I am writing this as the current COVID-19 crisis is having a huge impact on businesses around the world. Some are struggling, while others are nervous and unsure about what to do next.
While these are challenging times, it is not the time to give up. Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing how we can shift our mindset to allow us to plan and lead with strength and creativity in response to this crisis – and keep your business going!
This blog is the first in a three-part series that will help you recession-proof your business, whether you have an established business, are launching soon or don’t have a clear idea yet. Even though there is so much uncertainty right now, this is not the time to give up. Yes, there are difficulties but this is the time to double your efforts and hopefully that will help you see opportunities too.
This blog article is a summary of the related podcast episode.
Make sure to check out the rest of the series:
But the first step towards building a recession-proof business is to assess your challenges and opportunities. You need to take the time to reflect on your business or your business idea.
Assessing your challenges
Let’s start by identifying the challenges. How is this crisis affecting your business or business idea?
a. Practical aspects:
Even if you don’t have a business yet, I recommend that you pay close attention to these practical aspects – financial, operational and human resources aspects. These are the first things you need to focus on in any crisis. These are the areas where you need to figure out your liabilities, challenges, and vulnerabilities so that you know what you need to do.
I have tried to create a process here to make it as easy as possible for you to think through the various practical aspects of your business. It is inspired by entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis’ approach in the TV show, ‘The Profit’. These are the three things that he looks at when he is trying to fix a business.
If you have employees, they need to be the first thing you consider. And then your clients. How does this crisis affect them? Make sure to actually sit down and list all the ways in which the crisis impacts these people. And you also need to go further and look around you. You need to assess how the crisis is affecting your community, your family and your wider audiences for your business. Please take the time to really thoroughly analyze all the ways in which these people are impacted – it is so important!
Here you are going to focus on your operations and workflow and assess how they are affected. Now, this is an area where as a portable business, you may be lucky. You are much less likely to have a huge impact on the day to day operations of your business and your workflow. But, I still want you to take the time to think about these aspects. You need to look at how the way in which you work with clients, with team members and your process for getting work done are currently or could be impacted.
There is nothing more important in your business than cashflow! You need to know how much you need to sustain your business. You need to look at your bank account, your recurrent expenses, and all your expenditure. More than ever, you need to be able to track where your money is going. And if it is going into expenses that are not really necessary, then I highly recommend that you stop those expenses. When times are good, it is easy to buy online tools and resources that we may not really use.
Right now, you need to stop expenses that you are not really using.
Once you’ve done this, the next part is to ask yourself – what tradeoffs do you need to make right now? This is really about minimizing the impact of this crisis on your business in each of these three areas.
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what not to do” Steve Jobs
You need to ask yourself what you need to stop doing right now to protect or even save your business.
One thing though – this exercise is not an excuse to not do anything in your business! You are adjusting so that you can be more effective in the face of this crisis!
b. Psychological aspects:
Once you have completed your analysis of the impact on the practical aspects of your business, then you need to turn to the psychological impact of this crisis on your business, and again on your people, your processes and your profit.
This is where you really need to consider your own mindset, and also the mindset of your clients and community during this time of crisis. You also need to think about how others in your industry are reacting to the situation.
Most of all though, you need to pay attention to how you are reacting to this situation. How is this crisis affecting how you react? You also need to consider how it’s impacting how you process information or make decisions.
You need to make sure that you have the right mindset for yourself before you can focus on helping others.
This is particularly important for those of you with online and portable businesses. While you don’t have to literally shut the door like businesses with physical premises e.g. restaurants have had to do, there may be other psychological factors that are slowing down your business or perhaps slowing down your clients. You need to really understand what these issues are.
For example for me, in the first few weeks, I had clients cancelling sessions because they were feeling so overwhelmed. I understood this because I realized that they needed to adjust, build a new routine and come to terms with all the changes in their lives.
I also realized that so many of my clients were struggling with the ethics of selling in this crisis – they didn’t want to be slimy about selling at this time or be inappropriate. This was a huge psychological aspect.
