Recently, I had a young designer ask me my advice about his three year-old business. After an exciting and promising launch, business dissipated and he was barely making enough to make it more than a hobby. “Does it mean this isn’t my calling?” he asked. I felt so sorry for the poor guy. “Of course not. It means you’re a business owner,” I said. Whether you have been in this business for a year, a decade or 30 plus years as I have, you know that there are seasons. There will be times of growth, times of rebirth and a blossoming, and yes, winter will come. This is an inevitable part of every aspect of life including business development. It’s also something I speak about at length in my PB Protege course.
While many of us were driven into events by our passion and desire to create something beautiful for our clients, the reality is that’s not enough to keep your doors open. It’s a commonly known statistic that 50 percent of businesses close within their first year of opening and 80 percent are gone within the first five years. This should not scare you, but instead inspire you to work as hard as you can to understand your business, who your current clients are, what your value is and train your team to offer the most competitive edge in every aspect of your business. While I understand this man’s concern, going down a fear-based path doesn’t do much to aid in progress. Instead of worrying about what might go wrong, focus on what is going right and use the “downtime” to make the tweaks that will allow you to thrive where you can.
I shared this with this young man and was thrilled when he started to identify areas where he could make the most out of his business and re-emerge stronger with a little reinvention thrown into the mix. Before our conversation came to a close, he shared how “free” he felt now that the “weight was lifted”. Though he was in the same position as he was when we started the conversation, his view of himself and his confidence in his ability to empower himself and his small staff and move the business into a new direction seemed to make closing shop seem like a silly idea. It is my opinion that that we must be open and honest about the realities of the business we are in. Yes, it can seem glamorous and exciting, and it is, but there’s a lot that goes into surviving in this industry and we should openly anticipate the ebbs and flows of the professional lifecycle and not be discouraged by them. I believe that if every business owner spends 10-20 minutes a day brainstorming ways to make opportunities out of obstacles and approaching situations with a “how can we make this positive?” attitude, our businesses, teams and clients will all benefit.
How have you turned an obstacle into an opportunity?