June 2021
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The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
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It's All Too Much!

 

It's All Too Much!

There’s a lot of things that can get us down these days. Sometimes it feels like we just want to check out, lock the doors to the store or the office, go home to bed, or hide under a rock. The pandemic and all the rules, which seem to change daily, are enough to drive anyone crazy so if you feel overwhelmed you are not alone.

Here are seven ways to deal with that rising panic.

Make the decision to take action no matter how busy you are. It’s too easy to say something like, “I don’t have time to train someone to do this or that job. I don’t even have five minutes to meditate, take a breather, go for a walk, or strategize, I just need to do … stuff. Now!” You’ll be amazed how much time and clarity you will gain from simply sitting at your desk for five minutes and doing nothing but breathing. Thirty minutes spent reviewing your to-do list could result in some re-arrangement, or a little delegation that could ease the panic and stress you feel.

Prioritize. Not all tasks, projects, or jobs are equal. We may think they are but they are not. List all the things that are in danger of giving you a panic attack and list them in priority order. No, they are not all equally urgent. Think about each one and who you are going to have to answer to if the task is delayed. Which person is most likely to be sympathetic about a short delay? Which of the tasks is most time-sensitive?

Strategize. Now you have your to-do list prioritized, which tasks can ONLY be handled by you? Be honest. We all think we are indispensable but in reality other people can do what we do, even if they need a little help to get started. If you are struggling, breakdown the tasks you think require only your skills and identify chunks of them that could be handled by someone else. It is rare that 100% of any project requires the “expert” – even NASA scientists have data-entry people helping them.

Park your ego at the door. If the previous task seems impossible, back up and take another look. If you made the excuse that you don’t have time to “train” someone else then be honest with yourself, is it really that hard for some to learn at least some of the tasks? Take a long look at the risk and reward. If it will take 3-hours to bring someone up to speed to carry out a job that would have taken you a day to complete, you are 5 hours ahead of the panic. And, the person is now trained for next time – bonus!

Never think you aren’t good enough. When we become overwhelmed we start blaming ourselves that we are failing. It’s the same type of feeling we get when we start a new job or a new project that is a little out of our comfort zone – “Heck, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.” That feeling always goes away after a month or two in the new position, or a week or so into the tough project. At first you were overwhelmed but you soon adjusted.

Don’t push people away. When it all becomes too much, we tend to become frustrated and short-tempered. We become less flexible, more rigid, we overthink things, and we are less open to other people’s suggestions or offers of help. We can even become too proud to accept help. It becomes an exercise in self-sabotage.

Make time for you and yours. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, what fires you are managing or trying to put out, you need time for you. Take time out with your loved ones. Do something that feeds your soul.

If you don’t recharge those batteries you will burn out. Being overwhelmed can become a case of diminishing returns if you don’t break the cycle. There will always be work to do, the challenge is to control it, before it controls you.

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It's All Too Much!

 

e-Commerce Reality

In this fast-changing world, people are becoming increasingly computer-savvy. It’s hard to come across anyone these days who hasn’t purchased something online during the last month. Gone are the days when some seniors didn’t have a cell phone, let alone a smartphone. Seniors today, especially amid the current pandemic are learning to live, at least a little, in the Cloud. And some are embracing it with verve. Younger seniors of course grew up in the age of the computer – a professional 65-year-old will have been using computers for most of his or her career.

The reality is that with the Cloud, the sheer level of consumer connectedness of your customers is staggering. The internet and particularly social media is affecting the way we all decide what, where, when, and from whom we buy. Go into any store and you will see someone with their cell phone checking product reviews and prices. If you are not managing your company’s online presence, then it is managing your business. All businesses, even micro-enterprises, have an online presence. The question is, who is controlling that presence? Is it you, or is it your customers? Worse still, could it be your competition?

The retail world is shrinking; our customers can just as easily check prices in Ontario and Hong Kong, as they can with your competitor next door. Considering the amount of time we are being forced to spend at home these days, the online buying trend is in full flood. Most of us have a website, but if that’s all we have then it’s like riding a Tsunami wave on a Boogie board.

