Small business growth fuels the stability and growth of our economy. Back in March, small and mid-sized business investment venture capitalist Sir Steven Wilkinson said, “All net growth in the US economy is in small business scaling.” He was citing research on the impact small businesses have on the economic growth in the US. And it wasn’t just that we contributed to a good percentage of this nation’s GDP, we absolutely determined the rate of growth (positive or negative) here in the US. As small business goes, so goes the fate of the US economy. Small businesses must remain healthy and profitable during this moment in time.
Now breathe. That’s a lot to take in. That feels like a weighty responsibility to shoulder, and it is. But it is also the call for us to breathe hope into a dark situation…if we come together and serve each other, we can rise together. I’ve always believed that when you win, I win. For small business, that has never been more apropos. None of us can do this alone, but I believe we can do this together.
So, what am I offering?
Just resources. Today, I have everything I need to do what needs to be done…today. All I need from you is to answer the call to preserve and grow your business. My business may be able to serve you as a client. But at this moment, you might need something completely different. I’ve been gathering business problem-solving and growth resources for years. And maybe all this business foraging I’ve been doing was just for this moment in time, and maybe it’s exactly what you need.
These resources have 100% helped me in my own life or my business. I completely endorse them and their methods. If I haven’t tried them or read them, they’re not on this list. Some of these resources require an investment. If they do, I do not receive any commission unless explicitly stated. I do NOT receive any commissions from any books linked below. Some of these resources are free, and I’ve identified that clearly in the list below. So, take these resources, go forth and prosper. A year from now, I want the world to say, the good guys in small business kept this economy alive. The good guys in small business pulled us through.
The world is calling. Will we answer? I’m ready. Let’s do this!
(Please note, I’ve added some humor here and there for levity. I do take this situation completely seriously, but also, we should have fun saving the world, right?)
1. Grace – It’s FREE!!!
The first resource on my list comes straight from you. Give yourself some grace. The world has thrown us a curve ball. It’s okay if you need a minute to adjust.
“All businesses are loosely functioning disasters, and some are profitable despite it.”
When I first heard that quote, I was incredibly relieved. I had thought it was just me, but, as Sir Steven Wilkinson reminded me just weeks ago, our businesses are not machines where we feed things into them, and they give us a predictable output. They are living organisms. That means as we make adjustments, we can be sure of unintended consequences because of those adjustments. Some good. Some not so great. The good news is, the research shows that businesses doing under $100 million in revenue are extremely sensitive to marginal improvements. Improve a little, grow a lot.
It’s okay to take a moment or two or three to observe the rapid changes that are happening before making snap decisions. Some people know exactly what next step they should take. You may need some moments of quiet and solitude to listen and hear your internal wisdom. Take it.
“Trust that your best advice will always come from within.” – John Jantsch, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur
2. Divest – Profit First Style
Profit First was one of the first ways I began working on my business to make sure I could become and remain profitable. And one of the very first calls to action using this method is to cut unnecessary expenses. I’m highlighting unnecessary in that statement because we cannot stop investing in the things that fuel our growth. But, like Mike in this book, I can almost guarantee that over the years, you’ve accumulated subscriptions and recurring charges for things that do not help you grow.
Because the world has also changed, this is a great opportunity to reevaluate every expense line item. And look at them as investments. Will they give you an ROI based on the business as it exists today? Will they give you an ROI based on the business that you need for tomorrow, a year from now, three years from now? If you answer no to those questions, now is a great time to prune.
“You wear the cape of what I believe is the greatest of all superheroes: the Entrepreneur. But your superhero powers can only yield as much power as your energy source provides. Money. You need money, superhero.”
3. Renegotiate Terms – FREE
Some organizations are ready to give you a break on essential expenses. Prune the expenses that aren’t generating profitability for you, and then renegotiate the others.
Adobe is giving everyone 2 months FREE of Creative Cloud. We just got a reprieve for all of our team members. For me and my business, that’s great news! We have to have Creative Cloud, or we can’t produce most of what we do. These kinds of deals are popping up all over the place. Amex is allowing businesses to skip a payment without penalty or interest.
Don’t see a deal for something you really need to do? Reach out to your provider. We’re all trying to help each other, so now’s the time for providers and clients to get creative together. Sometimes you’ve just got to ask.
