Stop Expecting “Business As Usual”

So far, 2020 has been a challenge for many business owners. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout and the protests that have broken out around the country have both rocked the business landscape. Many solopreneurs and business owners have had to completely reshape their offerings and financial strategies. Perhaps this includes you!

This time last year, I shared my thoughts on how to do a mid-year review. This time around, I’m thinking about how rather than reflecting on the year so far, it’s time to adapt to a new and different future. I had prepared a blog post about how my income expectations faltered as the pandemic set in. However, because so many people ended up needing help straightening out their books, I blew my original income goal out of the water! My point with this post was going to be how important it is to not let a dismal situation limit your expectations for your business. But, at this moment, I think there’s something deeper to learn. In these rapidly-changing times, it’s important for us to adapt and be gentle with ourselves.

No More “Business As Usual”

Despite the many plans for re-opening the U.S., for many of us, things are not going back to normal. Perhaps you already know this from looking at your bottom line. Or maybe you’ve seen reports about how small businesses have been affected at large. The economic effects and social effects of recent times have created a lasting change in the small business landscape. It’s important for us as business owners to prepare for things to continue to change. This can look a myriad of ways. Creating a money system and putting together a savings cushion are two great strategies for establishing financial resiliency if you want extra ideas.

Just because things aren’t going back to normal doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, though. Aside from the economic effects, both the pandemic and the recent Black Lives Matter protests have also enriched the business landscape from a social perspective. There are so many opportunities for collaboration! Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to lift each other up. If you want more ideas for collaboration, check out my article on 7 Tips for Business Owners During COVID-19 and my Cash Flow Reboot Guide.

Be Gentle

Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t meet your income goals or if your business is struggling. Conversely, if you find yourself getting a ton of business as a result of the pandemic, don’t work yourself too hard, either! Coping with changes in your business can be challenging. Giving yourself the space to be present with feelings that come up and get enough rest are of paramount importance. The reality is that, no matter how hard you grind right now, in many cases things are still going to be challenging. This is a hard time in the world for most people, solopreneur or not! Be gentle in your expectations of yourself as best you can.

Be Present

In addition to stepping up to give your emotions some space, this is also a time step up for your community as a business owner. The current moment we are in is showing us many ways to do this. Whether we choose to uplift Black colleagues, create fundraising projects, or present some offerings for free, we’ve got options in how to contribute. I think that, if we want to, we can use this moment to permanently change how we do business. I love the way that Proposals for the Feminine Economy frames businesses – as “needs-fulfillment machine[s].” How can we find ways to do business that meet, not only our own needs, but the needs of those around us? Both COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests have shown us how connected we all really are – socially and economically. This is a question we can sit with right now.

What are your thoughts about business as usual? Has your business experienced any bumps in the road? Please sound off in the comments below. If you’re feeling in need of more guidance on how to navigate this time, don’t hesitate to check out my services and schedule a call.

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Angela

Image by Christin Hume

Solopreneur Spotlight: Bri Crabtree on Adapting as a Professional Performer to COVID-19

Bri Crabtree is a professional circus performer. She juggles, unicycles, and entertains people of many different ages with silly antics. Typically, she performs at a variety of events. When COVID-19 hit, her work for the foreseeable future was cancelled. Bri quickly pivoted both her business tasks and personal finances to address this new challenge. Here are some of the insights she shared with me in a recent video interview.

Making Connections & Staying Connected

Bri told me that as soon COVID-19 began impacting her work, she started making personal connections and reaching out for opportunities. She also spoke about her social media strategy during this time. She told me she’s become more active on social media in order to maintain a presence in her clients’ minds. Through online offerings like her Silly Circus Show virtual parties, posts to her Instagram, Facebook, and her newly created Patreon account, she’s staying connected to fans. These accounts give her a chance to do a lot of behind the scenes work and show her clients what those processes look like. Making content like this also gives her more time to work on the many costuming, puppet-making, and other prop-related projects involved in her business. I loved this video from her costume closet!

Opening Income Streams & Applying for Aid

When Bri reached out to others looking for opportunities to make up for her lost work, she found solutions in the form of new income streams. She was offered a babysitting job and directed to a place where she could take paid surveys.

She also applied for aid in a couple different forms. She applied for unemployment early on, although she didn’t get good results. She also applied for EBT, and applied for and received a grant from the Bay Area Safety Net Fund.

Her new virtual party offerings, stickers, and her Patreon account are also new income streams that she has opened during COVID. All of this combined shows Bri’s flexible and diverse approach to adapting her business during this time.

