When business stops…..

…..what happens next?

I find myself often sounding relatively positive considering the events of last year. Even when tackling the trials and tribulations of furloughing staff, facing reduced workloads and client numbers, I am encouraged by the sense that there are things that have yet to flourish.

Where does this belief come from? It is the pause. The stillness. The opportunity to look up.

I don’t doubt that some of this, possibly unfounded, enthusiasm comes from having started a business at the lowest point. The time after redundancy. A point where although it is true there is nothing to lose, the feeling of failure still rings in your ears like a church bell battering your front door. I am fortunate to be able to look back over the last 10 years since that point and see how far we have come. Except I don’t. Days are normally filled with managing our team, meeting new clients, and exploring how to expand further our business. There is no time to reflect.

And then 2020 arrives.

Do not misunderstand me, March 2020 was not a month of smiles or ease. As the news filtered through of the disease that would claim so many lives, we received phone call after phone call, e-mail after e-mail from concerned clients wanting to cancel their appointments for the moment and then came the fateful day we were made to close the door. Days spent contacting clients, staff, trying to ease the worry and concern of both our team and also ourselves. 10 years of business development looked as though it could disappear overnight.

So I stopped, for the first time in a long time, drank copious amounts of tea, muddled through home schooling and found moments to look up. If I really want to shine the light of positivity on it, I was given an opportunity to stop, assess and think in a way that had not been possible for so long. This does not however, take anything away from the fact that our business closed for several months and the recovery from that time has been slow with a considerable drop in turnover following. It also does not eliminate the uncertainty and worry experienced by us and our team. However, we are lucky. We had a business to come back to. I still worried, but when I could put that concern to one side, I looked up and out.

Looking outside of yourself can be so simple as looking up at the sky, the ceiling, the landscape on a walk but in lots of ways it should equally cause us to look in. So what did I look for? I don’t think I especially knew what I was seeking to begin with but having the time to actually stop and think, allowed ideas and thoughts to develop. 9 months on I have been working on new websites, (this being 1) and the expansion and development of a service currently contained within Spotless but which presents the opportunity for it’s own very individual expansion. I have also had the opportunity to make new contacts, support other local businesses in some small way and form some exciting and new professional relationships. I have also been able to get to know our team on a more personal level, looking after them in a very different way.

I can honestly say I would not be at this point if business had not stopped. This exciting future I am carving does not in any way diminish the commitment I have to our current business and the team we work with. But being forced to stop made me look at myself and my working life in a different way. It wasn’t long before I could assess areas I knew could be improved and ways in which we could further expand and develop the business. I quickly resolved to reduce my own workload, vowing to delegate more to the very competent staff we have (delegation is not easy for me which I explore in an earlier article ‘Delegation….that’s what you need’) and explore other possibilities that could occupy the space.

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