May 14th Newsletter- Is It An Awakening, A Disaster or An Opportunity?

These are some crazy times for us business owners, isn’t it? 

I’m not sure what state- or country- you live in. The truth is, where you are physically matters to so many business owners. Here in Pennsylvania, businesses deemed non-essential have been shut down for the past two months. On Friday, we move from the red stage to the yellow stage, opening up more businesses but still with deep restrictions. 

As I mentioned, every state is different. It turns out that Pennsylvania has one of the the most restrictive orders in the nation right now, so the tension here is high among business owners who are unable to open. Just south of us- in West Virginia, things have opened up. It’s wild enough that residents of Pennsylvania are driving to West Virginia to get their hair done, go shopping and dine at restaurants.

It’s a strange dichotomy seeing certain people going to work, or working from home, without much change to their financial life. At the same time  talking with business owners or their employees who are not permitted to restart, businesses closing and facing potential financial ruin. 

But is this a disaster, an awakening or an opportunity? 

If it’s a disaster for you, I hope it becomes an awakening and then an opportunity. 

I’m going to come at it from the position that Elizabeth and I were in four years ago. More than 95% of our income was derived from our photography business. I’m not sure why- maybe it was the different entrepreneurial minds and leaders that we were reading and listening to that stressed the importance of having multiple streams of income- but we knew that we needed to diversify our income streams. 

When we set out on this path, it was in the name of freedom. Freedom to work where we wanted, how we wanted and with no limits, either physically or financially. As you can probably tell, freedom is of high value to us. But for the first time, we are witnessing this from not just a freedom standpoint, but from a sustainability and even a business survival position. 

My former colleagues in the photography world, and many other industries- are getting hammered. If this is their sole income, for many, it has been stalled or stopped. A booming business with no signs of disruption three months ago now has many wondering what to do next. I wrote about an analogy in my book, Freelance to Freedom. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today. 

Elizabeth and I could never have seen this coming. None of us could have. But, I do feel a bit guilty because in our chasing of freedom, we were able to transition from a very profitable business that gave us the financial freedom, to multiple online businesses where we have the location freedom as well. 

Why is that valuable? Because as our colleagues around us are forced to stay closed, our businesses are not only running, but growing. They are not affected, at least at this point, by any restrictions. Instead of attracting clients within a certain geographic area, that requires their physical presence, our clients come from anywhere in the world, and can access different levels of content, connection and community from their laptop, phone or any device. 

So when I ask if this is a disaster, an awakening or an opportunity, I hope you take this seriously. If you feel the pain, you are more likely to take action.I know for me, it’s when things get the most painful that I take the most action. Hopefully, the pain brings positive change. 

If the awakening comes that we are moving faster and faster towards an online world, what does that mean for you? I’ve said often that my father shared these words with me that changed my perspective, and eventually my life. 

“You have a skill, but you aren’t using it correctly.”

Those words allowed me to see the limits I had placed on myself.It was the first proverbial domino that fell in this game that we have been playing for the past fifteen years. And to not be complacent, even in good times, we openly question often what skills we aren’t using correctly. 

I ask this now of you. 

During a mastermind call on Tuesday, we asked this of Christine Wheatley Hughey. She built an amazing food tour business in Nashville- A Little Local Flavor. Her reviews and testimonials are off the charts, and we have been planning a mastermind retreat in Nashville where her tour is included. But as you can imagine, her booming business has been halted because restaurants and travel have as well. e

The conversation expanded and it was obvious that running food tours isn’t her only skill. Christine mentioned that what she really does best is help people create incredible memories in Nashville. In fact, their core value at A Little Local Flavor is “Only exceptional experiences”. Fellow mastermind member Jennifer Harshman asked why her business has to be relegated to Nashville?

As the conversation progressed, she also mentioned that she had taken the time to work with other food tour owners to show them how to do the same, with fantastic results. So, why can’t she do that for other business owners as well? Immediately, the wheels began turning. That wouldn’t require the need to do it in Nashville. It wouldn’t require meeting in person. If she did what we dove into on the call, she can do that from anywhere, at any time, and income is unlimited. 

Seeing the shift in her demeanor in realizing that she has a skill, but wasn’t using it correctly was fun to see. We hadn’t seen much of her amazing smile in the past two months. What started as a disaster turned into an awakening. Now, the opportunities are endless. 

So, what is this going to be for you?


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