I also found that so many people were assuming that no-one wanted to buy. But not everyone has stopped spending. The mindset of scarcity is such a limiting belief! If you stop doing business now you are depriving your clients of a service or product that they want or may even need. It is not up to you to make that choice for them!
Your job is to provide them with the choice to make that decision to buy themselves.
I feel so strongly about this that I did a whole episode on this topic.
I’ll get into more detail about how I responded to this to help my clients in the next blog in this series but it was so important for my business, and for clients, that I addressed these limiting beliefs about selling and doing business!
So before you do anything else, you need to address your own mindset, and then help your clients identify their mindset. This is so crucial to moving forward.
Exploring your opportunities
Now that we have assessed the challenges, it is time for the most exciting part which is looking at the opportunities.
What does this make possible? Michael Hyatt
I love this question from Michael Hyatt because this is the time to think about what opportunities this crisis might have created for you. There may be new possibilities for you that weren’t there before!
So let’s look at how you can start to identify what is possible!
Here are seven questions that can help you explore your opportunities.
1. List all the emerging needs that your clients (or people you know) have right now
There are so many new needs that are emerging in this crisis – and this is further evidence that people are still buying! There are new products and services emerging to meet these new needs. There are so many people who have time and due to staying at home, they may be feeling restless.
For example, there are new interests in cooking at home, learning how to work remotely or to homeschool your kids, creating space at home to deal with everyone working and homeschooling together, and creative pastimes and hobbies are also experiencing growth.
So it is not just businesses providing frontline services and healthcare that are experiencing growth, there are many other opportunities driven by what we are experiencing right now.
For example, Jo Parfitt is an author and publisher but she is also a book coach and she has always provided services virtually. However, with so many more people having time at home and wanting to write, she has developed a series of online events to meet that need. She now has online writers’ circles. This is a great example of how a business can be extended to meet new needs.
You can learn more at www.joparfitt.com
2. How can you use this time to go online when your clients were not seeing it as a possible option before?
So perhaps in the past, your potential clients weren’t open to an online service or product from you. One of the big shifts during this crisis has been a new openness to online experiences.
For example, Renata Carvalho of RGC Projects is an interior designer. She was already doing some virtual consulting for people who wanted to redesign their homes and make them fit to their new needs.
But since this crisis, her physical clients, the clients she used to visit, have started to consider her help online.
And so this crisis has become an opportunity to convinceSo you can see how this crisis is also an opportunity for you to convince people who might have been hesitant before to have a virtual business. This is the time to ask how you can help them NOW online.
Check out RCG Projects here – https://www.rgcprojects.com/
3. List all your skills and past credentials, bring up your super talents and how you can use them to help – What does your community need you for?
One of the many great things about expat partners is that you have incredible talents and experiences. Through your journey, you’ve developed skills and experience that could be invaluable right now. Even if you have perhaps put them on the back burner, they could be essential today.
For example, Lisa Ferland is a public health consultant. She built her whole career in public health. But when she moved to Sweden for her husband’s job and to build her family there, she had to create a new career. She is now an author with an amazing consulting business for authors, helping them fund and publish their books.
Her business started when she shared her story of writing her own book. It was successfully self-published and crowdfunded, which has led people to ask her to help them do that. So she developed a successful business as a self-publishing consultant.
However, in this time of crisis, her expertise and experience in public health is in demand. She is now working for one of the European Union agencies, helping them deal with the current crisis. Importantly, though she has not given up her portable business. She has managed to put her business on autopilot and is able to keep it going while doing vital work in public health.
In this case, Lisa’s skills were not necessarily related to her current business, but she has shown incredible creativity in developing her business to the point where she could automate it and put it in autopilot to sustain it because she has no plans to give it up. She plans to keep it going despite the current crisis.
So this has also been an opportunity for her to think about things that she didn’t have to focus on before and to respond to new and different opportunities temporarily.
So look at your skills, look at your past credentials, look at your superpowers, and how can they be right now used in these circumstances and who does need them?
Learn more about Lisa’s business here – www.lisaferland.com
4. What new niche can you serve that has emerged from this crisis?
So your focus before this crisis may have been on serving specific type of clients, with specific needs. However, now there may be a new type of client who needs exactly what you have.
