During this health emergency all our thoughts are with the families who are affected or have suffered because of COVID-19. Also to our amazing health workers who are working tirelessly to support those families and protect the health of us all. This article is intended to focus on supporting small business owners but we should not lose sight of those helping care, support and fight to keep the country safe and moving forward.
What a week - at the time of writing this article its been nearly seven days since UK "lockdown" and when most of the business world stopped. Small businesses up and down the country were either forced to close or business owners made the correct moral decision to close helping to protect the health of their employees and customers as well as helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Every small business owner in the country who has been affected should be proud of their actions and also give themselves a pat on the back for what they have had to go through over the past week.
Many have had to furlough employees and spend many hours and long days on the phone to customers, suppliers and banks.
It’s not been easy and it is unlikely to be any easier over the coming weeks and months. But that does not mean that as a small business owner we just sit back and accept our fate, whether that would be as extreme as business closure or just sitting back, waiting and hoping for normal times to return.
It’s important for our health, our families and our business that we have sacrificed so much for over the years to build up that we do not just let the current situation and events overwhelm us.
There are steps we can take to get us through this, to give us the strength to plan our next moves and to action our way out of this not only as business survivors but also in a much stronger position.
Like nearly every business owner over the past week I've lost sleep, spent many hours on the telephone to a host of different people and organisations and had to make some pretty big and important decisions in recent days that not only affect my own but other peoples life’s. I’ve been running my own business for nearly 24 years now and nothing over that period has prepared me for events of the past week but over those years I've learnt many tactics, routines and plans that have helped me navigate through those many years of small business life.
There's probably going to be no other time in my business life where I need to rely on that arsenal of tools as much than the present time - I'm compiling this list of things primarily for my own benefit as it's so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of news, social media posts, guidance and rules, that I needed to write them down in this article to keep on reminding myself that I have tools to help my wellbeing, to help me focus and to help me plan for the coming weeks, months and years ahead.
Below is a list of 10 tools that I rely on, some every day, some every week and some whenever I require them. The list is not exhaustive but hopefully you will find some of them helpful to not only as small business owners but also as human beings trying to navigate through this turbulent time.
Please comment and share with me your own tactics and tools.
Cancel It Please!! - that was the cry from over a thousand runners when we woke up to the relentless rain & wind on Saturday morning.
But how glad are we all now that they didn’t - what fun was had running through lots of mud & puddles getting battered from the rain & wind and then someone threw in some hills - well lots of hills.
Well done to all the runners, organisers & volunteers for their magnificent efforts in such horrible conditions.
Sounds weird & silly but that’s the best fun I’ve had running in many years.
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
Did you know that a staggering 64% of British adults admit that they are still scared of the dark.
36% regularly get the feeling someone or something is in the room with them.
And 1 in 5 regularly check under the bed for lurking monsters and close cupboard and wardrobe doors before they get into bed.
Those were some of the findings from a 2017 poll conducted by a UK bed company.
And with the clocks now turned back and Hallowe'en upon us, travelling to and from work in the dark will soon be a reality.
But even with 17 hours of darkness each day in the depths of the Scottish winter is there any reason to still 'Be Afraid Of the Dark'?
Let's look at some suggestions to help cope with the dark nights.
What Can You Do?
To help protect You, your Family and your Property during the long dark winter
So in one week I will take part in the Stirling marathon, or as its been branded this year the Great Stirling Run. The event is now in its 3rd year and it's a scenic marathon starting and finishing in the City of Stirling while taking in the surrounding rolling countryside to the north of the city, passing through small towns such as Doune, Dunblane and Bridge of Allan where the locals come out in force to support the runners.
Now let me be honest from the beginning, I am no running expert, while I was actively fit playing football at a reasonably competitive youth level up until my late teens, for the next 16-17 years I let myself go, fed up with sport, giving no thought to exercising or what I was eating, I was just being consumed with work and business and as my business developed and grew and I became more office based instead of doing physical work my weight ballooned.
"Our mental health affects the way we think, feel and behave. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, than any other illness" - SAMH website - www.samh.org.uk
I believe one of the biggest health challenges we currently face in the modern world is also still one of the least talked about and perhaps still thought of as a taboo subject.
Great work has been undertaken in recent years in raising awareness of mental health and the importance of sufferers talking and seeking help but there's still a long way to go before mental health is taken as seriously as a physical health problem.
