Everything in the world feels like it’s falling apart and you own a local small business. How in the world do you keep it going so that you’re still standing when everything seems to calm down?

Today we’re talking about how to pivot your business and handle the chaos when everything in the world seems to stop. We’re not going to dive into the C-word. But we are going to talk about how the heck do you keep your business going? And yourself going when everything in the world seems to stop.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have spent Oh, I don’t know how long has it been a week trying to wrap my brain around what in the world is happening across the world with a Coronavirus? Oh, I said I wasn’t gonna say it the C-word. Because for me, it really feels like an out of body experience. And I’ve had a hard time wrapping my brain around.

How do I still run a business when it feels so trivial and when there are such big pressing things going on? And how do I support others whose entire livelihood and impact are going to be affected when people can no longer come to their doorsteps, and if they can’t move what they do easily to online spaces?

I want to walk through the process of what I’m doing and what I’m I’m walking my clients through just in case it’s helpful for anybody else who, like me is kind of been in this Limbo state of wanting to do something, wanting to make sure I’m active and doing all the right things and also at the same time feeling exactly paralyzed and frozen and not really sure how to take the next step or what the next step looks like.

I heard a Facebook Live from my husband’s CEO talking through shock and symptoms of shock and what we’re going through as a nation in a world and it really helped clarify for me why I feel the way I do and why I’m kind of stuck in business in life at this exact moment.

If your inclination right now if you’re like naturally pausing or freaking out a little bit, that’s totally normal. I think a lot of us are just still trying to figure out what’s happening, what’s going to happen. How bad is this going to get? Are we going to be safe? Is the economy going to collapse?

So I did some research into symptoms of emotional shock because no one is talking about how everyone is feeling across the world right now. Now emotional shock, that’s not a clinical term. I am not a clinician and I am not diagnosing anybody. Let me just make that disclaimer.

But I thought some of the symptoms and the ways that they manifest in people were really important because I am feeling them a lot right now. So for example, adrenaline rush. That’s the feeling when you either can’t fall asleep or you’re feeling a little bit hyper, like your skin’s buzzing a little bit.

Oftentimes you could feel sick to your stomach or just sick about whatever happening or you know, just kind of like all ill like a general malaise and not thinking straight. These are all potential symptoms of emotional shock.

Another one is feeling disconnected from what’s happening. That’s what kind of clicked for me because I’m like, ‘Yeah, I do kind of feel like I’m not engaged in any of it because I don’t really understand and can’t fully wrap my brain around it.’

Another symptom is feeling like I’m pulling away from things because of intense emotions. As a symptom, intense emotions are important when they are not normal for you, whether you want to laugh or cry, or even go and physically run away.

Two other symptoms or signs are feeling unusually exhausted or all over the place. Again, this is not a diagnosis of anything, but it was helpful for me to take this possible list of symptoms for emotional shock and compare it to what maybe some of us are feeling right now because it also helps you feel normal and not make super rash decisions.

Now, that we’ve addressed how so many people are feeling right now AND that it’s normal, I want to walk through what are some of the things you can do to kind of talk yourself off the ledge a little bit? And then how do you apply that to your life and your business?

So I’m kind of talking from dual perspectives today. I know most of the time I talk primarily just about my business and other people’s businesses. But the reality is, I had four kids come home on Sunday with no school. And to be honest, I would not be shocked in the least bit if there’s no school for the rest of the year for a lot of schools. I can see that writing on the wall, and I’m bracing myself for it.

But that is a huge swing if you are used to working full time and now you have kids home full time and you’re expected to homeschool them. That would put me into shock.

The work is mostly online and I have four kids, preschool, first, second and fifth graders, so all varying levels all varying learning styles, and I am not a teacher for a reason. Let’s just put it that way. So I am a little anxious one about how are we going to manage this? How do I keep them from not killing each other? It’s like summer but worse because I won’t have my summer nanny or sitter to come for a few hours every day to watch them so I get a break.

It’s like no, no, you’re quarantined in your house. You also have to be the teacher and wear all the hats and keep the clients going. So I don’t know about you, but it feels like a lot. Not only that, but you have to make sure you’re not going to breathe on anybody or catch anything and make sure you have groceries and not going out and toilet paper. How do you juggle both things?

Personally, I really had to put on my hat and be like, how do I make my brain understand that this is not business as usual, even though I am you know, if you listen to me at all, you know, I create a plan, I chase the plan, I conquer the plan.

Right now, I don’t really have a plan. I don’t know how to make a plan. I have a very loose schedule, we wrote out on a scrap piece of paper for how we’re going to handle school, but we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Other than that, I don’t know how to juggle everything either. How do I fit in homeschooling and life and do all the client stuff that I would need to do and want to do? How do I at least keep my business stable, if not growing or failing?

So some of the things that I have done that have helped me and that I’m walking my clients through, as well, is to think through all the options.

Think through worst-case scenarios

The first thing I like to do, even though it smells like a weird place to start, is I honestly like to think through worst-case scenarios. It’s always helpful for me to start with worst-case scenarios and let my brain go there and think okay if all these horrible things were to come to pass, how would I handle it? What would I do? What would be the next thing I do? What would I say? What can I do instead?

That helps me think through all the freakout things. So I like to make a list asking myself “What could happen?” Once I put all the horrible things on the one side, on the other side, put your response to them. And it doesn’t have to be a good response. Your answer may be “I don’t know yet,” which is fine.

It helps to get these all these swirling thoughts onto paper and out of our heads because your brain is like an open loop. You have a thought in there and you think, Oh, I thought that and now I forget it.

