Facing challenges in your business? A storm of one's own making or something external? Me too. I'm opening up in this episode about my recent work life (and complete lack of balance) in an effort to make us all feel a little less alone. Sharing is indeed caring. Also, it's vital we talk about our individual as well as industry-wide challenges in a non-confrontational and positive manner – it's our key to understanding and long-term success. Come along on this journey with me as I candidly discuss industry issues, personal struggles, and finding that elusive balance.
Thank you to Lights America for sponsoring this episode of Lighting with Lisa!
Hello and welcome fellow lighting nerds and friends to Lighting with Lisa, the Lighting Industries podcast, sponsored again this week by Lights America. Thank you so much, lights America, for sponsoring the podcast this week. I very much appreciate it. Everyone. Stay tuned mid episode for some sponsored content and a little promo from Lights America that everyone, current customer or not, can take advantage of. So just housekeeping at the top, please, please, please, be sure to email me, lisa at lightingwithlisacom, for anything you would love to hear on the podcast, anything you got. Hit me up with it If you want to, if you want to be on the podcast as a guest, if you want to sponsor the podcast, if you want to suggest a topic. Lisa at lightingwithlisacom is the email address. It is in the show notes. Please, also, if you're not already a part of the fixture finder group or the residential lighting industry job board both are on Facebook Facebookcom lighting fixture help for the fixture finder group and Facebookcom lighting jobs for the job board and they're great groups. The fixture finder group has saved many of us either from in identifying a fixture or finding a discontinued product or whatever the case may be. It's a great space solely focused on fixture finding, but is kind of a valuable, invaluable tool when you're in the showroom. So the podcast this week is the current story of my life, which, it'll be relevant is being wildly overwhelmed. So this podcast is about the lighting industry and everything you know, all of the challenges we face all around in the lighting industry. Of course, as a lighting showroom owner, I tend to speak from that perspective. But again, email me, lisa, at lightingwithlisacom, tell me what I'm getting right, tell me what I'm getting wrong. I would love, love, love, to bring it back up on the podcast sidebar on this. The more dialogue we have going even if it's just filtered through me anonymously and broadcast back out the more dialogue we have going on between showrooms and manufacturers in a supportive way, the better we all become. I do honestly think many, many times in our industry where things start to go awry is when we are not like, forthcoming and clear with one another and then that causes if we feel like on the showroom side that manufacturers maybe are doing something to harm us. We then start to feel defensive and then we start not wanting to support manufacturers as much and then things get in this like vicious circle. Well, you did this to me and you did that to me and we all just finger point at one another and nothing moves forward. Well, the entire purpose of the lighting with Lisa brand, from the podcast to the social media component that is, more consumer facing, is all about industry support and success, like that's what this podcast and this platform is here for. I just have, over the years, have gotten so involved in the day to day workings of our industry, like, like I said, day to day, but then I'm about to say big picture, but that is what I mean. So, like the big picture day to day workings of our industry have become more clear to me over my professional trajectory, on the starting with the showroom coalition to the lighting showroom association to where I am now is just a straight up a business owner and with a side hustle of being a bit of a content creator and trying to get engagement going in our industry because that is really valuable. So, point being, I just please reach out to me. Please know I will keep you anonymous. Please know that over the years I have built this dividing wall between what I do on this, what I've the lighting with Lisa side and my professional showroom side. The two things are separate tracks and while one does inspire the other and vice versa, they are not intertwined. So please feel free to reach out to me, correct me and or, if you feel like I've gotten something wrong, provide additional context, whatever the case may be, because the more we discuss our industry issues in a non accusatory format, the better we all become and the more we can actually learn from each other and grow and set ourselves up for success. Here's a topic that I'm really interested to know more about that I don't know anybody that's going to tell me everything is on sale right now. And you're like duh, lisa, it's November, of course everything's on sale. No, no, no, everything's on sale right now. This podcast is going to launch on November 14. And one might think, okay, that's like a week and two days before Thanksgiving. Okay, I could see the Black Friday sales maybe kicking off the end of this week. No, they're on now. Those sales are happening now and they all go through the first week of December, all of the ones that I've been notified of. If you're a Lighting Show Association member, I'm still keeping the sale list for all of us, and it's crazy to me how much is on sale and for how long, and some discounts that I haven't seen in a long time. Some sales are 30% off Retail. What? So there's