It happens to us all.
We hit a breaking point in our business. As a business owner, many don’t see the downs in the roller coaster ride. And often it is our emotions more than anything else.
What do we do when we hit a bit downturn in our global business?
This is a big challenge, and there are tons of answers depending on your specific situation. Today I hope to give you some tips and inspiration that have helped me in the down times.
Downtimes Can Happen & Don’t Blame Yourself
Businesses go up and down. There are bad days where the stars weren’t aligned, potential customers were angry at the rain or snow, things happen. Try your best to remember that with good times, there will also be bad times.
Here is one of my favorite quotes for dealing with a bad day:
999 Dolly Parton Quote – to get the sunshine we need to deal with the rain.
So when you’re in a bad state of mind and business is down, remember that the bad times you get through will only make you stronger. And if every day is a good day, then by definition they would be an average day! We need to get through the bad to appreciate the good.
So, don’t be too hard on yourself. The trick is to get through the tough times, as most people fail – or choose to fail – at those times.
Don’t Freeze Up – Keep on Truckin’
There have been some days where business systems were down. In a previous SEO tool company I was a partner in, the system was down for a day! The customer service was blowing up!
Those times, especially in a small business where a lot of work is already overloading the few people in the organization, you want to just freeze up and take a walk.
But this is what separates the good from the bad. The winners from the losers. Face the problem head on. Be honest with your clients, your team, and yourself.
When I lose money in a business decision, I try to remember – this is a one time expense. You can’t predict the one time bad expenses that come up. That is part of business. But you can control that you deal with them, and that you learn from them. And you improve your business systems for the long term.
On the other hand, if this business issue keeps coming up, it is NOT a one time expense and you need to address it immediately. That is your job as a business owner – to look at the big picture, step back and see the workflow of the company, and plug holes.
Look At Your Costs, Budget For The Tough Times
We should all be budgeting. Planning our recurring costs, and looking to growth.
It is our job to leave room for errors. For unexpected mistakes. If we don’t have some kind of safety net in the form of cash, then we’re in trouble.
Bill Gates saved a ton of cash on the books. 999 He did this so that he had enough money to pay for the staff for a full year without any income. That is extremely safe. But by having this safety, it allows us to think more long term, and handle the hiccups that come in our business.
Maybe you can’t afford to have a year’s savings to cover your costs without sales, but try to give yourself a few months. That way when you have these bad days, or probably longer… you can rest a bit more at ease.
Believe me, I have been at times where I was close to running out of money every week. It is so hard to focus when that is the case. Try your best to give yourself some runway.
Be Zen – Step Back While It’s Happening & Reflect
Controlling my emotions is something I learned while doing business in China. Heck, maybe I would have learned it if I had stayed in America. But in China when I got frustrated at business, most of my Chinese associates would tell me to work on controlling my emotions.
This has been a key difference in business practice I have noticed between East and West.
Westerners, we are much more open and straightforward about our emotions.
In the East, it is about not showing your emotions. Being calm and cool on the inside.
While which one is better is up for debate, I do like the idea of reflecting on how you are feeling. Look at yourself in the third person. Be a fly on the wall in the room, looking down at yourself. Why are you feeling the way you’re feeling?
I love to take walks when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. It kind of resets my mind. While walking, I try to analyze the situation and what I am thinking. Why am I upset. If the worst outcome happens, what is the worst result?
Normally when you think in this way, you can be more confident and cool when “getting back in the action”.
Cut Back On Things – Simplify
Here is where I have been weak most of my life. I love to do so many things. I love to learn. To be involved.
But this is like being a pack rat.
And your mind gets cluttered.
You need to write down all the things you’re doing and cross some of them out. Whether this is your personal life, your education, or your professional careers.
I always think of a story back in my college days.
I was in a fraternity, well I was rushing at the time. I was the stressed out “Mikey” with my backpack full to its seams and rushing from class to meeting to class. Josh, one of the older brothers, called me into his room at the fraternity. He saw I was so overwhelmed so he asked me:
“Write down all the things you’re currently involved in”.
I wrote down tons of things, like student government, investing club, and yacht club. He looked at Yacht club and asked me “do you know how to yacht”. I said no, but I was on the boat a couple times, I was the secretary so my role was not to run the boat, but to take notes and keep the meetings in order. He laughed that I was secretary of the Yacht club and had never sailed a boat.
So after looking at the rather long list, he took a thick black magic marker and ran lines through over half of the list. I cringed when he crossed off some of them.
After he finished crossing off a lot of them, he gave me the sheet back and said.
