Embracing Uncertainty

Posted by David Chism | Fri, Jul 17, 2020

 Embracing Uncertainty

By mid-March (2020), many of my cus­tomers were hav­ing record leads and sales com­ing out of the gloomy win­ter months. Things were look­ing up. I had just got­ten through months of plan­ning and set­ting the strate­gies for my cus­tomers and was look­ing for­ward to a smooth spring sea­son with lots of leads! 

A week pri­or, I had just returned from New York City vis­it­ing A.G. Williams Paint­ing, then spend­ing a lit­tle time in Cen­tral Park. Peo­ple asked me if I was con­cerned about the COVID-19 virus, espe­cial­ly after the risky NYC vis­it. In all hon­esty, I wasn’t con­cerned at all. 

The thought of a cri­sis hadn’t entered my mind. 

The Cri­sis

On March 18th, I was attend­ing an all-day busi­ness coach­ing meet­ing. In the after­noon, my phone and email began to light up with con­cerned mes­sages from cus­tomers. We need to talk!” We need to pause ser­vices.” We need to can­cel all marketing…” 

My stress lev­el went from 0 to 60 in sec­onds. After review­ing the mes­sages, the fear of uncer­tain­ty flood­ed my mind. I won­dered if I would have a busi­ness at the end of the month if the mes­sages from clients con­tin­ued to pour in as they did in just a few hours. 

What made mat­ters even worse is that I had just wrapped up ser­vices with my busi­ness coach, obvi­ous­ly hav­ing no way of know­ing how much I would need coach­ing mov­ing for­ward. I was in the process of inter­view­ing a per­son­al coach when the can­cel­la­tions started. 

That evening, things didn’t get any better. 

I remem­ber com­ing home to my fam­i­ly late that night and try­ing real­ly hard to act like I was just fine, and like every­thing would be just fine. That after­noon and evening may have been the most chal­leng­ing moments of my life up to that point. The kids came run­ning over to me and asked how I was doing. I crum­bled to the kitchen floor and start­ed to cry. My kids and my wife sur­round­ed me with hugs and kisses. 

The fol­low­ing two weeks were pret­ty rough. I had to put staff on unem­ploy­ment and spend many hours and days nego­ti­at­ing with clients and sal­vaging accounts. There was a moment where I almost just quit. I could have eas­i­ly walked away from the busi­ness and said, I can­not do this… It’s over!” 

This is where I began to real­ly cry out to God and pray. I began to read through Psalms and find com­fort in the Lord. Proverbs 16:9 says, The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord estab­lish­es his steps.” 

I knew what I had to do, and I knew God had led me to run A David Cre­ation. I start­ed it in 2009, dur­ing one of the worst economies in decades. I made it through that tri­al, so I began to try and embrace the uncer­tain­ty. I began to fight off the sto­ries I was telling myself dur­ing those first few weeks of shut­down: self-doubt, fear of the unknown, I can’t do this, I don’t know how to help my cus­tomers and save my busi­ness at the same time… 

These were just sto­ries. They were not true. 

The Change

I began to take risks and learn to be curi­ous about the uncer­tain days ahead of me. I also made peace with the very real pos­si­bil­i­ty that my busi­ness wouldn’t survive. 

I decid­ed that I didn’t need to live in fear, but did need to fight to save not only my busi­ness but also help my cus­tomers push through their own uncer­tain­ties. One cool thing I remem­ber about April is how close I got with my clients. All our calls were sim­i­lar. We talked about per­son­al things — not just busi­ness. We also end­ed the calls by say­ing things like, We’ve got this!” We are in this togeth­er!” We’ll make it through!” 

I took a leap of faith and hired a new busi­ness coach as well as signed up for a 5‑month lead­er­ship course called Lead­ing Change.” It all fell into my lap the week before the shut­down. I had no idea how valu­able this course would be in my life. It is all about embrac­ing change, fac­ing the unknown, and learn­ing how to stay curi­ous and lead! 

The Pos­si­bil­i­ties

Embrac­ing uncer­tain­ty can prove to be a won­der­ful thing for your home improve­ment busi­ness. Step out of your com­fort zone and shut off the flow of neg­a­tive sto­ries, like: 

  • I can­not grow” 
  • I nev­er get enough leads” 
  • All my staff does is complain” 
  • I can’t find good people”

If you take risks, stop the fear, and are will­ing to be curi­ous about what you can cre­ate, you’ll be amazed at the end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for your busi­ness that lies ahead. You have what it takes to move your busi­ness forward. 

I am so impressed with my cus­tomers who weath­ered the storm this past spring. They didn’t give up, but looked COVID-19 head-on and said, No. You will not take down my business.” 

As I write this post in July of 2020, almost every sin­gle client of mine is back to hav­ing record lead and sales counts again. The num­ber one prob­lem they are hav­ing at the moment is find­ing more employ­ees. Guess what? We are hit­ting that chal­lenge head-on as well. We will make it through this cri­sis. We will embrace change and make things better. 

I am com­mit­ted to mak­ing my own busi­ness stronger and bet­ter. I am work­ing through my sys­tems and mak­ing changes and will be pro­vid­ing new ser­vices in the com­ing months such as mar­ket­ing plans and 1‑day plan­ning ses­sions. I’m back to hir­ing new staff mem­bers (2021: which I have done and con­tin­ue to do) and press­ing on to help con­trac­tors con­tin­ue to excel and grow their businesses. 

One final thing — one of the best deci­sions I made dur­ing COVID was start­ing a week­ly prayer meet­ing for con­trac­tors. We will not stop. Each Fri­day at lunchtime, cus­tomers get togeth­er and pray for our nation, our busi­ness­es, and the home improve­ment indus­try. If I did noth­ing else right dur­ing this shut­down, the prayer meet­ing was the best deci­sion yet. (Sept 2021: It is still going)

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

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