a thing there. I don't know if it's like and again, this is where I'm just gonna make things up, so I'm not trying to put like misinformation out there, but in my mind I'm like is there too much inventory? Are things just really soft? Like what is the combination of things that is leading to these really really extended end of year sales? We brought in too much stock because of availability issues. Now demand has slowed and we just literally need to clear our warehouses. Like that's what makes the most sense to me, but I'm just not sure. But I mean, y'all know I just did a podcast on margins Sales like this when there's not a corresponding inside discount for showrooms can be or distributors of any kind, I guess can be impactful on the margins. Oh, and the other thing that I just thought of with these sales like how much of this is being driven by ecom retailers that have had like maybe a softening in their sales and so then they're requesting from manufacturers and extended holiday sales period. I just don't know. I would love it if somebody could email me and give me some insight, but I promise to keep you anonymous. It doesn't behoove me to rat out any source I have, so it's just really, really interesting. So all that about the industry as a whole being the more we can be communicative with one another and understand where things are going for this part, this part, and that only makes all of us stronger, more well informed, better engaged, able to make better business decisions. It's something to say to my staff all the time, like, if you don't give me complete information, I can't make a complete decision. I can only make a decision off of the partial information that was provided to me, and the chances of that decision being successful or correct are much, much lower than when I have the full information. Even if the full information isn't something you want to hear, like even if, or want to share or admit, like even having that those hard moments of saying that the quiet part out loud, if you can and when you do it, leads to better, more successful business decisions. So, yeah, so I think any amount of top line sharing that we can do amongst one another helps us all be better, helps us all make better purchasing decisions, decisions on expenses, decisions on whatever we may be facing in our individual businesses. We have a better, broader, more complete top line picture. Making those smaller day to day decisions becomes much, much easier. So email me. So this podcast is about being overwhelmed. I mentioned, I believe, in the first lighting with Lisa episode, or maybe the second. I have elected to make a change in my software, my, like my business operating software. You know the big boy, whether you do like a full ERP system or point of sale system or whatever it is, it's the thing that drives my business every day and like, literally powers us. If we don't have access to it, the world is lost. We can't help our customers, we can't order things, we can't check inventory, like everything goes awry. So I made a strategic decision I hope to change my software and my go live is the end. Well, it's the very beginning of December and so we are again. I said this is going to come out November 14. So that puts me just over two weeks away from my go live by the time this airs, and anyone that's done something like this knows just how like, quite frankly, overwhelming it is, and it's been a great experience. I feel like we're in good shape. We're. We keep dotting the I is we keep crossing the T is we keep knocking out our to do list. So it's not about that, it's just this big business transition and it is quite literally keeping me up at night, and you know as it should. When you're making such a big change for your business, that doesn't just impact you as the owner or manager but impacts all of your employees and then will eventually impact all of your customers and all of your vendors, and you're just like doing the best you can to make the best decision and are like this was very strategic. It was. I really think that making this decision is gonna do this, this and this for my business and Then that's balanced against whatever cost there are. So I went into it with an open mind and understood the pros, cons, benefits, risks. All of that Made the decision very, very happy with. This is the decision in a broad way, like actually extremely happy with it. But there is this like Tenseness in my core of like kind of like grinning and bearing it to get through these next several weeks until we're live, and then we know Everyone knows who's done something like this. When you go live, you know we plan god laughs, right, so there's gonna be just things are gonna go not quite plan, it's just something that's gonna happen. There's gonna be some unexpected challenges. You know we do. We are doing everything we can to like mitigate that and try to keep the challenges to a minimum, but it's just gonna happen. You know you can't make such a big transition in your business and not have something unexpected happen. It's like the unintended consequences right. So like you're doing all of these things because of you know, all this input leading you to make this decision. But sometimes in making those decisions and moving forward in a certain way, there are unintended consequences. Sometimes unintended consequences can be good, sometimes they can be not so good. So, hoping most of my unintended consequences are good ones, but you know there is a more than little chance that they'll be some challenging ones that we just didn't expect up front. It's gonna be an adjustment period. You know some of my staff have been with me for