During a Business Crisis, Kim Chappell calls her Pivot Mentor
Three years ago, I saw a sign on a gas station window, “All calendar’s days are numbered.” Maybe I was just secretly ready for a change, but that sign started a domino of action. It started a pivot in my life. I needed to pivot from an on-site business development consultant to remote work and content creation.
A few days later, I found myself on the front porch of the Bed & Breakfast at Tiffany Hill with owner and friend Selena Einwechter. I went to Selena for advice because she is my Pivot Mentor. Keep reading. In this blog, I include excerpts from my book, “Conquer the Trend Wave,” an interview with Selena. Selena lost her long-term executive job and pivoted to become the owner of a nationally acclaimed Bed & Breakfast. This pivot moved Selena’s life in a new direction.
Pivot During a Business Crisis
I am writing this blog on April 1, 2020. Forty-eight hours ago, Americans learned that we will all be impacted by the COVID-19 virus for at least an additional month. We are being asked to stay at home to save lives, and millions have already lost their jobs. We do not need to see a sign on a gas station window to know that “All calendar’s days are numbered.” We feel every single day as if we are living in a surreal movie. I decided that I needed to give Selena a call for a re-fresh from my Pivot Mentor.
Not all of us will need to pivot for a drastic change in life. After being out of the office for at least six weeks, many will have to pivot from remote work back to the corporate in-person culture. We will all be pivoting back into whatever the new “normal” life will include. It is a good time to re-read my initial interview with Selena Einwechter. (And at the end of the excerpt, I include some of Selena’s ideas that she immediately implemented on Tiffany Hill during the 2020 Corona Virus epidemic. The solid ideas can be used during any business emergency)
From Conquer the Trend Wave….
“I took a leap of faith and began to realize my dream. It was hard, and I stumbled a lot, but I did things I never imagined I could .” –Selena Einwechter
Selena’s story includes grace, hard work, creativity, and a whole lot of grit. Selena’s story is now the book; Courage is Abundant inthe Abstract. Take Your Dreams from Abstract to Reality.
There are no unicorns in Conquer the Trend Wave. At some time, while creating your future, you will be slapped in the face. You will need to immediately pivot. Everything will depend on the graceful and immediate pivot. Be ready with a Pivot Plan. Selena had a Pivot Plan that she had been crafting for years. When I decided to pivot, I did not have a well thought out plan. But, I talked with mentors and quickly created a plan.
The Queen of the Graceful Pivot
It was a gray, bleak November day when I first met Selena. I had just landed in Western North Carolina. I drove into town without knowing one person. I was there on a client assignment. Selena was a ray of sunshine and one of the first locals that I met. But that’s not why Selena is showcased here. Selena invented her future, and she had to pivot.
Selena is the creator and the owner of The Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill. Tiffany Hill is no ordinary B&B. It is the first B&B to be included in the Southern Living Hotel Collection as well as a member of Select Registry, a collection of distinguished accommodations in North America. The entry hall of this B&B is lined with framed awards and national magazine articles. Not just travel magazines but also Money Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Tiffany Hill is a lodging experience beyond most. The three-course breakfast, including dessert, is legendary. Attention has been given to every detail. The Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill is both an entrepreneurial and business case study.
I did not include the Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill in Conquer the Trend Wave because it is a successful business. I added it because of the story that Selena shared on that November afternoon. Selena will be the first to tell you that inventing your future will not be easy. It is not meant to be easy. If you think that it is going to be easy, then you are spending too much time looking for unicorns. (my words, not Selena’s)
Selena came from a corporate environment. She traveled the world, launching a product. She was one of those road warriors, living out of a suitcase and always traveling to a new location.
I also love to travel, so Selena had my attention from the beginning of the story.
But, here is what had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat. Bam! Selena lost that corporate job, without notice. A 24 Hour Pivot. One fateful day on the calendar.
It’s the next day on the calendar that included the grit.
We are all going to have that one day on the calendar. Actually, get prepared to have a few of those days on the calendar. It will be the decisions that we make on the next day that will literally set the path of our future.
Remember the year 2008? It was the year that the markets and the American financial industry took a quick dive. Within ten calendar days, everything seemed to change. Entrepreneurs were shaken to their bones, especially those that were just launching their business. Less than 10% of new businesses would survive.
