Well, here we are. In a pandemic. Not something I really ever thought I’d be saying. Our reality is not what we’re used to. Not only is business as usual not an option, but for some, business at all may not be an option. There’s a lot of fear about what’s going to happen and when we’ll get “back to normal.” But for now we’re paused. So, in the meantime, what to do?

Find the Gold

When I going through my Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training with Tom Gillette, many moons ago, one of his favorite things to say was, “Find the gold.” He meant find the value, the gift, the blessing, the joy in each and every pose, situation, story, and experience because even if it’s HARD, there’s always something positive to be found that can lead to an unthought of expansion, opportunity for growth, and even enlightenment.

I do understand how you may be raising your brows and thinking, WHAT can be positive about this situation?! But, there are positives among all the negative. From Italians serenading each other from their balconies, to grocery stores setting aside time for our vulnerable seniors to shop, to local and global air pollution levels being lower than they have been in decades, to the small acts of kindness and helping that is occurring every single day of this pandemic. Here are some articles that highlight the positives. Reading stories like these can help lighten the load:

The Opportunity to Choose

For me, and for many of my fellow business owners, there’s now a pause. It may not be what we wanted or expected, but it’s here. I love this article for the questions and the choice it presents us … if we’re willing.

From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud… Read the whole article.

Julio Vincent Gambuto writing for the Medium Forge

I love the question and concept of deliberately and consciously choosing and defining what our lives, businesses, relationships, and community will look like. Acting from deliberate consciousness is an empowering place to be!

But as a business owner, how do we apply this concept and choice?

  • First, we must surrender our fear.
  • We must release worry as much as possible.
  • We must focus on what we can do versus what we can’t.
  • We must be willing to creatively think, plan, and strategize outside of our familiar boxes.
  • We must also be willing to look inside ourselves AND our businesses and discover what we’ve neglected.

The Work We Can Do Inside This Pause

I have always said and felt that being a business owner is the biggest personal development work I’ve ever done. Generally speaking, an expansion in my business usually means an expansion in my personal psyche and vice versa.

Although my business is 90%+ remote all the time, the pause that is happening everywhere means that like everyone else, I’ve got some pause time, too, and that makes it a GREAT time to look inside, both personally and professionally and ask, what have I neglected? What can I work on and have ready for a world post COVID-19? How can I make this time as positive as possible — for me and my business?

The Personal Pause

Here’s what I’ve been consciously and mindfully adding back in to re-introduce balance to truly have a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Commit to Daily Meditation

Whether it’s 5 minutes, 10, or 20, it doesn’t matter. My goal is to meditate EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I’m using the Insight Timer app and if you are, too, I’d love to connect and create both community and accountability in this quest. (I’m honestly not sure of the best way to find me on the app, but I’m “Deb G” in Randolph, MA. So far, I haven’t been 100%, but I’m slowly and steadily getting there. It uses my personal email and if you need that to connect, email me and ask. I’ll share it!)

Resurrect My Asana Practice

Most physical activity got seriously derailed after my surgery in Nov 2016 and I haven’t had a consistent yoga asana practice since. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been getting on my mat two or three times a week. Asana looks nothing like it did during the decade or so in which I taught and practiced a LOT of yoga (vinyasa, power, hatha, and restorative). But, I’m digging deep and finding a new well of compassion for myself and my experiences and that’s a positive thing.

Walk Outside

Hiking has always been my Go To for both physical exercise and mental relief and a pandemic hasn’t changed this. I’m blessed to have a green space to walk in two minutes from my front door, as well as having the Blue Hills Reservation less than 10 minutes away. Keeping physical distancing in mind, getting outside is my favorite way to de-stress and reset and I do it as often as possible.

Get My Hands Dirty

It’s still early spring, but every chance I can, I’m getting outside in my yard and garden and getting my hands in the dirt. From putting together new raised beds, to creating new flower beds, to prepping and amending soil, the variety of physical activity is beneficial, but even more important, the mental and emotional benefits are paramount. I can let go of worry and stress and allow myself to simply enjoy the activity, the air, the dirt, the smells, and the progress I make.