Zeroing In

Bri talked about how important it was for her to “zero in” on essentials and pare down her budget. One thing that’s been particularly helpful is going out to eat less, and cooking more at home. She’s been buying staple foods in bulk, for economic reasons and to keep herself well-stocked. Many people are trying to stay focused on essentials right now. Bri and I worked to establish a comfortable spending plan for her life. Here’s some ideas on how to do that for yourself.

Keeping A Good Mindset

Maintaining a good mindset through these challenges has been key for Bri. Much like my interview with Jennifer Graham, Bri shared some specific things that have been helping her out. She’s been learning to play the ukulele (and sharing her progress!). She also works out four times a week, citing Ground Up Fitness Home Workouts as one of her favorite resources.To keep track of both of these projects, each day she uses a motivational sticker calendar.

Finally, she spoke to me about feeling financially confident during these challenging times, because of the work we’ve done together on her finances in the past. As a coach, it’s good to hear that work is paying off.

Flexible Thinking

The many ways Bri has adapted her business to the conditions of COVID-19 show a lot of flexible thinking. She problem-solved in a number of ways, from adapting her offerings to the digital realm, to pursuing income streams unrelated to her talents, to applying for aid and creating healthy routines for herself. Her new approaches to her business have not only kept her afloat, but also created new opportunities. The fact that she has created a Patreon and gotten to create more behind-the-scenes content for her clients is a wonderful use of her time. It allows her to work on those projects, and create more interest in her work.

You can watch our full video interview here. You can also follow Bri on her site, check out her Silly Circus Show, support her on Patreon, and see what she posts on Facebook and Instagram. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the two I wrote about how Jennifer Graham, a photographer in the Bay Area, has adapted to COVID.

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Angela

Solopreneur Spotlight: Jennifer Graham on Adapting Her Photography Business During COVID-19

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Graham, a photographer and solopreneur, and we got to talk about how she’s adapted her business to COVID-19. Originally, her main income was in-person photoshoots. A week before shelter-in-place orders went into effect, she saw about $10,000 worth of shoots cancelled. Immediately, she began to think, “How am I gonna pivot?,” and I’m excited to share some of the strategies she came up with today!

Digital Assistance

Jennifer adapted to the quickly shifting atmosphere by adding some new offerings to her repertoire. The first one she told us about was an offering to help business owners organize their visual branding materials. She’s created an offering to cull, edit, and arrange the photos her clients already have to best convey their branding. Since this can all be done remotely, and there’s a huge incentive to ramp up digital presence for most businesses, this is a timely offer.

Educational Offering

Jennifer’s also created offering called Lights, Camera, Action!, which offers the client help with staging and lighting at-home photos, shoots, zoom calls, you name it. Another relevant way to adapt to these digital times, this offer is also a way for her business to recoup some income while practicing social distancing. In addition to this offering, she’s also been offering short tips and tricks videos on her Instagram feed.

Distance Shoots

Since our interview, Jennifer has started to offer Family Porch Portraits, which comply with social distancing and donate 50% of their proceeds to local charities. This offering combines the need for physical distance with the opportunity for people to give back to the community, something that’s very important right now. I love the way she adapted her services to be so specific to the conditions of shelter in place, while still getting to do what she loves.

Working on the Business, Not In It

During our interview, Jennifer spoke about how, with the removal of regular photoshoots from her calendar, she’s had more time to work on her business, rather than just in it. Rather than simply doing shoot after shoot, she’s had room to pause and think about what she’s creating through her business. This is a rare opportunity for solopreneurs to reflect, and I appreciated that she mentioned this as one of her priorities. I’d recommend doing some introspection on your business, if you haven’t been able to yet!

You can watch the full video interview with Jennifer here, and you can visit her website and Facebook page to learn more about what she’s doing. Her adjusted offerings are great examples to follow for solopreneurs, and I’m glad to be able to share them with you all. She also had some great insights on dealing with the shelter in place from an emotional perspective, so we’ll discuss that next week.

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Angela

How to Find Good Financial Advice During COVID-19

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic ripple effects, there’s been a lot of discussion and advice about what business owners should do. I’ve added my own voice to the mix, with a recent article and a full-length guide accompanied by a video series. Along with the variety of advice out there right now, there are also differing tones and points of view. Whether you’re looking to speak with others about money in the time of pandemic, or just hoping to find a way to navigate through all the guides, resources, and economic commentary, here are a couple things to pay attention to.

