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I Can See Clearly Now…

Did you start the new year with bright shiny plans and a Can-Do Attitude? Everywhere you look are references to how the outlook is poor or changing at an obscenely slow pace. It’s enough to consider putting your head under a pillow and see if things will get better without you.

They won’t… so let’s try a different approach

We’re not talking about half-baked, “everything will be all right” optimism. It’s really about resiliency, a deeper form of optimism. Resiliency is an amazing trait that successful small business owners have in their psyche. It is the faith in yourself that you can cope with adversity successfully.

Resilient business owner“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way”

Sure things aren’t all bright and shiny right now in the business community. Seems like they are more like that moment after a terrible storm when things are calm again, the clouds are lifting away, and  you can see the aftermath. In this moment of quiet, you know you can handle it. You’ve got the tools and the skills. You made it through the storm and you can make it through the clean up as well. This is resiliency.

So what really makes us resilient? Some of the factors named by the American Psychological Association in their article,

The Road To Resilience, actually sound like typical strategies we use in our small businesses all the time:

  • The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • Skills in communicating and problem solving
  • The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses*

“Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day”

When we’re in crisis or the crisis is swirling around us, it’s not easy to know the best course of action. Do you hunker down and wait? Do you continue with your original plans? People around us have opinions and feelings that buffet us. There are the people who say the sky is falling. There are others who say stay the course and keep a stiff upper lip. There are others who say adjustments must be made but everything will be all right. There comes a moment in resiliency when it doesn’t even matter if the crisis is still happening or not. This moment has a serenity when you know what you must do. You’re sure the sun will come back again eventually.

“I think I can make it now, the pain is gone, all of the bad feelings have disappeared…”

That asterisk after “the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses” is an important one. Often we resist our crises and refuse to pay attention to our emotions. We figure if we stay busy going day to day, it will all go away magically. Emotions are often tied to expectations. Before the crisis, we expected things to carry on forever. When this doesn’t happen, we are actually experiencing a loss. Some of what eats away at our resilence are feelings of grief. Couple this with sense of insecurity, even the most confident person will have doubts and fears. Talking to a trusted friend or mentor removes the emotional charge that keeps us from thinking clearly. (Clients tell me that writing down everything that is in their heads in a journal or on a piece of paper can serve the same purpose.) When you acknowledge what you’re feeling, it clears the way to cope effectively.

“…It’s going to be bright, bright sunshiny day”

No crisis goes away overnight. Like I wrote in the beginning, this is not about some half-baked “everything will be all right” kind of thinking. Resiliency is a choice to manage yourself and your business positively. Acknowledge that things are bad or at least not ideal for you. Now make a plan that reflects how you want to build a thriving small business. You’re not alone and you’ve got the power of resiliency to weather anything.

How are you resilient?

What steps are you taking to keep yourself sane and your business thriving?

Growing a business locally or internationally takes a different mindset; the CEO Mindset. Elli St.George-Godfrey, a behavioral economics coach, international expansion consultant and founder of Ability Success Growth, uses her 3 Keys Coaching process to help business owners and executives in the US, Ireland and Northern Ireland to unlock the CEO within. Under her guidance, personal styles are fine-tuned allowing the senior leader to “authentically inhabit” the role of CEO and collaborate with their team more effectively. With this focus on both the people and the organization in which they work, Elli’s market-proven coaching helps leaders and their teams develop styles and capabilities which enables them to collaborate and effectively join together to optimize the business outcomes.

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  • Just do it! There are few words, plans, or gimmicks that can beat that advice. Motion always seems to create excitement and energy–and boy when it catches traction–watch out.

  • Anonymous

    Great piece Tony, I especially agree with the part about getting someone else to do it, all too many people with small businesses feel they have to do it all themselves.


  • Elaine, thanks for commenting and reminding us in the rest of the world there will always be a green Ireland. Happy St. Paddy’s Day. Cheers!

  • Great quote Gregfry and I’ll share a little secret too: I’m no good at tiling bathrooms either. Cheers!

  • Sage and succinct words from a man of motion! Thanks for your comment Bill.

  • Tibor, I thought you might particularly like that part of the advice. Certainly many businesses out there could benefit from your excellent sales training help. (Hello, Reader, is that you?) Cheers!

  • Great points Barney. In our case we started using for instance on-deman CRM two years ago but mainly because our customer database had to be somewhere. In this case, the need to have a secure database was not letting us see all the other 100 useful things that you can do with your CRM. We have explored them gradually. Still trying to understand better use of CRMs.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Barney – CRM is essential for all business. Easy to work the customers you know and who know you that target new biz.

    Had a interesting conversation with my mechanics wife a few months back as she managed all non technical stuff for the biz. She was talking about the high cost of advertsing in a local publication. I asked her if she had a database of all existing customers who had used the service to which she replied no. Crazy that orgs still chase new business when managing existing business is much easier.