4. Begin with the End in Mind – FREE
As you are evaluating investments, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind. Business psychologist Dr. Sabrina Starling has a great illustration for how to get to our goal. She is connecting with small business owners like you and me, each Monday on her business Facebook page (see #5 for full info), and during the first episode, aired on March 17th, she used an illustration about the fastest way to get to our goal. Just as in geometry and geography, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line!
The changes we’re encountering currently, might change where we’re headed. And there are resources below for evaluating what direction your business should take right now. But knowing where we’re going is important as you’re navigating the changing market. And making sure we don’t veer off the path to our goal is also important. See the next point Dr. Sabrina makes with her illustration here. It’s easy to see when we’re taking a path that will take us in an entirely different direction from our goal.
What’s more difficult is to identify those slight variations that seem incredibly close to the right path but will end up taking us far from our target in the future.
It’s incredibly important that as we divest our expenses/investments, and as we accept new opportunities, that we are not taking a tangential path that will land us in a place we don’t want to be.
From my experience, making decisions based on fear is the easiest way to land us away from our goal. So, how do we evaluate these opportunities, expenses, and choices as things are so rapidly changing?
“Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose.”– Andy Stanley
Even during these uncertain times, I want to be the business owner that ends up somewhere on purpose. I believe every small business owner needs a coach. But if you haven’t made that investment yet, no worries. You can still benefit from a one-time session with someone who has coached many small business owners through moments of crisis, moments of fear, moments of anxiety, and into positions of strength and confidence.
During this 45 minute strategy session, Dr Sabrina and her team will work with you on your strategy or one of your biggest obstacles to your business success or a key decision you need to make today. They can help you zero in on the real problem and give you the confidence you need for taking the “next best step.” (Did I mention Frozen 2 was released on Disney+? Probably go watch that too.)
Attention Creative LLC clients: We’re happy to join your 45 minute strategy session with Dr. Sabrina for no additional charge. We can help ask you powerful questions, so you can land on the perfect next step to move your business and your brand in the right direction.
6. Weekly Small Business Strategies to Navigate Through ‘Rona (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) – FREE – Facebook Live – Mondays at 11:30 AM CT (12:30 ET / 10:30 MT / 9:30 PT)
Join Dr. Sabrina Starling and the Tap the Potential team as they deliver strategies for taking care of yourself and your business while we face this new reality. It’s free. It’s full of more resources and strategies. I’ve mentioned a few above. But since everything is changing so rapidly, you’ll want to hear the latest. You’ll be in a better place after you watch, and you’ll see other business owners there too!
7. Learn to Communicate with Clients and Potential Clients While Social Distancing – FREE
This isn’t actually a free resource outside of this page, but I believe in this process so much, we’re giving it away for free. Don Miller and Dr. JJ Peterson just released Marketing Made Simple, a book about communicating with your audience, and it couldn’t be more timely. This is a step-by-step guide on how to implement the StoryBrand framework in your communications – especially digitally.
You may think you should put marketing on hold for now. The truth is, if you’re one of the good guys in business, you still have value to offer – maybe now more than ever. And it’s your responsibility to get people what they need. If they don’t know about you, their lives don’t get the advantage of the value you offer.
“Oprah Winfrey, an undeniably successful guide to millions, once explained the three things every human being wants most are to be seen, heard, and understood. This is the essence of empathy.”
Also, you now know the economy is depending on you. So, Be the Guide and lead people to the brighter future they can only realize with the help of your products and services. If what you offer doesn’t lead someone else to a brighter future, then there’s a bigger problem you need to fix first (see resource #4 for help).
Complete the Form to Get Your FREE Book
8. Get Virtual Coaching on Your Story by the StoryBrand Team – StoryBrand Live Stream Event – Investment Required
This is NOT a free service. You do need to invest to get this coaching. But if you’re on board with crafting your message the StoryBrand way, you can participate in this Live Stream event and get virtual coaching in online breakout rooms to make sure you get your story straight.
Two things you should know about this resource. We are a StoryBrand certified agency. So, we do get a small commission for your attendance at this event. I also coach at the StoryBrand Live Events and may be your virtual coach at the Live Stream. If you attend the StoryBrand Live Stream, and you want help implementing this framework in all of your marketing communications this year, I will credit my commission from your attendance to your first invoice. All you have to do is email us the receipt of your event purchase by April 30th. And you’ll have credit toward your first invoice if you do any business with us before the end of this year – 2020.
