Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

How to run a business in stressful times

Posted on 31-3-2020 by Melanie White

 
Everyone responds differently to external pressures. The way you respond depends on your personality, your thought processes and your personal circumstances.
But at the core of things, stress starts in your mind. Your perception (thoughts) determines your resilience. Resilience simply means the resources and capacity you have to cope with the circumstances around you.  

When your resilience is low, it affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly and to be fully present with your clients - all of which are obviously important in relationship-based businesses like coaching.

When you’re running a coaching business in stressful times, there are different approaches you can take to support your wellbeing and to feel at peace with your business decisions. 

Your best approach depends on how resilient or stressed you feel. Most people will fit into one of three categories.

Three Categories of Business Owner Resilience

Category 1 – these people are feeling resilient, seeing opportunities to be of service, and feeling ready, willing and able to reach out and help others. People in this category may have fewer external pressures, may be more extroverted, or could be people who have done a lot of their own coaching around beliefs and behaviours. In any case, they have the resilience to be able to cope with stressful times.

Category 2 – these people are feeling fearful or overwhelmed, seeing roadblocks, and feeling unable to cope with the responsibilities of both business and life. These people may have more challenging circumstances, may be more introverted, or are yet to master the skills of emotional balance. They are unlikely to have enough resilience to cope with stressful times.

Category 3 – these people want to help and are seeing opportunities but becoming easily overwhelmed. They may be managing internal and external pressures but are close to capacity. They may have some skills around emotional balance and some level of stability in life. This means they feel resilient at times and are able to cope yet can fall back into overwhelm. Their resilience is ‘inconsistent’.

These are generalisations but they may help you identify yourself for the purposes of making rational decisions about what to do with your business.

Let’s look at some approaches for each category.

Business Approaches for Stressful Times

If you’re in Category 1, seize the day! Despite stressful times, you are best positioned to continue running your business or even expanding it, so that you can help others.

You may offer services that help others to;
  • Get some respite (e.g. online retreat)
  • Cope better (e.g. plans and strategies)
  • Maintain positive habits (e.g. visions and goals, accountability groups)
  • Develop new habits or routines (e.g. challenges or programs)
  • Create more joy, fun, freedom (e.g. uplifting classes or events)
Remember that showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

You may tend to attract clients who have similar resilience to you but also be mindful of others who are struggling and may have less capacity to cope with higher energy activities or sharing of information in a group setting.

If you are in Category 2, your primary concern is your own wellbeing, stability and your loved ones. 

In stressful times, you probably have limited capacity to truly be of service to your clients.

You may like to define a period (e.g. 2 - 6 months) to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing, during which time you:
Close your business temporarily (e,g, block your calendar)
Subcontract another coach to service your clients
Reduce business activities to a minimum (e.g. working with a few select clients)
Consider Centrelink or other options for financial support if needed. Business offsets, grants or hardship payments are sometimes available.

Remember that as a business owner you may have legal obligations to clients such as coaching out their contract, refunding them, putting payments on hold or suspending memberships.

There is also the common courtesy of emailing your clients to let them know that you are taking time off, and to let them know what to expect from you in the interim.

Maybe that’s nothing, or you may continue newsletters, or you may schedule social media posts, podcasts or have a VA do that for you. Just make sure you tell your clients how they can stay connected or when you’ll be back in touch with them.

If you’re highly stressed then it’s likely you’ll be in decision fatigue, so you may find it easiest to discuss a strategy with your business coach or mentor to help you develop a clear plan going forward.

If you’re in Category 3, then your biggest priority will be emotional balance. 

That’s because you may feel motivated to make offers in the heat of the moment, or be super responsive to clients, but then realise you lack the energy or capacity to follow through with an appropriate level of service. 

You actually have the capacity to truly help people right now, but only if you are looking after your own wellbeing and being clear on how your capacity may change from day to day.

Your best approach will probably be to:
  • create a clear schedule of work and non-work activities and stick to it (e.g. a weekly plan)
  • reduce the number of clients you see each week, and set a maximum number of sessions per day
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when a client asks for help rather than just responding  
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when you get an impulse to offer help or run and event, rather than just rushing into action  
  • Automate your marketing activities.
Remember that a successful business is consistent how it shows up. It under-promises and over-delivers in value, not the other way around.

If you run your business in fits and starts, it may damage your reputation. You’re better off to dial down your activities and be consistent with them. 

SUMMARY

Those of us who serve others can fall into the trap of overhelping, overcommitting or overextending ourselves, and burning out.

The most important thing for us all as individuals is to check in with ourselves each day and reflect on how we are holding up, what our capacity is, and to maintain our own physical and mental wellbeing habits. We must do this to meet our own needs and to have the capacity to serve others.

The most important thing for any business - in good times and hard times - to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

In times of stress, I encourage you to reflect on your resilience and make a decision as to what your business approach will be. Decide how long you will do this approach for. (E.g. 3 months? 4 months?) then take the appropriate actions.

You can revise your plan at any time but definitely at the end of your defined time period and get clear on how you’re feeling and what you will do next.

If you need support with your business in stressful times, these resources may help.

Summary of state-by-state stimulus measures

Australian Tax Office information for COVID 19

Business support for sole traders

Small Business NSW (includes info on financial hardship and bank loan deferment)

Business QLD (includes information on economic relief, payroll tax relief,  power bill relief and support facts)

Business Victoria (includes different support options including low cost business mentoring)

Telstra small business support
 
Tips for coping with COVID anxiety (Psychology.org, includes a list of resources)



About the Author - Melanie White

Melanie is a wellness coach with PT and associated qualifications. With over 15 years of experience in business management and leadership, Melanie brings a wealth of experience to the table. She loves helping people germinate new business ideas and grow them into successful, profitable ventures. 

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