Crisis-Proofing Your Business 101

I used to fantasize about having a reset button for my life. 

 

Of course I was only 12 years old and mostly needed it to erase any memories of my mother playing a recording of me {in our car! during a family trip!} singing some lame song called "School Bus". And to get rid of my sister. And to make my father forget that he said "no" to a perm {what? It was the 80s}.

 

Amazingly enough, I've gotten by without an actual reset button for the last 30{ish} years since then, and I've learned a few things along the way - most importantly, that the “no perm” rule was actually a good rule. My fascination with the reset button lingered, and it made a strong comeback after I took my side hustle full time in 2013. Because when you juggle life, kids, spouse, household, and your business {to name a few}, the urge to yell “I need a do-over” and hit the reset button, is strong. While I still wish to erase the occasional day {or week} from my life and biz, I've discovered that the self-care routine I developed and the business practises I put into place actually *are* a type of reset button, because those systems preserve my sanity. 

 

I’m a fan of definitions, so let’s have a look at what Merriam-Webster says about “reset”. The first definition is what you would expect, it’s to “move {something} back to an original place or position”. The other definition they offer is my favourite: “to put a gem into a new piece of jewelry”. Of course there is nothing magical about that definition, because jewellers actually do this for people - they put gems into different pieces of jewelry. But I choose to interpret this differently. 

 

Mindfulness

 

I offer you this: you are the piece of jewelry, and the gem is your sanity. And the magic glue that will hold the gem in place is one of the pillars of taking your business from crisis-prone to crisis-proof, and it's called mindfulness. And mindfulness? Does not have to be an unattainable ethereal practise you only read about but can never actually experience.

 

Let’s define mindfulness. {I told you I’m a fan of definitions, mostly because it allows me to break abstract concepts down to their simplest form, and that makes them a lot less intimidating.} When you Google “mindfulness”, one of the definitions is: “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something”. Mindfulness is also often defined as being fully present in the moment, which of course has a lot to do with being aware of yourself and of what’s going on around you. Here’s how I define it: Mindfulness is a way of being in tune with yourself; it’s a tool that can help turn you from onlooker into a participant. Because at the core of wanting a reset button and feeling like you lost your sanity is the feeling of being an onlooker rather than a participant. It’s the feeling of your life happening to you, rather than you participating - and being mindful is the key to changing that.

 

What does it mean to live a mindful life? Can you call yourself mindful if you’re zen only 75% of the time? What if you totally lose your sh*t - do you lose the mindfulness badge? Here’s the deal: as far as I know, there is no mindfulness police. You can fit mindfulness into your life and business however it works for you. That sounds great, right? But where do you start? Start by noticing. Notice when you feel like an onlooker and when you feel like a participant, both in your business and your personal life. Becoming aware of that will help you find the hidden patterns {often hidden in plain sight, but hidden nonetheless} and see which situations keep repeating themselves.

 

As an entrepreneur, you’re used to calling the shots. You are the born participant, and definitely not an onlooker. So why do you crave mindfulness in your life? Could it be because being a participant is limiting you in a way that makes you an onlooker after all? Let me explain. The notion of calling the shots, rather than life or business happening to you, has its pitfalls. Rather than being a selective participant, you go overboard and want to do it all, and that ends up paralyzing you. I’m talking about the #1 enemy of mindfulness - and it’s called fear of missing out. Because you decide you want it all and who's to say you can't? All it takes is discipline. Dedication. That's right - suck it up, buttercup, an entrepreneur is made for that! You can do it all! Well, until you can't {and you realize you don’t have to prove anything to anyone}. Because guess what? Nobody does it all. Not a single woman or man on this planet does it all. Has it all. Can be it all. And neither can I - or you. Even in a perfect world, where equal rights actually existed, you have to make choices.

 

The Problem With Choices

 

The problem with choices? We don't like to make them. Because choices? Feel like limits. Choices fuel the fear of missing out. And you can't have that, right? You need to keep all your options open, especially if you’re running a business. And even if you’re worn down enough to start cutting the odd social from your schedule, you certainly won’t pass up any business opportunities! Until, one day... you're running late after attending an “important” networking event {which you only went to in the first place because it's just 5 minutes from your house and therefore - just barely - got squeezed into your schedule}, but need to get to the bank before it closes and pick up something at a store before that closes as well. There really isn't a way that you can make both, but you just have to, so you go for it. Determined and on a mission you leave the house and march in the direction of the bank. Your phone rings and you are reminded of a volunteer "thing" you promised to participate in and you can feel your deodorant starting to fail. Then you remember dinner time. And laundry. And a deadline for a high maintenance client early the next day. And end-of-the-year-teacher-presents. And then, when you hit the pedestrian button at the traffic light just a nano-second too late and you realize you have to wait until the light changes again, you start to cry. {This may or may not have happened to me, you know, in a pre-self-care life.}

 

That’s how participating can make you an onlooker. What to do? I’m not going to tell you that it’s all about balance. Balance, schmalance. Balance is not always an option, but making a choice is. Yes, you have a business to run, and can't just concentrate on one thing. But you can choose. You can choose priorities, work with people who are a good fit, and set your own boundaries and limits. That sounds like a lot of work, eh? I won’t lie to you, it’s a process. It requires time and effort. And while you get that sorted out {and we'll talk about boundaries in just a minute}, I want to offer you one thing you can do to feel like sanity has returned to your life and it has a place to stay:

 

Schedule unscheduled time. 