“Never assume people understand how your brand can change their lives. Tell them.”
9. Talk to an Expert in Wellness – FREE
You may have questions about how to care for yourself or your family right now. You may just need to speak to someone who is not your family to articulate your concerns and fears. As business owners and heads of households, we have people counting on us. There is a psychological toll from caring for others, especially during times when we don’t have all the answers. (Does that time ever exist really?)
Whether you’re looking for guidance on boosting your immune system or mental health, our client Nutrition World, has you covered. They want to be your partners in your wellness journey – body, mind and soul. Here are a few ideas for how the Nutrition World wellness experts could be most useful to you right now:
- Get a customized, nutritious meal plan based on your dietary restrictions + groceries you can find in your area.
- Get a recommended workout guide based on exercising from home with the equipment you already have.
- Get a list of recommended supplements to boost your immune system, and shop online!
- Talk to someone about how to deal with fears and anxieties.
Sessions are completely virtual online or on the phone, so it’s safe, even now. And these are just a few ideas for how you might use a wellness consultant. They are ready to be creative and help you address any health and wellness situation you might be facing.
We get no commission for referring you to the Nutrition World store. But they are our client. These guys are the good guys, and we believe in the services and advice they offer. We use them too!!! Here’s my most recent COVID stay well stash. I shopped online, and they delivered right to my door with a hand written thank you note. Nice touch!
(I do order my supplements from them on the reg, so this wasn’t JUST a COVID stay well pack. But I may have ordered a couple of extra immune boosting products recently for my parents who were struggling to stay inside the house. They’re now grounded.)
10. Live Stream Workouts – FREE – Donations Welcome
It’s important to care for your physical body while you care for your business. This is always true, but this is now more important than ever. The great news is, there are so many people offering live stream classes right now for free. This is a perfect opportunity to stay active AND give new workouts a try! (I’m really into hip-hop cardio right now. Nothing like shaking all the stress out like a polaroid picture 10 minutes at a time.)
Our client, YogaSol, is streaming cardio pilates, Yin yoga, Hot yoga postures, yoga with kids, and more, every day. You can find a link to their live stream schedule here. Because YogaSol is a small businesses like you, their teachers are doing most of these classes out of their love for the practice. If they offer, and you can, please consider supporting them with donations.
And as my good friend Coach Christine always says, “Five minutes are better than no minutes.” So, if you think you shouldn’t get moving today because you only have 5 minutes. Just tell yourself, “Five minutes are better than no minutes.” Just keep swimming.
11. Stress Buster Program – Investment Required
Our client Coach Christine has a new Stress Buster program available for purchase online right now. Coach Christine was ahead of the game, and she had planned months ago to roll this program out April 1st. And we have it ready for you now. Perfect timing!
I have personally participated in this program as it’s incorporated into her Total Body Wellness 1-year program that I’ve just completed. The Stress Buster section is powerful in identifying and implementing strategies to help you control your own anxiety and stress. Everyone is different, so this program allows you to create (with the help of your coach) your own operations manual for how you can be your best, even during times of crisis. Coach Christine is one of the most positive and upbeat people I’ve ever met. She will guide you with her passion and positivity to a more relaxed, focused, and calm you.
Again, we don’t receive any commission for sending you to this program, other than the satisfaction of watching more good guys win. You and Coach Christine.
“When we reach stage 4 sleep, [our body] … helps bruises and cuts, and fights off infections at the cellular level… stimulates the repair of cells, the growth of replacement cells, and, in children and adolescents, the creation of the new cells their bodies need to grow. A lack of sleep can inhibit cellular repair and growth.”― Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
Yes, getting more sleep is part of reducing your stress AND staying healthy. And the Stress Buster Program will help you get there.
12. Fix This Next – Freemium
If you’re anything like me or many of my clients, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all this advice we’re receiving. There’s so much great information coming our way! But if you listen to all of it, at the end of the day, you have a lengthy list of “To Do Now”s that is impossible for one person to complete. I’ve had to sit down with my own list and go through it with my advisors to make sure I’m focusing on the right “To Do Now”s, instead of just frenetically checking things off as I spin myself into a stress knot.
