Things don’t always go as planned in business–if you’re a business owner or executive leader, you know this. We all know it happens. Whether it’s dealing with unexpected financial challenges, project setbacks, or personal challenges, navigating these moments can feel terrifying and deeply personal. I’ve been there, and as a business and career coach for women of color, I see the plot twists that occur in my clients’ businesses as well.
The good news? We can learn to embrace imperfections, see setbacks as a normal part of running a business, and use problem-solving and adaptability skills to move through the challenges. Life, like business, can throw curveballs, like the unexpected global events we faced during the COVID pandemic, personal challenges such as falling ill, or economic shifts that impact our business decisions. But here’s the deal: success isn’t just about celebrating the good times; it’s about how we handle the tough times. I’ll share personal stories and practical tips to help you turn challenges into opportunities and keep building a lasting legacy through your work.
Understanding Business Dynamics
When we’re going through a rough patch in business or when leading a team, it’s totally normal to default to panic mode and negative thoughts. Through my work as a business and career coach, I’ve had clients come to me in a complete state of despair when things aren’t going to plan. It’s so easy to experience a professional curveball and start catastrophizing or seeing yourself as a failure, but when things don’t go to plan, you have to take a step back to look at the facts objectively. This is not the time to make stress-based decisions that can severely impact your business.
Instead, it’s time to get a bird’s eye view of your business, what has worked before, and what’s no longer working. Set aside a solid chunk of time to sit down with your favorite beverage, light a nice candle, and reflect on the behind the scenes of your business
- Get into the data – Pull up your finances, marketing statistics, and conversion rates. In order to start planning for the future, take a look at your past. Where have most of your leads come from? What services, packages, or products have brought in the most money? After a sales call, how long does it take to fully convert a client? Are there some products that used to do super well that have fallen off over the last year? By taking time to reflect on what’s been working vs what is no longer serving you, you may see trends or patterns that surprise you or point you in a direction you hadn’t considered while navigating the current rough patch.
- Acknowledge and adapt to change – Things that once worked super well in business may stop working–what do you do then? The thing is, businesses aren’t stagnant. They shift with the times, with current economics, with social media trends. As a business owner, it’s your job to adapt to the changes, not avoid them. You may notice that what you used to do to get clients successfully just isn’t working out anymore. What does that mean? What do you have to do to change or shift? Perhaps you are feeling a temporary lull due to the inflation that we’re all experiencing or maybe your ideal clients are just not hanging out on that same platform where you used to find them. I know that sucks to admit when things that used to be successful aren’t anymore, but at least you’re self aware that something needs to shift and change. Becoming aware of what has shifted makes it easier to make a plan to try something new in order to cope.
- Don’t overlook energetic alignment – During your reflection and analysis of data, don’t forget to ask yourself what has brought you joy in your business? And conversely, are there things you are offering in your business that used to bring you joy, but have been replaced with a sense of dread? I’ve seen entire businesses fall apart because the person running the show was constantly dreading the work they were doing. Feeling energetically aligned with what you are offering is a huge part of seeing business success–the universe (and your clients) can tell when you don’t like what you’re offering. From personal experience, I used to host free coaching events every single month along with multiple big in-person retreats throughout the year. I did this as a way to give back and to provide more access to people who weren’t working with me, but over the years it started to heavily weigh on me because of the energy I was expending doing all these events. What used to bring me joy started to fester into resentment. I had to be honest with myself, and I ended up changing my business model to focus on providing free resources via my podcast and hosting 2 paid retreats per year. The success I saw from this shift was huge for me, and making changes that follow your joy will likely do the same for you.
Navigating Complexity with Conscious Conversations
When challenges arise in your business, engaging in conscious conversations is essential. No matter what those challenges are, I’d wager a guess that navigating through them successfully will require talking to people. Who those people are depends, of course, on what type of business you have, whether or not you have a team, or if you are working within a larger organization. You may need to speak to clients in order to ask for their feedback, speak to a team member about adopting a new schedule, or even speak to your partner transparently about the struggles you’re going through.
Conscious conversations are fundamental to the work I do with all of my clients–especially those navigating changes in their business and those who need to enforce better boundaries.
It’s not just about talking; it involves active listening, understanding perspectives, and shedding biases. These discussions create a space where ideas can flow freely, and everyone aligns with the intention of gaining better understanding. It revolves around practical strategies for crystal-clear communication, helping you maintain composure during challenging moments. When faced with difficulties, conscious conversations ground-truth your assumptions and feelings. In the age of constant digital communication that happens almost exclusively from behind a scene, spending time having conscious conversations helps find your next steps.
Here are my best tips and tricks for navigating conscious conversations:
- Active Listening: Focus on understanding rather than responding immediately. Give your full attention to the speaker, demonstrating that their perspective is valued and that you want to learn more about their perspective.
- Drop Biases: Approach conversations with an open mind, letting go of preconceived notions. This creates a space for unbiased and authentic dialogue.
- Create a Supportive Environment: Foster an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts. Encourage open dialogue without judgment so you can avoid emotional triggers.
- Practical Communication: Implement tangible strategies for effective communication. This involves clear articulation, avoiding misunderstandings, and ensuring that information is conveyed accurately.
- Stay Calm and Grounded: In the midst of challenging discussions, maintain composure. A calm demeanor contributes to a positive atmosphere and facilitates problem-solving.
Seeking Support through Networks and Coaching
A robust support network is essential to dealing with business matters gone awry or changes in plans. Just like in your personal life, it’s important to lean on trusted people in your life and seek the support you need within your business. Here’s a few ideas for when you don’t know where to turn:
- Connect with like-minded individuals through industry events and online communities for shared insights and advice. Industry forums and groups offer collaborative learning, allowing you to tap into the collective wisdom of peers facing similar challenges.
- Experienced coaches provide practical guidance and accountability, offering a fresh perspective to navigate business complexities.
- Seek support on an emotional level. Be transparent with what you’re going through (to those you trust most) and ask for any wisdom or insight they have from their own experiences.
In business, problems will pop up, but guess what? They’re chances for you to get better at what you do.
By thinking about what works, what doesn’t, and what you enjoy, talking with others, and having people around to help, you’ll come out the other side into a new season of your business. Keep going, be ready to change, and remember that your way of doing things is special if you do what aligns to your most authentic self.
If you would like further support in your career, business, or leadership, my team and I would love to support you in creating a sustainable life through our coaching services! You can schedule a 30-minute legacy business or career review call with me to see if it’s a good fit to work together, and you’ll receive 3 action-items from me.