I will be the first to admit: 2014 was the year when I didn’t know if my business would make it. I had my own boutique booking agency that was typically cranking. In 2014, when my business had been growing for almost 10 years, I hit the “perfect storm”. Three major tours canceled and all of a sudden my expected income for the next 14 months took a huge, unexpected hit.
It was potentially devastating.
The Small Business Association states that 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. As I looked in horror at my own financials, it was hard not to see those statistics flashing in front of my eyes like a morbid movie marquis.
According to Forbes Magazine, those statistics might be even higher.
As I finally made my way through the financial terror years later (yes, it took years to recover from that hit), I thought back upon what had truly helped me.
I noticed that sometimes when we are faced with a crisis, it’s often not so much what we do. More important can be what we don’t do when in the midst of that formidable challenge.
As business owners, we inevitably face change, and occasionally a business crisis as we grow our businesses.
For all of you #bossbabes out there who might be caught in the midst of drama and trauma, here is a list of things that resilient women entrepreneurs do not do while working through the craziness.
1. The blame-game is a waste of time.
With mindset, energy is critical and research has shown that our brains make the best decisions when flowing in a more positive mode. If we continue to replay our anger (even if that anger is directed to ourselves), we become less capable of clearly identifying the possible solution. Tangibly, people who define themselves as “happy” or “positive” tend to outsell those who call themselves “unhappy” or “pessimistic” by 20-30%. Getting beyond the anger and blame is critical to repairing the bottom line. Identify any misstep that might have lead you to the current situation and don’t repeat it — but focus on the present. This is where the best solution lies.
2. Find the silver lining.
They understand that change is essential to growth. Resilient women embrace that great obstacles can also evolve into the very thing that leads to a great opportunity. Look for the lesson inside of the crisis. What sort of clues to something bigger and better might be hiding in plain sight? Is this an opportunity to be open to something new and (yes) even better?
3. Don’t hide and isolate.
This was probably the toughest for me. I had never been in this sort of a mess and I felt like it floored me. I felt overwhelmed, humiliated, terrified. The instinct was to run and hide. That was probably the worst thing that I could have done and yet that instinct is a powerful one. In reality, these moments are exactly the moments when other people can help. Whether it’s a mentor who is genuinely experienced in weathering these storms or a friend who is willing to wrap you in positivity, look yourself squarely in the mirror and remind yourself that your value and greatness is most definitely still there.
If your cash flow falls short, do what you can to face the music. Try to work out payment plans or to at least express your intent to pay as soon as possible. You will be amazed at how willing some people are to work with you. I even know entrepreneurs and other resilient women who handled bankruptcy with so much integrity that their original investors were willing to reinvest in the next business opportunity. Don’t assume that you know how others will react to “bad news”.
4. Lean into gratitude.
When it feels like your entire world is falling apart, one of the last genuine feelings that most people feel is gratitude. Even if all other aspects of your life are idyllic, when your financial world feels like a house of horrors, your life can feel worse than grim. This is where a bit of “blissipline” (thank you, Vishan Lakhiani for that term) can serve you. If you are feeling sorry for yourself and/or angry at your circumstances, have the discipline to just find one thought that feels better. Maybe at first, that one thought has nothing to do with your own life. Maybe the best that you can find is that you know that some of the most successful people in the world at one point faced their own perfect storm. They had no more luck or tenacity than you do.
There are probably other areas of your life where you have seen evidence of your ability to be strong and persevere. You can see that eventually your perseverance and tenacity have always won out. You can at least be grateful for your perseverance and tenacity. And yes, while you are feeling grateful for those qualities, it becomes easier to acknowledge other aspects of your life that are the reason for hope. Many, many successful people and resilient women journal every morning the 5 items that they are grateful for. Feeling grateful for your life not only feels better but it can tangibly combat the symptoms of stress and set you up for better results both physically, professionally and mentally.
5. Don’t turn the big picture into a small picture.
When crisis enters our life, our knee jerk reaction can often be to imagine the worst. When my own crisis hit, my mind would create these amazingly terrifying stories that, to be honest, would literally paralyze me if I let them run wild. There is no question that when I worried myself into a “tizzy”, I was my least effective, least productive and undeniably my absolute worst enemy. No matter how bad it seems, remember that this is not the end of the story. A lot of “terrible” things have been the catalyst to making some of the most amazing people into who they are today. Hold onto that expectation that your future will be even bigger because of this moment. You WILL make it through this to see massive success.
6. Remember to celebrate the success of others.
During these times, it can be tempting to focus on your competitors or on others who don’t seem to have it quite so hard. Take a breath. Play your own game and if you focus on keeping your own inner game deliberately positive, that’s when you stand not only to win, but to win big. A scarcity perspective keeps you small. The good stuff resides where the win/win thrives.
7. Maintain positive habits.
When things get tough, our positive habits can disappear pretty quickly. A terrified mind can find amazing ways to rationalize eating poorly, drinking excessively, eliminating all exercise, working long hours, ignoring friends/ family, worrying non-stop and an infinite list of counter-productive behaviors. It may take sheer will power to force yourself to do it, but retaining those positive habits can reward you ten-fold. Even taking 25 minutes a day — 10 minutes to exercise, 5 minutes to journal gratitude notes/successes and 10 minutes to focus your thoughts on the intention for the day ahead — can accelerate a breakthrough.