You might realize by now that I’m a Mike Michalowicz process/program/framework fan girl. Just know, once I realize that someone knows how to help you make things work in your business and your life, I become an evangelist. Mike’s releasing a new book at the end of April called Fix This Next. I’m ecstatic to say, I’ve had the pre-release preview from the man himself. It could not have come at a better time. And I’m ready to share what I know with you.
In this book, Mike has come out with a framework, a tool, to help you evaluate what needs your focus next. Yes, even during moments of crisis. He’s built a hierarchy of business needs, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Right now, we’re all living at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy.) And his tool will help you identify where your business is in that pyramid, so you can build the foundation you need for a strong and secure future.
Of course, it all starts with cash, which is the oxygen of a business. Without oxygen, you’ll die. But if you’re getting the wrong kind of cash, you’re sunk. So, his tool is very specific in identifying what you need and how to ask yourself the right questions to be sure you’re getting what you need in the right way.
I’ve labeled this as freemium because, we’ll pre-order the book for you, no charge. (We LOVE books! And we want you to have all of them.) We’re also offering a 30-minute strategy session for $149, where we’ll use what we already know from Mike’s tool to help you identify where you are right now in the hierarchy of business needs, and what you need to invest in next. (Attention Creative LLC clients, this strategy session is no charge for you! We’re here and ready to help.)
What kinds of things can we discuss? Delivering high-quality offerings online is a specialty, and that’s what we’ve been working on with clients like Nutrition World, Coach Christine, and YogaSol (see above). Here are a few ways we are working with our clients right now.
- Identify immediate and longer term cashflow
- Friendly collections communications and evaluations of pay probability of clients
- Cutting unnecessary expenses
- Increasing margins
- Strategic pivots with products and service offerings
- Customer/client communications
- Team communications
- Advantageous partnerships
- Lead generation
- New delivery systems
- New payment methods – (e.g. PayPal is offering a way for your clients to pay for your services, interest free for 6 months for purchases over $99! We’ll need to evaluate if this makes sense for your clients and if it aligns with your values, but it could be a great opportunity for everyone.)Ready to prioritize what needs to be fixed next? Let’s do this.
Pre-order your FREE Book and/or Schedule Your Strategy Session Now!
13. Be Human – FREE
If you’re anything like me, as a business owner, you’re a go-getter…a doer. And this whole sitch has you chomping at the bit to “git ‘er done.” Just this morning I was going through my mental checklist for my team meeting. I was thinking about all the work there is to do and how we’re going to dole it out to get the job done for our clients. I had to take a minute and remind myself that we’re all human beings. We’re all having feelings and personal lives that we’re trying to figure out while we’re pursuing noble business aims (aka – saving the world).
It is right and good and noble to take a few minutes at the beginning of meetings (right now, we probably need to do this every day) and check in on your people…how they’re doing…how they’re feeling…what they need. Let’s face it, if one of your team members doesn’t have access to toilet paper, how concerned do you think they’re going to be for your bottom line? (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes in pretty handy here.) As the leader, you have the ability to pause and connect and meet each others needs as human beings. Believe it or not, it will probably help us even more as we work to meet the needs of our clients.
And on that note, clients are humans too. Maybe more than your product or service right now, they need your heart and your connection. This is the perfect time to offer your biggest differentiator. Yourself.
14. Small Business Loans
We don’t want you to go into debt if it doesn’t make sense for your business. The last thing you want to do right now is saddle yourself with a weight your business won’t be able to bear after we come through this. However, when and if it makes sense to access capital through debt, the Small Business Administration is offering Disaster Loan Assistance to any business who is in an eligible disaster area. (Hint: most of us are right now.) Just click the link above, and you can apply online. You’re likely to get a more favorable interest rate with the SBA, if you qualify.
Everyone doesn’t need to rush out there and save the world today. There’s a ton of advice being given (I have 15 emails in my inbox this morning) as we’re all still figuring out how to be most helpful to one another. This may be your moment to take a step back and rest so that you can get more done in the future.
