Another Coronavirus post, but this is specifically for you if you have a knowledge or service business that has a big in-person component.
So, this is for my doctors and dentists and healers of all kinds, estheticians, speakers, photographers, attorneys, consultants, authors, lecturers, coaches, teachers, realtors, trainers (even fitness trainers!)…and probably hundreds of other professionals.
I want to talk a bit about COVID-19 and your service/knowledge business; in particular, what you might want to be thinking about if all of your business (or even a healthy chunk of it) is done in person.
The biggest issue with this virus will not be in staying well, but in navigating the disruptions to life and business that are already happening and will increase as more people do get sick.
If that’s occurred to you already, you might be really scared about what’s going to happen to your business. If that hasn’t yet occurred to you, let it sink in a bit.
Last week, the City of Austin has just called for the cancellation of SXSW. I expect others to follow in rapid fashion.
Travel is being impacted, globally. Israel has just instituted a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period for anyone coming into their country. As awful as it is to contemplate, I could imagine the US doing that or something like it at some point.
And, listen—I am not a dooms-dayer, or Chicken Little (“The sky is falling!”), but I am certain down to my bones that this is absolutely going to get worse before it gets better; it’s going to be a bad idea for people to be in close proximity to other people.
Plus, travel is and will continue to be fraught, if possible at all. Airlines are flying fewer flights. The Northeast Acela Amtrak line from DC to NYC has been suspended. If people can’t get to you, or you to them, what happens to your work?
This sucks. Plain and simple.
But being fearful isn’t the answer. Continuing to do exactly what you do today, the way you do it, and hoping for a miracle, or doing that thing where you go, “Lalalala… I can’t hear you,” isn’t the answer, either, because the world is now different—at least for the foreseeable future, and you can’t stick your head in the sand and think it will go away. That isn’t going to work. Neither is telling yourself that you’ll be fine because you survived the economic crisis of ’08 (this is a very different beast and needs its own strategy). Also, you can’t think that waiting until the weather warms up will fix things—no one knows yet what will happen with COVID-19 (plus, remember, it’s not warm all over the world at the same time!). And although it may be tempting, throwing in the towel to become a prepper and professional day drinker isn’t gonna help anything (although Everclear would help you disinfect!). ?
The key to surviving this, in my view at this time, is to focus on what’s happening in the world as a result of COVID-19, see it for what it is, and then, in a business context, hold it deep inside yourself as an oddly good thing; because of it, you have an actual opportunity for business growth.
When you see things from that POV, your energy can shift from fear or worry to possibility, and from there, you can ask yourself if there are ways to pivot (my word for what to do in situations like this), and offer what you offer….but differently. Or, whether you can offer new things… differently than you might have if the virus wasn’t a “thing.”
Look for inspiration from the organizations who are doing it or prepared to do it. The NBA is one; they’ve announced that they’re ready to play without fans or media at the games (televised only), in order to keep fans safe. The IOC was, for about a minute, thinking they could postpone or move the Tokyo Summer Games, and although they’re now thinking that won’t work, it was an example of LOOKING for the pivot.
So, check in with yourself. Can you offer more of your work virtually? Can you network with others virtually? Can you wrap your head around how to use technology better in order to replicate what you do in new ways? Are there new offerings you can create that are deliverable virtually?
Your virtual assistant can help. As your proper sidekick, she is your #1 ally in all of this. Ask her where she sees possible pivot points for you. Her perspective on your work should be helpful in the brainstorming and planning, and it will be invaluable as you create the pivots and execute them in this new landscape.
Listen, in times of uncertainty for the general public, cancellations happen and business suffers in hugely damaging ways when the business has no pivot, or a plan for a pivot isn’t executable. Maybe you can pivot. And maybe you can’t, BUT you won’t know unless you look for them, and look them NOW. There will never be a better time to figure this out—meaning, it’s not going to be easier if you wait and do it later.
Imagine just how you would do things if we were all quarantined (ok, no one wants to imagine a world like that, but doing so will help you for the sake of the exercise). If NO ONE could go out and be together in person, how would you offer what you’re meant to offer the world? That’s your pivot. Create that.
If you know me, you know that one of my favorite sayings is, “When you’re faced with two options, choose the third because it’s where all the magic is.”
If you’re looking at doing things the way you always have, and not seeing a pivot that makes you happy, keep looking. When you find the third option, your business will likely do more than survive through COVID-19…it will thrive.
(If you like this and find it helpful, please share it far and wide with your friends, in groups you belong to…in social…anywhere you think it can reach people who are afraid and worried. I’d truly love for it to help as many people as possible! And, if you’re struggling to see your third option or find your pivot, reach out. I’d love to help with that, too.).