Selena lost her corporate job in the fall of 2007 and was creating and building her business as 2008 was unfolding. During those dark days of national financial history, Selena had to pivot. And fast.
Courage is Abundant, in the Abstract
After reading Courage is Abundant in the Abstract, I had a list of questions for Selena. Selena helped me pivot with courage and grace on one calendar day. I know that her answers and her advice will also help you.
Kim: Tell us about the day after you lost your job. The next calendar day, what did you do?
Selena: I was devastated! I had just lost my job and as a single person with one source of financial income… I had a decision to make. I could go back into Corporate America to earn a living, or I could take a shot and follow my dream…. So I took the shot and walked toward my future with knowledge of what needed to be accomplished.
(As a side-note, Selena was in the process of crafting a plan before losing her job. But, her advice can also be for those that lose their job without a back-up plan)
Kim: How does one pivot with grace? Everyone reading this book will have a day that includes a smooth pivot. What is your advice?
It’s what’s behind grace that matters……confidence. With confidence in knowing that I could talk the talk of my future. I had done the work, and no one could stump me. For example, when I went to the bank (without a job) and asked for a million-dollar loan, the bank officer just happened to invite an industry expert to the meeting as well. I was grilled for 45 minutes by the industry expert in front of the loan officer. At the conclusion of the meeting, the bank president came to introduce himself – I had the loan! All the while, I knew I was jobless, but no one ever asked that question. Confidence, grace, and the motto of “fake it til you make it” saw me through the whole process until I opened the doors of Tiffany Hill.
My ability to make a graceful pivot is totally attributed to having a detailed project plan that included timelines to achieve. When my world came crashing down, I turned to the plan and knew what I needed to do that very day or week in order to meet my goal of opening the B&B within 18 months. My confidence and determination also propelled others to get on board. They caught my vision along with the timetables and stepped up to make their portion come to pass on schedule. It was amazing to watch it all unfold.
Kim: I don’t want to give away the story in your book, but I found one section especially intriguing. I love the part of the story where you pre-sold nightly accommodations at the Bed & Breakfast. The B&B was an empty field, a dream, and you were already booking guest accommodations. Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs that need to pre-sell their dream?
Selena: The “Dreambuilders” donated $10,000 in $100 reservation deposits good for a night at the future B&B – location yet to be determined. People want to support dreamers! As an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to communicate your vision in a fashion where others want to become a part of your journey. The Dreambuilders predated the Go Fund Me program that exists today. Same concept. As you build your support network, you also gain encouragement and confidence from those who fund and encourage your dream.
Showing grit came when 3 of 4 banks tell you “NO” in the same day that they would not do the loan, or, the floors buckling the week before opening the doors of Tiffany Hill, or when the health department wouldn’t approve the well water for opening. Failure is not an option. When the doors slam in your face, you step back, evaluate, and look for another way around the door with the end result in mind.
You can change the way you view your existence and do what needs to be done… I did what I had to do to get to where I am today. That’s simply what successful entrepreneurs do.
Pivot to Manage a Crisis
Here we are in April of 2020, and we have all been slapped in the face by an invisible virus. I called Selena. As a small business owner, I wanted to hear her opinion and ideas. Of course, she had an emergency business plan and had already launched it. Here are just a few of the segments of her plan.
Special promotions were included in the monthly Tiffany Hill branded newsletter.
The Tiffany Hill Team created a video showcasing items in the B&B’s curated gift shop. Items are now available for shipping directly to your door.
Selena personally contacted future reservations to offer to change or shift in dates. She also asked if guests would like to save a reservation with a refundable deposit. Many Tiffany Hill fans were happy to save a future date with a deposit or buy a lodging gift card.
Selena sent a text message to Select Registery participants with a special offer.
We are all pivoting this month. Remember today’s lessons and build a future plan. If you need advice, call your Pivot Mentor. If you do not have a Pivot Mentor, call a business contact and ask their opinion, or join a Mastermind Group.
Kim Chappell is a business development consultant, content manager and contributor with The Intentional Marketer. As the author of Conquer the Trend Wave with The Market Connector, Kim provides excerpts of her book with a current viewpoint.