Are We There Yet?

May 27, 2020

Memorial Day – the unofficial start of summer. And, if your family was anything like mine, the unofficial start to road trip season.

One memory stands out from all those childhood road trips…the constant refrain of “Are we there yet?”

It started almost as soon as we got in the car and continued until we finally pulled into our parking spot at the select destination. We must have driven our parents crazy!

This summer we’re all on a road trip together. The whole world. It’s the road trip back to some sense of stability, some semblance of normal.

As a business owner, you’re asking that question yourself and you have employees and customers asking you the question, too. Everybody wants to know: “Are we there yet?”

Let’s be honest…it’s going to take awhile.

My parents were experts at coping with the constant question.  They had strategies to avoid making the whole ride miserable for all of us.

Here are some things my parents did that I’m going to borrow for my business:

  • Make sure you have enough fuel – Running out of gas along the way can create an uncomfortable delay in getting to the destination. Make sure that you have the information, tools and support you need the sustain you for the trip.
  • Keep expectations in check – When we thought we had an eight-hour trip ahead, our patience started running out at about six hours. That’s when my mom happily announced we only had 30 minutes more to go…what a relief! Estimating a longer time to normalize and recover than it eventually takes will keep everybody happy.
  • Give everyone a task –Having something to do can keep people grounded and focused. For our trips, one sister was responsible for snacks, one for games, and one for scheduling comfort stops along the way. Drawing our attention to the task was a great way to draw attention away from our frustration. Find a way to give everyone on your team a task that contributes to managing this uncertain time so that you get to the destination appreciating each other.
  • Make sure everybody is comfortable along with way – People get more anxious when they are physically or emotionally uncomfortable. During this trip back to normal, do all you can to check on your employees and customers to keep them comfortable. This could involve keeping people employed, providing bridge services to customers, or offering support to those who are suffering particular hardships.
  • Provide reassurance that you’re on the right path – It always helped when my dad calmly said that we were not lost and that we were taking the best route to get where we were going. Your employees and customers need that reassurance from you.
  • Create a positive picture of what will happen on arrival – Focus attention on the destination, rather than on the discomforts of getting there. Ask people to describe the first thing they will do once you get “there.” Talk about what it will look like, how it will feel, what will be good.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the ride – As great as it was to finally get to the lake or the mountains, some of my best memories are the things we saw and did along the way…license plate bingo…scenic overlooks…singing silly songs…sharing “what I like best about you” appreciations. While we’re in this “in-between” time, remind yourself and your team to appreciate the gifts of slowing down, shifting perspectives, and traveling this road together.

We’re not “there” yet, but we’ll get there. Safe travels.

 

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris

 

Deja vu, IV

May 20, 2020

For the past three weeks, we’ve been sharing lessons you’ve already absorbed…from the 2008 economic snafu…ones you can apply right now to thrive, rather than struggle.

You have a tested role model at your fingertips.  Never forget the wisdom you’ve acquired already and can reapply.

We’ve shared six of eight insights from 2008 experience you can “reuse” right now. Today, the last two have arrived.

By recognizing the parallels between the two crises, small business owners will uncover beacons they can use right now to stay healthy or afloat until the incoming waters recede.

You’ve got six in hand already.  Here come 7 and 8.

  1. Dress the part even when you’re home. While this advice might seem minor compared to the others here, those sweatpants you’ve been wearing don’t say “business.”  Forsake your two-week-old scruffy Coronavirus beard for a clean shave.  Ditch the pajamas.  They do not say “work.” Work clothes do.  Dress the part.  You’ll feel more powerful and in command immediately.

And perhaps the biggest lesson 2008 has to offer all of us is this:

  1. Get ready for the outsourcing tsunami. During the 2008 Great Recession lay-offs swept over most businesses. Yet the work didn’t cease.  Companies, particularly publicly traded businesses, discovered an appetite for contractors.  Contractors can be hired and “retired” without all the intricacies of furloughing or laying-off employees.  Big business report financials with a ratio called “revenue-to-employee,” dividing their gross revenue by the number of its employees.  The revenue-to-employee ration immediately improves using contractors.  Contractors aren’t employees. Contractors do not factor into the ratio.  Businesses discovered contractors provide an affordable, flexible way to grow their business.  Count on a burst of contractor hiring by businesses of all sizes coming your way when this crisis is in hand.

Thank you 2008.  While we didn’t like it at the time, 2008 has handed us lessons for right now to better navigate our small businesses through rough times.

Remember:  you’ve already learned how to handle a crisis.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Deja vu Trois

May 14, 2020

Feeling challenged by this health and economic meltdown and what it’s doing to your business?

You’ve already learned how to handle a crisis.  Remember 2008?

For the past two weeks we’ve been sharing lessons you’ve already absorbed…from the 2008 economic snafu…that you can apply right now to thrive rather than struggle.

You have got a tested role model at your fingertips.  Never forget the wisdom you’ve acquired already and can reapply.

Over the past two weeks we’ve shared four of eight insights from 2008 experience you can “reuse” right now. Today, the next two are up for discussion.

 

  1. Always have a Plan B in your drawer. We’d like to think times will always be rosy.  If only.  In the past 20 years, small business owners have suffered through three crises beyond their control: 9-11, the 2008 Great Recession and now Covid-19.  Have Plan A on your desk and in action for the rosy days.  Have Plan B in your bottom drawer for times like now.  Now, you’re prepared for everything.

 

  1. Lean into your Team. Every other TV commercial, email message and text remind us “we’re in this together.”  We are.  Apply this truth to your business.  You don’t have to navigate everything by yourself though you’re the business owner.  What special insights might key team members bring to the decision-making process?  Perhaps they are closer to your customers and can provide input on how to change service delivery to continue to be of service.  If you don’t have a coach or mentor, now presents the time to get one.  They bring fresh eyes, supporting wisdom and enlightened guidance during the tough times…and the good.

Thank you 2008.  While we didn’t like it at the time, 2008 has handed us lessons for right now to better navigate our small businesses through rough times.

Remember:  you’ve already learned how to handle a crisis.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams