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3 Things I Learned From Hurricane Florence

...and 3 things I’m doing with those lessons


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Hurricane season in NC can be brutal. Although I’ve lived here since a teen, I don’t ever think I will be “calm” during a hurricane. The unpredictability is just too much for me to deal with. Dealing with Hurricane Florence this week drove that home for me. We watched it twist and turn and go from a full fledged beast of a hurricane to a tropical storm that still wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the US. Looked a bit like my business….


I was fortunate during this storm. My area managed to escape the turmoil. But I still had to get prepared, and I still never knew what to expect. I started to get OVER prepared. I figured better safe than sorry. It’s so much easier to be prepared for the worst than to wait til the storm comes to get things together. Unfortunately we don’t do this in other areas of our lives - especially our businesses. Those of us who are small business owners make the mistake of operating just like a small business. Instead, we need to be operating like a Corporation, no matter what size business we own. Truth is, most of us don’t have an emergency kit for our businesses. After thinking about the need for a better contingency plan, I wrote this mini guide for developing an Emergency Business Kit’.

Let me give you a couple of disastrous scenarios that might have a negative impact on your business:

  • A natural disaster that destroys your physical business or inventory supply

  • Sudden illness (You, a family member, or a team member)

  • Geographic economic downturn

Those are just three examples of things that may blindside you and have huge negative impacts on the livelihood of your business. None of those scenarios are things that we necessarily put into our working business plans. But unfortunately they are realistic scenarios that require a bit of planning,  a clear head, and the ability to be flexible.


So what are the lessons I learned from Hurricane Florence?

  1. Include contingencies in your business plan.

It’s much better to develop a strategic plan during the quiet moments in your business than it is to do so during chaos. Most people think disaster preparedness only applies to businesses like beachfront restaurants or hotels, but these aren’t the only businesses that can be affected by natural disasters.

   2.   Have Backup staff

Even if you don’t traditionally have a large staff, it’s important to have people that can be “on call: for you during the tough times. If you can’t afford to hire a large staff, outsourcing a freelance professional is a good short term solution. You can also partner with other businesses similar to yours that can step in and help with the overload. Although they may be a competitor, those people are quite possibly the most qualified to help you run your business effectively. If these aren’t viable options for you, then enlist the help of friends or family. Keep them up to speed with the flow of your business throughout the year. This helps reduce the learning curve when training people to work with you.

  3.  You are only as good as your last project

You’ve gotta stay in the game at all times. You never know when something will pop up that will result in pausing your operation temporarily. In the event that your business has to go on hiatus, it’s good to have irons already in the fire that can carry you through that time period. The positive feedback and the ability to re-purpose any content you previously put out will help you make an easier transition when you are ready. If you go too long without any activity, you run the risk of having to re-introduce yourself to your industry and start from scratch when establishing a trust factor with your clientele.

So what are some things that I've decided to add to my 'Business Emergency Kit’? 3 simple practices:

1- Better Health and Wellness Plan

Without a healthy body and mind, your business will suffer. While some health issues may not be preventable, there are other things that we can do to ensure that we are maximizing our time when we are healthy. Taking an active role in improving my health and wellness will definitely be an integral part of my business plan from now on.

2- Strict Time Management

“Fail to Plan and You Plan to Fail”. I’m the same person who crammed for my LSAT the night before I took it. Why? Because I knew that I could do that and still ace the exam as I always did with every other exam I had ever taken. But just because it works doesn’t mean it’s a great strategy to employ. In the event that things don’t go EXACTLY as planned, you are stuck behind the eight ball. My new strategy is to have TWO backup plans - One for my time management routine, and one for my actual workflow. Workflows don’t do us any good without implementing your time management sequence.

3- Support Staff

My business has always been run as a Solopreneur operation. Sure, I’ve outsourced things from time to time but I’ve never employed someone on a regular basis. That means that whenever I’m in need of outsourcing a project, I have that long learning curve that we talked about. I have to take the time to explain my business and how I want specific things to go. It sucks up my time, and also presents the opportunity to have things lost in translation.

But what do you do if you can’t afford to have someone on staff year round? There are definitely a couple of alternatives.

  • Proper documentation

In the event that someone needs to come in and work in my business right away, I have systems and documents in place to explain the business and how things flow. With each daily activity, I document the process and check off the items that I complete. I even save my to-do lists and organize them by date. It can be time consuming in the beginning, but once you get the ball rolling, it is actually a time saver.

  • Family and Friends

My Mom is my business “Battle Buddy”. She and I get together over dinner and discuss business goals and progress once a week. We talk about new developments, new goals, and new projects. I keep her in the loop with my business in case I need her help IN the business. In the event that something happens to me, she can step in and take charge. Because she has signed a confidentiality agreement and has been briefed on company projects, she is equipped to draft documents on my behalf, help with lead generation, and check for new industry updates. All of this helps to address (and minimize) that dreaded learning curve that pops up when someone new steps in.

  • Management Software - There are tons of mobile apps and desktop software programs that can keep you organized and help prioritize tasks. Find apps that help you sync your calendar and business tasks. Programs like Slack, Hootsuite, and Evernote help you communicate effectively and manage your content across a variety of platforms. Millennial marketing guru Chelsea Krost swears by Fin, an on-demand productivity tool that allows you to take your scheduling and organization to the next level. Their features are so in depth that they are akin to having your own virtual assistant. Check out more on Fin on Chelsea's website, and the special offer they are giving to her readers.

 



Do you have an ‘Emergency Kit’ for your business? What are some of the things that might affect your business in an emergency situation?

Click the button below to get our FREE Business Emergency Kit when you subscribe to our mailing list!

 

 

2014 in Review. Setting the standard for greatness!

