Offseason coping tools for smallbusiness owners
By Marc L. Goldberg
SCORE certified mentor
Question: We are heading into a tough winter. Any tips on coping during the offseason on top of being in the second wave of COVID-19?
Answer: The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for small-business owners, both in their professional and personal lives. Here on the Cape and Islands where we have a seasonal economy, the uncertainty is multiplied by an offseason that may result in fewer weekenders. Depending on commonwealth and local guidance, we might find ourselves in much the same situation we were in March and April. As you are navigating these changes, it’s important to establish a balanced and healthy lifestyle outside of work. Here are some tips from the National Institutes of Health to help you cope:
Take care of your body
When you feel your best physically, you’re more energetic and productive. Exercise, for example, makes people more alert and attentive, enabling better focus on your business. Even a little activity goes a long way!
You may not have access to your usual gym, local rec center or community pool, but you can still stay active by taking walks outside or by following along with online exercise videos on colder days. Set a target of 30 minutes per day doing something. Consider weights, exercise bands or a ball for core building. Or walking on West Dennis or Corporation Beach. Just a 30-45 minute brisk walk will do it. It is not taking the time, it is MAKING the time to exercise. Schedule it just like a customer call or meeting.
Make time to unwind
Intentionally carve out time for yourself each week. This “me” time is different for everyone, but it should include relaxing or entertaining activities that help you recharge. Ideas include reading, watching a movie, cooking, gardening, doing arts and crafts, or meditating.
While relaxation time can often feel like a remote luxury for busy small-business owners managing in crisis times, it’s essential to preventing burnout. So hold yourself accountable and don’t skip out on this vital personal time. This is also a great time to further your objective of being a lifelong learner. Whether it be reading a book, a magazine, viewing a blog, listening to a podcast or watching a YouTube video, take the time to learn something new.
Connect with others
It’s more important than ever for small-business owners to have a support system outside of work. Maintaining personal and professional connections may be more difficult than before the pandemic. However, there are still plenty of options for keeping in touch, including scheduling video calls with friends and loved ones throughout the week to blow off steam or just chat about your favorite sports team.
Also, make a point of cultivating a network of business mentors and peers who can serve as a sounding board as you navigate your business’s new normal. Contact SCORE (email@example.com) to find out about forming an advisory team of experts who can act as an informal board of directors. You set the agenda, meeting quarterly, and they guide you through the tough decisions that are in front of you now and certainly will be in the forefront in the near future.
Connect with fellow smallbusiness owners via LinkedIn or Facebook groups, or just join a
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discussion group. Another way to stay connected is to identify two or three other small-business owners with whom you have more in common than “business,” and make a point of calling them or video-chatting with at least one of them each day.
Set goals and priorities
With seemingly a million things to do to run a business, it can be hard to pinpoint where to start. The first step is to make a list of everything you need to get done. Then, prioritize your to-dos based on deadlines and other factors. Break down large, unwieldy projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. Revisit your business plan to make sure that the areas you’re focusing on align with your overall business goals.
If you’re still having trouble prioritizing, enlist the help of a business mentor. Find a business mentor near you with SCORE. The local chapter, Cape Cod & the Islands, has 43 volunteer mentors and access to over 10,000 certified mentors nationally with the skills that it takes to guide you through this pandemic period. During these difficult times, small-business owners remain resilient, always finding new and better ways to get things done. You tend carefully to your business, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
Check out NIH’s website for more coping tips: nimh.nih.gov/health/ education-awareness/ shareable-resources-on-coping- with-covid-19.shtml The SBA has numerous options for smallbusiness relief: sba.gov/page/ coronavirus-covid-19-smallbusiness- guidance-loanresources f. Remember, during these crazy times, demand for your product or service has not evaporated — it is just dormant. Those customers who frequented you before will frequent you again, if you remain top of mind. Maintaining topof- mind awareness is the role of marketing for your small business.
Ask your customers what communication platforms they use to get their daily information. They may get the daily newspaper. Is it the print or digital edition? They may visit social media sites. What are they? Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok or Twitter? Find out where they are and be there. If you can remain top of mind until we emerge from this “timeout”, they will be at your front door to have their needs, wants and desires fulfilled. If not, they will be at the door of your competitors who connected with them. Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, certified mentor. Source: U.S. Small Business Administration. For free and confidential mentoring, contact SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands at capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 508-775-4884. Ask about our advisory team offering.