Performing in Trying Times
It happens to every business owner. So you aren’t alone. Life gets in the way of what we all think is being the best business owner or leader of an organisation. All of us will experience one or all of the following:
- Sick kids
- Family upheaval
- Death of loved ones
Some of lifes events are fleeting. Some are permanent and take time to adjust to and create upheaval in our businesses.
As a Brisbane accountant, I can vouch for the fact that every one of my clients has had business downturns that are caused by the facts of life. Every single one has had a rough week, rough month, rough quarter based on issues that aren’t necessarily business related.
As a business owner, I can assure you I have had them and I know I will have them again.
As a business coach, one of my jobs is to help my clients through these times.
The trick to dealing with these times in terms of business is not to avoid them happening. Its not to pretend they won’t happen and its not to stress too much about the fact they might happen. The trick to minimising the impact on your business of lifes cataclysms are in two things:
- Asking for help
- Focus on the most important performance metrics
Being prepared means having a few contingency plans in place should something befall you personally that might impact your ability to run the business. The first step should be making sure you are adequately insured.
The second step, should be making sure you have the knowledge of your business and its systems spread amongst more than one person in your business and wherever possible have it documented.
The final thing that should be done is making sure you identify the key people in your organisation and life who you would go to if you need practical or emotional support.
Asking for Help
When things are tough at home, or even in business, seek help. There are a few people you should enlist:
- Your partner or closest relatives
- Your closest friends
- Your trusted team members
- Business mentors
- A business coach
- A psychologist or counsellor.
Having a team of people around you is critical to making sure you can continue to lead your business, service your customers and not cause too much damage to your business through absence or reduced motivation.
Asking for help is probably the hardest step. Sometimes recognising that you need help is really difficult. You need to assess whether you are really coping. Is the levels of stress you are living with short lived or is it prolonged. Are you losing the enjoyment for your business?
If your business is something you have always been passionate about, then a life altering event may reduce some of that passion. But this also may be short lived. Making permanent decisions about your business during periods of personal unrest may be unwise. Its best to make sure you talk to others, your trusted advisors (personal and business) to help mitigate some of the negative emotion and attempt to understand why you really feel the way you do.
I cannot recommend finding a psychologist or counsellor that you click with highly enough. You may not need them forever. But help from a professional trained specifically to deal with your problems is paramount.
Focus on the Most Important Metrics
When life pulls you away from your business, sometimes you just cant deal with everything. Something has to give. To reduce the damage done to your business during this time, the best course of action is to understand what actions you take that everyday that has the highest return for your business.
Focussing on those key activities does two things:
- Makes sure that your business continues to operate with some level of consistency
- Gives you a measurable target to attempt to achieve.
I believe the road to recovery in a business sense is having KPIs. The most important thing when dealing with personal crisis is not to focus on all the things you aren’t doing or can’t do anymore. You need to focus on what you can do to the best of your ability and that will have the greatest positive impact on your business. When you know this, set targets that are realistic and create positive impacts.
Reaching these targets, as you go forward will give you a sense of achievement which can be gratifying and motivating. Asking yourself to do too much too soon, will mean a greater risk of failure which is demoralising and demotivating- making your problems worse.
Create opportunities for little wins and celebrate them. Little wins, become larger ones. Until before you know it you are back to performing at your best with the passion and drive that made you and your business what it was before.
Being kind to yourself, accepting your situation and setting yourself up for success will not only minimise the negative impacts of personal disruption but will create an environment for your business to thrive.