Online purchasing since the pandemic began has gone ballistic. According to Statistics Canada, retail e-commerce sales reached a record $3.9 billion in May 2020, a 2.3% increase over the previous month and 99.3% increase over February ($2.0 billion). Year-over-year, e-commerce sales more than doubled – with a 110.8% increase compared with May 2019. These record gains in e-commerce occurred as total retail sales experienced record declines. The impact of COVID-19 is best highlighted using April, 2020 data. Retail sales plummeted to $33.9 billion in April, a 29.1% decline from February and a 26.4% decline from April 2019. While e-commerce saw a 63.8% monthly increase in April 2020, in-store sales dropped 25.3%. In May 2020, total retail sales started to recover, reaching $39.3 billion.

On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales reached a record high in December 2020, increasing by over two-thirds (+69.3%) year over year to $4.7 billion by the end of 2020. In comparison, total unadjusted retail sales increased 5.9% on a year-over-year basis in December. E-commerce accounted for 7.8% of total retail trade in December – the largest share since May 2020. The rise in e-commerce sales coincided with an uptick in the number of retailers reporting shutdowns in December.

The pandemic has distorted the e-commerce trend a little, although it is still trending upward despite a small drop at the beginning of the year. On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 92.0% year-over-year to $3.1 billion in February, accounting for 6.8% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce out of total retail sales was 1.3 percentage points lower in February. This was in response to more brick-and-mortar stores being allowed to open their doors to in-person shopping. On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce fell 5.7% in February.

What can you do?

So, e-commerce is growing but it is still only a fraction of total retail sales. You have time to build an effective e-commerce strategy. It’s a lot like a business plan and a marketing strategy combined, but focused on your online presence. First, you need to analyze your competition and your customers and check out their online presence. Know your market. How are they promoting themselves, how are they purchasing? Widen this out and look at what your industry’s leaders are doing. Consider how you will manage supply and distribution if you begin to sell online. Review your brand – does it work as effectively in an online environment?

In this article we can only touch on some of the areas you need to look at, but we urge you to Google, “10 Tips to develop a successful e-commerce strategy” by Sarah Barkan. It will give you a good head start.

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It's All Too Much!

 

Coach's Corner - Reflecting on Covey’s Seven Habits (Part 2)

As I wrote in last month’s Coach’s Corner, Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989 and still holds some valuable lessons for us all.

Covey’s 7 habits are 1. Be Proactive; 2. Begin with the End in Mind; 3. Put First Things First; 4. Think Win/Win; 5. Seek First to Understand…Then to be Understood; 6. Synergize; and 7. Sharpen the Saw. Each of the habits alone, and in conjunction with each other, provide concepts that promote personal growth and change.

Last month I wrote about the first three habits which relate to what Covey calls the “private victory” where someone moves from dependence to independence.

 In this article, I would like to explore the last four habits. They relate to what Covey calls the “public victory” where someone moves from independence to interdependence.

  1. Think Win/Win. Covey speaks of win/win as, “a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions.” The premise here is that when everyone benefits, success will follow. Covey cites numerous instances where a win/win mentality leads to greater success. What ways have you incorporated win/win and found a better outcome for all?
  2. Seek First to Understand…Then to be Understood. In reaching win/win solutions, we really need to listen and understand the other side. It is important to listen and be curious as to where the other person is coming from and what they are thinking. Before jumping in, we need to step back and figure out what is going on with them. We often erroneously make assumptions and think we know what they are thinking, or why they are making certain decisions. Once we understand the person with whom we are dealing, we can generate a conversation so that they understand our perspective too. Ask yourself, how valid are my assumptions? Do I really understand their viewpoint?
  3. Synergize. When we have high-trust and high-cooperation, we have a synergistic relationship. This cooperation of two or more individuals has a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. A win/win approach requires both of these components to ensure greater success. How can you build trust and cooperation as a foundation to your personal or professional relationships?
  4. Sharpen The Saw. This is the habit of renewal. Covey emphasises that working on the 7 habits is about continuous improvement. It is not about mastering a habit and more about continually working on the habits to become a more effective leader. How can you incorporate these habits into your personal and professional life?

Habits take time. To ensure that we are becoming more effective, we need to consciously and consistently practice them.

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching

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WestShore Chamber of Commerce
2830 Aldwynd Road, Victoria, BC, V9B 3S7
Phone: 250-478-1130 | Fax: 250-478-1584
chamber@westshore.bc.ca

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