Nix the Shame and Guilt

Right now, I’m seeing a lot of people writing about this from a point of view that places a lot of shame and guilt on readers feeling unprepared and surprised by the economic fallout that’s occurred. Some are claiming that people’s lack of savings or inability to save for these types of emergencies is the ultimate source of their misfortune during this time. While saving up an emergency fund is of course a great idea, I do want to make sure that we recognize we are in the midst of a global emergency.

If you have lost money and don’t have enough saved to cover that loss, please don’t internalize that as your own fault. Sources that are encouraging you to do so or blaming those in need of unemployment benefits and other assistance are best avoided. If you are experiencing shame and guilt, take some time to process these feelings, but don’t make any decisions based on them. This might be a great time to do some mindset work.

Bye, Fear Tactics

While there’s certainly been an uptick in economic uncertainty, I’d advise you to steer clear of anyone leading a business pitch to you with this information. There are some coaches and other financial professionals who are currently using fear tactics to draw more clientele. Here’s a good litmus test to avoid people like this: don’t sign up for anything or listen to anyone who makes you feel more scared and activated than you were prior to hearing from them.

What We Really Need


Instead of fear tactics and guilt-tripping, we need to listen for messages that are factual. Resources that speak in practical terms and outline solutions are your best friend right now. Additionally, guides that approach the current economic situation from a growth mindset which stimulate your creativity and promote problem-solving, are good resources. If you have a public platform, keep all this in mind. People need guidance right now. The more we spread messages that are empowering and hopeful, the more we can contribute to the wellbeing of our communities.

If you’d like more thoughts about navigating all the financial advice out there, check out my articles on the topic:

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Angela

Image by: Fa Barboza

7 Financial Tips for Business Owners During COVID-19

Following the recent restrictions on gatherings, businesses that are allowed to be open, and all other health concerns and restrictions, your business may be caught in the wake of COVID-19. You are not alone. There are many business owners in similar positions to yours. While I don’t have a silver bullet for ending this pandemic (unfortunately) I do have a couple ideas of how you and your business can move through this turbulent time.

Be Proactive With Creditors and Landlords

For many people, rent and mortgage payments are due on the first of April, coming up in ten days. You may also have other bills, such as credit cards or debt payments coming up soon. If you are at all concerned about your ability to make these payments, I encourage you to get in touch with your creditors and/or landlords. Politely but firmly explain your situation to them and ask if you can work something out, like a reduced payment or a refined payment schedule. Because so many people are in a similar place, you may garner their sympathy and receive some assistance.

Cull Your Expenses

Now is the time to really go through your personal and business expenses with a fine-tooth comb. Cancel any subscriptions or memberships that aren’t vital. If you’re in California or Illinois, for example, then you’re probably not going to the gym or yoga studio anytime soon. Review your business’s spending needs and nix anything unnecessary or now irrelevant.

Get Creative With Your Services

Think about ways you can adapt your business to the current times. Maybe it’s time to ramp up your online store and start doing local delivery. Many yoga teachers and entertainers are starting to offer their services online. Brainstorm and get creative.

Check Available Resources

Every community has different resources available to those struggling with expenses due to COVID-19. Here in California, you can refer to the information provided by the Employment Development Department to see if you qualify for aid. Also check local nonprofits and other resources. Many communities are creating volunteer networks and community funds to protect the most vulnerable in the community. If you are seriously at risk, consider seeking these out. Otherwise, consider contributing to them, either monetarily or with volunteer time.

Lean On Your Money Team

This is a time when those on your money team can really come in handy. Reach out to your financial confidants, your bookkeeper, financial coach, etc. and start strategizing on how you can fortify your business during these tough times. Don’t make these decisions alone; remember that you have allies.

Mindset Matters

Although the virus is seriously threatening, those most at risk are the elderly and the immunocompromised. It’s important to remember that we are taking all of these measures in the name of collective care, to protect those of us who are most vulnerable. I encourage you to remember this and to avoid self-victimizing, panicking, or hoarding. Holding onto a mindset of courage and generosity will do wonders in this time, for your own mental health and everyone around you.

File Your Taxes On-Time!

You may have heard that the IRS has officially extended the deadline to pay taxes to July 15, 2020. While this is great news for business owners, it’s important to remember that you still need to file your taxes by April 15th. If you are unable to meet this deadline, you can request a six-month extension for filing. You can check out the IRS site for more info. EDIT: The deadline to file has also been extended!

I hope these ideas bring you some sense of hope and agency in unpredictable times.

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Angela