As a business owner, you have a community of followers – whether you have a Facebook group or an email list or ‘just’ your connections on LinkedIn, there are people out there who have been consuming your content and are looking to you to be a trusted voice of calm in the chaos. This is your opportunity to step up, lean in, and lead your community through the crisis.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
Get private mentoring for your business– Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Leading through uncertainty
Hello everybody, and welcome back. I hope, again, that you’re staying safe and taking care of yourselves in the current situation. Now, we talked a couple of weeks ago about developing your confidence and resilience, and last week I looked at survival mode, so how to keep your business going through a very difficult and uncertain period. Now I want to change tracks a little bit, shift into a more positive and empowering way of thinking about this, which is looking at the opportunity to innovate and to lead. So we talked last week about, even in survival mode, how you need to keep showing up. Be pragmatic in the short term, yes, but stick to your routine as much as you can. Stick to your plans, being responsive and adaptable, but not just throwing your entire business idea, giving up on everything, throwing the entire plan out the window and doing something completely different, focusing on the long term while you’re doing what you can to survive in the short term.
So keep showing up for your own sanity, just so you have something to focus on through the craziness, but also so your audience doesn’t forget about you, and importantly so that you can truly add value and support people through the crisis. So once you’ve done the things we talked about last week, taking care of yourself, of course, and so on, but also making sure you’re cutting down on costs, really stopping the bleeding as a [inaudible 00:01:20]. Focus on the short term things you need to do maybe to bring in income, whatever that might be. Now you can focus on how you can do more, be more, and truly serve people. So while you’re doing those things, cutting costs and so on, I want you to really think about how you can be part of the solution and not part of the problem, because this can actually build a stronger business for you in the future.
So if you can really show up, serve people, be a leader, be someone that people can come to and trust and rely on, then you can really emerge from this stronger, with a bigger community and with bigger possibilities for revenue.
However, that’s not the main motivator here, because more to the point, it’s the right thing to do. So if you have skills, resources, and I know you do, passions, if you have a mission, if you have something that can help people, now is the time to step up to the plate and lead. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And so we can focus on all the things we can’t control and have a panic, and oh my gosh, the world is going crazy, and what can we do, and my business is going to crash. Or we can take a breath and think, you know what, I have value to add here. I have skills, I have gifts I can contribute, and I’m going to do what I can to be part of the solution here.
So this week it’s a call to action, a call to arms for you, whether you’re a freelancer, an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a leader of a small business, however you see yourself. And by the way, also, if you’re internal to a company, how can you really become a part of the solution here? How can you step up and be a leader, and not just survive through this but actually to thrive and help other people to thrive, importantly, too. So just three points this week, but it’s more about shifting the way in which you’re thinking about this.
So first of all, consider how can you serve your existing customers and community?
So I said this already last week, but I wouldn’t rush out and try to convert new people who’ve never heard of you, spend lots of money on ads. Of course, if you have lots of money, then by all means use that disposable income. But we’re looking at really being much more pragmatic, first of all, but also being reliable and trustworthy and being there for the people who are already looking to you potentially. So this is why you don’t want to suddenly stop posting in your Facebook group and suddenly go completely silent across all your social media, because you have existing customers, you have existing community members who have been showing up and who have been supporting you, but also who are counting on your support for them. So how can you serve your existing customers and community?
The first thing of course, is to ask them, so be available, be flexible, be supportive to them. Ask them how you can help right now. Can it help to maybe delay payment schedules and so on if that’s what they need, but also how can you actually solve their problems? Considering your expertise, can you help people? And these are all the important things that we need to do especially now, but always. So how can you help them save money, make money? Maybe you can help them cook with store cupboard essentials, right? So if they can’t get access to free food, free food, sorry, fresh food. How can they take their offline businesses online, for example? Maybe you’re a techie and you can really give tips on how you can use virtual work-from-home software. How can you help them keep their kids entertained if that’s something you have expertise in? How can you, maybe if you’re a virtual assistant, a VA, how can you give them admin support so that they can keep their businesses going while staying sane and taking care of the kids, for example?
If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you can help them design new brand materials, revamp their website. Maybe you’re an expert at online courses. You can help them design an online course that’s going to help them have more passive income for the future. Maybe, again, you’re a tech wizard. You’re really great at systems and automation. You can help them implement those systems in their business. So again, really think of how can you solve problems for people considering your expertise, and maybe that is going to have to be for free, and that’s okay because you’ll be building relationships and again, remember we’re actually doing good here. We’re trying to help our fellow human beings, and hopefully others will do the same for us with the expertise they have. But also you get, and if you think about, and we had a training about this the other week in the Facebook group, the One Step Outside Facebook group, if you think about the funnel, the content funnel for your prospects, this is an incredible opportunity to advise people, to get your name out there for people to see your expertise, to see what a great job you’re doing, and to ultimately get into your ecosystem perhaps and to begin working with you in the future. So how can you use your expertise to help solve problems?
Now, the second one is to demonstrate purpose. So really have a mission, a why that people can get behind.