No, no, it’s still running in the back of your mind. And it’s using power. And it’s creating that anxious feeling in you because you’ve not solved a huge problem that you’ve put into your brain. So sometimes it’s helpful to get it onto paper to get it out of your head.

Triage your immediate needs

The next step I like to take once I go through all the doomsday things in my head is to ask “What are the immediate needs? and How do I triage both my life and my business right now?”

So what are the things, almost like fires that you have to put out? What things do you need to keep going right now? How can you adjust your schedule? How can you adjust your expectations? How do you handle refunds? How do you handle you know, people dropping out? How do you handle no traffic? How do you handle people paying you for products for things that are not going to happen in the next month or so like all those things? What could you do instead?

Once you have this way smaller list of immediate needs, it helps you realize, “Okay, I can actually do that.” I think for a lot of us like every other thing in life like chores, laundry dishes, we’re like, it’s gonna take forever.! I don’t want to start. We just procrastinate, when in reality, it probably takes less than five minutes to do a lot of these things but in our brain, we just hype it up. So make the list, figure out what are the things you have to do right now, and just take some baby steps towards it.

What opportunities do you have to pivot?

The third way I like to think about things, is to ask “What opportunities do I have to pivot? What can I do differently? How can I look at this from a different viewpoint?” Because there are always opportunities. Even if it’s not your first choice, there are still opportunities to do things differently that are going to help you move forward in some way.

I think about it in these types of categories: Family, Kids, Health, Food, Exercise, Me Time, Work, Faith…

What can I do differently? What’s going to have to change? Some things are a given and you just have to learn to adapt, so you’re asking “How can I make the most of this?”

We’re handling the kids and homeschooling, and food differently than normal right now. If you’re limited at the grocery stores or don’t want to go out and there’s no delivery, how are you going to handle that? How are you going to do meal planning? How are you going to do snacks? How am I gonna keep all these kids fed and from eating everything in sight? How am I going to still be active and still do things that are important to me when the YMCA is closed?

How do I still be social? Even though some of us have an online business because we’re introverts, we still are social people. We still network, we still go to things. So how can you do that still and not lose that connection? How do you connect with other people?

How do you get some extra time? My friend Maggie put out an email today about that she’s part of a summit. The topic she’s covering is loosely paraphrased: How do I still be me when I’m now always on mom-mode? I think this is an excellent topic, because finding time to be you without any of the labels is going to be more important than ever. t

Now to business: How can you pivot your business to be more remote or virtual right now? Again, this is very important right now because we can’t be in contact with others and who knows how long this is gonna last. So what are the things you could do to sell your products or services to get in front of people to move through your store? Can I just say that it’s going to look very, very different, especially for local businesses for a while? It’s gonna look very different for you than what’s normal.

And finally, faith. If faith and religion are important to you, how are you going to tap into that feeling of being a part of something else? How do you tap into that feeling of being connected to God and corporate worship and that kind of thing? Because I think now when we’re all kind of isolated, you’re going to start wanting to tapping into something bigger than yourself? At least that’s been my experience.

So those are the three ways that I am thinking through things and working with my clients on right now. Let me remind you that we’re not solving everything right now. It’s more of just brainstorming. It’s about taking some of the ideas and the big worries and the fears and the pressures out of your head and onto paper, so you can really see them and breathe life into them.

Some of them may be horrible, some of you may have to shut down your business, which would be absolutely horrible, you know, so what next? How do we stop that? How do we slow that down? How do we pivot that? If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen? So I think it’s always important to have those honest conversations, even if it’s with yourself, about what your reality is, what could possibly happen and what do we have in our power right now to change and affect it in a positive way.

Then finally, on the mental health aspect of this how do you step away from these big feelings and emotions of emotional shock? I think it’s helpful to breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, and I’m going to listen to this episode just as many times as you are to remind myself to breathe.

To journal. It’s hard to talk to somebody about your feelings and your thoughts. I’m raising my hand right now because feelings don’t come easy to me as a three on the enneagram. Journal them, write them out. Don’t let them just sit in your head because they have way more power in your head and then do on paper.

Meditate. You know, take time to do meditation. talk it out with someone if you’re the extrovert who’s dying to be in proximity with someone. Talk it out, call somebody, FaceTime, hop on zoom, get on a podcast. Use the platforms that you have and what comes natural to you. But give yourself space and grace in time and tell people you need help with things.

I also think it’s helpful to try to be as normal as you can be. Like right now my kids are still playing outside in our culdesac all the time, which is really nice. I can still read books, we can still do game nights. We really can still do lots of things and it’s helpful to remind ourselves of what is still normal.

I hope this is helpful to anybody who’s listening to this little episode to not feel like you have to have it all figured out. Just brainstorm. Help calm your brain down. Be aware of your possible emotional shock and how to talk yourself off the ledge here.

I am going to be going live on Thursday, March 26 at 2 p.m. EST in my Facebook group, the #girlboss Club. It’s a very safe space for women who are supporting other women businesses. We’re all over the world all stages of business, but I think it’d be helpful to just start that conversation and honestly I was in no shape to start this conversation last week when all this quarantine and homeschooling thing hit. Now we know how it’s going to look for a bit, I’ve talked myself off the ledge and am ready to have the conversation for other people as well.

About Marketing Magic:

The Marketing Magic podcast is where women entrepreneurs trying to do all the things come to get inspiration, business strategy, and on-air coaching on how to get their business noticed and growing. If you have a business that people need to know about in order for it to grow, you’re in the right place. This is the place to uncomplicate your marketing. Be sure to listensubscribe, and leave a review! Join the conversation of other unapologetically successful women in her Facebook community, The #girlboss Club.