Keeping Purpose in Business & Life
Doing business through a crisis, managing life, and keeping on purpose.
March 2020, I thought I had it all mapped out, I had been working towards a goal. A goal which was steering my business and parts of my life towards the 'Why'.
The Why is, creating products and experiences through fashion, writing, and film to connect people to themselves and the planet. I had planned to travel and capture parts of cultures the world has not seen before, ones we have not known, marginalized and underground communities, artisan techniques, new patterns, colour combinations, then create and deliver clothing collections, writings, photos, film and tours, all inspired by these trips. I had worked out how part of the sales of these products, would go directly back to those needing it, to provide an income and keep the ancient crafts alive.
Most importantly, empower ones that have gone without for too long.
I read this out loud every morning to stay on track and refer to it several times during the day when deciding. Then the crisis hit. The 'Why' hasn’t changed, it has become clearer and stronger, but the path to get there has changed.
Previously, time and energy had been spent getting the core team in place, covering the 4 main pillars of business, finance, production, sales, and marketing. The creative direction stays with me, building the brand story and what it stands for.
We had just positioned ourselves for local and international growth, both were now under immediate pressure, as the international market shut down overnight. Stock made for US distribution is now sitting on my factory floor in Delhi, Anthropologie not taking any orders and Neiman Marcus now in liquidation. Australia and NZ are strong. We had only just started entering the European market.
We could have crumpled under the pressure, but instead realised that key changes in the business were required and fast. This has meant some hard decisions for myself and the team but with change brings new energy, different perspectives and a chance to pivot my business towards where it needs to be.
How were we going to do this? Wrangling with all the information, to try and predict and make decisions for the next 6 to 12 months, based on not a lot of real data, has taken collective brainpower. If you can’t pressure test your business model with the figures, then you’ll be flying blind into the future and only pushing the problems forward.
This is what we have been doing over the past 6 weeks to stay focused in business and what I’ve been doing to stay as focused and calm as possible.
The new world is a digital economy, buying habits have changed. People are seeking an even stronger connection with the brands they trust and love to work with.
# 1 COMMUNICATION:
Every week we have been calling our list of customers, checking in, how are you doing, how can we help you get through this? We are offering new ways to purchase stock and we know they ready to accept the new collection arriving in July.
# 2 AUTOMATE:
we have implemented new systems that have sped up reporting and processes, for cash flow, sales, and production.
new ideas for different sales channels have helped turn extra stock and samples into cash.
#4 TAKE CONTROL:
make decisions based on facts only, cash is king and we update cashflow every Monday measuring the previous week, adjusting for the week ahead. A one-pager business snapshot helps with simple decision making.
#5 KEEP CREATING THE BRAND STORY:
sales are based on the brand and culture who are building up, building up the business around your key foundation principles will keep your company strong. Stay true to your brand culture, do not dilute what you have built up.
#6 POWER HOUR:
Every Tuesday and Friday the management team have locked in 1 hour to review every part of the business; It is a different world now, new habits have been created during the lockdown, this power hour means we have been able to move quickly and respond to opportunities.
The hardest part for me was to adjust again so quickly, as I had just set everything up for linear growth based on 12 years of data. Now I’ve shifted again to set up for exponential growth and still stay on purpose to the why.
This is what I have been doing.
Focus on good health, happy family, a real business, a real vision, something you love to do, someone you love to be around. Focus on love and joy as much as possible.
#2 STAY FIT:
It is easy to fall off the wagon as so many of our usual fitness places have all shut down. I’ve been walking so much, on weekends we go and find somewhere new, Mt Cootha, Shorncliffe, University of Queensland, River City. I have also been walking at night straight after dinner instead of vegging on the couch, that comes after the walk. The city looks completely different at night, with the city lights and I can imagine that I am somewhere else in the world.
#3 PHYSICAL CONNECTION:
With all this Zoom and online connection technology, social distancing, but humans still need to see, feel and touch other humans, otherwise we shrivel up and fade, still getting the essential connections and interactions needed to feel human has helped stay positive. Friendships are the best support.
This has been the best part being able to read more than usual, I’ve been able to get through 1-2 books per week, every Sunday night I do a book order through Amazon and tackle the list, because, for the past few years, I’ve either been traveling, in a different time zone, getting over jetlag, the minute I would pick up a book, I’d fall asleep, this has been the best. My favourite books, this last week have been Limitless; I just loved this, The god small things all about love laws, Urban Tantra ecstasy is necessary, The Daily Stoic for staying on purpose and vision reminders, plus the pile of Lonely Planet guides. I have a bunch and every day I read a section on an area in a new country. It eases my restless travel soul; I can walk through these places while sitting in my office. The week ahead I will be reading the Obstacle is the way, and re-reading Autobiography of a Yogi, plus a daily dose of Lonely Planet and Daily Stoic.
#5 DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF:
Easily said than done, usually, I have never ever focussed on the small stuff, I love big picture, really love aiming high and challenging myself, but all this extra home has created lizard brain and I’ve sweated about cleaning for example.
I thank my lucky stars this year I reconnected to Uni, in two roles, as a student and a teacher. A life of learning and sharing is a life of fulfilled. SO much enjoying the mind stimulation.
When things are tough, It is so easy to forget to laugh, we have all sat around at various stages during this time and laughed at nothing, just looked at each other and gone how weird is this, I’m feeling so weird and then we all laugh, and it passes.
Life rarely turns out the way we planned. Surrender it feels so good. I have swung at moments from side to side, habits are hard to break at times. All this home time and the moon (that’s my girlfriends have told me) has messed with my head and emotions on occasions, keeping it real in business, friendships and life is now. I’m now practicing steadying my nerves and keeping a cool head, for the chapter ahead.
See you soon Emma