A friend recently shared a story of the coach of some of the world’s most competitive body builders and athletes. They said these athletes would come from all over, and they would be so hungry for results. They would plead and ask the coach, what do we have to do to be successful? We’ll do anything, they’d say. And the coach said they were willing to do anything other than workout less. The one thing that would produce the most amazing results, they were not willing to do. They were not willing to stop and be still. Those who finally did made gains others did not see. They became champions.
In the book Rest, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang talks about what it really means to disengage and disconnect so that you can actually produce more in the end. This is a daily, weekly, monthly practice. And you can start it in this moment of uncertainty, when you need it most.
16. Grieve – FREE
I was at a StoryBrand guide conference at the end of last year. As always, the StoryBrand team focuses on pouring into us as human beings, which is one reason I love them and believe in what they do. They had an amazing guest speaker who talked to us about the 6 things we need to live well.
Point 5 was to embrace sorrow. He said sometimes you need to cry, to really wail out loud. (As an aside, he mentioned taking a moment in the office when no one else was around just in case it might scare them.) And crying is proven to release toxins from our bodies, reduce stress hormones, and carry antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes. For that reason alone, right now I want to cry all day! (Not really, but I’ll do just about anything to fight pathogens!)
He said, “the flight from sorrow leads to the loss of hope.” And embracing sadness, and crying, releases emotional tension. Physically it calms our respiration and releases built up tension. Psychologically, it expresses emotions that sometimes we cannot even articulate. So, go ahead and have a good cry. Do it for your health.
“If you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.” – C.S. Lewis
17. Build Your Virtual Support Team – FREE
You may or may not invest in a personal coaching session with us or another coaching team. But you should invest in establishing some community that understands you as a business owner. You are going to face unique challenges that only you understand. No matter how human you seem, your team also needs to see that you have wisdom, a plan, and a place to go when you’re not sure. There will be times when you need to vent or cry or grieve (see above). Create a space where it’s safe to do that without destabilizing the morale of those who need your strength.
For me, I have my business coaches at Tap the Potential, my small group mastermind of business owners like me, other StoryBrand guides, and a ladies small group of StoryBrand business owners that I meet with regularly. I can be vulnerable with these people when I’m angry or scared. I know they’ve got my back. I know they will protect my confidentiality. And above all, I know they are fighting in my corner with me. They want to see me succeed as much as I do. You need that too! If there’s not a group out there that already exists where you can plug-in, create one. That could be a way you give to others too.
And just know that whatever turmoil, whatever trials you are experiencing in this moment in time – you are not alone. And that means you don’t have to face any of this alone. Isolation is not a solution. Times may be uncertain right now, but we are all in this together. If we take this time to be selfish, to collect more than we need, to gouge people, or deal falsely with each other, we will lose. But if we are generous, and if we lift one another up, I truly believe we can rise together. I believe it’s the only way.
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” – John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions Together with Death’s Duel
As a final note, throughout this post I have linked to books where you can make purchases on Smile.amazon.com. Smile allows you to send a percentage of every purchase you make to a charitable organization of your choice. This is a wonderful way to be generous even as you support yourself. Amazon has charities of their choice as their first option for your designation on Smile. Just know that you can bypass those options and contribute to the organization you feel most needs or deserves your dollars.
A few years ago, a couple of friends and I started a non-profit call No Place Like Home for Refugees. It’s a 100% volunteer run organization where we pay no salaries to run it. During the COVID outbreak, refugees in camps across the world are unable to socially isolate. The camps that I was able to work in Greece a few years back put several families together in “tents.” It breaks my heart that a communally spread disease cannot be halted in this segment of the population because they cannot even follow the most simple of health guidelines. My Amazon purchases support this cause. Maybe there’s an organization who is fighting something that breaks your heart. This is the perfect way to support them during a time of urgent need.
I will continue to release updates to these resources as I find the most effective ones I believe will contribute to your success. Now, let’s get out there and make a better future for our customers, our country, and ourselves.
If you’ve hung with me to the end, you deserve a bonus! And I have 4 for you right here.
- Sir Steven Wilkinson released his own list of advice and resources. You can download them here.
- Mike Michaelowicz put together a cheat sheet for your business COVID financial strategy here.
- Other Mike Michaelowicz free resources
- Get your FREE stuff from Sumo. Sumo always gives away the BEST free stuff! If you’ve got a problem, they’ve got an app or download for that.