When I opened my email this afternoon, every third email was about the Coronavirus.
Whether or not you actually have the virus, I have no doubt the fear and precautions surrounding the outbreak have impacted and – dare I say it? – infected certain aspects of your business and daily operations.
If your company is anything like mine, Coronavirus has also impacted your revenue.
Over the span of just three days, my company lost over a quarter of a million dollars worth of contracts. Conferences were suddenly canceled; speakers were no longer needed. Clients who feared a plummeting stock market cut back on their team development spending. Individual coaching clients no longer felt certain they could afford the investment of working with our coaches because their clients were pulling back on spending, too.
I could go on, but I believe you get the idea.
I decided to share this 72-hour nightmare with my mastermind group and mentors; their reaction was both encouraging and surprising. The resounding response was, “You’ve been through a recession before. You can definitely figure something out.”
More than once, my mentor has also reminded me, “Is someone paying you to complain and beat yourself up? If not, get back to activities that actually make you money!” Point well taken.
So here I am, ready to share with you some ideas on how to get through this time of uncertainty. These are the strategies I will be using in my own business, starting right now. I hope they also help you in your daily operations so we both come out on top in the end.
Rather than flying out to my clients’ locations to speak onsite or conduct live workshops, I am sending my clients pre-recorded video content for them to share with their teams.
Not only does this approach keep me off planes and out of airports, many of our clients are offering or requiring remote work options right now, so having access to these videos gives them a way to learn from anywhere with absolutely no risk of infection (at least not from me!).
Another bonus is that I can include some really amazing local talent in these videos. Because I’m sharing via video and not in person, I do not have to pay to fly these people all the way out to my client’s location in order for them to be heard. All I need to do is ask them to record themselves on a short video clip and include it as a segment of my own video. The addition of their expertise immediately becomes a value add for my clients.
Similar to turning speaking gigs into videos, meetings can also be turned virtual. One of my business partners, Chris Harris of Refuse Ordinary, has been relentlessly harassing me about my in-person meetings because he does ALL of his client meetings virtually. So when companies left and right started encouraging remote work days to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, he could not wait to call me with a big old “I told you so.”
As much as I hate to admit it, he isn’t wrong. The ease, flexibility, and security of using technology to connect with clients is genius. Rather than canceling events entirely, some conferences (like SXSW) have pivoted to provide a virtual event that allows everyone to stay safe and still stay connected. Since everyone is hyper-aware of the outbreak, most people are welcoming the option of a virtual meeting. Many actually prefer it over in-person connection right now.
Lastly, as an added bonus, going virtual with meetings also allows you to record your sessions and share them with your clients, giving them the opportunity to revisit the recording later to pick up additional gems they may have missed.
This strategy is semi-ironic since my company has been a victim of this tactic; however, the logic still stands: Proactively tightening up your budget and business spending means you keep more money in your reserves to cover any possible upcoming cash flow issues.
I am in no way suggesting making massive cuts, especially to personnel. But think about the costs of travel, client appreciation parties, and other such expenditures that could be reduced or approached in a more creative way so as to leave a little more money for company overhead.
A great way to start is to ask yourself, “Which of our expenses are absolutely necessary?” Then reconsider any other expenses individually. Why do you invest in them? Is there a way to accomplish the same outcome in another creative, more affordable way? Or better yet, can you afford to suspend them temporarily until cash flow returns to normal?
For example, we just made the choice to cut back on our social media ads that point to our work-life alignment programs. It’s clear no one is thinking about investing in their long-term happiness right now. Everyone’s main focus is buying hand sanitizer (obviously) and copious amounts of toilet paper (why?). So, we are saving this cash for advertising at a later date or, if necessary, to apply to our overhead.
Though stress may not be top of mind right now, it’s even sneakier than Coronavirus – and it could increase your chances of catching it. How? When you are under significant stress, your immunity and ability to fight off disease decreases. So your anxiety about the unknown impacts of Coronavirus might actually put you at increased risk. And that could mean you getting sick and not being able to function in your own company.
So, in addition to following all of the hand washing protocols, I also recommend upping your meditation and mindfulness practice to help decrease the stress hormones in your body and help you make positive, intentional diet and lifestyle choices that actually improve your immunity.
Reach Out to Clients
Of all the strategies I’m using, I love this one the most. Because my firm specializes in work-life alignment, our team has the honor of working with really large companies and the really incredible entrepreneurs and business owners responsible for them. But, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility – and, in times of pandemic, great anxiety, too.
Remember, we are human beings first and foremost, and our need for connection is tribal and natural. Since we are all doing our best to self-quarantine and avoid massive gatherings in the name of health and safety, it is going to get lonely. To hear from another business owner during a crazy time like this, even if it’s just a coach or a friend calling to say, “Hey, I am a little scared, too, but here is some stuff I am planning on doing,” can be huge.
Simply reaching out, speaking with our clients, and providing any reassurance I can that we are going to get through together is doing the work right now. Intentionally connecting in the face of uncertainty speaks to our values and our vision. No matter what tomorrow holds, we are making the world a better place, together, today.
Do you have any creative ideas you’re using to pull through this gnarly time?
Post them in the comments so we can share the love, and know that I am here cheering you on! I look forward to seeing you in person(!) when all of this is over!