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I've never been one to embrace change. But over the past couple of years I have learned to love the changes that have emerged in my life. Looking back on the past year has given me a chance to reflect on all of the positive changes that have happened as I continued to  build my company. Billingslea Media has enjoyed tremendous growth; and the changes in the marketing and technology field are opening up new doors for endless possibilities.

A huge part of this business involves going out and building relationships. I strive to maintain my visibility in the community in order to promote my clients, learn new processes, and create opportunities to link my clients with individuals that will help their businesses grow. I've met some amazing people along the way; and even created opportunities for others outside of my industry. I enjoy seeing the look on people's faces when they realize that their dream is closer than they expected. It's the motivating force behind my company, and it drives me to dream bigger.

Here are a couple of highlights from 2014:

Substantial Magazine

In October of 2014 I was featured in Substantial Magazine. The article highlighted my journey as a businesswoman, and shed light on some of the motivating factors that led me to start Billingslea Media. Aside from being able to express my goals and achievements in the magazine article, we also held an engaging and fun filled photo shoot that captured all of the facets of my personality.

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A month later I found myself engrossed in the mission and potential in the magazine, and published my first article as a Substantial Magazine staff writer. Joining the team has been a perfect marriage of passion, humility, innovation, creativity, and fun. In September we produced our very first awards show in which we honored the contributions of significant leaders in our community. The event garnered the support of hundreds of people across Eastern NC; including university staff members, government officials, and our very own Mayor Allen Thomas. In the coming year, Substantial Magazine will be unveiling a host of new projects and amazing content for our readers. I look forward to applying my experience as a Public Relations professional to the growth of the entire Substantial brand.

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•LinkedIn•

Just as Snapchat is the quintessential marketing tool for the teenage beauty queen, LinkedIn is a necessary tool for the modern day professional who is looking to establish themselves and further their career. Beginning in mid 2014, I decided to increase my activity on the social networking site. I utilized the Premium features of the platform that would allow me to expand my reach.

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Once establishing new connections, I made sure to extend the relationships beyond the home page. I engaged in conversations with my contacts to exchange ideas, establish my expertise, and even make other introductions. My complete LinkedIn profile and publishing page has resulted in connecting like-minded individuals, fine tuning my personal and professional brand, and landing a seat on the board of a local charter school.

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•Tweet Chats•

For years I frowned upon engaging in the "senseless" activity of Tweet Chats. To me, it was a waste of time to sit and look at what other people had to say in response to a professional who was leading the conversation. I didn't have time to filter through their comments, nor did I see the benefit in talking to strangers online.

Little did I know that talking to strangers would be beneficial to furthering my career. Of course it felt a little odd at first, but once I warmed up to the idea of exchanging ideas with others who were seeking more information within my industry, the process became an enjoyable and profitable activity.

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One of my favorite Tweet Chat series this year was the Black Enterprise Corner Office series. The series featured a wide variety of special guests who engaged with the participants and shared information about their areas of expertise. Guests ranged from Actor & Community Activist Lamann Rucker to Entrepreneur and former Apprentice superstar Randall Pinkett. Over the life of the series, Black Enterprise introduced a wide variety of experts who provided an amazing array of pertinent business and community leadership information, and even aided in the introduction of various professionals all over the country. My personal experience with the Black Enterprise Corner Office series has introduced me to several thought leaders who have challenged and encouraged me to grow my business, as well as offer resources to maximize my potential.

•Small Business Saturday

The annual American Express Small Business Saturday provided an opportunity for me to end my year with a bang! Each year, the movement grows larger and larger, and provides free resources for small business owners across the country. Their site offers articles and quick tips to allow merchants to maximize their reach and increase sales. The company also offers FREE marketing materials that are shipped to you free of charge within days. This year's goods were shipped via American Express partner FedEx, and included branded canvas shopping bags, pens, balloons, welcome mats, banners, and extra signage. Business Owners were encouraged to share their ideas and show how they used the promotional materials in their marketing efforts.

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Because Billingslea Media is not a brick and mortar business, being creative in my marketing activities is essential. As I watched other companies and other clients engage in Small Business Saturday activities, I did not want to let the day go by without participating myself. My virtual Small Business Saturday Shopping Spree not only managed to pair several small businesses with one another and allow businesses to increase their weekend sales, but it also caught the attention of CAN Capital. I entered the CAN Capital Small Business Saturday competition, and was one of two businesses who were awarded as the winners amongst hundreds of contestants. As a winner in the competition, I was awarded a $100 Amazon gift card and a one hour consulting session with Entrepreneur, Author, and Consultant Gene Marks.

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The achievements of 2014 set the standard for my company's vision for the coming year. As my network increases in size, I find inspiration not only to continue to service my clients, but also to expand my services and scope of influence. I look forward to the smiles on my client's faces when I show them just how wonderful their dreams can be when they trust their vision to Billingslea Media.

TNT: Ming Lee of Snob Life Studios

image This week's TNT spotlight is on Ming Lee of Snob Mobb in Atlanta Georgia. This woman is a true inspiration to women in business regardless of your industry. She has created a brand that has taken the country by storm. Starting out as a hair stylist, she has now transformed into a business and branding guru, offering seminars all across the country. Her company Snob Life is now expanding and offering franchise opportunities for Snobs everywhere.

Known to many as "King Ming", her transparency in her life and work has inspired many, and allowed her to achieve great success all before the age of 30. Billingslea Media salutes King Ming for her hard work and inspiration. We look forward to more new and exciting things from this amazing woman.

‪#‎kingming‬ ‪#‎minglee‬ ‪#‎atl‬ ‪#‎stylist‬‪#‎womeninbusiness‬ ‪#‎branding‬ ‪#‎marketing‬ ‪#‎atlanta‬‪#‎guru‬ ‪#‎franchise‬ ‪#‎salute‬