The Professional Pause

Admittedly, this may be harder for a lot of people. There’s valid fear around wondering if your business will survive and how. But even if you are in a low- to no-cash-flow place, there are things you can do inside your business that will help your business survive this crisis and get you set up to then recover and grow.

Crisis & Maintenance Communication*

We’re in a business and economic crisis, for sure, and this means you are going to need to communicate with your customers. Whether you are closing your doors temporarily or permanently, pivoting to address new needs, or simply slogging along as best you can, stay in touch with your customers while keeping compassion upfront. Let them know what’s happening and how you’re doing business now. If you can’t sell something that they actually NEED right now, just be there. Let them know they’re not forgotten and you’re grateful for them. This way, you and your brand stay in their mind and you’ll be the one they turn to when we can once again do business in a more “normal”, less-quarantined way.

Research Your Eligibility for Financial Assistance

There is a stimulus package and a lot of small business recovery-loans and assistance now available. These likely vary from state to state, but for MA, you can visit the Randolph Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 page for info and links to everything you need to start figuring out if you qualify for small business financial assistance. If you’re not in MA, I’d suggest starting with your local Chamber and Small Business Association office websites.

Create a Strategic Plan**

Take some time to look at your business and brainstorm … and come up with a plan. What can you work on right now? What can you work on now that’s for the future? What steps do you need to take to keep yourself afloat? What can you address operationally? Financially? For your people? For your customers? Can you create something new that will serve your customers during this health crisis? If not, don’t waste time and energy trying. Focus on something else.

A plan will make things feel lighter. You’ll simply be able to follow the steps and keep moving forward rather than get bogged down in worry and the vague feeling you should be doing … something.

Refine Your LinkedIn Profile*

A little less weighty then the above, but when was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? (Every professional and business owner really should have a profile!) LinkedIn isn’t just an online version of your resume — it’s a great opportunity and platform to tell your story and highlight yourself as an expert in your field. Let folks know you’re a solver of the problems you can and want to solve. Your LinkedIn profile should reflect your goals and what you are working towards. It doesn’t need to simply say where you’ve been.

What Website Updates Do You Need?*

This pause is the perfect time to look at your biggest marketing tool — your website. Has your business or messaging shifted and is it reflected on your site? Do you have new products or service offerings that aren’t up there? Is your About page up to date? Do you have the right CTA’s (calls to action)? Even if you don’t have the budget to hire someone right now to write new copy and/or rework web pages, take time to go over your site and determine what needs updating, then you’ll be ready when the time is right.

Do You Need a Website?*

If you need a site and/or have been relying on a Facebook business page to act as your site, now’s a great time to reach out and start having some conversations with content writers and/or web designers so you can learn what you need to know about creating a site, get some quotes and start planning for a new website. There are affordable options out there, including my new Website in a Box option!

Create/Refine Your Editorial Calendar*

Do you have a plan for your inbound and outbound marketing? Now’s a great time to be strategic and get your editorial calendar filled up, which will leave you more time and less stress when the world starts moving faster than it is now. (An editorial calendar is a calendar that directs your content by setting high-level themes for the year.)

Get Ahead of Your Social Media*

Take that editorial calendar and then plan out and create the blogs, newsletters, and social media posts for whatever platforms you use. You can schedule a lot of things ahead of time and then not worry about them.

*Note: If you do want to work on any of the above, but have a crunched budget at the moment, I am happy to discuss payment plans that can help you move forward while spreading out the cost. Schedule time with me if you’re interested!

**If you need help with a strategic plan, Liana Cassar of Cassar Consulting is a great resource!

The Choice is Ours

In reality, everyone must decide for themselves what is best for them, their businesses, and their families in any given situation, including and especially during this health crisis. Not everyone can or will have the same strategy for surviving and recovering from this COVID-19 pandemic and no one can tell you “you should” be doing any particular thing. Getting through this will look different for everyone. It is and will be hard for many for a long while.

The bottom line is, it’s always our choice how to react to anything, including a global pandemic. There are many reasons why it’s not always easy to react from a calm, grounded, and compassionate place, but our reaction is our choice.

If we can use this pause that we didn’t ask for or expect, perhaps we can all find a way for it to be ok — or way better than ok — when we come to the other side of that proverbial, and hopefully soon flattened, bell curve.

Stay well, my friends!
Deb