So now what am I supposed to do?

It’s far easier to survive than thrive. After all, we know that people run away from pain far quicker than they run towards pleasure. Without realising it, many people will have been in their ‘painful’ comfort zone for the last 12 months. But now what? Lockdowns will begin to lift, things will get back to yet another ‘new normal’, only this time, one that you will have more control over, so what will you do?

Entrepreneurs thrive in change, so surely as a business owner you should be relishing the next year, with all its turmoil and chaos? Well, that would be true so long as being a business owner was the same as being an entrepreneur. And whilst people use the two phrases interchangeably, they are not the same. You might be someone who happened to be really good at what you do and decided you would earn more doing it for yourself. You may have done that and because you were so good, things grew. So now, you are the owner of a business, the leader of the team, the one who should have all the ideas and yet you know inside, you don’t.

I am here to tell you, at least in this moment, that is OK. There are lots of people in your exact same position. The key is not where you are, but what you do next. The good news is that there are some simple steps that will get you through these changing times until things have settled again. This article is written for you.

Before I go into those steps, let me just say, this article is not just for those that have had little to no work since the pandemic, it is regardless of whether you went crazy busy, the same or had little to no work. This piece is for everyone. There is one thing I can assure you, wherever you are right now, 2021 into 2022 is going to provide a lot of disruption. And if you can be aware of it and have the right tools to navigate it, you can come out on top.

Step one is to ‘accept it’. If we have learnt one thing from Covid-19 it has to be that we are not fully in control of every situation. And by that, I mainly mean the external situations. For example, we can’t, on an individual basis, decide that there will be no pandemic. That there will be no disruption of the business world. These thoughts are delusional at best. I talk about making the impossible thing possible, but rest assured, I do it from a place of pragmatism and this is not a conflict, in fact it’s what allows people to break down impossible things.

Step two is to ‘own it’. Your business, your life, your choices. Having accepted there are some things that you cannot control, now its time to own everything else. Whether you get pushed around and end up at the bottom or navigate a course through this and come out on top, is 100% down to you. It is centred in what you do next, and if you want to come out on the right side of the next 12 months, then you must use the mantra ‘if it is to be, then it’s down to me’. This is not a selfish statement, just a statement of your self-discipline and personal responsibility for change.

Step three is ‘learn it’. What is the gap between you now and you were you want to be when things finally settle down (if they ever truly settle down that is)? What do you need to know? Who is likely to know it? Who do you have in your network that can teach you or connect you to someone who can? This seems difficult right? We started by saying you may not know what to do, so how can you know what you don’t know? Fair point! However, this doesn’t stop you asking the big questions and then the smaller ones that follow.

Let me explain. If your question is as big as ‘will people still need your product or service in the future’, think of who could help you answer that. If you were a landlord of commercial office space last year, you can bet your bottom dollar that you asked your tenants what their plans were for after lockdown. They (the smart ones) probably also spoke with other people in the sector that they knew to see what they were thinking.

Assuming you found out that in the future people will want smaller offices with more flexible spaces, you can now start asking questions like how do I market my office space in a whole new way to a whole new audience potentially? Again, who do you have in your network that could help with this? This would throw up questions like ‘how much do people want to pay for this kind of space? Once again, reach out and ask people questions. If you don’t have the finances for what you are finding you need to do, that becomes your next question. How do you raise them? And so on.

All of this is data gathering, it is learning what you need to do. This is massively different to waiting it out and seeing what happens. It puts you ahead of the curve. In this phase, you must remember not to change anything just yet. That is knee jerk reacting. If you fail or succeed, that will be potluck and not something you can avoid o repeat in the future. But soon it is time for step four.

Step four is to ‘do it’. All the newfound knowledge in the world will not help you unless you put it into action. Yet, this isn’t as easy as it all sounds and I get that. Very few people are facing this next wave of disruption with the level of energy that they would normally have.

Let’s face it, the chances are you are coming from one of the following positions

  1. You have had little to do for 12 months and that in itself causes us to lose energy. Think of that first time back to the gym. You’d think after all the rest you would have more energy!
  2. You maintained the same level of work, but it turned into hours of online meetings which create a new type of fatigue
  3. You actually got as lot busier and had to work in new ways and are so ready for a holiday!

Regardless, you have seen a lot less of the people you love and care for and that has been a drain on us all. You will have to dig deep now. This is the most important part. Did you know that more businesses fail coming out of a recession that during the recession? This will be the same. You will feel like you can finally relax. The pubs will be open again, you can see friends, go on holiday. I recommend you do that stuff, but don’t let it distract you.

Until the waters calm, you need to be on top of you’re game like never before. If you are reading this and the very thought of being on you’re A game right now is exhausting, add ‘how do you find the energy’ to your ‘learn it’ questions.

If you can accept it, own it, learn it and do it, you need to celebrate it. And often. If you get this next phase right, it could make your business and your personal future. There will be so much positive change happening in the next year as everything reshuffles and you can be part of it. Keep your energy over the next year or so by celebrating wins often. In my own businesses, we have set challenges like ‘best month ever’ and followed the exact process I am describing here. We have felt tired, but then renewed our strength time and time again since the pandemic hit and will continue to. We focus on our goals every morning together and every week when we check in on progress towards the goal, we celebrate the mini steps towards it. Every month when we see whether we hit it or not, we celebrate the wins.

What I have described in this article is essentially how an entrepreneur thinks. And whilst yes, there is more to being an entrepreneur than this, you have enough now to steer your way through. Or at least the pointers for you to follow. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to act like one. That you can learn!

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