Handling Peaks and Valleys in Your Small Business
If work has you tossing and turning at night, you’re not alone. Small businesses face a myriad of challenges, from accessing capital to rising health insurance costs to retaining a quality workforce. Most importantly, project workflow due to seasonal changes can add to the stress. Unless you face up to it, the resulting stress could take a toll. To resolve work-related anxiety, address the root, or roots, of the problem.
Barbara Fuller, founder of Focus on You Now!, a professional and personal coaching service in Somerset, N.J, says, “If you’re in the midst of a stressful period, you’re not thinking—you’re reacting.” Even something as simple as taking a walk can help you take a step back and give you a fresh perspective on your situation.
If you’re used to wearing many hats, you may be shouldering too much responsibility. Fuller says entrepreneurs need to learn to ask for help. Start by being open with employees about the condition of the company. That may mean acknowledging you’re in a slump and letting people know how you plan to get out of it.
It can be hard turning off the inner chatter, especially if your office is at home. But that often leads to other problems. To unwind, set aside a portion of time every week, no matter how small, to enjoy yourself. When you attend your kid’s soccer game or grab a drink with friends, you’ll return to work feeling rejuvenated and focused.
My son’s company, Gould Design, Inc., a truss industry component design firm, sees a dramatic decrease in project volume during the winter months due to building construction coming to a standstill in cold region areas of North America. At one time 90-95% of his business came from Canada, where the construction business only operates about half of the calendar year. By expanding his workflow area into the USA, he developed a strategy that helps him manage this expected decrease in traffic.
Businesses are full of peaks and valleys. You can liken them to your heartbeat. Like a healthy heartbeat, your personal “Peaks and Valleys” are an essential part of a normal, healthy life. So are the Plateaus, if they are times of healthy rest when you take stock of what is happening and pause to think about what to do next. Peaks and Valleys are not just the good and bad times that happen to you. They are also how you feel inside and respond to outside events.
There are valuable lessons to be learned in the Valley and, you can’t stay on the Peak if you are not prepared. Business Peaks and Valleys, and personal Peaks and Valleys are connected. The errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrow’s bad times. And the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times. A business that uses a Peaks and Valleys approach during bad times, makes things better when they return to basics, and concentrate on what matters most. If you look back over the course of your life I’m sure you can see the Peaks and Valleys. I know I can.
The path out of the valley appears when you choose to see things differently.
Richard Gould – Design Administrator
Gould Design, Inc.