Did you ever have one of those days or weeks when you said "What in the world am I doing running this business?!" Yeah. Me too. In fact, the month of April threw me for such a loop I really was beginning to wonder about my sanity.
I'm sharing this story because I think we business owners tend to think so often in the 'now' that we put-off doing any contingency planning. Then, when a crisis occurs, we find ourselves focusing on the negative things that are causing the crisis. And that, my friend, makes it worse! Trust me, there were definitely a few hours last month when I couldn't pull my attention away from what seemed to be the train-wreck I was in - - but ultimately, I not only managed to pull my attention away from the frustrations but had the wherewithal to implement Plan B.
Here's an overview of how April went for my pet sitting business, minus the really gory details:
- My computer got a virus and died. (Lesson learned - back up EVERYTHING!)
- The new book that I was writing was lost - totally - nothing was salvaged. (This was not the "10 Surprisingly Simple Steps to Sales Success: What Every Pet-Care Business Owner Needs to Know to Build Their Business in a Big Way")
- I had to buy a new computer, pronto
- I paid Uncle Sam (a lot) for the privilege of running a successful business
- All of my financial files in Quick Books were lost in the computer death; and here's the clincher-
- One sitter left (this was expected), the sitter I'd hired to replace her let me know the day before her start date that she'd taken another job, and another sitter alerted me on a Thursday that her last day would be that Friday (these were all midday walkers!)
YIKES!!! So, what did I do? I cried. Okay. More like a huge sob. One. Long. Huge. Sob.
Then I changed my focus. Instead of 'crying over spilt milk' as my Grandma Jule used to say, I bade a mental goodbye to all the sitters who were leaving and opened my mind to the possibility that better sitters were on their way.
Next I pulled out "Plan B" and called in the 'troops.' The troops are the wonderful group of consultants who work with me whenever they can 'on-call' and the troops are also my wonderful caring clients. I asked the on-call folks how much time they could give me in the next few weeks and parceled out the daily walk clients accordingly. I let the clients who were directly affected know that they would be working with a back-up sitter for the next few weeks while we continued to interview for the right fit for them.
What happened next blew my socks off! Clients called and emailed and told me their tough work stories. Some even offered to rearrange their schedules to walk their own dogs at lunch! And the on-call folks worked with their internships, babysitter schedules, temp jobs, and school schedules to pick up as many visits as they could. I nearly wanted to cry again. This time because I realized how lucky I really I am.
What really turned things around? Two things made all the difference. First was my ability to focus on the right things and second was the fact that I had planned ahead for just this type of situation.
Once I stopped focusing on negative and non-productive things I started focusing on how awesome and understanding my clients would be in this situation and how generous and giving the consultants I work with are. By focusing on these things I was able to implement the tasks that would make it happen.
So what's your lesson?
Be AWARE of your focus. Do you spend more of your day keeping track of what went wrong than what went right? Make a proactive effort to change that now. An easy way to implement this change is to keep a list of 'wins' in your day-planner, your personal journal, or on scraps of paper. The important thing is to end each day recounting the things that went right. It will help you change your mindset, so when you really need a positive focus, it will be easy to find!
Create a "Plan B" now while you don't need it. Whether you're a sole proprietor who never gets sick, a large company with tons of employees, or a mid-size company that depends on every client you currently have to stay solvent - -you need a "Plan B." Your Plan B should focus on those things that you take for granted and that could go wrong. What would you do in that situation? Build your plan around it!
The beauty of Plan B is that it will already exist even if you're in a panic over an IRS audit, or rushing to go out of town because of a family emergency. You'll have your moment of panic and then the light bulb will go off and you'll say 'Wowsa! Thank goodness I have a Plan B' and you'll be able to focus on making good things happen. Watch your focus and create contingency plans - and even if you have a month like mine - you'll still be in great shape!
(c) 2005 Peggie Arvidson-Dailey
Peggie Arvidson-Dailey, The Pet Care Business Expert, is author of "Surprisingly Simple Sales Steps: What Every Pet-Care Business Owner Needs to Know to Build Their Business in a BIG Way!" To learn more about her book and sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit her site at http://www.peggiespets.com