This past week, the San Bernardino mountains received a record amount of snow. It's our third winter up here since we purchased our home in 2020, and we couldn't believe the storm that hit our mountain community (about 12 feet of snow!)
Many residents were snowed in for days, roofs collapsed, neighborhoods lost power, and several gas meters couldn't vent with all of the snow, which led to at least 4 house fires.
The county wasn't prepared for this amount of snow. In an effort to try and get a handle on the situation, it was decided to close all roads leading up the mountain. This meant many residents were stranded and couldn't get back to their families and pets. Some found out the hard way after heading down the mountain for supplies only to be informed with a trunk full of groceries that they couldn't return home. It was a surreal experience and many residents are still dealing with the aftermath of the storm.
While shoveling snow in front of the house and off the deck for the 7th straight day, (your mind sure starts to wander after so much shoveling) I started thinking about how running a business is a lot like living through a blizzard.
Running a Business Can be a Challenging and Unpredictable Endeavor
Many decide to run a business with the best intentions. It's exciting to be your own boss and make your idea a reality, but it's impossible to know what's ahead of you. You can do your best to prepare, yet it's not until you've lived it that you know what you could have done better or how to better prepare in the future.
Just like a blizzard, there are many factors that can come into play, making it difficult to navigate and succeed. Here are some ways that running a business is a lot like dealing with a blizzard:
1. Preparation is key
Just like how you need to prepare for a blizzard by stocking up on food, water, and other necessities, you need to prepare for running a business. This includes having a solid business plan and sufficient resources (time and funds). Without proper preparation, your business may not be able to weather unexpected challenges.
Our strategy during this storm was to each spend 2-3 hours shoveling per day. This meant taking turns and going out in whiteout conditions to stay ahead of the snowfall as best we could while the other watched our new baby. It's something we learned when we first moved up here after waiting during the first storm of that year, and needing to tackle an icy berm.
There were some residents and homeowners who, for many understandable reasons, were unable to keep up with the record amount of snow we got. This meant that those who had a bobcat, snowplow or were willing to clear snow off a roof were in high demand, and quoted $500-3k+ to tackle this significant amount of snow.
Fortunately, those who could not afford the services, or were in immediate need of help were assisted by the county and neighbors, but it was an alarming time for many as they worked to create a plan that would address their specific circumstances.
The same principal can be applied to how you run your business. Set aside 1-2 hours at least once a week to work on your business. If you don't, you'll either need to devote much more time to tackle pressing issues, or hire a professional to help you, which will be more expensive.
2. You need to be adaptable
When a blizzard hits, things can change quickly. Roads may become impassable, power may go out, and businesses you regularly depend on may need to close. Similarly, in business, unexpected challenges can arise that require you to be adaptable. This could mean pivoting your business model, changing your marketing strategy, or finding new ways to serve your customers.
During this storm, one of the main grocery stores on the mountain had their roof collapse. This forced them to close until the roof is repaired. Another grocery store had to be red tagged due to their roof sagging, also forcing temporary closure. With 2 stores out of commission and the option to go down the mountain off the table, residents had to turn to smaller, local grocery stores. It wasn't long before their shelves were empty and many began to panic.
With a 2 month old baby to now think about, we ran through several options incase the power were to go out for a long period of time, or we ran out of our food supply. Luckily, the local grocery stores worked hard to prioritize a restock, and the community came together to share resources, so we didn't have to leave our home.
As we also saw with the pandemic with many businesses needing to change their in-person model to an online approach, it's important to be flexible and willing to pivot your business plan when needed.
3. You need to be resilient
A blizzard can be tough to endure, but it eventually passes. You'll dig your way out and the snow will melt. Similarly, running a business can be challenging and may require you to be resilient. You may face setbacks, financial hardships, or other obstacles, but you need to be able to bounce back and keep going.
There were many times when we had an office, team of employees to take care of, and large contracts that I felt burnt out, exhausted and thought about calling it quits. Thankfully, we stuck with the business and recognized that we needed to make a change so we could have have a more balanced life.
4. It's important to have a support system
During a blizzard, it's important to have a support system in place. This could be family, friends, or neighbors who can help you if you need it. One thing I was inspired by during the last few weeks was our community. Neighbors checked in on each other, shared resources, and kept in touch.
In business, it's important to have a support system as well. This could include mentors, advisors, or a network of fellow business owners who can offer advice and support when you need it. Don't feel like you have to suffer in silence or do it all alone. There's no gold star at the end for being too proud to ask for help when you needed it.
5. You need to be patient
When a blizzard hits, you can't control the weather or how long it will last. Similarly, in business, there are many factors that are out of your control. It's important to be patient and stay focused on your goals, even when things don't go as planned.
Personally, patience is not my forte, but I'm working on it! I like to get things done quickly, so I can move onto my next to-do, yet life is funny about throwing curve balls or just slowing down the process altogether. Over the years, I've learned that running a business is more about endurance than speed, so be patient with yourself.
If you still feel frustrated about where your business is now, take some time to assess how you could better be spending your time. Are you stuck in fulfillment? Does it feel like you're more of an employee than a business owner? Is the stress and long hours starting to make you feel burnt out?
If you answered yes, make a change!
It doesn't have to be drastic, but if you're consistently unhappy with where you are, trying something different is the first step.
Navigate the Challenges and Build a Lasting Brand
Running a business is a lot like enduring a blizzard. Both require preparation, adaptability, resilience, a support system, and patience. By keeping these things in mind, you can navigate the challenges of running a business and build a lasting brand.
If you're feeling stuck and would like to make a change in your business, schedule a free strategy session with our team. We'll talk about where you are now, where you'd like to be, and (if we're a good fit) how we can help you get there!