Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

Ten Ways to Protect Your Business When the Wolf Is Howling at the Door

by Susan Pomeroy

when the wolf is at the door, how do you protect your business

I’ve been hearing for a long time about the recession affecting other businesses, but it hasn’t really touched mine. Until now. Two different clients couldn’t stave off the wolf any longer. Consequence? Two big, fun, interesting projects suddenly fell through, along with a good chunk of income. Now my calendar is unexpectedly open, and I hear the wolf heading towards MY door.

What to do? My impulse is to leap into manic activity. Do something, anything. Hustle. Work. Move. I think it’s a relic of the post-Depression mentality of my parents and grandparents… to flip instantly into that desperation mindset that says “If you need money and are willing to work, you’ll do anything, anything at all, whatever it takes, just get yourself out there.” The mindset that says, keep pouring over those classified ad pages (but Grandpa, everything is online now!), keep making calls and pounding pavement (but Grandpa, we all have cellphones!), until you land a job. A work-for-wages job, that is.

But here’s a big difference: I’m not looking for a job. I’m an entrepreneur. And I’m determined to approach this situation intelligently, not merely to fall prey once more to an inherited reflex that’s not even based on my own personal experience… and is nearly a century old at that! So what can I do? What can you do? Here’s what I come up with.

1. Retrench. In other words, cut down on expenses. Am I spending too much money or too much time on inessentials that can be cut? Money, no, not really. Time, yes. Staying focused requires constant vigilance on my part. I’m online all day for my work, and there are so many interesting tangents to explore. So for me, “retrenching” means staying focused on the goal.

2. Tap my networks. Remind people what problem I solve, who I solve it for, and that I have an opening. I don’t have a special offer yet, but per below, I think I should concoct one.

3. R&R. Think I’m kidding? Last year I listened to a wonderful audio program called “A Solution to Overwhelm” by business coach Mark Silver. He makes the point brilliantly that when we’re feeling overwhelmed and probably fearful, we’re simply “not being truly effective.” I think he’s right on.  I hate that screechy “spinning the wheels” sound, when you press on the accelerator as hard as you can, hoping crazily that this will get you out of the mud instead of digging you deeper. And not being able to help doing it, because it’s the only thing you can think to do.  Slowing down, tuning into inner guidance, seems counter-intuitive in a desperate situation. But paradoxically, it works.

I have also learned the very hard way that taking care of myself during stressful times is essential. It’s so tempting to neglect sleep, healthy meals, exercise and connection with family and friends while focusing on the “bigger picture. ” But I am here to remind myself and you that there is no bigger picture–in fact, no picture at all–without health. So here’s my commitment to handle my particular challenges in this area: I am going to keep going regularly to the pool, to qi gong class, and playing with our new Wii Fit. Oh yes, and meditating before bed to help ensure a restful sleep.

4. Catch up on deferred “maintenance”… accounting, tax prep, year-end accounting, cleaning up the office, revising the web site, etc. This kind of work can be a blessing, or a trap. I once relined all my kitchen cabinets with shelf paper while my partner and I were undergoing a mold disaster that culminating in our losing our home and most of our belongings. We joke about it now, “shelf paper” now being shorthand for useless busywork that gives the illusion of control, while distracting from the main focus. I have to be careful not to think that getting all the files filed is my main purpose in life.

5. Learn new skills. In my work of web development, learning new skills is continuous and essential. And I love it! Learning something new is exciting and engrossing. But does a particular challenge have a short-term payoff, or is it a long-term investment? Again, big picture.

6. Spend more time marketing/market smarter.
I’m thinking that spending a little more time cultivating networks, particularly on Twitter, is a good idea now. I’m thinking about ads in local print media. Continuing to meet people at conferences and other events. Speaking to professional groups. Robert Middleton writes about how to effectively gain new clients by doing all this and more in his Infoguru marketing manual and in his  Action Plan Marketing Club which I just joined. (And yes, I am an affiliate!) Analyzing who my client base is, and how to expand it. We all have our own marketing lists…. so yeah, yeah, OK, it’s time to get to it. Systems, not shots in the dark!

7. Put together new products, new offers. There are at least three web sites and a handful of products that I haven’t had time to launch. They all need some work. And sometimes it’s hard to mobilize myself to take new risks in putting something out there. I’d rather learn more PHP, or organize my receipts for taxes. Yes, really. But it’s time to take some solid steps in this direction. For inspiration, I’m going to refer again to my favorite marketing and business coaches, who both have products aimed at planning projects and mobilizing oneself, Robert Middleton and Mark Silver.

8. Repackage existing products and services. Can I figure out a way to package my services, perhaps on a monthly basis? Something to sell that’s helpful and inexpensive? A “loss leader” special offer? For some reason, this is a tough one for me to think about. I keep going in circles. So I’m going to add one more item to the list.

9. Ask for help. I have a couple of trusted friends who know me well and are very creative thinkers about business and marketing. I’m going to ask them both for help thinking about new products and offers.

10. And finally, prioritize. Some people do this very rationally with lists and project management software and appointments with themselves in their daily calendars. Others do it more intuitively and develop the plans and progress charts as an afterthought, if at all. I’m somewhere in between. So I’m going to meditate, then list and distribute tasks according to time and urgency, and then check in with myself about this regularly to make sure I’m on a track that feels right.

That’s my list at the moment. I’d love to hear yours. What do you do when you hear the wolf howl?

Wolf at the Door

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Matthew Ray Scott

Susan,

Great post. Your guidance can speak to someone.

I love your entire list, but my two favorites are: Ask for help & R&R. It takes real strength to ask for help and even more strength to seek rest in order to get back in the battle.

Thanks for teaching and reminding me by your list.

Susan Pomeroy

Thanks, Matthew, I appreciate your comment. Love your site, too!

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