“I want you to come back next week and report back that you have quit all the groups I have crossed off on the list. Ok?”
I was so afraid to quit something I had joined. But I followed the instructions. I went into the groups and clubs he crossed off and told them I was too busy to help anymore and had to cut back on extracurricular activities. They accepted.
Within just a couple weeks, I noticed I had more free time! I was able to de-stress a bit. And the funny thing is, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.
Hopefully you reading this can list out all the things you are doing. Ask someone like Josh to review it and cross out for ya. Or if you are mentally strong enough, cross them off yourself.
Simplify Your Multiple Corporate Structures Around the World.
Now we’re getting a bit more relevant for this Global From Asia blog! We all are so excited to have an international business. The sexiness of having companies and operations in China, America, Brazil, London.
Yes, having global corporate structures and teams around the world is sexy! So exotic. James Bond style.
But when times get tough, upping all these company structures is exhausting. Both on your time, your brain, and your wallet.
I have had to bite the bullet a few times and close some companies within a year or two of setting them up. A UK company was one of them. It took us about four months to get it setup, between the company and the bank account. Mailing documents over the Atlantic Ocean a few times.
But we weren’t really leveraging it enough. A eBay account and warehouse weren’t enough reasons to justify the costs to maintain it all.
We went through the process of closing the operation down. Think some of the stock is still in a buddy’s garage in Ireland (this event happened back in 2008!). Or maybe I told him to give away some of those home bar goods as Christmas grab bags at his company.
It was a tough thing to go through. But once things happened and it was “back to being simple” the business went a lot smoother.
Like many things in life, simple is usually better.
Therefore, when business gets overwhelming – write down – or re-write from scratch – your business processes.
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
So many distractions in our life and our business. Ironically, just as I was writing the last paragraph my wife came in making a lot of noise and totally got me off point.
The trick is to keep your “eye on the ball”, or think about the goal. I have been writing more and more, and now I am documenting how many words I write, at which time, and what makes me more effective. I have found that writing blog posts like today’s helps reach people, help many people out, and also get new clients.
What is helping you get things done? I am quite sure there are a lot of things that get in the way.
Normally it should be about getting sales and additional revenue to your business. Making more money is always a good goal for any capitalist. So write down those activities that get to that goal.
Too many ways to make money, that means too many channels. Pick the ones that have the most ROI – return on investment – meaning either in your time or your money put in, the most benefit comes back.
Focus On The Business – Not Complete Business Structures
So many people talk to me about having an offshore company here, and a operating company there. All too often, they are talking to me about this when they are pre-revenue.
So, they are making things complicated before they even have any money coming in!
Did Google and Apple worry about their offshore structures when starting out? They never worried about it, as once they got big enough they hired smart MBAs and CPAs to take care of all that.
Stick to your core business – making sales of the product or service you are offering. And get to the point where you can hire an expert to take care of all the global corporate structure formations later on, when you’re on your yacht in Tahiti.
Think Long Term Over Short Term
You’re a business owner, and most likely, you’re a major shareholder as well as a major director of the company at the same time. That means you will get the biggest payoff later on.
The beginning is always the hardest. You need to outlast all the competition. You need to fight when everyone else is crying mercy.
Losing money in the short term may be hard, and sleeping on a folding cot in your office is not comfortable, but you’re a warrior. These sacrifices now will pile up and become an unstoppable machine in the market to take over your industry.
You may get in situations with staff where you need to pay out some damages due to cost cutting. You may have a bad client that doesn’t pay a big bill. You may get a lawsuit from a competitor.
These times suck for an entrepreneur and business owner. The world feels like it is upside down. I’ve been there, and you’ve probably been there too.
For me, the best way to get through it is to think long term. That these are one time events, that I can get past, learn from, and prevent in the future. It toughens you up, and you just got to get through them to enjoy the long term benefits of business ownership.
If you’re always stuck in the day to day of your operations, it will be hard to think long term and some of these events feel like the end of the world. Its tough, but we need to step back, look at our business as a whole, and make it happen. If it was easy everyone would do it. Its these tough times that define the winners from the losers. And if you can stick to your guns and get through this, you’ll be better in the long term.
How About You, What Are Your Tips?
I’d love to hear your tips for getting through those tough business days. Especially for those running a global business, trying to keep things in order can feel like plugging holes. A lot of these things haven’t been put in the text books, and that is what gives us the opportunity to get ahead in business and in life.
So I hope you enjoyed this guide. I’d appreciate you leaving a comment below with your feedback and ideas. Let’s make this a source where people can come to when they are overwhelmed in their international business endeavors!