On Episode 39 of Commerce and Chill, Jessica and Waleed offer guidance on managing the loss of friends, family, employees, and business. Continue reading below for a quick lesson on loss.
At the beginning of this week’s episode of Commerce and Chill, JJC reflected on her experience celebrating her college homecoming over Zoom with friends instead of on campus at Northwestern University in Chicago. Jessica realized through this experience that, despite the wonderful opportunity to connect with loved ones and friends, many of her friends and family had lost significant people in their lives over the course of the year due to the Covid pandemic. Jessica’s experience led to greater reflections on life and what it means to lose people over the course of our lives and in our businesses.
In business and in life, there are different kinds of loss that affect us. Of course, many of us deal with the loss of the lives of loved ones, which is a particularly tough topic. There’s also another significant form of loss, which is the experience of losing people as you go through life, not to death, but to life itself. In these cases, you may outgrow people, they may outgrow you, or you may simply grow in different directions and outgrow each other. Every form of loss comes with a level of sadness or mourning. That said, there are also opportunities to grow and become better as you learn from the losses and embrace opportunities to continue moving forward. Importantly, you must always surround yourself with individuals that understand your goals for yourself, understand the changes that may take place in your life, and understand what it takes for you to achieve your goals over time. As an entrepreneur, you must sacrifice today so you can have a brighter future.
With the way we operate our business at Johnson Security Bureau, we typically build close and lasting relationships with our clients over time and often have long-lasting business relationships, business contracts, and business contacts. Recently, however, some of our longer business contracts have come to an end after significant periods of time and our business has shifted in different directions. For other businesses in our industry and in general, losing clients to contract terminations may be relatively normal and even frequent. For JSB, this is a less common occurence and, as such, we go through a brief mourning of the relationships we have made with significant business partners as our businesses change direction.
In a fortunate turn for JSB, we had recently considered shifting into more primary contracts on particular assignments instead of subcontracting and, shortly after our considerations, one of our larger clients was acquired by an even larger company, which potentially shifts JSB out of its subcontracting roles with that business and opens up new primary contracting opportunities. While this creates a great opportunity for our business, it potentially means that some contacts at the client and team members on either side may be shifted around or potentially lost to the change in business. As our associates and friends at our client are shifted around, we have remained proactive about maintaining those relationships and checking in on people, even as the nature of our relationships may change. We are reminded that losing people in one context, whether it be business or personal, does not necessarily mean that we must lose them in every context. There may even be opportunities to work and build with people in new contexts as the loss of connection occurs in another. For this reason, we always recommend that when people cross your mind or the nature of your relationships change, stay in contact. This may just lead to a great new opportunity coming across your desk.
Unfortunately, many people look at loss as a negative when a loss may actually lead to a bigger opportunity for you and your business. As a family business for over three generations at JSB, some of our team members are also family, and despite our ability to function in both a business and familial capacity highly effectively, some members of the family may decide over time that they no longer want to work in the family business, and this is okay. It is okay to mourn the loss of that business relationship, while maintaining the personal, familial relationship. In some cases it may even make personal relationships stronger to remove the stress of business. As we have grown in each of our business over the decades, we have become more corporate in ways and created increasingly more structure to support our advancement. We are constantly building our structures, building our brand, and building legacy for the long term, and perhaps in ways that fit some employees and some family members better than others. In any family and in any business, team members and family members can and will have different views on business. At JSB and The Soap Box, we understand that growth comes with learning new skills and at times bringing on experts that can help your business navigate new areas. Often these experts will be outside the family. As our success has shown, you can maintain the family side of family-business and also bring on employees to grow your business in ways that may have never been possible prior.
The lesson we were able to take over the course of this podcast, is to take the hand you’re dealt (even if that hand involves the loss of a team member) and play the best hand you can play. Sometimes we believe that losing a member of the team will hurt the business more than it actually will because we build up fear in our minds about what their absence will mean. Ultimately, people in our lives and in our businesses have different purposes and skills, and the people that they may have helped you in one area may have held you back or didn’t have experience in other areas. In such cases, “losing” those people as part of your business or in one particular area may mean that the areas where they lacked are now opportunities you can take better advantage of. Avoid allowing the loss of team members or changes in your business to sidetrack you. Also, keep the significant people in your life and business aware of the difficulties and changes you face as well as the success and growth opportunities you have before you. Let these significant people know if the nature of your relationships must change as your life or business changes to show them that you care about the relationship, regardless of what form it takes, and keep these people informed about ways they can support you and that you can support them. Keep focused and keep moving forward while always keeping the people that matter to you aware that you care. In this way, a loss in business or in life is only as painful as you allow it to be. Stay strong.
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