Running a business is like running a marathon, or maybe an ultra-marathon. You need to develop the skills and stamina to keep going. Those skills are the technical skills of your craft, as well as the business skills to make it profitable and successful. Surely the current conditions have thrown a wrench into your race. And in the actual running world, even the NY City and Boston marathons have been canceled. The difference is that those canceled races will never happen. They’re not rescheduled. They will, hopefully, happen next year as originally scheduled, but this year’s races, and other major events like the South by Southwest conference, are casualties of the pandemic. Fortunately, most weddings and many social events are being postponed.
Are you walking, trotting, sprinting, or standing on the sidelines?
Traditional races have defined starts and ends, whether it’s 50 meters, 5K, 26.2 miles, or more. Your business is less like a sprint and more like a continuous ultra-marathon. Why? Because there’s no defined end for most of your businesses. They’re ongoing entities. If you are sprinting, you can see the finish line. Maybe some of you are getting to the end of your race, ready to sell or ready to retire. I had a call with a friend in May and he said that the pandemic has he and his wife doing a test-run of what retirement might be like… and he doesn’t like it! He’s not ready to retire. He’s got so many ideas still to try and so many things he still wants to do. The race goes on.
This curveball we’ve all been thrown has pushed some people to sit on the sidelines, waiting for things to “go back to the way they were before.” But things never go back to the way they were before. They can’t. Without a time-machine, we can only move forward from where we are right now. Maybe I should ask if things are moving forward, are you moving forward as well, or sitting on the sidelines? If you are sitting on the sidelines, I recommend you read: “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It’s a short book on change, and a quick read (and it has sold over 28 million copies).
For all of us, the road we were on led us to a detour. For some, it’s leading back to a different version of the same road. For others, it may be leading to a different road altogether. Is your road a dead–end street, or is it merely under construction? For most of us our roads are merely under construction, but when they’ll be fully open again is still unknown. Are you embracing the detour, or whining and complaining about it? The time for whining is over, we’re months into this detour and it’s well past time to be making forward progress.
Early into the crisis, I did a free webinar: “10 Proactive Things You Can Do Now To Lean-In” (you can find the link here), where I challenged you to move beyond the negativity, and find ways, personally and in your business, to do positive things. Some are easy, like reading a book. Some are harder, like writing a book or learning a new language – both of which I’m doing. Have you updated your website? Have you asked for reviews from past customers? Are you blogging or posting on social media?
If they’re looking forward, so can you!
While weddings and events, at least those of any decent size, have come to a halt, or at best a crawl, the race is still on. Websites are still seeing traffic. Leads are still coming in. Couples are planning to celebrate next year, and the next, with their friends and family. When and how you respond to them is critical to your success now, and into the future. It’s important to keep in mind that different couples have been affected differently these days. Some have lost their jobs permanently, and others are still working full time, at their full pay rate. According to a recent survey by WeddingPro (The Knot Worldwide), 96% of couples are planning to keep their same wedding budgets. Whew! That’s a glimmer of light in a dark space.
Finding the way forward
Things are different. They’re going to be different, not just for a while, but forever. That’s not a negative statement, that’s a fact. Good, bad or sideways, things are always changing. How good are you at adapting? How many times have you changed the way you do business since you started out? I’ll bet that if you look back, you’ve made many changes, large and small over the months and years. If you’ve been in business long enough, you’ve made it through a recession, or two, a housing crisis, stock market crashes, and possibly the September 11th tragedy. How many changes did you make to get through those situations? Did you come out the same, weaker or stronger?
Without action, there is no change
The key to affecting change is action. Ideas don’t make you any money if you don’t act on them. Whether for your business, or personally, you need to take action to see any progress. If you want to write a book, start writing. If you want to read a book, start reading. If you want to learn a new skill, take one small step today to move that goal forward. I taught myself Spanish by doing a little almost every day. I knew that I couldn’t go live in another country to immerse myself, so I created my own immersion. I’m doing the same now with French. I do a little each day when I’m out for my morning walk or driving in my car. I even got a French lesson on Audible called “Learn French in your car!” I saw that and said, “Hey, I need that.”