  • Hey Barney, congrats! another spanking #SugarTone entry – you are a busy bee 🙂 I am often asked to advise about CRM, for me CRM is about having information that makes having the relationship with customers/prospects better/easier. All too often, CRM is seen as as administration tool/task and this misses the point of what it was meant to do. By the way, there are some cool things happening around social CRM, it’s a space carries big potential in my opinion. Great read! Niall

  • Anonymous

    Great post Barney,

    I often find people shy away from CRMs for two reasons – 1. They have a perception that is costly and 2. They do not understand what CRM is and therefore feel it is not relevant for their business.

    I myself could be with a shake up when it comes to managing my own database. At present I am using What other CRM companies would you recommend for small businesses?

  • Agree totally Paul. She understood her customer but that is no good unless you capture that somewhere and use it appropriately to develop the business. Thanks for reading.

  • Zoho is one of the better one’s actually :). There are others out there – but the reality is to use what works for you. Whether that’s a notebook (clunky, but it can work!), a spreadsheet or whatever. The key is to make sure you capture the customer feedback and sentiment in a way that you can then use to develop your business. Thanks for reading.

  • Hi. Thanks for reading Fred. I would suggest that alot of the time, people buy the technology without really understanding what they want to do with the information. Glad to see you have the former sorted and are working out what to do with the latter 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the speedy response Barney.

  • Customer Loyalty – my manager talked about this very often back in my working days. I agree with Niall, many have misunderstood the main concept of CRM but focusing more on the tools they’re supposed to be using. I love the idea of a spreadsheet, simple yet effective. It doesn’t have to be a costly app if we know how to use our limited resources. Another good article, Barney. A prolific writer you are. 🙂

    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • Thanks for the feedback and reading 🙂

  • Hi Barney. Good to see your take on CRM. I agree that it’s all about that relationship with your customers. We’ve scratched our own itch in this area and launched our CRM app yesterday . Would love to get your comments/feedback on it, since you have an active interest in such systems. I’ve tried to make it 100% customer-centric.

  • Excellent article on CRM. I’d like to relate a story that happened to me recently, and truly illustrates how CRM is important for all organizations:

    I am the president of a local Toastmasters club, and we just held an Open House, which we managed using online tools. We are lucky that we made that decision. We publicized the event using social media as well as traditional media. A week out from the Open House, we were most of the way to filling the room, then success/disaster struck. We landed on the front page of the local newspaper. Within a few hours we were sold out. By the day of the event, we had as many people on the wait list as we could fit into the room.

    Can you imagine the CRM experience if we hadn’t managed the event by issuing tickets? We would have had 280 people show up to attend an event in a room that held 140. As it was, we were able to collect everyone’s data (we used and contacted ticket holders to remind them close to the date and to ask that they let us know if they couldn’t make it. We let them know that the wait list was long, and that we wanted to offer their seat to someone else, if they couldn’t attend.

    20 people contacted us to release their seats, which was surprising, and our no show rate was below 5%. (Astounding for a free event). We were also able to move some of the wait list people to another event the following night, and are working to book another night for the remaining people.

    We also used the tool to contact the wait list people and let them know that they haven’t been forgotten, that we are working on an event just for them, and to invite them to our next meeting.

    CRM isn’t just for businesses, it is for not for profits too!

    If you offer seminars as part of your business, you may wish to look at eventbrite as a tool. It was quick and easy for us to use, and was a no cost tool, as we weren’t charging for our event. We now have a contact list, loaded with 280 names for future events. It was well worth the few minutes it took to learn the tool and use it, and it’s use created a positive “customer experience” where we could have had a disaster.

    [I have no business relationship with eventbrite, it just worked well for us.]

  • Anonymous

    CRM certainly seems to be making a comeback these days. I’ve recently started hearing more about the term Social CRM, and I noticed that Accenture are really starting to push this concept – obviously with a few to getting more consultants off the bench.

    It will be interesting to see if the application of Social Media to CRM will help create a resurgence in this field.

  • Cool post Elli. I wouldn’t be able to simply acknowledge bad times, put my head down and wait for the storm to stop. There’s ALWAYS something you can do to stay ahead.
    I guess the simplest advice, as Seth Godin suggests, is to focus of gifts. If you have extra time or even if you don’t! (make some), invest time preparing pieces of content to give away that reflect your passion and knowledge about a subject. Not only this will make you feel better, but you’ll be constantly developing your skills and staying ahead, visible… so more people can find you 🙂

  • Nice one Elli, I try to keep moving, it’s about getting things done, It’s about seeing what opportunities exist for me now. So long as I can count the small steps, I’m feeling fine.

    “Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies.
    Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies!”

  • Anonymous


    Great post. Really enjoyed this. While I always keep moving, I am aware that so does everything around me, so very often yesterday’s aspirations and goals require a tweak or two to ensure success today!