I, like many others, face challenges each day, week, month and year with coping with my thoughts in everyday family and business life.
On the days that don't go well for me, it affects my mood, my thoughts and my actions. There have been a few serious low points for me over the years but thankfully I have found and invested in methods and tactics that help me cope.
From meditating, journalling, joining groups, to paper exercises such as asking myself a series of questions about my thoughts I have been able to help ease any major issues I could have had.
One of those methods of coping is running - I have found changing my physical state either with running or a brisk walk to be one of my best tactics to help my mind and thoughts.
Unfortunately there are many people affected by mental health - many people in everyday walks of life who from an outside perspective seem happy, seem successful and seem contented with life.
But on the inside they are not coping with their thoughts. They are in a dark place inside and don't know what to do to help ease their troublesome thoughts.
In recent years there has been an increase in awareness regarding mental health but there is a long way to go before, not only at public level but also at government level, mental health issues are deemed as important as a physical health issue.
This year as part of my Stirling Marathon 26.2 mile challenge I would like to raise awareness and would welcome your support in donating to help the Scottish Association of Mental Health and the work they do to help and care for those affected by mental health.
Please consider donating at www.scottmclean.charity
Thank you for your Support
The village of Cambusbarron, Stirling remembered today all those that fell during the Great War.
For my generation World War 1 feels such a long time ago, with World War 2 feeling closer to our time as that war is more associated with being around the birth of our parents and the stories they could pass on to us.
Unless you go deep into studying the history of WW1 I don't think we truly can appreciate the atrocities that our grandfathers and great grandfathers went through in that conflict.
Like many millions throughout the world, today my family and I took time to remember and pay our respects to the millions that fell and who sacrificed to allow many future generations hope and opportunity.
A massive thank you to all our team plus friends, family, suppliers, delivery drivers and our postman who all donated towards the Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee morning recently held at our Stirling Electrical/Alarms office.
22 years ago today (8th October) my business life began with an electrical job at Smiths Restaurant in Stirling.
It's been a long journey since then with so many ups and downs and so many wins and losses where every day there is another lesson to be learned.
Thank you to all who have supported me and Stirling Electrical Services Ltd. (SES) over the past 22 years, especially my very supportive wife.
90 days ago as part of one of my 'Fun' goals to achieve in this quarter I said I wanted to have a go at Ice Skating.
Not once before had I tried it in my life.
Today I hit my target.
But after the first 10 minutes on the ice I was tapping out.
I couldn't move forward, I couldn't move away from holding onto the side.
I was finished.
After standing at the side for a few minutes and after a good few deep breaths I quickly threw that 'finished' story out of my head.
Back on the ice, I was re-focussed.
What I hadn't realised before was that I had about a hundred teachers all around me.
I stood and watched, I took in how they moved on the ice, how they balanced.
I stood and watched how they flicked their feet and the motions they made.
Ok, lets go again then I said to myself.
Slowly and uneasily...I managed to move forward and I moved away from the side.
Around and around the rink I went.
I stopped at times, I rested, I looked at others again to learn more.
I was now moving faster, I was feeling more comfortable - it also helped that I had tightened my boots.
Around and around the rink I went......thud.
The more comfortable I felt with the level I was at the faster I pushed myself.
But this created a new challenge - it was now time to fall down.
As my confidence grew, I wanted to expand, I wanted to move faster, I wanted to be more graceful.
But that brings with it new challenges.
Thud, Thud, Thud....it's bloody sore falling on hard ice, that's something else I've learned as well today.
90 minutes later, sweating (how can that be in an ice rink) I was skating and still falling over but where I had came from to where I was now in the space of 90 minutes was massive.
From, wanting to quit after 10 minutes, to simply changing the story in my head that ice skating was too difficult and I couldnt do it, to watching and learning from others around me.
From falling down, bruised and sore, I got back up and tried and tried again.
Dancing on Ice is a long way off, infact skating for more than 2 minutes without falling on my arse will still take many more hours to achieve.
But funny how the above is just like all the things we achieve in life.
From fear and dread to begin with, to taking small steps, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes to eventual improvement and success as long as we persevere and put in the hard work.
I dread to think what my next 90 day 'fun' goal will be.
My new podcast is now available where I will discuss business, fitness and family.
Hopefully I will provide some words of wisdom along the way.
The podcast is available to listen and subscribe to on a host of popular platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Full details are on my new podcast page.
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