Well, what a year that was. You will be pleased to know that this is not going to be a “new year, new you” article. Quite frankly I disagree with the whole concept of reinventing yourself annually. Why would you? If you are anything like me, you will be exiting 2020 more experienced in business than you ever imagined, and that’s certainly something you want to carry with you into 2021.
I have been lucky to have been in business in one way, shape or form for the vast majority of my adult life and I can say, hand on heart, that I have learnt more in the past 12 months than those years combined. I have been a victim of fraud, had closures and been unable to trade in multiple businesses while trying to manage staff remotely and juggle the launch of two new companies through uncertain times. It has been excellent and exhilarating. While the experiences of 2020 have not been the most pleasant to say the least, the year taught us all a huge amount about ourselves, those around us and our businesses.
So, let’s not discount last year; let’s embrace the knowledge we have gained and forge ahead stronger than ever.
MOVE INTO ACTION
In my article in the November issue of Aesthetic Medicine I talked about exit planning. Having a plan is vital, even if it’s on the inside of your diary or on a scrap of paper – we are not looking for perfection but direction. The big picture thinking here is the end game. Only you know what you want at the end of this. For example, my end game is a legacy for my family. I love doing a deal of some description so, while I am sure at some point I will slow down, I will always do something. This clear end picture is vital because the journey to that end point is winding and things can easily go go off the path. If last year taught us anything it’s that even the best laid plans can go awry through no fault of our own.
The key when things do fall of course is not to become a victim but to own the responsibility of the situation. My many years as a pilot and flying instructor taught me that the most stressful situations happen when an incident disrupts the plan. There’s a disbelief phase, then an acceptance phase, followed by an action process. The trick is to understand that if you can push through the first two phases and get into the action phase, you not only save valuable mind space and energy (which can be transferred into positive actions), but you also give yourself the lead over your competitors.
The finest example of this I can give you is racing driver Alex Zanardi, who, following a terrible accident, lost both his legs in the prime of his career. In one of his very first interviews after the accident he said: “I am still the same person, only lighter.” He moved straight into the action phase and went on to become a multi-medal winning paralympian.
BEWARE OF SHINY PENNIES
“Shiny penny syndrome” is the temptation to go all in when opportunities are presented to you all wrapped up in shiny promises. Examples of this are: “This latest piece of tech will revolutionise your business”; “This course will teach you the hottest treatment trend of 2021” or, “My business coaching programme is perfect for you; I know your struggles and will help you.”
Don’t just grab at the shiny pennies. Think about the end goal you are moving towards. Do you want to work reduced hours, for example? If that’s the case, then is investment in a large piece of capital equipment that you’ll need to book more appointments to pay off a good decision for you at this time? And speaking of business mentoring, it can be invaluable but does your mentor share the same morals and drive? Have they had direct experience in a business like yours? What can they actually teach you? Always consider your end goal before entering into something new.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Think back to last year and how you managed stress and your attitude to risk. What is your tolerance to risk and what are acceptable levels of stress for you? For example, would you feel exposed without three months’ worth of cashflow in deposit in the bank? If so, then spending that money on something like a new machine may leave you so stressed that you cannot work to the best of your ability. This would be damaging to you and your business. If this is the case, perhaps think about leveraging finance and keeping that cash in reserve.
The trick is to not overthink things. You are you. It is your feelings about what you are comfortable with in regards to risk that matter. You have your own vision for your life and ultimately your clinic or business is simply an extension of that. So, trust your gut feelings and don’t second-guess yourself, because not only do you have the vision but you now have a mountain of experience to call upon.
While we are discussing the whole subject of stress management, there is one fundamental principle I believe is often ignored – you are your greatest asset. Invest in that asset like you would any other asset in your business or life. The laser that you have in the clinic has various parts that need servicing and repairing every now and again. You are no different. In fact, you are far more important to the operation of the clinic, so if you are not scheduling time for yourself to relax, do things you are passionate about or take time out to do nothing at all, you are not looking after the most vital asset of the business.
“If you are not scheduling time for yourself you are not looking after the most vital asset of the business”
My business plans for the year also include my personal goals so that when I schedule my diary it includes time to spend on my health, my personal development and achieving my personal goals. If you haven’t included these things in your business plan for 2021, I would suggest you do so.
And finally if you find yourself struggling mentally in any way, reach out. Use the Aesthetic Medicine community to interact with your peers. I have been asked to contribute to a number of the upcoming AM virtual events, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will get back to live industry events starting with AML in May. So, if you see me please come and say “hi”, or connect on social media and reach out.
Let’s all support each other and have an outstanding 2021. Whatever the world decides to throw at us, let’s hit it hard with a clear vision of our future and now, with a hell of a lot of experience.
Phil Elder is a multiple business owner. His portfolio includes Neos Clinic, an aesthetic clinic in Ipswich, accountancy practice RSZ Accountancy and a finance company. Blogs, videos and other resources on business efficiency, structuring a company, tax savings and more can be found on Phil’s website: philipelder.uk