The past two trips around the sun have supplied business owners with a unique set of stressors. It’s been damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenarios where standard practices no longer apply. Business owners have carved out new neural pathways in order to adapt or watch their business die. How many times did it look like covid was settling down and there would be a moment to breathe and the game would shift again? New strains of COVID, supply chain issues, staffing issues, economic issues, inflation, deflation, even our holiday season had been topsy-turvy. I say, stop waiting for the moment when you can take a breath and create a moment to take that breath and get ready for the next 12 months. But what does it mean to get ready these days, anyway? In the past it meant, looking at the trends and planning your investments. It meant setting new goals and getting your mindset right for that potential. Now? Now it means something very different. It means processing and releasing the trauma of the past year. Find ways to confirm that indeed you are safe in body, mind, and spirit. And dream up new ideas and plans that can be adapted to the ever-changing world.
SET YOUR MIND
This year is not going to be the stable year where we get back to the normal world we used to know. By all predictions, there are too many variables in the world to make a firm prediction. 2022’s future is unknowable, it’s time to prep your mindset to make sure you are caring not only for your business but also for your own well-being. Read through this exercise then plan a few hours of self-care where you can dive into your prep for 2022. The revelations at the end are worth it!
You are walking through a very stressful time in your life and in the world. You don’t have to be doing it with style, or even with any skill or success. The sheer resilience you are showing by going through it is worthy of recognition. This is hard to congratulate yourself on everything you have attempted and accomplished. Along this journey, there have been some winning moments. Look for 12 moments of joy or actions you have taken along the way that set up the wins you deserve to congratulate yourself on. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
The best sales day you had all year
The moment when your store was stocked to its fullest point
The day off you took, just for yourself
The social media post that got the most views, comments, or shares
The single largest sale
The time you and your staff laughed and danced all-day
That moment you found the perfect item to bring into your store and it was in stock
When you balanced your checkbook perfectly on the first try
The positive review you got on your google business page
When the customer came back in to thank you for your help
Look back upon how many times you have succeeded in the past year, you are amazingly strong and smart.
Honor the Struggle
Yes, this past year was HARD. Really hard. Honestly harder than the previous year. In 2020 there was community support, this year felt like we were on our own with a million and one additional daily decisions added to our plate. Is there enough product? How do I find more? Where do I find more staff? How much do I need to pay? How long are they going to stay? Why did the customer traffic slow down? The highs were really high and exhausting. The lows were pretty low and damn scary making the struggle very real. Take a moment and honor all the struggles you worked your way through in the past year. Start with 12 good ones. Here are a few struggles that deserve honor:
- Finding staff so you don’t have to work all the hours
- Finding product in stock that your customers are looking for
- Managing the needs of your employees
- Balancing your cash flow
- Finding time for yourself
- Meeting customer demands
- Navigating customer service issues
- Managing your own emotions and stress
- Finding time to care for your own health
When you recognize and honor what you have been struggling with and realize that you are getting through the struggle, you can stop struggling. You are no longer struggling, you are mastering.
When you recognize the struggle and realize that you are not handling it well, you can identify where you need help. Business owners tend to be heroes and try to handle everything themselves. Honor where you are not doing well and get help. Get help so you transform that struggle into mastery.
Anchor Into Your Strengths
Those wins and those struggles are the testaments to where your strengths lie. Look at all you have managed to overcome and accomplish with the tools at hand. Look at how much you have grown as a person. This is time to brag. No one is watching, go ahead and get into all the prideful feelings, you have earned every single one. This is not the time for humility, save that for later, right now your pride will shine the light on the strengths that will help you step into this year with the mindset you need to manifest the possibilities that are rolling around in your head. Make a list of these strengths and how they have served you.
If you are having trouble feeling your strengths, here is a little exercise to wind your way into understanding your value. Take the lists you made about your winning moments and struggles and turn them face down. Imagine these lists belong to a dear friend. Give that friend a name and a story. Flip the lists over and look at the wins and struggles as if they belong to your friend. Share your observations on where you see their strengths. Talk to this imaginary person in an encouraging way and get excited for their future based on what they have proven to be excellent at. Here are a few strengths to inspire you:
- Financial manager
- Marketer/Social Media
Dream on the Possibilities
For some, this is the hardest part of this process, imagining what could be. Breaking through the glass ceiling of your original dream and tapping into the wild possibilities of what could be, takes courage. It can be hard to imagine your business seven times the size it is now and all that it would take to run that business, but that is what you are going to do in this exercise. You are going to break through the limits that your fears have placed upon your dreams and imagine something out of bounds and brilliant! There will be no test, there is no one holding you to this outcome. Answer these questions and let yourself go WILD:
- What would seven times your largest year’s revenue be?
- How much product would you buy in that year?
- How big of a store would you need? Would you have more than one store?
- How many people would work for you?
- How many managers?
- How many hours would you work?
- What would you sell?
- What would your life be like?
- Would you have the same business model?
Describe as best you can what the craziest possibilities would be. What kind of profit margin would you want and what changes would you need to make to get there? How would you positively affect the community, what would you give back? Is there any innovation you would like to implement to achieve the seven times? As you craft this imaginary seven times business, how would you feel? Most importantly, are you happy?
How you feel emotionally is critically important right now. Over these past two years, many business owners have put their feelings aside to double down on the survival of their business.
Eventually, one by one, their need for self-care and quality of life reminded them of those big emotional feelings that are the heart of their business. Without honoring our feelings, we lose touch with WHY we have our business in the first place.
Focus on How you Want to FEEL
How we want to feel every day is one of the largest unspoken drivers of why we are and stay in business. We want to feel something very important to our well-being and identity. When we find that something and align our purpose, vision, mission and values with that feeling, we are powered up to create beyond our imagination.
As you finish this prep, review everything you have written and you will find the theme of how your want to feel. There is an overarching feeling you and your business will need year to year. One year, it may be secure, the next year it may be brave, or the next year it may be loved. You have already told yourself what it is you need this year – it is hidden in your words. Review them all and catch that feeling. Is that feeling what you really need and want or is it a reaction to the world events? Choose the word for the year wisely and use it to inspire and drive your energy.
I challenge you over the next 12 months to review your plan, does it create and honor that feeling you want to manifest? Does it align with that word? Does that word hold true all year long or do you need to update it? After this prep exercise, I hope you can discover within you brilliant ideas to lead your way filled with inspiration, peace, confidence, and surety to set your mind for a great year!