Are you prepared for the post-pandemic changes affecting your business?

Are you prepared for the post-pandemic changes affecting your business?

I don’t know about you, but I started 2020 with big plans for my life and business. Of course, we all know what happened next.

While it is tempting to look at the last sixteen months as a period of limbo, the pandemic has allowed us to pause to take stock of what is working, what could be better, and what is no longer serving us.

As a result, re-evaluation and revolution have taken place in politics, social justice, business, and more.

This period of change is an inflection point for business owners, whether they are directly feeling the effects right now or not. Buyers’ needs are shifting. The way we do business is evolving at breakneck speed. What worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow.

Look no further than an online search for “pandemic business inflection point” to see how much this is a present concern for business owners.

While decisions made during inflection points can make or break a business, it’s also a time of immense opportunity.

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How to gain clarity to find the best roadmap for your business

How to gain clarity to find the best roadmap for your business

How can you tell which things you should focus your limited time, money, and energy on to get the best results in your business?

With so many things pulling at your attention, it can be challenging as a business owner to know what should get your attention now and what can wait.

It’s easy to end up operating in a reactionary mode that stretches you thin The fog of working in your business day to day clouds the path ahead.

So, how do you clear the fog and gain clarity about the best roadmap for your business?

When I was five years old, I went on a hike with my grandpa that led to a large, white letter Y painted on the side of the mountain (a reference to the name of a local school).

What should have been a two-hour round-trip hike turned into a four-hour trek in the hot sun?

We’d been so focused on the ground in front of us that we strayed from the main path.

For a couple of hours, we traversed ravines, followed deer paths, and hoped we were headed in the right direction.

After a good deal of wandering, we finally emerged into a clearing strewn with white painted rocks. We had finally arrived.

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Wherever you're in your career and business, I invite you to remember Steve Jobs' quote. Remember, you are in the process of discovering the dots as you go.

Steve Jobs said this made all the difference to his success

In life and business, we often want to control things. We want to be sure about which path to take and where it will lead. We want to see the dots and know how to connect them.

As a college student, I studied engineering. I loved learning a formula, solving for the variables, and getting a correct answer.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had to (and continue to) unlearn that approach. There are too many variables, most of them out of control. Scary, I know. It makes it impossible to look ahead and find the “right” solution.

Take a look at this great quote from Steve Jobs’ famous commencement speech from 2005.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Back in 2003, I quit my one-and-only post-college employment after only three years as an engineer. I jumped into real estate investing because I’d read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

I didn’t know it yet, but this was the first “dot” of many that I would manage to connect in the coming years.

Participating in the real estate investing community led me to consult real estate investors about marketing. (I’d gained marketing chops—as well as would-be mutton chops—over several years of promoting my band, Desmo.)

Eventually, consulting lead to the idea to run a one-day seminar about marketing for real estate investors. I booked a room at the local community college and filled it with 25 people grossing $8000.

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The advice to follow your passion typically promotes a sense that things will be easier. However, it isn’t the most reliable compass to guide you toward a successful business strategy.

Why “follow your passion” is bad advice

“Follow your passion!”

Research shows this well-meaning advice can set you up to fail in two ways.

Firstly, the advice to follow your passion typically promotes a sense that things will be easier if you do so, increasing the likelihood of giving up when things are more challenging than expected.

Secondly, following this advice makes us less likely to notice and pursue ideas and opportunities outside of a narrow focus. As a thought leader, your work depends on generating new ideas. You are most likely to find the innovations that will elevate your work by looking in non-obvious places outside of your passions.

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Whenever I find myself at a critical business juncture, I "get out of the building," not literally, especially during COVID, but in the spirit of stepping out of my element.

Get out of the building

I’ve done over 20 coaching calls in the past three weeks. While the topics of each call varied, one piece of advice came up more than any other.

The advice applied whether I was coaching someone just starting out or someone who already had a thriving business.

This advice is my go-to when it comes to getting clarity and confidence about business strategy, both for myself and my clients.

It’s a treasure trove of inspiration and validation.

It’s a simple piece of advice, and yet so many overlook it.

In the words of renowned entrepreneur and author, Steven Blank.

Get out of the building.

In other words, get out and have in-depth conversations with your intended market in which you ask them meaningful questions about their experience.

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