8. Trust the process (even if results aren’t immediate).
When our businesses suffer a major hit, we can often doubt everything. Rather than toss out your entire system, learn to ask different questions. Make sure that you are clear about your specific goals. Is what you are doing to get you closer to your goal? If you stopped doing what you have been doing, would that get you closer to your goals? Are you busying your time or are you like an artist with your time? Ask questions and look for honest answers — then commit and stay consistent. Resilient women don’t bail when you are three feet from your gold.
9. Don’t stop taking calculated risks.
The most celebrated human beings have all faced what some would call “failures” and yet articles abound on how these dynamos refused to stay down. Be smart. Learn from things that might have exposed you to this stumble but trust that your own inner brilliance (and the brilliance of your team) now has more data to apply.
10. Shed the should-haves and self-doubt.
There is a saying that in hard times, we have a tendency to “should” all over ourselves. Learning and growth are essential components of every champion’s rise to fame. Make sure that you are writing an empowered version of this chapter in your story. The day may come when you will see that this is the chapter that creates your masterpiece.
11. Never forget your why.
On my worst days, when I didn’t even want to get out of bed, sometimes the only things that kept me going were my “whys”. Knowing my “why” helped me keep the immediate challenges in perspective. They kept feeding my hope and my determination. My “why” seemed to link directly to my emotions which was like rocket fuel when everything else seemed to leave my gas tank empty.
12. Rewrite a pessimistic narrative.
Don't think that “I know that already” or that “I have tried that already.” These two sentences seemed to be a mantra for my own pessimistic inner narrative. When I finally acknowledged that I didn’t have a crystal ball and that the answer might truly be right around the corner, I would inevitably see my best progress. Stay open. Stay curious and you will be surprised what new “aha” moments fall into your lap. And one “aha” moment might just be the key to your next #Bossbabe empire! Or, at least to building skills to join the ranks of other resilient women.
13. Distraction and busywork won't move the needle.
When we hit something big, the tendency is to want it to be over — like NOW. There are a lot of products and “done for you” systems that promise to instantly fix your pain points and soothe the problem “that keeps you awake at night.” I found that I definitely needed to be open to learning, but I could also waste a lot of time and money hoping just to get past the pain. I would try to take action as quickly as possible and to stay busy — hoping that just being busy would translate into income. In truth, when I took the time to focus and to take truly inspired action, I saw more progress. I also slowly began to rebuild that all-important trust in myself.
14. Surround yourself with positive people.
Removing negative people can be a challenge because often those who are the closest can inadvertently cut the deepest. I found that people did genuinely intend to help but often their advice felt more confusing and disempowering than helpful. When we are in these challenging times, others who can truly empathize might be the better option. Mentors, masterminds and in some cases coaches can truly provide invaluable insights and systems. Fellow entrepreneurs and other resilient women who were positively supportive helped me stay the course. Build your network of fellow #Bossbabes and remember to champion each other through the stormy waters.
15. Know what you can and can't control.
We can focus on the things that we hope to have more of — or we can focus on the elements in our life that we still believe that we lack. Again, our mindsets run on our energy and when we waste valuable time/energy on things that we cannot control, we are choosing not to fully live.
16. Stop trying to do it all.
There is a reason why there are billions of us on this tiny planet and yet no two of us are exactly alike. Sometimes we entrepreneurs try to do it all. We keep trying to do more and more, often because at some level, we believe that we are not enough. Trust me, you ARE enough. And when you finally relax into genuinely allowing others into your world, you may just see how “all that” that you truly are.
17. Ask for help.
One of the biggest moments through my own storm was when I realized that I could simply ask. I had to put aside my pride, my ego, my worst enemy’s conviction that I “knew” what the answer would be. I had to brave being will to ask. And guess what? As it turns out — shock — my worst fears couldn’t have been more wrong. There was an entire world out there of people who were happy to help, happy to work with me and (who knew) who even thought very highly of me — in spite of this storm. Give yourself credit and give life a chance to surprise and delight you. Most likely, it will.
18. Expect eventual success.
If there was one sliver of mindset magic that probably helped me the most, it was refusing to believe that this storm meant game over. Using every ounce of mindset knowledge that I had learned over the course of almost 4 decades, I held fast to the expectation of eventual success. I returned to following my mindset systems. Like many resilient women, I began to see and feel the difference. The more that I treated these systems as laws, the more powerfully I began to see the relief. Yes, finally, the glimmer of hope turned into proof that I could call tangible. And the lesson in resilience would become invaluable in every other aspect of my life in days to come.
As you launch into your businesses, dare to dream big. And when those challenges erupt, take a moment to breathe. And remember: when my business was at its lowest, my own rise from the ashes came not from the things that I did but more importantly from the things that I decided NOT to do. We are resilient women and we can handle whatever life throws our way.