  • Anonymous


    Yes, change is a certainty. Good for you for seeing how everything is in motion and you have the choice to adapt!

  • Anonymous


    Small steps definitely count! Thanks for pointing them out. I think too many of us think we have to do leaps or something equally huge. Love your optimism!

  • Anonymous


    Yes, yes, yes! There is always something you can do! It can be small like Niall described or it can be preparation for movement like you point out. Resilient people are frequently generous because they have the capacity for compassion, empathy, and gratitude.

  • Super post Elli! In the current climate, it’s very easy to be dragged down by negativity. The point you make on resilience to what I would call the “nay-sayers” is very well made. If everyone listened to them, the business world would have stopped long ago. Like Niall, setting small and realistic goals for my business are what keeps me seeing clearly. Thanks for sharing

  • Ironically Elli, I get a lot of inspiration from working with my clients. We never listen to our own advice (which is often the best, as it is always about us) so when I go through discussions and goals and action plans with clients, it’s a great reminder for myself to keep upbeat, focused on resilience and know that things are changing and moving every day

    When I am training, there is a similar effect, but the added bonus of feeling energised after every session. Now that we have less payments coming though the letterbox, every payment is appreciated more 🙂

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Elli creative post – Me likes it!!Like Barney says – I stay clear of the doom and gloom merchants. I mentioned in another post – exercise is powerful, clears my head and provided energy. I am 24/7 alert to new ideas and opportunities….P.S. I am laughing to myself here. Check out my next post. We both have a great taste in music :-)Paul

  • Anonymous


    It is very easy to get dragged down by the negativity when things are in such flux. While the trend is up, it can feel like such a slog through the mud. And yet, we do have control over our choices and our actions. Small is beautiful! Thanks for commenting!

  • Anonymous


    I got such a chuckle from your comment about not listening to our own advice. Our clients are such wonderful amplifiers of what we need to work on to improve or enhance ourselves.

    Things are changing and moving every day! I would imagine you are a wise and wonderful gift to your clients. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • Anonymous


    Thanks for your compliments and comment! Exercise is a fabulous way to stay resilient. All those endorphins make you feel so good and capable! Great tip!

    P.S. I can’t wait to see your next post! 🙂

  • Wow ! You sure have done a great effort putting these inputs about CRM Management Software in position. These information are sure of great help.

  • Wow ! You sure have done a great effort putting these inputs about CRM Management Relationship Management in position. These information are sure of great help.

  • Hi John & welcome to TweakYourBiz. The Costco story is very interesting and no, I hadn’t heard of them before so thanks for the introduction. 

  • Hi Niall, thank you very much! It’s an incredible sales model and it really does make you consider the options for shaking up the standard “business & market models”.  

  • It is so tempting to use models that have existed and been successful previously, far easier than re-inventing the wheel. But John, your point about “being the rival” is the key here. A great book by Oren Harari “Break from the Pack” covers this topic in detail and is an inspirational read for anyone who wants to literally break from the pack 🙂

    I even attended a business mastermind programme based on this very concept

    Welcome to TYB John, great post

  • John, a brilliant point here. 

    Many small business owners have absolutely no idea how their companies are performing, how much money they have, how much they can expect in the future, what’s the overall performance of the team and its members and so on. And, it works quite well for them but only until something happens and they run into trouble. With clever performance tracking you can foresee and avoid quite a lot of potential problems (not to mention that to actually know how your business is “doing” too). 
    Well done. 

  • Thanks Pawel.

    It is at times very scary to consider what the process of tracking is with some companies. The balance sheet may say one thing but the upcoming downfall will never be seen, so they start to lose and they will never know where or even when it can be turned around. 

  • warrenrutherford

    John – in agreement here with Pawel and Sian. My effort with clients is to establish simple business plan, with measurable goals, strategies, action items, etc. You are each right of the challenge to get an owner to focus and implement.  Great post on how the sales end of the metrics get tracked.

  • Thank you Warren! It’s an incredibly common sight within companies where the employees are not motivated and productivity begins to slow, even though targets may stress some people out they will all feel a satisfaction once completed or even drive harder to accomplish further goals. Can never say it enough but metrics need to be track.

  • Ruan

    1 hour 14 mins for a 2 mile jog?? I’m guessing you’re not a Kenyan..

  • A great investor told me yesterday – you need metrics!!! Measure, measure, measure – and this was from an Investor AND and Entrepreneurial point of view. And then I read your post John, and it just amplifies the need to look at the figures, adn not just look at them, but make sense of them!
    As most biz owners hate accounts and number crunching, they generally leave it up to their finance team or accountant – or worse still, the end of year accounts. 
    As my investor friend said – ” a perfect way to go broke”
    Great post John, thanks.

  • I find it impossible to raise my rates, but thanks to your post, it’ll be more possible.

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