Hello! I hope you're doing safe & well - truly. 2020 has been a heck of a year but now that December is here, I can see the finish line and the promise of a new year. I'm looking forward to ending 2020.
No doubt there's been huge shifts for all of us. But I find some comfort in knowing we all faced these uncertain times together. In a strange, surreal way - it connects all of us now.
When I catch up with friends & family, I'm often asked how the business is doing. I can never really give the full breadth of everything in a single conversation - but I do want to share what this year has been like through my eyes as a business owner.
Here are 3 things I did to keep my health, sanity, and business bulletproof and unfuckwithable.
1. PROTECT & STABILIZE
Earlier this year, I watched in disbelief as stories of desperation, panic, and confusion started to unfold overseas. I knew it was only a matter of time before the pandemic would make its way to America. So I started preparing and making the necessary changes immediately. By the time the shutdown was in effect - my team and I were able to fully operate without every missing a day.
I focused on two things.
A) Protect the health of my self, my team, and my clients.
B) strengthen & stabilize operations
In the beginning, it felt a lot like surfing and trying to balance on water. I didn't know what was going to knock the wind out of me or my business. I remember being on edge for 96 hours while waiting on the governor's ruling on whether my business would be deemed "essential". I was terrified of the idea of having to "shutdown" my business.
But I remained calm, agile, and alert. I didn't drive myself crazy thinking through "what if" scenarios. I didn't try to come up with Plan B, C, D, etc.
I focused all of my energy on ensuring my business would be deemed "essential". I called every cleaner I knew in New York and connected with other cleaners throughout America. I reviewed the laws and rules with all of them. I reached out to cleaning associations that I'm a member of who also had political connections.
In other words, I didn't just wait around for the verdict. I used my influence and connections to stay in the loop and stay in the know. I did everything in my power to push for a favorable outcome.
I needed to be flexible enough to ride the waves as they came; and sensitive to the slightest changes in the air so I could best position myself and my company.
On March 20, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced NY PAUSE where laundry and dry cleaning services were deemed essential and can remain operational throughout the shutdown.
I was relieved.
Thankfully my team and I started working on restructuring our communication & safety protocol prior to the shutdown. I had also widened our tech reach so anyone could communicate with us at anytime.
These protocols put us ahead of the game.
- We never relied on foot traffic.
- We made our technology available to every client.
- We made it easy for clients to communicate with us.
- We pushed our free contactless pickup & delivery service.
- We shared our system for disinfecting everything.
Once I stabilized operations, I retreated within myself. It's as if I knew a bigger storm was coming. So instead of using my energy to fight the impending storm above water, I retreated deep within - like sinking to the ocean floor, where no amount of strong winds or lightning would be felt.
2. REFOCUS, RE-ENERGIZE
I knew that big changes were underway and it was going to bring confusion with it. So before I made any big decisions - I spent a lot of time within my self.
Everything begins with the SELF. How we see the world, our relationships, and our circumstances is directly correlated with our relationship to our SELF. In fact, the world is just a mirror of what we hold and think to be true.
Everything begins with the self. How we see the world, our relationships, and our circumstances is directly correlated with our relationship to our self.
Your SELF is your one constant in life. No matter what happens on the outside - politically, economically, socially - your SELF is your one true north star. It's a compass you can rely on to navigate you even through the darkest of nights. It has many names - your gut; your intuition; your power. Whatever you call it - once you align it with your thoughts and actions a very clear path unfolds before you.
I take a few minutes every morning and every night to align myself. It's much easier said than done. In business, they say you must learn how to manage your time and your budget efficiently. This is true. But just as important is the ability to control your thoughts, and your mind.
I refocused my energies to prepare for the next battle. Once I stabilized operations, I knew the next thing to protect was the cash flow and financial health of the company.
