When Ukraine was invaded, social media was awash with opinion on how to behave with sensitivity. Whilst unanimous in disbelief and compassion, many suggested downing tools which just didn't sit comfortably with me. I didn't and couldn't see what sense it made to hold back on our work and more significantly, what benefit it would bring to those who needed help the most and so I spoke out, albeit slightly unsure as to the reaction. It turns out I needn't have worried. The response that I was not only overwhelming and supportive, but it seemed to be the tonic. The permission that people needed to go ahead with a clear conscious. To keep the business wheels turning. To keep money coming into their households.
So the order of the day was to "Keep calm and carry on" however the weeks that have passed are proving this to be easier said than done. A combination of anxiety over the worlds events, the uncertainty of how they may progress, alongside domestic increases in costs of living and of the supply lines into our businesses and concern about customers continued willingness to spend can leave us wondering what direction of travel to take. And all this on top of the fatigue of two years of living with covid.
Having sat on this now for a couple of week, here are my thoughts.
As business owners, remember that you too are human and so preserve your energy .This can be done in the following ways.
Automate everything you can, particularly business admin. Instead of letting it lapse and get behind, use software that does it for you. From bank reconciliation to debt chasing. You'll stay on top of your financials the easy way and have a ready made alarm system if things start to go awry.
Batch produce. Whether that's social media or your cooking. Making two lasagnes takes almost the same time as it takes to make one. If low energy reserves mean you want to be less visible, let batch produced scheduled posts, email newsletters, whatever, take over. Have a blitz and then sit back.
Stay digital, but don’t forget that face to face and in person can work wonders for relations and (often unexpectedly) lessen the feeling of isolation. Use your judgement on when to go IRL and when to go digital. Know that going digital means you can reach more, in less time which might be great for efficiency.
Reduce the to do list. Critique it. Some things might not seem as important as they did before. Focus on the things that get results that matter to you, whatever that may be.
Be precise and targeted. Don't attempt to please everyone. Just focus on what matters. Remember Paretos law that supports that 80% of your income will come from 20% of your clients. It's rarely wrong, so don't waste your energy on the wrong people.
Focus on short term gains rather than long term goals. Think in quarters, rather than years. Months rather than quarters. Weeks rather than months. Days rather than weeks. Hours rather than weeks. Look out for the marginal gains. They all add up. It's hard to predict what's happening in the long range forecast now anyway.
Limit noise. Restrict scrolling and news. Be mindful when you subconsciously find yourself back on that news feed or perhaps entering into conversations with others that chew the cud but don't solve or reveal anything new. You don't have capacity for it all.
And finally, if you don’t feel like working then don't. Close the lap top, get outside or rest up. Take a break and then, when you're ready, go again.