people.
How are you going to lead? How are you going to lead your team? What kind of example are you going to show? How are you not just going to lead the people inside your organization, but how are you going to lead your customers?
You are going to have customers that leave you. You are going to have customers who can't afford to pay you. You can lead with grace, and with strength, or you can not. I hope you choose well. I don't want you to choose NOT. This is a test of our leadership. This is a test of our character, and you can choose to lead well. You have control over HOW. I know it's hard.
It's interesting. In the last 20 years since I started my career, people say, "it's not personal, it's business." Right now, most of what's going on is not personal. It's business. There will be people who don't have the money to pay you. There will be people who are freaking out. We don't know what to do. And the way that you lead is really going to make a difference. Don't burn bridges right now, don't be angry right now, because these people may come back later on. It's critically important that we watch ourselves, we watch how we react, how we lead. Because it's just hard for everybody, right now. A lot of times, we're so caught up in what we're doing, where we are, that we're not thinking about our clients.
I have a lot of clients that their businesses are shut down and I'm respectful of that. I understand that some of my clients are going to pay me more slowly than normal. I understand that I have clients that are just freaked out right now. I'm trying to put myself in their shoes.
The more grounded that you are, the more centered you are, and the more you feel like you're in control, the more you can help other people.
I've had marketing folks reach out to me, asking, ``How can I connect my clients with you so you can help them with their loan applications?” I say… give them the same website I gave you and say “hey, this is available, you might want to talk to your accountant about it.” A lot of times they say No - if you're a marketer, don't be an accountant. If you're an attorney, don't be an accountant. We're trying to keep our boundaries, but I think that this at this time if you find information out there and it's a good source, like the SBA, share that with your customers, and your clients. Be a beacon of good information.
That's why it's critically important to have an email list. If you don't have one, start building one up. If nothing else, just say hey I'm going to share business resources to help you get through this, and start building up that list. There are a lot of people out there that are being silent. They're so worried about themselves, that they're not really growing. They're not trying to grow. They're just not in a good space right now.
So if you are in a good space - help other people. (I'm not saying work for free. I'm not saying that at all.) Reach out to people, send useful information. Build connections.
That's my fourth point today… you can control how many connections you make.
You can control how many people you reach out to. I have Bookkeeper Training School, and my bookkeepers want to reach out to people. and I say, OK, let's lead with helpful information and then, follow up with “Hey, if you need any help, I'm a bookkeeper and I'd be happy to help you.” But if you lead with “Hey, I'm a bookkeeper and I'm looking for new clients!” It probably won't be received very well right now. But you can lead with “Hey, here is some information about the new SBA loans. I don't know if you're familiar with this, but I just want to send this out to local businesses…” or I'm sending this out to the type of business that you want to work with.
When business owners make goals, their goal is about how many new customers they can get.
I can't control whether or not somebody signs with me. (And I also can't control the trash truck, honking at my son because it is trash day.) That's another thing we can't control. We can't control the background noise in our lives right now, which is fine because neither can anybody else. If you watch the news right now, you've got kids running around in the background of interviews and it's awesome! I just sit there as a small business owner and think, “This has been our life forever. Welcome!” I think it's awesome! It's great.
You can't control how many people sign with you, but you can control how many people you connect with. If you have a goal right now that has to do with signing clients or generating a certain amount of revenue, or anything like that, I would consider changing those goals to goals that you can control.
I can control how many people I connect with. I can control how many emails I send to business owners saying, “Hey, here's the SBA loan information in case you don't have it.” Those are the kinds of things I can control, But I can't control how other people are going to react. That's a really good thing to keep in mind all the time, but especially right now.
Those people who serve well, who lead well, are going to do very well coming out of this. I know because I've seen it before in other situations. Not necessarily this dramatic or this drastic, but typically, the people who lead well, are remembered. Keep that in mind with your business.
You can control the actions that you take. (I'd highly recommend if you haven't looked into the SBA financing that you look into that because there's a lot of money out there and some of it you don't have to repay.) How you treat people, how you lead inside your organization and in your community, and how many connections you make through this.
I think it's incredibly important as business owners that we lead and we set the standard for how people should be treated right now.
If you have any questions or you need a link to the SBA financial assistance programs, you can go to SmallBizMama.com. Check out the show notes for Episode 2. I hope that you will listen to episode 3, which is out right now. And I hope that you will subscribe to this podcast on whatever platform you're listening on so that I can continue to bring you useful information and maybe a little bit of hope in times like this.
All right, guys, thank you so much. And I will see you next time. Thank you for listening to Small Biz Mama with Kristin Ingram.
If you like to learn how to create more margin in your life, please visit us at SmallBizMama.com
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