Tis March and the weather in New England has been predictably unpredictable. This year, however, the unpredictability has been extreme. Last week it was 80 degrees in Boston and the kids in our town were stuck taking the state standardized tests in a school building without air conditioning. I, along with everyone else, was also caught off guard by the warm weather. Tomorrow night the temperature is suppose to drop down into the 20’s! Every morning is a new adventure.
In New England we are used to fluctuations in the weather, but this year has been a real roller coaster ride. It is one thing when the weather throws you for a loop, but how do you handle it when your business climate fluctuates? How do you stay cool with unexpected heat? How do you get the fire burning when things suddenly turn cold? While you can’t know every twist and turn in the road, there are strategies you can employ to stop those speed bumps from stripping the underbelly of your engine.
First, we need to remember that much like the month of March, entrepreneurship is also unpredictable especially in the beginning. When we accept the fact things will not unfold in a straight line, we can relax. It is easy to get discouraged when our business plans don’t progress in a steady pattern. In some ways it would be easier if everything was always just a little bit hard so we would know what to expect, but that’s not the way business or life works. Sometimes there are early victories followed by losses and setbacks. If we can get it out of our heads that there is a way our paths “should” go, our journeys will be much easier.
Secondly, even when we know the landscape of entrepreneurship is variable, sometimes we still get caught off guard. We feel a hint of warmer weather and we impulsively lunge forward. Or we experience an extended cold pattern and lose faith that things will eventually open up and bloom. What we need to do is emulate the crocus. Warm or cold, sun or snow they poke up through the dirt. They do not stick their head’s out, feel the chill and dive back into the earth. They diligently show up and give us the signs of things to come. However, the groundwork for their arrival is laid many months in advance. They do not spring up spontaneously. Instead, they work hard under foot and out of sight to soak up nutrients and germinate until at last they break through the soil.
As entrepreneurs we too need to stay the course, no matter the weather. If we keep our attention on our goals and the immediate actions needed to manifest those goals, we are less distracted by the ups and downs that are bound occur. The mountains and valleys we experience simply become part of the landscape instead of the main focal point. When we keep learning and nourishing our minds, bodies and businesses, the fruits of our labors will come, rain, snow or shine.
Finally, if you do get caught off guard, it’s not the end of the world. What do you do if you have an 80 degree day in the middle of March? You clomp up the stairs to the attic and dig out your flip-flops. What do you do if you suddenly need cash in your business? You do the thing you know will bring in income right now even if it’s not your favorite task. The situation will not last forever. You simply adjust and get back to getting on. If there is a blizzard on April 1st do we assume summer will never come? No, we shovel out, get on with our lives and appreciate the changing seasons. If you get an unexpected storm in your business, that too will pass. You prepare when you can and when you can’t, you roll up your sleeves and clean up. You then get back to nourishing and preparing the soil for greener pastures. If you do, your garden and your business will be in full bloom before you know it!