a very long time and we've been working the same way the entire time. So it's just it's just gonna be a change in like we keep saying on our calls and when I'm talking to my staff. It's like a change in muscle memory and it can be really really hard to do that when you've been doing something the same way for so long and in most ways our processes, like our Core operating procedures, are not changing, like all of that is gonna kind of just slot into this new format. But even just like the way the screen looks, that you're you're looking at all day long, the way that you input information, it's just different. It's not bad, it's not better or worse in any real way. Well, there's some better things. I'm not gonna lie, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it but there it's just different and we all have to embrace the difference. So it's really put me in this place of feeling like very overwhelmed, not because we're not getting everything done, we certainly are getting everything done. I have my regular job to do on top of this extra job I gave myself said that's fun, but everything I feel like is on track and getting done. But this sense of Overwhelmedness is really setting in and really impacting my life. I was saying to my husband like it's almost as bad to have too much to do is a as well as like having too little to do. Like I have so much to do that like I think of something to do and I'm like immediately sidetracked by another task I have to do and I do that, and then I forgotten what the first thing was and then In the meantime a third thing pops up and then I've forgotten the first one again and then I sit there. What was that thing? I know I needed to do it. It's just this like Constant mind swirl, like I'm like a tornado going up there Of all these things I need to do, and one thing comes and then it'll escape me by before the next one comes. It's just. It has truly been A very overwhelming space to be. So we're gonna break here and talk about our sponsor for the episode. I'm gonna talk a little bit more about this on the other end and just some things I'm trying to do to mitigate these challenges. If you've been in the situation, or expect to be in it, or just having an overwhelming time in general, hopefully this resonates with you and let you know that you're not out there alone dealing with these things. It happens to all of us. So I want to take a minute now to talk about this week's sponsor, which is lights America. I have to say, one of the biggest lifesavers in my business world From when we, when I became a customer of lights America, which is several years ago, was there integration with our operating system? They're integrated with my current operating system. They are integrated with my future operating system. And if this will tell you one thing about how significant lights America has been for me and my business, when I was thinking of making this big change that we're going through right now in my business, the first phone call I made was to lights America To ask what they thought about this new system. What about the integration? Are these features still gonna exist for me? Is this still gonna work for me the way I need it to? And that is the biggest positive I could say about this plat. You know lights America and what they do there Is that I they're so core to our day to day operations that I would rather stick with a less perfect operating system that has that integration, then to move to a better one and lose it. So here is just some general information on Lights America. They not only support the podcast, but the industry as a whole. They're the leading data provider. I've mentioned before whether or not you use the Lights America platform for your catalog website as a distributor. You can still use their data feeds, which are cleaned up which are made more useful. It's still a service you can use, even if you don't need their website solution. They have exclusive tools. With the IMAP holidays. There's Pro Tools, where if you have a designer or builder, you can give them a pro account to your website. You, on the back end, set up the discount that that builder or designer has, so when that builder logs into your company's website they see what the retail price is and then they see their discounted price. It's really amazing so that they can go shopping with their clients in their offices. Whatever platform, whatever process works for them. They can use the Pro Tools on your website, know their pricing, know if they're in budget. It's really amazing. And then, of course, the 3D and augmented reality program. It's just a fantastic tool. I know there's more coming on this. I've been talking to the company that has partnered with Lights America. I know they're really working to develop the 3D and augmented reality tools for even more function going into 2024, more manufacturers on board, more showroom access, and you get all of that through Lights America. If you're a sales agent listening in, do please know that Lights America has a free website program just for you, so make sure to give them a call. If you're a manufacturer, you're probably already working with Lights America, but if you're not, they offer free data collection and they will give your data only to your sales reps and your wholesale account holders. So there's no better way to get your data prices, stock images, imap, holiday information, whatever it is to your customers than working through Lights America. So if you're not already doing it, reach out and get going. So if you want to get a little perk from Lights America new customer or existing ask for a free demo. Go to lightsamericacom, submit