THIS week, I’ve been inundated with enquiries from fearful business owners, all worried that continuing to actively make a living in the midst of the corona crisis will create bad feeling towards them.

It’s a crazy situation.

Ironically, most of those I’m seeing shrinking into the shadows, governed by judgement-related anxieties, are the people whose services are needed more than ever — coaches, healers, therapists, those on the front lines of service who might actually be able to help us cope with a world in chaos.

Before I go any further, I should warn you that I’m not about to pull any punches with this article. Yeah, I know I’m usually pretty straight talking, but parts of what I’m about to say will be really, really blunt, and you might find yourself feeling punched in the feels.

I don’t set out to hurt anyone at all — it’s just that we’re in the middle of a never before seen world health crisis, and we don’t have the luxury of time to piss about tiptoeing around people’s eggshells.

So, if you’re likely to take things terribly personally, I suggest you click away and go read one of my other articles instead.

If you decide to carry on, let me state, for the record, that absolutely none of this is personal. It’s all beautifully generic and it’s all just business.

We good to go? Then buckle up, dear reader, you’re in for a helluva a ride.

Virtue signalling

I’ve seen good people, offering FREE services to help people survive the lockdown, only to be accused of virtue signalling. If you’re wondering what that is, it means publicly expressing opinions designed to demonstrate good character — this goes awry when people seem to be offering something wonderfully Waltonesque, when it’s really a front to get to your cash. If you’re wondering what ‘Waltonesque’ means, it’s a word I made up to relate to those good old Christian values displayed in The Waltons. It’s a good word — feel free to borrow.

On the other hand I’ve seen people charging stupid amounts for toilet rolls, pasta and hand gel getting away with blue murder.

People who take advantage of the situation and capitalise on people’s desperation are the ones who need locking up, not good people genuinely trying to keep the economy ticking and put food onto their family’s table.

That, for me, is the line. People who take advantage of the situation and capitalise on people’s desperation are the ones who need locking up, not good people genuinely trying to keep the economy ticking and put food onto their family’s table.

At the other end of the line are those who can afford to go all bleeding heart and offer everything for free, at a time where so many are plunging into poverty mindset.

Those who fall into this camp, those who deliberately, wilfully go into a faux charitable mindset to hoover up all the kudos are just as bad as those charging £25 for a bag of instant mash. They are actively slapping the food out of people’s mouths AND grinding our economy to a halt for their own pious gain.

Sacrificial innocence

Caught in the trap of sacrificial innocence are those who just ‘feel bad’ for all those people who need their help right now and (they perceive) can’t afford it, and so feel bad for charging. Their motives might be bang on, but there has to be a line and, all the time they have the benefits system to fall back on, or parents, partners or relatives to prop them up, their ‘I’ll help you for free’ actions push another business person, with a bills and a family to support, but no financial back up, into a desperate situation.

It’s by no means deliberate, but their actions are short-sighed and designed to alleviate their own sense of needless guilt, without stopping to consider the longer term consequences.

Cash is energy

Money isn’t made to stand still. It’s not made to stockpile (neither are toilet rolls, but that’s another story). Money is energy. It needs to move. If everybody stopped charging and everybody stopped spending, what would happen to our business world? If all money stopped moving, who would pay our emergency responders? Our doctors and nurses? Our supermarket delivery drivers? The list goes on.

Sure, some people might be able to claim mortgage holidays, but the supermarkets still charge, as do utility suppliers etc, etc.

And there’s another issue. It’s alright for everyone who can, for whatever reason, afford to stop charging and go all holier than thou with their services, but that kind of action only really works across the board in a world where *everything* is free. Sure, some people might be able to claim mortgage holidays, but the supermarkets still charge, as do utility suppliers etc, etc.

When *some* of us stop charging, we set a dangerous precedent and a frightening imbalance for far too many people. They’ll be helping the few and, potentially, sacrificing the many.

Balance in all things

So, where’s a good balance? How can we avoid greedily overcharging OR causing damage by undercharging, or not charging at all?