 

Yes, seriously. As an entrepreneur, you know that planning ahead and being organized are important for your success. You need to keep track of promises made to clients, schedule appointments, plan your marketing activities, stay on top of your financial obligations... it never ends. Scheduling unscheduled time is a way to reacquaint yourself with being a participant, rather than an onlooker. Start by setting aside 30 minutes a week where “nothing” is on the agenda. Don’t plan ahead. Don’t pressure yourself into meditating during that time, because someone told you that’s what mindful people do. Having “nothing to do” is a challenge in itself for an entrepreneur - and I dare you to try it! You will be surprised what your 30 minutes of unscheduled time will set in motion, and I am convinced it will both benefit you mental wellness and give you new impulses for your business.

 

Could mindfulness be your starting point for taking your business from crisis-prone to crisis-proof? Test for business {free quiz!} and find out.

 

Boundaries

 

Now let's talk about boundaries, another pillar of taking your business from crisis-prone to crisis-proof. Boundaries are a 2-way street. It’s not just about what you will tolerate from others, it’s also what others have to put up with from you. Respecting the boundaries of others has to be a given. Plus, you have to be clear on both your inbound and outbound boundaries. Inbound boundaries involve other people, they are a line you draw and say: No, I will not let you do this / let you guilt me into xyz / watch silently while you… - they are a reaction to something that’s happening. Outbound boundaries are rules you use to keep yourself in check, they are your actionable guidelines to life {and business}.

 

Remember the fear of missing out, the #1 enemy of mindfulness? It just so happens, that the fear of missing out doesn't get along with boundaries either. When your boundaries are not firm, it can really play a number on you. You’ll try to do everything, be everywhere, and it still won’t feel like it’s enough. You’ll propel yourself into a spiral of exhaustion, and you’re not stopping until you’re thrown off the roller coaster. Shall we work on that? Let’s start by agreeing that you’re harder on yourself than you are on others, amiright? {I know, me too.} That means your outbound boundaries are the best place to start. Before you learn to say “no” to other people, you learn to say “no” to yourself first. What’s that? You think that’s limiting yourself? Nope, buttercup, it’s actually very freeing to allow yourself to say no - to yourself. Because you have this habit of being the first to raise their hand when it comes to volunteering your time/expertise/resources. Don’t get me wrong, volunteering is a grand thing, but you still need to have a process in place that lets you check in with yourself to determine whether saying “yes” to a project or to your sanity is more appropriate. 

 

Next time you feel the urge to take action and forge ahead into the FOMO arena, ask yourself:

  • What’s behind this, what is the trigger for my actions?
  • How do I feel about that?
  • Is this the best decision for myself and my business? 
  • What would happen if I simply did nothing?
  • How would I feel if someone tried to impose this on me, rather than me taking the initiative?

Getting to the bottom of the mechanisms for your actions will help you establish solid outbound boundaries, which are in turn the foundation for your inbound boundaries. Every client and their brother has just one more request that makes you cringe and think “hell nah”, just before you say “sure, happy to do that”. Because saying “no” to people is hard, and it’s almost impossible to utter this tiny word to a client. But. Having firm boundaries is part of a solid self-care foundation, and that in turn is a great foundation for a successful, crisis-proof business.

 

Could boundaries be your starting point for taking your business from crisis-prone to crisis-proof? Test your business with a free 9-question quiz and find out!

 

Self-Care Mindset

 

That brings us to the third pillar of taking your business from crisis-prone to crisis-proof - and it's actually the pillar it all starts with: your self-care mindset.  How do you feel about taking care of yourself and using self-care to crisis-proof your {life and} business? Are you worried you could be perceived as selfish if you're putting yourself first? Guess what? No matter what you do, you will never make everyone happy. And if you don't tune into yourself and listen when your gut tells you whether it's a "must" or a "hell nah", then you'll soon enough lack the strength to contribute to anyone's happiness. 

 

How you feel about self-care and how you choose to integrate it into your life and business is a big part of the third pillar; at the foundation of it, however, is something else: your core and business values. They are actually at the foundation of all three pillars. Let me delight you with an artistic rendering:

Which one of those three pillars is your starting point to take your business from crisis-prone to crisis-proof? Test your business with a free 9-question quiz and find out!