Igot a very emotional phone call from a business owner this week. She was totally overwhelmed with everything that’s going on, couldn’t see a way through. Her revenue had taken a 40% hit and she was about to make a series of decisions based on this bleak perspective and from a position of fear.

She was at rock bottom, a level 0, and within 24 hours I was able to take her to a level 10 and thinking very differently. It’s this approach that I want to share with you here. This is her… and this was her meeting with her team today which was VERY different to what she thought she WAS going to say to them.

The Practical Positivity Approach

The approach I used is something I’m calling ‘practical positivity’ to help her see her situation through a different lens and to start looking upward. I wanted to help her to cut through the drama and the emotion and bring some clarity to the situation and the next few months.

It’s not a magic bullet by any stretch, it doesn’t work with every business but it’s a good framework for accounting businesses to use with their clients.

Follow The 9 Steps

This was the process we went through. I didn’t turn up with this plan, it was just free-styled, but on reflection, these were the steps…

  1. MELTDOWN – If you need to have a meltdown, do it. Negative emotions will never go away, only fester. Don’t be ashamed to have a cry and to let it all out. Listen but don’t indulge.
  2. ESTABLISH A BETTER VISION OF THE FUTURE – You and your clients have possibly got quite a negative vision of what’s to come. Armageddon, recession, etc. Start to envision what life could look like when we get through this.
  3. SCENARIO PLAN – Produce a cash flow forecast for the next 3 months. Imagine the worst scenario in terms of sales, then plan for it. Maybe you get no revenue for the next three months? The reality may be better, but plan for it anyway. This will be a dip. It won’t last forever.
  4. CUT BACK – Cut on any costs that are excessive. You need to be careful with this bit. Don’t strip back operations completely, only those that seem excessive. I don’t mean staff here AT ALL if it can be helped.
  5. STEP UP AS A LEADER – This is your time. If your team are working from home, get them fired up, have daily calls, keep everyone positive. Show up.
  6.  GALVANISE YOUR TEAM – Communicate your better vision of the future. They are on this mission with you. They have probably had the same panics that you’ve had. Explain that you’re going to get through this together. The reason we’re cutting back (in the step above) is to preserve your team.
  7.  BUILD BACK INTO THE FOUNDATIONS – This is where we look at things you may have been neglecting. Systems, processes, getting your pricing right, marketing. Whatever it is you need to do, build back into these key systems. Some of the peripheral things (maybe small jobs on your todo list), they aren’t important in times like now. Work on the fundamentals.
  8. EXPLORE OPPORTUNITIES – What opportunities do you have now to give value to your clients or customers? For your clients, this could be digitisation of your product. It could be new products, new markets.
  9. START RELATIONAL MARKETING – Don’t be aggressive with selling. Start to build relationships. Be there for your community and the clients or customers that you serve. Invest in long term nurturing processes.

If I had to add a tenth point, I’d say – LIMIT THE NEGATIVE INPUT – Things are shit at the moment; proper shit. People are dying, people are losing their jobs and businesses are closing. Get the essential updates you need to stay safe but that’s it. Don’t over indulge and excessively focus on the problem, as it will take valuable time and energy away from where it’s needed and make everything seem a million times worse. Limit the news. Limit conversations. Limit social media.

Final Thoughts

Stay safe. Do what you can with what you have. Control what’s in your control. Help as many people as you can through this period with any spare resources you have, whether that’s time, money or love. This will not last forever, nor for very long and we will get through this… together… and be stronger at the other side. Jx

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James Ashford

James Ashford

James is the Founder of GoProposal, Director of MAP., Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author of "Selling to Serve". He helps accountants and bookkeepers around the world to price more profitably, sell more confidently and to give significantly more value to their clients.