(1) How are you feeling? What are you anxious about? (2) What business challenges do you anticipate? (3) How do you plan to solve these challenges? What solutions have you found? (4) What do you need?

Over the past few weeks of social distancing due to #COVID-19, I have been checking in with clients and members of my weekly business lab. The purpose of the call is to ask four questions:

(1) How are you feeling? What are you anxious about? (2) What business challenges do you anticipate? (3) How do you plan to solve these challenges? What solutions have you found? (4) What do you need?

The hard silence to the last question reminded me of an article I posted nearly two years ago titled: Business Women: Do You Really Know What You Want?

In the article, I shared my experience with a female campus president who said during our initial meeting, in a tone of exhaustion and frustration, “We don’t know what we want.”

I took note that she didn’t say we didn’t know ‘how to ask,’ because I had asked. What stuck out to me was her question gave me the impression that what she was really saying is that we don’t know “what to ask for.”

Today, business owners everywhere are struggling with this new environment. I would say that some are in a state of mild shock. I can say I’m one of them. I took the bold move of opening a downtown coworking space in January at www.cenconcowork.com and even though I’m technically open, I’m in no way prepared to promote the idea of anyone coming in for services. The space has been vacated by members and now sits vacant due to social distancing and local mandates.

During my face-to-face business labs, which now have been shifted to online trainings, I referred to the aforementioned article and asked participants to again, come up with an ‘ask’ for what they want during this crisis. My labs are always designed for participants to leave with actions specific to the growth of their business. In today’s climate that has shifted a bit to include more actions specific to everyone.

I too must complete my own actions. Here is my list:

I am a growing social enterprise with a mission-driven purpose. My key product is professional coaching and training delivered face-to-face and online. What I need are connections to build beneficial partnerships and media contacts to tell my story. What I want are relationships that will lead to opportunities to expand and grow my business.

1. I want new business partners with the same or complimentary services to identify expanded market opportunities.

2. I want media contacts who are champions of women’s economic empowerment.

3. I want to partner with corporate CSR initiatives to cross-promote my programs to benefit all stakeholders.

4. I want to partner with a philanthropic education and research organization to develop and validate ‘confidence’ research.

5. I want to expand my business advisory circle to include global influencers.

My next step is to now create a list of engagements and individuals who may be helpful to complete these actions. The list will include the specific details on how I intend to accomplish each action and when using my SMARTER goals model. I’ve set a goal of accomplishing an action sheet each week.

Knowing what you need is an important exercise that will help manage your business and personal priorities and ensure you don’t overlook key shortcomings or resources that will help you to grow your business and fulfill your dreams. This is the first step to asking for what you want and then be clear about what to ask for specific to the outcome you seek.

Do you know what to ask for?

Author – DIVA DECISIONS: How to Get from Smart to Intelligent by Claiming Your Power of Choice

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