As a small business owner, you’re in charge of keeping the lights on. But when times are hard–because of a family emergency, personal issue, or even a global event–it can feel impossible to go about business as usual. Here’s the thing, though: You don’t have to.
Here’s how to run your small business during hard times–without sacrificing your personal wellness.
Preparing Your Business For Hard Times
Business owner or not, we all have bad days. There are family emergencies, natural disasters, and (Who can forget?) global pandemics. Chances are, there will come a day when you just don’t feel capable of going about business as usual.
There’s no way to prevent bad news, but you can work to build a business that can survive in hard times. When you’re feeling good and things are going well for your business, take some time to…
Automate. Automate things like invoices, meetings, and general client communications. That way, the bare minimum operations can keep happening when you need to take time away.
Batch content. There’s no reason you can’t plan Instagram posts, emails, and blog posts a month or two in advance. Schedule a content creation day, schedule all your posts in advance, and forget about it for a month or two.
Outsource. When you have a team behind you, you’ll always have someone to lean on when you aren’t feeling your best. And the right team members will understand when you need to take time away.
With these systems in place, you can step away from your business with peace of mind.
5 Ways to Manage Your Small Business During Hard Times
Running your small business during hard times will never be easy. But when you prioritize taking care of yourself, it does get a bit easier.
1. Recognize the impact of current events.
We don’t have to be personally affected by a disaster to feel its impact. Whether you’ve lost someone close to you or you’re feeling overwhelmed by something happening on the other side of the globe, your feelings are valid. You’re allowed to feel however you need to feel during this time.
Recognize the impact these events are having on your day-to-day life. Chances are, you aren’t doing your best work. You might have a hard time focusing. You might feel overwhelmed by the news or the conversations you’ve been having with family and friends. These things are expected and understandable, and you’re allowed to make shifts in your work life to accommodate how you’re feeling.
2. Slow down and reprioritize.
The idea that we should just go about business as usual during hard times is a direct result of hustle culture. It’s not fair to expect yourself to work just as hard as you usually would.
Think about animals. When your dog isn’t feeling well, he doesn’t play fetch or dig holes in the yard. Chances are, he snuggles up on the couch and lets his body recover. Humans can (and should) do the same.
Give yourself permission to slow down and reprioritize within your business. Complete the tasks that must be done in order to keep your business afloat, but don’t feel pressure to create new products, start an intense launch cycle, or take on more clients if you don’t need to. Focus your energy on what’s most important, and then give yourself time to rest and recover.
3. Be transparent with your audience and team.
People are much more empathetic than we give them credit for, especially in the small business world. Over the years, I've had my fair share of family emergencies and personal stressors that took attention away from my business. Every time, I let my clients and teammates know that I was dealing with something personal. And every time, they have shown me nothing but compassion and understanding.
It can feel unprofessional or uncomfortable to open up with your clients or teammates, but that kind of transparency inspires understanding and mutual respect. The next time your client is behind on a deadline because of a family emergency, they’ll be more likely to keep you in the loop.
4. Use your business to do good.
When I started making good money in my business, I felt a little guilty. I was afraid of turning into one of those “rich snobs” or “business bros” who value money above all else. But making more money in my business has allowed me to make a real positive impact in my community.
If you’re particularly touched or impacted by something happening in your community or beyond, donate to causes you care about. If you have some extra time and energy, volunteer for a nonprofit. One of my business pals blogs for a dog rescue on the weekends, and another makes a monthly donation to her favorite charity. Find a way to give back and make a difference in the world–because when you do good, you feel good.
5. Give yourself grace.
Above all else, give yourself grace. Your work might not be 100%. You might tire more easily. You might need to take a mental health day (or several). If I had to guess, I’d say you started your business for more freedom in your life. There’s no better time to take advantage of that flexibility.
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