This was going to be a big fight. One the one hand, I had to ruthlessly remove all unnecessary expenses. On the other hand, I had to aggressively acquire & retain clients. Quite difficult considering that:
"Roughly 5 percent of residents — or about 420,000 people — left the city between March 1 and May 1. In the city’s very wealthiest blocks, in neighborhoods like the Upper East Side, the West Village, SoHo and Brooklyn Heights, residential population decreased by 40 percent or more..." New York Times: The Richest Neighborhoods Emptied Out Most as Coronavirus Hit New York City
Overnight, I saw my clients disappear. This was a desperate time for many people. It wasn't just affecting me and my business. It was affecting the planet. I needed to remind myself that daily.
I grounded myself and worked with what I had. I wasted no time lamenting. It wasn't easy, but it's what was necessary. I focused on the tasks at hand and approached every conversation with grace and compassion.
I spent so much time on the phone negotiating out of agreements and drafting letters to make my case. But I was focused. Everything that I said; everything that I did - protected the cash flow and financial health of the company. Part of focusing is removing all doubt and distraction from your purview. Once you're focused, you could complete any task with a clear conscience - no matter how difficult and uncomfortable it is.
3. LEARN, DIVERSIFY, CREATE
The fight is far from over. But I've successfully restructured the company into a lean machine and secured its' cash flow for the foreseeable future.
As I think back on 2020, I'm reminded of the challenges I faced in 2015/2016 when my company was just a year old. I struggled with cash flow, with scaling, with fundraising. To say it was difficult is a gross understatement.
The first few years of a business are volatile; which is why 50% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years. But after having gone through those obstacles and challenges myself - it broke parts of me and forged new muscles. I have the advantage of experiencing fear, difficulty, and uncertainty in the early years of my company. So when instability resurfaced in 2020; I was better prepared. I have the muscles and the instincts to not just survive... but thrive.
I have the muscles and instincts to not just survive... but thrive.
This idea of being "unfuckwithable" is a core belief I hold deep within myself. It means that no matter what happens, no matter what life throws at me - I'll either catch it; it could hit me; it could pass me; it could knock me down.. whatever happens one thing is certain - I'll always stand the fuck back up.
Quick diversion - as dense and as deep as this sounds, when it plays out in real life it happens much quicker - like instinct. I grew up playing sports. I played tennis, softball, basketball amongst others - but basketball is definitely one of my favorites. I enjoyed watching basketball games. I remember going to Knicks games and was awed by the pure artistry of the players.
The spin move is my favorite. There's so many variations of it, but when it's done well - you can appreciate the grace, the elegance, the agility, the technique, the talent, the skill of it.
And right underneath all that - you see the dedication and practice.
Basically it's when a player quickly reacts to an obstacle (another player on defense) by pivoting his body and spinning to make a shot. The action happens so quickly that usually the defending player doesn't have time to react.
If you've never seen spin moves, here are some of the best. It is so entertaining to watch!
So how does being "unfuckwithable" and spin moves apply to business?
Here are some of the spin moves I did to secure my revenue streams:
- 90% of our premium service clients disappeared; so I focused 100% on our everyday affordable service
- Dry cleaning services took a big hit; so I focused on our laundry service
- Fashion shows, events, and galas stopped; so I focused on dry cleaning everyday uniforms for doormen, porters, and supers
I diversified. I focused on the parts of our business that still met the needs of people and I pushed that. I remained agile and open-minded.
I also created new revenue streams. Since the inception of Juliette I've always wanted to develop products to complement our services. 2020 gave me the opportunity to finally turn that dream into a reality. Over the past 6 months I've toiled over releasing the first Juliette product. It's a limited run of 100 candle / textile spray sets. A great gift for the holidays! *ahem ahem*
I'll speak more of it in another post, but if you're interested in purchasing or learning more, just reach out to me directly!
These are defining moments for all of us. As a business owner, I am even more prescient that the decisions we make everyday will set the course for our future. But what doesn't break you, makes you stronger.
What doesn't break you, makes you stronger.
Yes, there are many challenges, but they are just as many opportunities. Widen your perspective... Pivot... Spin... do whatever you have to do to thrive. Don't just survive. Focus.
We made it together this far. Whatever happened in 2020, we're still here. We're still standing. Take pride in that.