Surviving Small Business

I can’t begin to imagine just how difficult it is for small business owners right now, experiencing COVID-19, with so many unknown factors and what the economy will be like coming out of this pandemic.

In what feels like a lifetime ago, in my previous marriage, we owned a small family restaurant and as it is for most business owners, it was our life. However, the operations of running the business consumed everyday, finding less and less time to be intentional with our strategic planning and goal setting, to a point it became non-existent. As a result, I lost sight of what we were aiming to achieve. The vision was no longer clear. I was working long hours, losing precious time with my young children, not looking after my own health and was escaping the stress consuming unhealthy quantities of alcohol and low and behold had begun smoking. I had not only lost clarity, I was also making poor choices, against my own value system.

All this was happening, as GST was past as legislation in June 1999, coming into effect in 2000 (Australia). The hospitality industry were under scrutiny and random businesses were told they were going to be reviewed; not audited, but reviewed. How lucky were we? Yep our small business was one of the random ones! To be honest, I didn’t even know the difference between a review and audit, but I’d hate to go through an audit because after six months of this review I was suffering symptoms of a mental breakdown, almost pushing me over the edge. Being the small business we were, I did the bookkeeping along with the other business operations and felt like I carried the responsibility and the pressure of this hideous review.

This was one of the toughest times of my life. By the end of the ‘review’, my memory was shot, I couldn’t recall simple things or numbers, I couldn’t even remember phone numbers that I knew. I’d snap at the smallest thing, couldn’t handle any type of pressure, would tear up in an instant and often found myself in a hysterical mess not able to function. Naturally, I still insisted on working and being at the restaurant because this is what I did. However, to be able to combat this mental mess I was going through, to put on that Happy, Jovial, Entertaining Restaurateur, I found myself opening the bottle of wine before the evening service even began, compared to having the social drink at times with the customers. It was a vicious cycle.

Fortunately, I did survive and lived to share many happy days and much success (which I have redefined the meaning of since that period of my life). I was only reflecting upon this recently, after having a conversation with a friend, who is also in business and knows many, doing it tough right now. We are hearing so much through the media about businesses needing to ‘pivot’ or ‘innovate’ and those that have pivoted are doing exceptionally well and those that can’t, well, doors are closing. Knowing how hard it is to function, let alone pivot or find creativity, when under insane financial pressure is next to impossible without assistance.

Hindsight is a great thing, isn’t it? I know today I would handle that situation so differently. To gain clarity and to be in a state of creativity, to explore opportunities and potential, you need to ensure your mental health is in an optimal place, along with other things.

What would I do differently you ask?

  1. Seek & listen to wise counsel; not just a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. I’m suggesting a Business Coach, someone that will journey with you, challenging you to take a step back and look from above (like a helicopter view), to gain a clear perspective, gain clarity and to keep the vision alive. To then formulate the strategy and put it into action.

  2. Gather a group of like minded business owners to not only share resources and ideas but to support and champion each other through life (and not just during this pandemic). I have a friend, who calls his Saturday morning cycling group, his mental health group. They chat, laugh, banter and support each other as they ride side by side.

  3. Take a serious hard look at habits and addictions, asking yourself “Are they problematic? Do I have control? Or Do they control me?” If you need to have a drink, maybe it’s time to be honest about it and do something to gain that control back.

I have been Coaching people through various situations for eight years now and love seeing them become empowered, reinventing themselves and lighting their fire again.

If you’ve found yourself stuck in a rut, doing it tough and just needing to gain clarity again, I’d love to journey with you. Give me a call and let's chat to explore your options.

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