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By: Melissa Lagowski
You might feel like you will never break free from Zoom calls and virtual meetings right now, but we will reach the other side of this “shelter in place” soon. However, the world as we knew it will never be the same. Have you started thinking about what this means for you and your business?
Some people are passive and have a wait and see attitude while hoping for a return to normal, but times like this are for preparation and innovating. If you actively invest the time now to plan out what you want to achieve on the other side of COVID-19, you are far more likely to succeed. It would be to your advantage to use this time to begin planning for a future that has already been altered.
At some point, you probably grumbled and mumbled under your breath about a project you didn’t like. Or you wished you could stop offering a certain service or working with specific type of client. This is your chance to re-imagine the possibilities. The market is forcing you to consider a redesign anyway, so this is the time to approach your future with a blank slate.
Reconnect with Your Why
When was the last time that you thought about your “why?” Take a moment to think about why you do what you do: Why do you serve the nonprofit arena? Why does your work matter? To you? To your clients? Reconnecting with your why helps re-ignite your passion for your own personal mission, so start by identifying your why and confirming that it is still the same as it was three months ago.
Evaluate Your Work and Your Desires
Businesses were forced to make unexpected and immediate changes over the past couple of months. As an example, some of us may have already been set up to work from home (with little change other than the increase in virtual meetings), while others had everything turned upside-down. Regardless, the adjustment happened so quickly that most people haven’t really had the chance to think about the new normal and analyze the entirety of its effects.
So now is the time to make a list of the pros and cons of your life before COVID-19 and your life after COVID-19. You may have some surprising findings. For example, while I miss meeting with people in person, I love the short commute times of these virtual meetings, which means I can be home for dinner every night with my family. As you work to “reset” your life, personally and/or professionally, feel free to select the best of both worlds to plan for your future as you think about what comes next. You now have the ability to adjust your services, your roles, your processes, etc., as you move forward, so don’t miss this opportunity that could make your work and your life more balanced or more meaningful.
Innovate for Growth
“Crisis is the mother of invention.” We have heard it before, but today is proof that it still rings true. Opportunity truly exists when we realize that it is not just our roles that have drastically changed, but our clients and potential clients have had to adjust their needs and processes, as well. What monumental shifts have they been forced to take? Why not use this time to connect with your clients and other nonprofit organizations and ask them? What is their current pain? What is their greatest need? Is there something that you could offer them to help?
Look for the gaps in your industry and any gaps in your services. After such a large disruption (that is still evolving), this is an ideal time to identify what is missing for your industry and/or clients. Is this an adjustment that you make? Is the need something you could offer? Crisis is a time to identify how you might make shifts in your work to better serve your clients. You may uncover something you never thought of before that could increase your relevance (and revenues) in the future.
Re-establish the Vision
Now that you have taken inventory of what was working and what was not, it is time to re-establish your overall vision. Again, this is the time to hit the reset button to design what life after COVID-19 will look like. Write about it in detail. What services will you offer? Who will you serve? How will you make them feel? What do you want to be known for? Why will your clients need you? How will you improve the nonprofit world? How will that make you feel? What lessons have you learned that you want to apply, and how will your life be different as a result? What will you offer that you hadn’t before? What will you discontinue offering because it no longer serves you?
You get to keep doing what has served you well and put changes into place to improve the parts of your work that have not been serving you well. Personally, I have identified many things in our company that need to be simplified. I have also identified services that we no longer want to offer, and we are creating some new ways to assist nonprofit organizations in need. This pivot is reinvigorating our team and increasing our excitement about the future of the company.
Today offers the biggest opportunity of your life to hit the reset button, so do the work now to create intention for your future. It will provide the clarity you need to move forward when we are able to proceed with our lives again.
Finally, prepare to promote your services. It may be human nature to shrink when we are afraid or uncertain, but now is not the time to play small. To overcome the effects of the coronavirus on your business, you need to be ready to announce what you are offering and why it matters. Plan now for how you can promote yourself and any service adjustments you are making for the future. It is important to share the news to show that you support those who will benefit from what you are offering, so plan accordingly for how you will do this for the greatest effect. Do you need to make tweaks to your website about new services? Share an announcement? Post the news on social media? Have a bold plan ready so that you can quickly move as the shelter in place mandate is lifted.
And if the quick adjustments of mid-March have taught us anything, they have shown us to be scrappy. The rollout of new services or service adjustments don’t need to be perfectly packaged, and often, a desire for perfection results in paralysis. We have all learned that you can create something and continue adjusting the offerings or the packages as you go. After all, we were all fumbling with Zoom and virtual technology in the beginning, but now people have learned how to change their virtual backgrounds and use the system far more effectively with time and experience. So, there is no need to aim for perfection here; just aim to get the information out to those who need it, knowing that you can continue to improve it in the future.
We may be living through the only time in our history when we can hit a reset button on life, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Invest the time to really analyze your company and your purpose so you can properly position yourself for greater success and satisfaction after the new normal of COVID-19 sets in. Even the slightest adjustment may provide huge benefit to you and your clients.
Melissa is CEO/Founder/Queen Bee of Big Buzz Idea Group. Big Buzz provides operational support for nonprofits and associations in the areas of administration, communication, event-planning, bookkeeping and database management.
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