road leading into the unknown

I can’t sugarcoat this: Right now is a time of tremendous uncertainty.

We open our laptops and learn about yet more coronavirus cases. (Tom Hanks? Say it ain’t so!) We hear about travel restrictions and the horrible news from other countries and watch people hoard toilet paper and think…

…this is it. Business is going to tank. A recession will hit any day. My job is toast.

I wish I could tell you that things are business as usual and we can safely ignore what’s going on around us.

Sadly, I can’t.

Consultants and freelance writers are already reporting some work slowdowns. Sure, their clients say it’s a short-term move. But that doesn’t help when you’re wondering what “short-term” means.

If you are feeling scared or uncertain or frustrated, you are not alone. If this has already hurt your bottom line, know that others (including me) are feeling your pain.

Yes, this is serious. No, we don’t know what it means yet. But, here’s what I do know, compliments of Leonard Cohen:

“There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in.”

Let’s talk about the light.

Yes, there IS opportunity.

One big lesson I learned from the 2008 recession is that uncertain times can represent an amazing opportunity. Whether we want them to or not, they force us to evaluate what’s working and (possibly) reinvent our business model.

And there’s the opportunity.

Instead of contracting and doing what we’ve always done, we can expand our horizons and leap out of our comfort zone.

For some of us, that may mean finally jumping into the freelance world as a “just-in-case” move.

For some of us, that may mean learning how to sell our services better and pack our pipelines.

For some of us, it may mean raising our rates so we can get off the hamster wheel of making just enough to get by.

For some of us, it may mean making larger investments in our business, knowing that spending money now will help us make money later.

The thing is — uncertain or scary financial news doesn’t mean that your business will go under. Or, you’ll lose your job. Or, you’ll have to slice your rates.

In fact, I saw companies thrive during the recession because they knew their target customer like they knew their best friend. They created services and products that provided their customer tremendous value — and yes, often this was at a premium price.

It’s much easier to ask people to spend money with you when you can help them solve a need.

What am I doing to personally prepare?

I’m actually surprising myself here. 🙂

Normally, I’d go into financial lockdown mode. I’ve joked that I still have PTSD from 2008 (but it’s not really a joke.) I wrote about my recession experience– and all the mistakes I made — in this article.

This time, I’m doing something different. 

This time, I’m investing in things that can help me weather the storm, retool my business, and help me make more money…eventually. For instance:

  • I just spent a lot of money on a mastermind/group coaching program. This was a toughie, and I worried that now wasn’t the “right time” to drop the cash. I was “that person” who emailed 1,000 questions wondering if it was right for me. I’m so glad I did it. I’m learning how I can offer in-house teams different kinds of virtual trainings…and that’s something that’s very needed right now.
  • I overhauled the Certification training and reformatted the lessons. That process is never cheap. But it was necessary — and hey, the new lessons have this cool mid-century modern vibe that I love so much.
  • I’m looking at this time as an opportunity to overhaul my business model and to see how I should evolve and change. That part is also scary. But it’s necessary. After all, I’d rather do it now and flow with the times, then stubbornly hold on to what’s comfortable and easy. If nothing else, 2008 taught me that holding on to what no longer serves you comes at a very expensive price.

On a personal level, I have a stockpile of MRE (meals ready to eat) from various camping trips. If my social distancing doesn’t work, I’ll be living off beef stroganoff for a while. That’s OK. Military rations aren’t so bad, really.

And financially, I am rat-holing “just-in-case” cash. The one-two punch of COVID-19 plus an IRS deadline isn’t the best of timing. I’m riding with it. 

We all are. We’re in this together.

So, if you’re feeling freaked out, alone, or like you’re going to live under a bridge…know that other folks feel the same stress. We’re all navigating this new normal and figuring out next steps. 

Things may be funky for a while, but they won’t be forever. The more prepared you are now, the more you can hit the ground running when budgets open up.

Find the opportunity. It’s there. And take care of yourself, your families, and the people in your community.

You’ve got this.

What do you think?

How is your business or job being affected by the pandemic? If you work in-house, are you still going into the office? Or, are you working from home (which could be good or bad, depending on your situation)? Leave a comment and let me know!

Stay safe out there!

Let me know how I can help.

Heather