I’m going to share my own experience at Tandem Nomads to help you understand this. As you know, my expertise is in helping clients to build a portable business.
The reason I’ve started my business was to support the niche of expat spouses who needed to build a sustainable business, to be able to also live on the move for their partner’s job. Using the tools I’m sharing here, I have realized that there could be a new opportunity for me.
I realized that it is not just expat partners who might need help with setting up a business that can be flexible and travel, or with working from home. There are many more people now who have sadly lost their jobs who need to start a sustainable business and create revenue. And there are others who need to learn to work remotely which is something that all of us with portable businesses understand!
So I could in theory expand my niche beyond the expat community and share my expertise more widely.
What could this mean for you? Is there a way to expand your niche without having to reinvent your product or service while allowing you to serve more people?
5. How can you take advantage of technology to deliver your product or service, or even make your offer even more appealing?
Obviously technology is at the core of being able to build a portable business. Without technology, we would not be able to have this chance to build a business that’s sustainable on the move or that we could run remotely from our homes. But now I want you to look at your business and think about what other opportunities technology can create for you?
For example, Creative Mornings is a global company that provides creative in person workshops worldwide to people who want to express their creativity. The company’s founder has always been reluctant to embrace online events because she really believed that the only way to create this connection was being physically in the same space.
However, the current crisis closed all her venues and stopped people attending physical events.
She has since shared on social media that her business has thrived since she went virtual. She is able to offer even more opportunities than before!
So think about it for you. What does that mean for you? How can you use technology to deliver your product in an even more appealing way today?
6. How can your assets, process, IP or technology can be used in ways that can serve other people or other purposes?
These are all areas that can create new opportunities or provide you with new growth during this time of crisis.
For example, during the 2008 recession, a gaming company called Tiny Speck was so badly affected that it seemed closure was inevitable. But they asked themselves how they could use their technology to be able to pivot and create new revenues.
Today, Tiny Speck is called Slack. In case you haven’t heard of it, it is a majo app which allows teams to communicate and manage projects. It is booming right now during this crisis as more teams are working remotely. This is a great example of what can happen when you shift the context of your IP and technology use from one format to another.
Maybe you have something, maybe not even technological, but maybe there is a process, a method, a something that you created that could be used in a different context that is even more relevant right now during this time.
7. How can you get more visibility and be even more relevant in these times?
This is about focusing on making what you already do even more relevant during this time.
The Body Coach, Joe Wicks is a great example of this. He was already a successful online coach with a strong Instagram following. But due to the current crisis, more people are looking for ways to work out at home, and to keep their kids busy. So The Body Coach created videos for families to work out together – and they have been incredibly successful all over the world! His videos have gone viral and he has been featured in media interviews all over the world.
By just adding this one element to his work he became more relevant. So think about it yourself. How can this crisis make you even more relevant?
Now it’s your turn to work through these seven questions! You might not have an answer for each one and that’s OK, but it is important to try to answer them as thoroughly as you can! They are here as a framework to help you identify just a few opportunities that can help your recession-proof your business.
And in our next episode, I will focus on what to do with these opportunities once you’ve identified them.
Why this is the best time to start and build your portable business
Nomad Nation, if there has been one ideal moment for you to start and build our portable business, it is now!
Firstly, all the resistance to choosing to work with an online business is gone. Everybody is online right now.
Secondly, there are so many new needs emerging and I am sure you have some great, creative services that can meet those needs.
Finally, you cannot wait for better times. This crisis may last for a long time. If you want to take action, now is the time, not when the crisis is passed. Even if you don’t make a lot of revenue now, you will be ready once the economy starts to come back.
If you need more inspiration or you are struggling to cope with our current uncertainty, then this episode might help you too.
So get to work on this first stage of assessing your challenges and identifying your opportunities and look out for the next blog in this series where I will discuss how to super serve your clients and community while creating a recession proof business.
If you are ready to launch your business or you have a business that is not yet making money, I invite you to join me in my new beta program that I’m launching very soon. This new program will teach you how to build the foundation of a successful portable business. Sign up now to become one of the program’s founders at the very lowest price.