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August 2018

6 Things I Have Implemented to Help Manage Adversity

How to manage adversity?

With the celebration of our 20th year in business comes reflection on the successes and the challenges. The successes are celebrated, and a little happy dance is performed but the challenges are what build character and influence the path of our future decisions.

Over the past 20 years I have had to manage some difficult situations from incurring a cyberattack while overseas on annual leave, to significant changes in technology and the transition for sole trader to employing others to assist with business growth. On a personal level I have had to operate the business while coping with the stillborn birth of my son, a divorce, and more recently the sudden passing of my sister and the cancer diagnosis of my father.

I’ll be the first to admit the past 12 months have been tough! We have amazing clients and I have a fantastic team and as we know it is less stressful when everyone is understanding. To ensure strong client relationships and to keep the business functioning during these testing times I have found focusing on time management, having good systems and processes in place and relying on my tribe is essential.

Here are six things I have implemented that help me manage my business while supporting those that depend on me…

1. Manage Time

When adversity strikes you can find yourself extremely overwhelmed trying to be there for family, friends and clients.

Sustaining good time management has always been important but after listening to the Podcast I shared last newsletter, the ‘segmenting of time’ tip that was given has reinforced this importance. I have a very structured week that includes project management blocks, client consultation days, work completion and curly task time and now have included scheduled specialist family appointments.

Of course, this doesn’t always go to plan but having a structured week has had a positive impact on our efficiency and my stress levels. It has allowed me to be there to advocate and navigate the medical system for my dad while continuing to support my clients and their design needs.

2. Invest in Reliable Technology

Getting work completed is imperative to the survival of any business, having reliable technology is crucial and will make task completion easier.

As many of you know one of our key employees works remotely, therefore we are very reliant on our Office365 subscription. We use Email Exchange to communicate, Planner to manage our projects and One Drive to share files. We are a small team and having reliable technology and good communication is vital to keeping the work moving and reducing everyone’s stress levels.

3. Get Systems & Processes in Place

As we all know email overload is an everyday occurrence. To keep on top of these I use the process where you touch an email once and either do it, delegate it, dump it or defer it.

At the end of each day I assign myself a task list and my team and I have a regular weekly check-in which we use to discuss each project, follow up on outstanding items and schedule future work.

Twice a year we conduct a business review highlighting successes and challenges, strengths and weaknesses. As a result of this process several years ago we implemented a new brand, developed branding material, designed packages and adjusted how we promoted services.

Having a professional brand and easily accessible marketing material in a time of stressfulness has enormous benefits, it reduces the workload when promoting services, it strengthens credibility and it improves brand recognition in the market. But best of all it means less time spent on quoting and increased customer satisfaction as the message is consistent across all aspects of the business.

4. Honesty is Key

When you run a small business’, your personal life will impact on your work capacity, you can’t afford not to be honest about what is affecting your work capacity.

Accepting the situation and your role in it will help you make better decisions. Being honest no matter the nature of the crisis allows your clients to prepare themselves for the outcome of the situation.

When our servers were impacted in 2011 we were very open with our clients, keeping them informed with the actions we were taking to fix the problem. Due to being honest and taking responsibility throughout this difficult event was invaluable, not one customer took their services elsewhere.

On a personal level I can’t support my family when I am worried about my clients, by informing my clients that I need to take time to address a family situation removes stress for us both. Most will understand and those that don’t will add to your stress levels and therefore may not be a great fit for your business.

5. Maintain Good Health

During in times of difficulty it is even more important to maintain physical and mental wellbeing, only we can choose to carve out the time and make these a priority.

For me having a solid night and morning routine can make the world of difference to meeting the demands of everyday life. My morning routine includes physical exercise which is as much for getting my brain started as it is for my body. By making a commitment to include exercise into my morning routine means my day will run smoother and I am sure to be more productive.

In our field of expertise continued learning, challenging day to day thoughts and the importance of adapting to change must be high on our priority list. Reading, listening, asking questions and journaling have provided valuable opportunities to make changes for the better both in business and personally.

6. Tap into Your 'Tribe'

As we all know we can’t do it all, there is a mountain of support out there, but you need to ask and allow others to assist.

Nothing like a crisis to make you let go and allow others to step up and take control. An example for me recently was having two parents in two different hospitals in two different states, that’s right I couldn’t be in two places at once! When you are busy, capable and stressed you sometimes forget to let others provide support, it is important to pull back and give other’s a chance to step up and feel needed and valued.

It is also important to remember that not all friends, family and colleagues understand how to respond to your crisis. Having a good friend or therapist to remind you that the reaction of others is out of your control and not necessarily about what is happening for you or how you are dealing with the situation. The key is to keep situations in perspective and remain connected on a level they are comfortable.

Making time to stay connected with people you care about can be difficult when there are longer-term complications keeping you busy, these relationships are your support system and need to be nurtured.

As the saying goes ‘It is not about the cards you are dealt but how you deal with your cards’.

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