We went on a walk at a nearby reservoir the other day to get some fresh air and exercise and were hoping to spot some owls. My mom has been visiting the same area for a few years now and she’s seen a family of owls there every time. But this year? This year was different. As we got closer to the cluster of trees that the nest is usually in, my mom slowed down and went silent. Half the trees had been cut down since she last visited a few months ago. Giant piles of logs were piled up next to the embankment and not a bird in sight. There’s a lot of construction happening nearby, bulldozers growling in the distance, smoke clouds puffing into the sky...and no owls. The birds that had called these trees home for years were displaced. In an instant, their entire lives were pulled out from under them and they had no choice but to leave, begin again somewhere new, and try to put all the pieces back together….
There are a lot of us feeling overwhelmed by the financial impact of what is happening right now. Many that are afraid of losing their homes, their businesses, their everything. And unlike other economic crashes of the past...this one is hitting all demographics. For the wealthy with substantial amounts of money in the stock market, the loss is mind boggling. If you were living paycheck to paycheck while working at a restaurant, this is catastrophic. Own a small business in town that was just closed down? Gut wrenching. These aren’t slight inconveniences or mild discomforts...these are monumental losses. And while it’s easy to be completely engulfed in all the terror, I think it’s important to remember that the owls survived. They found some other cluster of trees on another side of the lake and, branch by branch, they rebuilt.
I’m not a financial expert. Not by any stretch. But you know what I am? I’m resilient. I’m creative. I’m practical. And I’m resourceful. And right now? I’m leaning on all of those traits to silence out the fear and panic. My heart tends to spiral and focus on the loss and the devastation, but my brain is putting on the brakes. Because we don’t have time to panic...we’ve got work to do. I can’t give you advice that will magically make this all go away, but there are things that some of us can do that will maybe lessen the blow. Maybe one or two of these will hit home for you or spark an idea that can work for your business, maybe something in here will help put some fast cash into your pockets, or maybe it’ll all be rubbish. Take it or leave it, adapt what you can, and remember to keep moving forward.
Take Your Business Online
-I can’t begin to tell you how many small business owners I know that have refused to take the leap into the online world. You’ve got to be in front of folks now more than ever. Social media and a website allow you to sell items when your brick and mortar is closed, be that during a worldwide pandemic or just your normal days off. At the bare minimum, you can list items for sale on marketplace right now. But to truly set yourself up for success, get a simple website running so customers can check out and complete their purchases in a professional setting. I don’t recommend setting up an entire website with thousands of new items listed overnight. That’s way too overwhelming and your odds of quitting are sky high. Start small and build steadily. Get a basic website up and running, choose a simple template that is easy to add to when needed, and list a few items. When you are feeling up to it, add a couple more items. It’s that simple. Keep yourself from being overwhelmed and you will build slowly and steadily. And check out a few different website hosts and find one that you feel comfortable with. I use Weebly and I’ve been soooo happy with it. Start with their free package, choose a template, and customize it to make it feel like home. Then when you are ready to make the leap, upgrade to get all the extra features. They also have rockstar support so if you have any issues adding a shopping tab or integrating with a previously owned domain or anything in between, they can talk you through it via chat windows (or if you aren’t an anxious weirdo like me, you can just call them). If you end up going this route, click below and you can save 10% off your package. (Affiliate links help keep this business afloat! Thank you!)
-Times are changing, drastically...and your approach has to as well. Can you offer free delivery and drop purchases off on doorsteps? Can you teach online classes for a small fee? Can you start a subscription box to ship to clients? Would one on one web conference calls benefit your clients? Think outside the box!! Look at the world from your customers’ perspectives and see if there’s something you can do to make things easier for them. We are all adapting to a new way of life right now and business is no exception to that!
Find Money In New Places
-If your hours got cut, you got laid off, or your whole world came crashing down...start looking for additional sources of income. I’ve noticed things are still selling on marketplace like crazy. Go through your house and clean out anything you aren’t using. Have an old treadmill in the basement you haven’t touched in years? They are a hot seller right now! Have a ton of clothes in your closet that no longer fit? Throw them on Poshmark. Need something more steady? Can you sign up to be a grocery delivery driver?? How about GrubHub? I’m also hearing tons of ads for grocery stores and warehouses right now that include good pay and great benefits.
Turn Your Hobby Into A Business
-Have you been making jewelry for gifts? Do you crochet while you watch tv? Paint furniture for fun?? THIS is your time to turn those hobbies into money makers. If you’ve been thinking about it but never had the time to make the jump...well guess what?? You may have a little extra time now. If you aren't sure what you could do, ask yourself "what do you have to offer the world??". We all have talents, and most of them can bring income if played right. Is there something you make for your friends that they love? Is there something people ask you for all the time? If your friends and family love it, so will others.
Invest, Invest, Invest
-I said earlier, I’m not a financial expert. But I know that investing when the market is low is smart. I’ve wanted to join the investment world for a long time, but I could never quite time my entry and it was too scary to take the leap. (Picture me swaying back and forth at a double dutch game for the last decade) But if you’ve had the news on at all in the last week, you know things are looking pretty gloomy. So now is the time. I don’t have a fancy financial advisor to move my money around, and I honestly don’t know enough to go at it completely on my own….so I found something that worked for me and my comfort level (and finances). I downloaded an app and finally made the leap. I’ll be honest, my first leap was more like a teeny tiny bounce, but then I decided to add in a little more a few days later. I signed up for the cheapest monthly plan (only a dollar a month) and skipped the option of recurring deposits. This made it the absolutely lowest risk investment option I could find. ($12 a year is totally manageable to me for what they provide) I also used a referral link from my sister that gave me twenty bucks to play with, so my initial investment of $20 was already covered in case I totally screwed things up. It’s super easy, kinda fun, and hopefully will set me up to have a bit of a silver lining when the world feels normal again.
-Tons of guidelines are changing every single day to help us through the financial side of this pandemic. Mortgage companies are pushing payments to the back end of loans, school loans are now able to be deferred for 60 days, utility companies are backing off and forgiving late payments...you’ve just got to ask. If you are facing a financial crisis right now, it’s time to make some phone calls. I’ve read a bunch of posts saying that companies will only cut you slack if you specifically say you are in money troubles due to coronavirus (vs just saying you are laid off or strapped for cash for any other reason). I’m not sure if there’s any truth to that, but it’s not gonna hurt. Pick up the phone and ask for help.
Make Some Changes
-This is the one that I hope sticks with us long after this virus is gone. Take some time to really look at your life. What can you be doing differently?? You’ve likely already cut back your spending due to social distancing...but what else? Are there ways you can reduce even more? Can you switch to generic brands for your grocery shopping? Can you plant a garden with your kids to save money on veggies this summer? Can you bike to work to save the gas? Can you link up with a friend or neighbor to split memberships? Can you start filling a reusable water bottle and ditch the plastic? (Ok, for real, you should be doing this one already.) Maybe now is the time you needed to quit that expensive smoking habit. Whatever it may be, if there’s something that you can change to save money, and it also happens to be a change that will be better for your health or the environment?? Get on that! And stick with it in the years to come.
The owls in the park rebuilt. And so will we. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, but if we do it together, it’ll sting a little less. Take some time to breathe, assess your situation, and then make some major moves in the right direction. This was just a short list of ideas...but I want more!! What are you doing to survive this? What changes have you made to ensure the lights stay on? Any tips we should hear????