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  • Writer's pictureJillian Felty

How to Handle Life Transitions and Keep Your Business Booming

Change is … inevitable. And for business owners, it seems like change happens on a large scale. You’re already juggling your business and all of its moving parts. While your business is humming along, your personal life is moving at breakneck speeds alongside it. Keeping up with it all on a normal day can be tough enough.

So when change happens, it can send a ripple effect through all parts of life.

A move. A spouse changes careers. A team member leaves. A baby comes into the picture.

As a business owner, a change like this in your personal life can completely derail your business progress – especially if you’re still highly involved in the day-to-day like I am.

You may see where this is going. In December of 2022, Steven and I found out I was pregnant. It was honestly a dream come true. And we’re so excited to be parents. But as much as we thought we had prepared for this and hoped the day would come, it didn’t actually prepare me for the reality of the past few months (the first trimester is hard, y’all. And anyone who has overcome it is a freaking champ. You all deserve medals).

In this post, I'm breaking down the things we did (or wish we did) to prepare proactively and reactively for this change to come in our life and business. For business owners who are juggling a transition in their personal lives: this one’s for you so you can welcome the upswing and keep your business moving without missing a beat.

The Changes Ahead – Acknowledging What's Coming & Preparing for It

Life changes can come at any time, some expected, others not so much. But regardless of what's on the horizon, it's important to take stock of the situation and prepare yourself for everything that comes with it.

Sometimes, you can do this proactively. For us, we hoped this day would come. We had thought about what a baby would mean for our business and did some preliminary research and planning around it. But we hadn’t taken into account what pregnancy would mean for our business. (It's been a little rocky, but more on that later.)

Other times, you have no choice but to react. When you’re forced to be reactive, it can cloud your vision for the future. I’m grateful to have a small team that has my back. They often serve as my clarity when I don’t have much to offer. But the bottom line is that sometimes, you don’t have the privilege to prepare for change. In those instances, your people will be your rock. Again, we’ll talk more about that later.

Getting Real About the Change – Identifying What's Involved

No matter the size of the transition you're working through, understanding the landscape ahead is essential. Once you identify the potential impact on your business, you can create a plan of attack and set yourself up for success.

For Felty Co., it was mostly ironing out our internal processes. Before I got pregnant, we brought on Lauren and the team at Systems to Scale to create clear SOPs for me and my team. We spent two months together working on:

  1. Official documented SOPs for onboarding, offboarding, team communication, and client work

  2. Inbox procedures for my VA and canned emails that make writing emails as simple as pressing a button

  3. Built out more streamlined dashboards for project management in Asana

  4. Built workflows in Dubsado that actually work like they’re supposed to and make onboarding new clients a hands-off process (before this, my workflows were a disaster, lol)

It was a game-changing decision and I’m so glad we took the leap to do this. It gave my VA more clear guidelines of what to do. And, it gave me an even larger view of what I didn’t need to be doing and could hand off to her. If you want to prepare for change before it comes, nailing down processes is a must-do.

Mapping Out a Plan of Attack – Creating an Actionable Roadmap

Once we clarified our processes, we were actually able to see and plan for our future more clearly. We could now get a picture of what my team was working on in a calendar month, know what to expect, and plan for new projects even more effectively. Everything seemed a LOT less overwhelming.

To get your juices flowing as to what you can map out, here are a few things we’re constantly doing:

  • Writing out daily and monthly plans - Sunsama has been a lifesaver for this!

  • Talking to other business owners and researching strategies that could help ease the transition

  • Documenting major milestones and reflecting on what’s working/not working along the way

  • Developing contingency plans or backup systems

Setting Yourself Up for Success – Making Space To Adjust

If I were to tell you the projects and systems that Lauren set up for us were totally magical and fixed everything, I’d be lying. I mean, they are absolutely magical – that part is true. But in order for these magical procedures to work, we actually have to follow them.

Who knew, right?

We went from a loose guideline for our processes to a pretty straightforward, repeatable procedure -- but that didn't happen overnight. It was like training a new muscle. I wasn’t used to it, and it was uncomfortable. But it was absolutely necessary.

After a couple of months of kinda-sorta following our new procedures, my VA and I met to get re-acquainted with the new SOPs. Each week in our 1:1, we reviewed one of the docs. And that’s when things really started working for us. We were able to start following them more strictly. We figured out where things didn’t come easy for us, and implemented small steps that could help “prompt” us to follow the procedure. And guess what? It worked.

While we were in this phase, progress felt slow – but it gave us the breathing room we needed to make sure we were doing the next right thing. Plus, it better prepares us for the eventuality of something unexpected happening, which allows us to turn the dial on our processes in real-time without it feeling like the wheels are going to come off the bus.

Keeping Momentum During the Move – Practicing Self-Care While Under Pressure

These transition periods have required more focus and energy from us to make sure we keep on track. Which has made self-care all the more important to keep us on track. From setting clear boundaries around work/life balance to allowing time for restorative breaks, here are a few ways I’m practicing self-care as I navigate this new normal.

Prioritizing Rest – Allowing Time to Recharge

Like I mentioned earlier, the first trimester was rough. Like, spending more time than ever sitting in front of a toilet kinda rough. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. So my usual 100% quickly turned into 10%. And giving that 10% was my new 100%.