If I find an excuse today…
In my book “Your Attitude for Success”, I wrote a story about my motivation for exercising every day. The short story is that my Dad told me about a guy he knew who went running, every day, rain or shine, winter or summer. He said “If I find an excuse not to run when it’s cold and rainy, eventually I’ll find an excuse not to run when it’s 75 degrees and sunny. So, I exercise every day. And every day means every day, no excuses.” Believe me, there are days when I don’t feel like doing the lessons. There are days I could be listening to music or an audiobook, but I remind myself of that story and power my way through. Anything worth achieving is worth the sacrifices along the way.
We’re not so different, you and I
Pardon the Austin Powers quote, but it’s true, we’re not that different. I don’t accomplish what I do because I have more ideas or more money. I get done what I do because I’m not afraid to act on my ideas. I focus on the potential gains while understanding the downside. I do ask “What’s the worst that can happen?”, and it’s usually the loss of time or some money. If the potential gain wasn’t already a lot more than the potential loss, I wouldn’t have tried it. It’s the fact that the potential gain is so much more that makes it worthwhile. Any product you touch is the result of someone acting on an idea. Any book or article you read, including this one, is the result of someone putting those thoughts down in writing.
You’ve already done it
You’ve already taken plenty of actions in your personal life and business. Your relationships, both personal and business, are the result of actions. Did you attend a party, go to a bar or approach your partner/spouse somewhere, and that lead to your relationship? Did you start or buy your business? Did you think you would fail or succeed? Have you added new products or services, raised your rates, or taken some other steps/risks in your business? Of course, you have. So, now that you’ve been blown off course by the pandemic (and who hasn’t?), what changes are you going to make?
When they’re not running, they’re training?
If you’ve read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, you know about the people who are still practicing/training, while others are doing only what’s required. There are countless musicians, athletes, and others who had the same potential as some superstars, but they never achieved the level of greatness. Sure, some is due to timing. Some call it luck. But as the Roman philosopher, Seneca said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” You have to have done the prep work so that when the opportunity arises you can take advantage of it. Are you doing the prep work? When great athletes aren’t competing, they’re training. They’re in the gym working out. They’re studying. They have coaches to help them. Just think about that. The best athletes in the world still have coaches and trainers. Why? Not because they’re trying to get good. Because they’re always trying to get better.
If you feel like you’ve been sidelined by the pandemic, are you training? Are you working on your business, or waiting for someone to save you? My clients are creating new products and services, adapting others, and looking for opportunities to make it easier to buy from them, which makes it easier to sell. I’ve added a Remote/Virtual Services page to my website to highlight the services I’m offering now, many of which didn’t exist a few months ago. We adapt so we can help steer our new path, instead of being a victim of one that’s disappeared. Take out your binoculars. Scan the horizon. See what opportunities are out there. Then, get yourself prepared for when those opportunities arise and take action. I can’t wait to hear your success stories.
©2020 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions LLC
Need help getting prepared or finding the opportunities?
I’m helping companies like yours, large and small, navigate these rocky waters. Through webinars, small-group sales training and website review sessions, as well as remote private sales training, we’re finding the opportunities and taking action. Here’s what a few of my clients have written recently:
“I couldn’t be any happier with his training and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a knowledgeable and enthusiastic professional, with great character and passionate to share his knowledge in order to help business owners, as myself, to achieve great results.” – Gabriel Levi Da Silva, Perth, Australia
“The next day I implemented your advice and BANG, I not only got a response, I got a phone call which led to a booking within the hour.” – Mike Lagomarsino, Soundz Amazing DJ, Plattsburgh, NY
Want to see how I can help you and your team, whether you’re a team of 1, 5, 50 or more, through remote/virtual sales training, business consulting or a website review? Contact me via email, text, use the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362, international enquiries 001 732 422 6362.