And again, this is something we should always have, whether I’m talking to about your personal brand, your business brand, your life, to be honest, having that purpose. You may have heard me talk before about Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a Holocaust survivor, and he always talked about how absolutely critical it is for survival, as well, speaking of survival, to have that bigger meaning in life. So it’s not about happiness. It’s really about having that purpose, having meaning. And so that’s important for you. But if you’re the leader of a community, however small, even if you’re just starting out, then having that meaning and purpose for the people in your community will be critical, too. So how can you bring people together? How can you keep people focused on that bigger why? How can you keep adding value and have conversations?
Maybe you can have service exchanges or just share resources with each other, tips and tricks. You can have virtual coworking hours that I’ve seen lots of people do, have office hours and people can contact you. What can you do to really get people behind the bigger mission? So maybe you are passionate about the environment, about animal rights, about the climate crisis. I don’t know what it might be. I mean, in my case, of course it’s also about being able to do meaningful work and have the freedom of flexibility to manage your business around your family, around your lifestyle, around your priorities, and really do enjoyable, meaningful work while also earning money. So it doesn’t have to be some massive philanthropic aim to save the whales or whatever it might be, if they need saving. But you know what I mean.
So demonstrating a bigger purpose, having a mission, a why, that people can get behind is so critical. And again, whether you have seven people in your Facebook group or 25 people on your email list, or you’ve got a community of 10,000 people, by the way, if you’re on LinkedIn, you have a community in a way, because all your connections are there and will see your posts. Of course, if you have a podcast, if you’re in any way leading people, communicating with people, you have a platform, and this is an opportunity to build your long term brand platform, but again, to really help people add value and keep people focused on that bigger why, having that meaning in their lives.
And then finally, number three, communicate with people. I think this is a time for honesty, transparency. Frequently connect with people. Don’t go quiet.
Again, keep the conversations going. Keep relationships alive. You might have to consider how flexible your cancellation policies are going to be. Can you delay or postpone? You have to protect your own business and needs, but also again, think long term, trying not to burn bridges and lose customers for good if you can afford not to. So if there’s some flexibility you can build in the short term, if you can show empathy and understanding and listen to their needs and adapt to that, that could be an opportunity to maintain them for the future, rather than just to cut everyone off and then you’ll have to again start from scratch in the future.
But certainly if you have employees, if you have customers, if you’re not able to deliver, as you could before, communication, clearly, honestly, transparently. There are so many examples, good case studies, bad case studies. Now, I’m sure we could all collect them of businesses responding very capably and very empathetically, and others not so much. So try to learn from the ones who are doing this better and just be honest with people. Listen, again, be open to understand what their needs are. How can you support them? But communication I think is going to be absolutely key.
So again, really thinking about, and I had these three points, but they’re big ones to reflect on hopefully, and again shift your thinking a bit. Above all, consider how can you serve your existing community, your existing clients and customers, your audience, whether it’s connections on LinkedIn, a Facebook group, listeners to your podcast, your existing clients, and again, whether there’s one or 100 or more, ask them, be flexible and supportive. Think about how you can solve problems, help them save money, make money. Support them with your services, design, admin, whatever it might be. It might be something that you already offer as a service, in which case you can just offer what you already have, which is great. Or it might be that you need to put a different spin of it. You have some other resources, some other expertise that you can put out there, as well.
Second, demonstrate a purpose. So the importance of having a meaning, having that mission, a bigger why that people can get behind. Again, if you’re the leader of a community, if you have some kind of platform, whether you’re starting out, whether you’re further along, how can you bring people together? Keep people focused on that bigger why and keep having those conversations and add value for people.
And then finally, clear communication. So being honest, being transparent, keeping those conversations going, trying to not burn bridges if you can, but really continuing those communication channels with people.
So again, how can we be part of the solution? And I’m asking myself the same thing. How can you look at, yes, building a stronger business in the future because you’re really strengthening your platform, you’re adding value to people, you’re potentially attracting new customers for the future, but also more importantly, it’s the right thing to do for us each, to see how we can contribute in this situation. However small way, right? But you can even, of course, and I’ve seen amazing things happening with offers for help to help the vulnerable with their daily shop and whatever it might be. So even if it’s not business related, there are things we can do as well, or giving people calls or whatever it might be.
o again, yes, we have a lot to do to survive. And again, if you have specific questions on how you can manage or pivot or be creative in your business right now, let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. But in the meantime, certainly if you’ve already done that, if you’ve already caught your unnecessary expenses, if you’re feeling, you know, actually I’ve got a bit of a savings buffer, I’m feeling okay about maybe I still have some clients coming in or at least I’m not desperate for the cash right now, have a think about, okay, how can I really invest in the long term for myself, for my community? How can I step up to the plate here, take this opportunity to lead and to go from surviving to thriving, and to helping others thrive, too?
So I hope that’s a bit of an inspirational call to action for you. Again, I’ll be thinking about the same, and once again, I’m trying now in the podcast episodes and the Facebook group, and of course in my existing materials and programmes as well with my clients, I’m trying to see how I can better serve everybody. So the same goes for you. Of course, again, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe everybody, and I will see you back here next week. Bye for now.
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