I had to prioritize rest and grace for myself more than I ever have – and that’s important for everyone navigating a big life adjustment. Rest is key.

For me, that looked like creating a “bare minimum” list for the day. Instead of a to-do list, I would create a list of things that would accomplish the bare minimum of what my energy would allow. If I got to do anything over that, I felt great. If I did the bare minimum, I was fine with that, too.

If you’re in a “bare-minimum list” kinda transition, I feel you. And you will get through it. I hope it doesn’t last long. Make sure you’re prioritizing your rest, and setting boundaries for when you work and when you don’t. And, know that change is temporary (I absolutely hated hearing people say this, but it’s true.)

Taking Care of Your Mindset – Cultivating Emotional Support

Community is key. I’m overly grateful to have a community of people around me to talk to, vent with, and lean on when I need extra support. And an amazing VA who can keep things on track when I can’t.

Here’s the thing: Emotional support is non-negotiable.

Go to therapy. Find good friends. Talk to your spouse about what you need. But don’t think for a second that you can do it on your own.

Having people in your corner is a must for emotional support. Whether it's family, friends, colleagues, mentors, or counselors, carving out intentional time with them helps boost your mood and limit the feeling that you are alone in this. Your people will help you through – but only if you ask!

Stepping Away from Work When Needed – Eliminating Burnout

Burnout happens when we try to do too much in too little time. And in the midst of change, your capacity is limited – you simply can’t give your normal effort. Between managing a transition and running a business, these moments can become overwhelming very quickly. Understanding the signs of burnout (exhaustion, cynicism, inadequate planning) and stepping away from your work before it reaches that point can help prevent you wanting to totally throw in the towel on this whole business ownership thing.

For me, I planned to take the week following Christmas off to re-set. It ended up being longer than planned because of the constant sickness – but that week off was necessary. I looked forward to it. It helped me finish the year strong so that I could anticipate a fresh start in January.

And while that fresh start is really happening now, 3 months later than planned, I’m coming back to my normal rhythms with a new excitement for what our business can be – before and after baby.

If you need a break, take it. You can only push through for so long. Whether it’s a few days, a whole week, or a month, give yourself a break. You’ll be surprised by how much you missed it while you were away. Or, you’ll realize you need to do something different. Either way, the clarity is valuable!

Looking Back on the Big Picture – Refining the System Now That You’re Here

Sometimes the everyday grind can keep us from seeing the bigger picture. Today, as I was writing this post, I realized how helpful it was to reflect on the last few months. Don’t minimize this part of the process! You’ll be surprised with how much you learn – and proud of how much you’ve been able to accomplish in spite of navigating change.

Assessing Achievements – Reflecting On Growth

Take some time to celebrate the victories that got you to where you are today. Doing so offers perspective into what brought you joy, inspires healthier habits, and provides motivation to continue moving forward.

For me, a few wins are simple: I lived through my first trimester. I took on the projects that I could, and said “no” to projects I knew wouldn’t be right for me. I pinpointed some pain points within my business that would help reduce stress overall.

Did we hit the financial goals I had set for Q1? Nope. Not even close.

But this season became a “maintenance” season out of pure necessity. It wasn’t a growth season, and I’ve learned to be okay with that. Maybe that’s the case for you.

Or, maybe you come out of the change even stronger than before with new processes that revolutionize your bottom line. If that’s you, that’s freaking awesome. I hope that for all of us!

Implementing New Practices – Crafting Solutions For Future Challenges

Again, take stock of what you've been able to do (or not) through the change, and decide what stays and what goes. How do you want to navigate the next change when it inevitably comes?

From this season, I’ve been able to identify at least 3 things I’m going to keep doing with our business on a routine basis.

  1. Automations - In this season, I was forced to find automation in our CRM and PM system that will help put mundane tasks on repeat so that my VA and I never need to touch them. They’ve changed our game – and Bethany and I are both glad they exist!

  2. Monthly/Quarterly reviews of SOP documentation - If we consistently keep a finger on the pulse of our processes, we can keep improving them and make a better plan for when change does happen. Right now, Monthly feels like a good rhythm. But in a couple months, that will be overkill and I’ll switch to quarterly. I’m super grateful for Lauren and the team at Systems to Scale for building these SOPs for us!

  3. Tracking time and progress using Sunsama - I’ve never been able to keep track of my time in an excel spreadsheet. And planning my workload in a PM system always felt like throwing a dart while blindfolded (How long will this take me? How should I spend my time if I’m done early? What is actually a priority?) Enter: Sunsama. Now, I’m able to plan my days and weeks, track my time more accurately, and make adjustments to my workload when change happens.

Enjoy the Ride – Nurturing Both Your Business and Yourself Through Life's Unexpected Changes

Although change can sometimes seem overwhelming, shifting perspectives can turn any roadblock into an opportunity. So far, this year hasn’t turned out at all as I thought it would. But in a lot of ways, it was exactly what we needed as a team.

So, whether you're growing a family, caring for a loved one, or venturing off on another path entirely, remember — there are good things in the process. Being mindful and responsive to the transitions that happen in life, rather than trying to resist them, will help you nurture both your business and yourself, leaving you positioned for success no matter what comes your way.

You’ve got this! ♥️

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