From the desk of Joe Kowalski:
I type this from the makeshift office I have set up in my home. Washington State issued a stay-at-home order last week. ServiceMonster is currently completely virtual. All of our employees are working from their homes. Fortunately, for both you and us, we have that luxury. Service providers such as yourself, however, don’t have that kind of flexibility. I’m sure everyone who is under a stay-at-home order is struggling to find the balance. Is your work considered essential? I can’t answer that for you. I don’t put food on your table. I don’t live in your community. What I can do is offer some guidance to those who have decided to (or been forced to) stay at home.
GET BACK TO WORK
You’re an entrepreneur. This is not a vacation. If you need some time to get your head right after making some very hard decisions over the last few weeks, do that. Then get back to work.
If you’re able to keep your business after a few months in lock-down, then take this time to do all the things you “never had time to do" before. Get your books in order. Take that accounting class. Read. Study. Read some more. Master your CRM. Find out what a CRM is. Start getting to know your most important vendors. Get your business systems in place. Build a few spreadsheets. Create a few dashboards. The list is endless on how you can use this time to work #OnYourBusiness.
If you’re thinking of shutting down, lick your wounds and get back to work. Most entrepreneurs fail four times before they get it right. Not all of those failures are due to global pandemics though. I get it, but my point is that you have a clean slate. You can take everything you have learned, every experience you’ve had, and use that to create something new. A new idea. A new purpose.
Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Just know that your lack of understanding is simply a measure of how much you need to learn. Embrace the change and build a stronger version of yourself AND your business.
DON’T UNDERVALUE YOURSELF
I hear comments like “I can’t learn that” and “that’s too complicated for me” from other business owners all the time. And they’re wrong. Self-limiting attitudes are a mind killer. The truth is, people who have that mentality are simply saying, “I don’t want to”. Fine. That’s a much different position. Either you’re managing your time and resources wisely, or you're lazy. Maybe even a little bit of both. Don’t claim that you "can’t." If you find it hard to make the transition, simply add “yet” to the end of your self-defeating mantra. “I can’t do that" becomes “I can’t do that, yet”. After a while, it changes the game.
The value your service provides is probably worth more than you’re charging. Try not to exchange hours for dollars. You and your business are worth more than that. This idea isn’t new and you’ll find plenty of references to this concept as you read and study.
Now, it’s likely that you’re thinking something like: “But I can’t raise my prices! How am I supposed to sell ‘value’? I don’t know how to do that!”
Then I will remind you: “You don’t know how to do that, YET.” You must build/re-build your business to be stronger. Self-reflection and study is number one. Proper revenue balance is number two.
You can’t sell value if there is no value to be sold. If you’re providing a community service, just like everyone else, you’ll never stand out as exceptional. Don’t be basic. MAKE yourself exceptional. Add something to your business, create new marketing or messaging ideas, or offer specialty services. Find a way to bring more value to your clients in the most creative ways you can think of. How can you help them, with what would work best FOR THEM? Take this time in the office to explore your creativity. You can be as crazy as you like on the white board. Push yourself and your ideas to a new point of view. You can always make them “less crazy” in the real world.
QUESTION YOUR BELIEFS
When is the last time you questioned a belief which helped determine your behavior? How do you protect yourself from you own bias? Business owners often fall into an insidious trap: We believe our actions have brought us the success we enjoy. That’s only a half-truth. The reality is, some of the positions and beliefs we have about our success will actually be the very beliefs which limit our growth. How can you tell the difference if your experience tells you the wrong story?
One such tool is the formal logic principle as defined by Aristotle and his band of merry men. There is lots of information available on logical fallacies, constructing proper syllogisms, and building the tools needed to recognize when you are irrational. Not irrational like, you cray cray. The proper definition of irrational.
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate use of reason, or through emotional distress or cognitive deficiency.
FIND TOOLS TO HELP
Find remote tools for your business that can help you communicate, create, plan, and execute. ServiceMonster has made many changes in our own office and here are some helpful tools we found when working from home:
Facebook Workplace – We have used Slack and Mattermost. Both are chat platforms. Neither of them gave us the communication options that Workplace has. Its familiar interface and wide range of options makes it perfect for chat, calls, video calls, and group posts.
Ring Central – A business phone system with virtual options, voice trees, multiple phone lines, and side loads on your phone via an app. This means that you can separate your personal and business lines on your smart phone.
Trello – Task management in a simple to use interface.
Basecamp – Project management in a simple to use interface
ServiceMonster – Take control of your schedule, keep your eye on important key performance indicators (KPI's), and stay in touch with your clients via automated marketing tools.
We must adapt if we are to survive. Take this time to reflect on your success and failures. Take what you need, ditch the rest, then get back to work #OnYourBusiness.