Posted By Administration,
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
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By Alex R. Thiersch, JD, CEO of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa)
The last two weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions, haven’t they? I really can’t remember a time with so many ups and downs for all of us. From alternately being nervous (read: terrified) about this virus to concerned about our business to laughing hysterically at the memes forwarded to me every few minutes, I can’t get a handle on my emotions. (Seriously, there are some really clever people in this country—some of the memes I’ve read had me belly-laughing like I haven’t for a long time.)
Every week feels different. This past week has felt a little more ominous. Last week, everything was kind of new—we were working from home, contained inside our little worlds with our loved ones, almost like a slumber party. Plus, the news was bad, but still not that bad. Now, reality is setting in. The news is getting worse, and, after a full week of exactly zero revenue for all of us, our business reality is creeping in. Folks are starting to snap at one another on conference calls. Patience is wearing thin. And it’s only week two!
But every now and then I get a moment of clarity and I refocus my attention to how lucky I really am. Over the last few days I’ve been taking notes on the things that happen that draw me back to this feeling, and I’d like to share them. I’d also love for all of you to share with us the things that make you feel happy and lucky during these turbulent times. Share them with us on social… we’re in this together!
- Take a deep breath and recognize that we’re going to get through this. AmSpa is made up of small business owners, and it’s easy to get freaked out over what’s going on. Our businesses are or livelihoods, and many of us have spent years building them. And all of it can be taken away by a virus? It’s kind of mindboggling, really. But here’s the thing—we’re going to be okay. We’re at the very beginning of this. Just today, our friends in Washington, D.C., managed to pass a stimulus bill that will provide much relief to all of us. The preliminary language of this bill is encouraging—all small businesses will be entitled to funds to cover payroll and rent, at a minimum. That will be a huge relief, as it will allow us to stay in business and pay our people. Taking that burden off of all our minds will be a huge relief and will allow all of us to focus on the good things that are going on around us.
- Be understanding and graceful towards your vendors. Look, we’re all in this together. None of us are making any money. We are all feeling the pain right now. So, let’s all give each other a break on money that is owed to us. Yes, all of need the money, but the businesses that owe you money also need the money, and the businesses that you owe money to also need the money. We all need cash, and it makes no sense for anyone to hold someone else’s feet to the fire over a bill at this point. Be gracious, be patient and recognize that the person who owes you money is in the same situation, as stressed and as worried about future as you are. If we take a moment and just breathe, and recognize that we’re all in this together, it’ll make you feel better. I promise. And I should note that I’ve seen nothing but graciousness to this point—every company I’ve dealt with is working with everyone else to get through this. Even the credit card companies! Keep it up, and don’t be the first one to be a di*k.
- Plan, organize and communicate. Studies have shown that most stress is directly related to a feeling of lack of control. We fear what we don’t know. And in these times, we don’t know anything, so the stress and fear is at an all-time high. But science also shows that if you make a plan and do what you can to get organized, you’ll feel as if you’re getting things under control, even as the outside world continues to spin uncontrollably. So, make a plan for your business, your personal life, even your day. Cash is king right now, so work through your burn rate, step by step. (Your burn rate is how fast you’re “burning” through cash and, ultimately, how long you have until you have no cash left—if you need a fillable spreadsheet that helps with this calculation, here it is, courtesy of our friends at Skytale Group.) Then, make a list of outstanding bills and get on the phone to call your vendors. I promise, your business partners will understand (see #2 above). Make a list of things you can cut and things you can’t. The process of going through your business will make you feel better, and it will inform you of things that you’re spending money on that you don’t really need. And make sure you communicate with your team—we’re all isolated, and it’s easy to forget that your team is also stressed and cannot read your mind. Now is the time for leadership, and that requires communication.
- Pick. Up. The. Phone. Seriously, call someone. Anyone. There are tons of people you can call—coworkers, family, friends, enemies… frenemies, even. Ask them how they’re doing, over the phone. We have such a digital society that it’s easy to fall into the habit of communicating by email or text. But hearing other peoples’ actual voices can be refreshing. To take this a step further, have video meetings with your team and FaceTime calls with your family. Seeing other people helps. Science says that humans need interaction with other humans, so it’s worth the effort to make that connection.
- Focus on the good that is happening. It’s difficult to do, but the best thing to do is turn off the stupid news. Check in to get informed, but the bulk of your day can’t be spent following the bad news of the day, or you’re likely to start tearing your hair out. Right now, the news is bad. Count on it. But you know what? There are also some really amazing, inspiring, selfless things that people are doing out there. Our incredible marketing team put together this post of positivity that is really inspiring. And you know what? It’s not just bad for you—it’s bad for everyone, and there’s always someone worse off than you. So instead of dwelling on the bad, focus on the good things and what you can do for everyone else. All it takes is a little switch and your mood changes, which changes your outlook, which changes your focus, which puts you in a better mood.
None of this is easy. None of us have ever dealt with anything like this before—not even close. And there will be tough times ahead. But if you focus, plan and, most importantly, be nice to one another, it’ll make things easier for everyone else. We’ll get through this. We’re all in this together!
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