Are you watching the news or have you already turned it off? I bet you are like us: taking breaks and trying to listen to a few different sources of information to try and see a bigger, more informative picture… the problem is there is SO much information out there that it can quickly become overwhelming and cause us even more worry. If you are a small business owner, this time can be very uncertain and can cause even more fear and worry. I don’t blame you for feeling this way- this is uncharted territory for all of us and we can only do our best to try and carry on despite closures, cancellations and social distancing efforts.
If you didn’t already know from following me on social media, I am a glass half full kind of gal. Yes, that includes moments when the glass only has a single drop – ‘At least it’s not EMPTY, right??’ << me to a fault. My employer moved us all to remote work last week and after stocking up on a few of the essentials in order to hunker down at home for a bit, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about how best to spend this time and the opportunities that could come out of this – and no, I don’t mean hoarding toilet paper and re-selling it on eBay or taking advantage of customers who are in crisis (seriously, please remember to practice kindness and be cognizant of those who may be struggling more than you during this time). The three main opportunities I am talking about are:
- The chance to create a stronger sense of community and connection with your followers, customers and clients (as well as your fellow small business owners).
- The opportunity to do something during what may be slower time for your business to grow in other ways (think online learning or re-stocking product).
- Re-evaluating your self-care practices and ensuring that YOU are staying healthy both physically, mentally and spiritually in order to be the best business owner and human you can during this time and moving forward.
Create and Foster a Stronger Community.
If you own a brick and mortar store, it is very possible that things will slow down for you or stop altogether if you have to close your doors for a while. If you are a maker, artist or freelancer you may have to cancel jobs (or have them cancelled by clients) in an effort to help with social distancing or to protect a family member who may be more susceptible to the virus. Instead of being upset at your community, your clients or anyone for that matter, consider turning your focus to your online presence to reach out to your customers and let them know that you are thinking about them and their families during this time. Let them know how they can support your business if you are indeed in a tough financial situation as well as how you can support them if they are in need. Use this time to truly connect to your followers and have real conversations with them about their situations and let them know that you are listening. Reach out to other small business owners and makers in the same way. There has never been a better time than now to come together (albeit remotely), build new connections and create an even stronger network of support.
Find Alternative Ways to Better Your Business.
If you are facing slower times in your retail space, cancelled jobs or are working from home this may be a great opportunity to learn a new skill or take an online class in a subject that will benefit you and your business. There are a lot of free business focused online courses & programs out there and finding something like this to focus on can help you keep a positive mindset despite the negative news and updates that may be bombarding you on social media and mainstream news channels.
Another thing you can do is to focus on your inventory. If you’re a maker or artist faced with show cancellations, you can take this time to re-focus on your inventory. What are some of the things you’ve been needing to re-stock but just haven’t had the time? What supplies do you need to work through? Do you have some items you usually don’t stock up on just yet, but know you’ll need them at a later date? Are there things you’ve been wanting to TRY but have not had the “free time” to do so?
You can also take this time to take a look at your online presence. Consider working on, updating or refreshing your website; go through your product listings to be sure everything is up to date in your online store or even consider starting/updating your blog. When it comes to blogging you can take this time to work on a few draft posts and get them ready to go to be published at a later date! The same goes with social media, this could be the perfect time to check out app like Planoly, Later or Hootsuite (all of these have free versions) to pre-plan and schedule your social media posts! If you use Facebook you can get (even) more familiar with their new Creator Studio and work on some scheduled posts there as well.
Re-evaluate Your Personal Self-Care Routine.
I know I have this listed last, but in my option it’s the most important point. If you’re like me, this situation has already taken a negative toll on your mental health in some way. I find that with each update on the current situation and state of our community and our country, the knot in my stomach grows a bit bigger. I’m a natural worrier so despite my ‘glass half full’ mentality, I’ve struggled with my fair share of anxiety. Knowing yourself and knowing how to de-stress is very important during times like this. Maybe that means taking mental health breaks to plug in your headphones and listen to relaxing music and do some meditating. When I say meditating I don’t mean anything complex – find a quiet space in your home, close your eyes and try to focus in on your breathing. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use breath counting. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold at the top for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts and hold at the bottom for 4 counts, then repeat.
Yoga, stretching and working out are another way to fight stress and anxiety and if you aren’t used to doing these thing in your home, you can search for free exercise videos on Youtube to guide you. There are lots of options and I will even list some of my favorites at the end of this post to get you started!
Do you enjoy working around your home? I find that cleaning and organizing is a great stress reliever for me, so I’m taking this additional time here at home to do some early spring cleaning and organizing (especially in my crafting space). My husband has been doing the same, finishing up some organizing in the garage and basement. If you are a gardener, you may want to start planning and planting for your spring garden, especially if you are planting from seeds and using compost that you already have at your home.
- Free certification courses with HubSpot Academy – all you have to do is register for a free account and there are TONS of business and marketing courses you can take!
- SEO classes by Miles Becker on Youtube
- Youtube can be a gold mine for free tutorials, so do some research on some topics you are interested in and if you have some favorite people you follow and learn from please share in the comments!
- Free Facebook Live about Content Creation Strategies
- Try Canva if you haven’t already! Canva is a Free online design tool that can help you create graphics for ALL of your marketing needs from Instagram posts and Facebook event headers to PDF marketing flyers and blog post graphics. Everything is correctly sized based on your needs and they even have a large library of stock images to use included with their free plan!
- Check out one or more of the many free social planning tools out there! Buffer, Hootsuite, Planoly and Later all have free account options to help you plan out and schedule your social media posts! I have personally used Hootsuite, Planoly and Later and they all have some great features that can help you spend less time on social media by planning out your posts in advance!
- Check out Blog Posts from larger companies! Companies like sprout social are pricier management tools BUT they usually have some great free resources and information on their blogs! Check out some of the latest blog posts by Sprout Social, Planoly, Later, and Hootsuite for a start!
- When it comes to home workouts and meditation I have a few favorites. I prefer to stick with Yoga and meditation so my go-to’s on Youtube have historically been Fightmaster Yoga and Rebekah Borucki for her guided meditations. both have a wide range of videos from shorter, more beginner focused sessions to lengthier classes for more advanced practitioners!
- A few more fitness/wellness recommendations: Yogi Nora with both yoga and meditation sessions, The Daily Hiit for short intense workout sessions (search “bodyweight” on their Youtube channel if you don’t have any equipment at home). I also used to really like the shorter bodyweight workouts by Zuzka Light.
During this time, remember that although you might feel isolated, you are not going through this alone. Don’t completely disconnect from the world around you and reach out if you need support. Stay safe, be smart and remain alert. Take care of yourself and do what you can to keep from getting overwhelmed by everything going on around you. I hope that this is helpful in it’s own way and I would love your thoughts in the comments about how you are working to stay positive and dealing with your own personal situation during this time!