Here’s what I’ve been doing, and it seems to be really well received so far.

I’ve upped the amount of free content I’m putting out through my social channels, including creating free to access group coaching programmes and seminars, accessible to large numbers of people. At the time of writing this, I’m about to run a free coaching event, via zoom, with 120 registrations. This is absolutely NOT an upsell — it’s a genuine give away of tools, tips and techniques for those who need the support. Afterwards, everyone will be invited to a free online group to keep that conversation going.

I’ve also been supporting as many people as possible, past and current clients, as well as people who may never become clients, through WhatsApp, messenger and email.

On top of that, I’ve offered my services for free for business groups, discussion panels and podcasts dedicated to supporting people during the Covid-19 crisis.

I’ve re-opened and expanded my subsidised, budget coaching programme, created some new lower-price programmes, as well as some that can be paid by instalment, and launched a ‘make me an offer’ scheme for people who are looking for deeper help and support but are struggling with cashflow right now.

I’m open to discounting, instalments, partly deferred payments, bartering or even product and service exchanges.

In short, I’m adapting to the situation, being far more flexible with my time, structure and payment terms and being compassionate and empathetic towards those who need support.

I’m doing my best to ensure that the work I deliver for free doesn’t directly compete with someone else’s fairly-placed paid-for offering, which they might be depending on to stay afloat.

At the same time, I’m doing my best to ensure that the work I deliver for free doesn’t directly compete with someone else’s fairly-placed paid-for offering, which they might be depending on to stay afloat. It’s not an exact science, but the intention is there.

Flexible

If there was a product or service you offered any time BC (Before Corona) that could be delivered virtually in the days and weeks to come, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t charge for it, and use every opportunity to be more flexible with your pricing.

This week, I helped a therapist who was in meltdown because she couldn’t work out how she could possibly move from hands-on work to virtual. When we broke down her skillset, there were plenty of healing and therapy options she could offer via the wonders of the internet. In fact, pretty much the only elements she couldn’t realistically offer were reflexology and massage.

A few examples in the healing sector: Coaching can be done online. Homeopathic consults can be done online. Various elements of hypnotherapy can be done online. All kinds of energy work can be done online.

I know a shamanic healer whose face to face appointments are usually £85. Carried out virtually, via the wonders of video chat, she’s offering them at £45 and getting excellent feedback. She’s able to do this because she no longer has the overhead of renting a therapy room AND she wants to by sympathetic to the climate.

When it comes to business services, all kinds of options can be offered online, from coaching and mentoring to training and development.

When it comes to business services, all kinds of options can be offered online, from coaching and mentoring to training and development.

If we’re willing to think outside the box, the opportunities are endless — and they can all be delivered fairly and sympathetically.

Visibility — it’s time to stop hiding!

The one thing that’s vital here is visibility!

I’ve been banging on about the importance of using social channels to build your personal brand and grow your tribe for forever and a day now and, finally, the day has come where this kind of virtual visibility is vital (ooh — there’s a lovely bit of alliteration!)

If you’ve been ignoring the call to use all those free, online vehicles to build your brand, demonstrate your credibility and expertise and, of course, help people along the way up to now, it’s not too late.

Having a hitherto pants (pants: technical term to denote not very good) social profile is NOT an excuse to shrink down into the shadows and hope the Government might bail you out. It just means you need to hit the ground running, stop messing about and get yourself online, networking with good people and showing the world what you’re made of.

As the old saying goes, the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago; the second best time to plant an oak tree is NOW.

See you online!

Until next time,

#UnleashYourAwesome,

Taz

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Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and multiple TEDx speaker, consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, and an award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards). She is also the creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMastery personal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists, and #LIFEFORCE — an affordable online spiritual empowerment and coaching programme for people wanting to bring more optimism into their lives.

Taz has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva, The Daily Mail and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network. In 2019, she was named as one of the most inspirational businesswomen in the UK.

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