Reflect. Rethink. Refocus.

Reflect. Rethink. Refocus.

Oh, the sweet breath of freedom. With the latest round of permissions granted by our governments, there is a sense of light-heartedness and optimism in the air. We’re eager to get down to business again, recover any losses and build on any gains we may have achieved during the worst of the legislated business closures.

We have a big job ahead of us, no doubt. Small businesses in Canada (1 to 99 employees) account for 70% of private sector jobs so a lot of people are depending on us to turn the economy around.

Three words have come to resonate for me as touchstones for the future.


 Reflect.    Rethink.    Refocus.


1.  Reflect.


What have I learned while practicing the social distancing rules of these past few months?

First, it has given me the time to interview clients to learn more about their day to day challenges and how to best serve them in overcoming those challenges in future. With the time to develop a new strategic plan, I have had to take a closer look at my own business practices, too. Am I really walking my talk? Where have I missed opportunity or been blind-sided by circumstance because I had weak contingency plans? How will technology change the face of my business? While I struggled emotionally with the physical distancing from pretty much everyone, Zoom and other technologies have allowed me to connect individually and in groups more easily with more time- and cost-effectiveness than limiting those visits to in person contact only. Technology made it possible to learn through webinars, online networking and discussion groups, to be able to conduct coaching and mentoring sessions online and to attend birthday parties, reunions and to read bedtime stories to a grandchild when previously those events were only held when we were all in the same room at the same time.


2.  Rethink.


In the strategic planning process, I have had to face some of the contradictions between my stated values and mission and how I show up in person and in public. Many of my branding and marketing decisions for years have been based on creating a “corporate” image, rather than being more transparent and vulnerable as an individual service provider. I realize that service businesses of any kind require a “good fit” with each client, and marketing speaks to that good fit through clear identification of your target market, their major challenges and your solution to those problems. One of the biggest mistakes any business owner can make is to believe that literally everyone “needs” their services and, as a result, spread themselves too thin. In fact, only a miniscule number of people could ever truly benefit from what I offer, and most of them have either already found a solution or have not even recognized that the possibility exists.


3.  Refocus.


Refocusing for me includes looking more deeply at my Why – that is the meaning I give to my life. From that follows my vision of a better world, my values (freedom, entrepreneurship, leadership, wisdom, family), and my mission – how I will use my talents to contribute to a better world through service to others. My target market has shrunk, rather than expanded and the specific characteristics of ideal potential clients is far more detailed in my marketing plan, while the value I can create for the entrepreneurial world in general can be served best by my writing and speaking activities.  For me, being more open and vulnerable in my communications, asking better questions and listening more intently are high on my list of habits to reinforce. It had become too easy to simply give my opinion and hope others would follow my advice. I am more intentionally applying the lessons of frugality from my mother, minimalism, setting boundaries and a sense of duty from my children and how important being connected to third and fourth generation families are to my grandchildren.

At the risk of telling readers what to do, I invite you to adopt three words of your own choosing as guides for what’s next for you.


*This article, with minor edits, first appeared in my Entrepreneurial Adventure column in the Penticton Herald on June 3, 2020.

© 2020 Mary Lou Gutscher, Success Mentor