your request and remember to tell them the I sent you Lisa. Lighting with Lisa. And here's the special offer just for listeners of the podcast. Current Lights America customers can take advantage of a free banner ad or email blast. Just mention the podcast and they'll get that taken care of for you. If you're a wholesaler new to Lights America, you can receive a 15% discount on setup fees of premium or data 52 services. Data 52 services are the ones I was mentioning. That is, the data feed for the entire, you know, for the entire catalog that Lights America provides. So whether you have Lights America website or a separate website, a custom solution, a Shopify website, a big commerce, whatever it is. You can use the data 52 product feed and with this offer you can get 15% discount on the setup. So it's tremendous. So be sure to reach out to Lights America. Tell them that lighting with Lisa sent you Okay. So back to being overwhelmed. So it's just been. It's been a journey. I know every business owner at some point goes through phases like this, whether the stress is sales issues, that you're having staffing issues, that you're having something in your warehouse inventory, your delivery truck got in an accident, like there are always these moments we go through as business owners and managers of just being like wildly overwhelmed, and it really is challenging to maintain. Whatever positive attitude you always try to bring to your job, it can be hard to maintain that when you're feeling so overwhelmed. That's definitely been a challenge for me. I have never been one to have a ton of patience. I have probably negative amounts of patience. Right now, my fuse is very, very short. I just need everyone to be as direct as possible with me and take up as little time as possible, because I need to get this cleared off so I can go on to the next thing. In some ways, I'm becoming maybe a scoche, frustrated with just myself, that I can feel that I'm not being the best manager, the best supporter that I always aim to be for my staff. It's more just like I have so much rattling around in this brain of mine that I just need to set things up and knock them down. I don't need to belabor any points any more than necessary. It has just been one of those times. I think the message of this podcast is to know when you're going through it like that in a business sense, sometimes I think it's viewed as a like oh, poor you. There's not a lot of sympathy out there in the world. I think the conventional saying is it's lonely at the top. That's not really what I mean. It is lonely at the top in that you don't get a lot of like hey, good job, it's just not a thing that happens. But that's part of the gig, right? I think most of us that end up in that spot. If you aren't comfortable with that lonely at the top feeling, you got to find a way and you will pretty quick. When you're in these positions and doing all this, the only one to blame for my overwhelmed state right now is quite literally myself. It's not like I can vent to my husband or a friend or whatever. They're just going to be like okay, but why are you doing this? Oh, because you wanted to. All right, cool. It can just lead to this just kind of inner turmoil and frustration. I think oftentimes that comes up as a business owner and that it can be triggered by so many different things. It just the sensation, not just the feeling, but just like, quite literally, the management task list of things that you have to do or get done in a day. It can be triggered by any number of different things. It doesn't have to be implementing a new software system, it can be any number of other things, but that sensation is the same and we've all experienced it to some degree or another in our professional lives. I just want us all to identify together and have a little kumbaya moment that none of us are alone in that. It happens to all of us and all we can try to do is be our best selves through those moments. I think what has really become apparent to me I just mentioned it, but what's really become apparent to me is that these moments are really challenging me personally to continue to be as good a manager and as good of a business partner as I can be, even when I kind of just want to tap out. I kind of just want to work from home every single day so that I can really focus on my tasks and my to-dos and getting them done and not be distracted by this whole pesky business. That's not what I mean, but it's just. There's so much that I almost need to be in isolation because every extra sound is overwhelming all of my senses and honestly, I'm just going to call it how I see it. This might be much more of a female or sensitive personality trait, not to gender it, but it definitely could be a thing. But I'm just being open with my experience here. In the event, it resonates with you as the listener who knows I do understand that men go through these same things. My husband ran a very successful business for many, many years and I know he went through things like I'm going through in terms of the overwhelming sensation, experience, whatever. He just addressed it from a different perspective than I do, a much more macho, manly response to things. He is a product of his time. So when he would get in these spaces his solution was to double down, work harder and talk about somebody whose patient's level would zip down to zero real quick. So it's definitely something that would happen to him. It's a thing. We all respond in different ways. I can only really speak to my own personal experience, but I do know from the history of this podcast over the years and over a hundred and something episodes that some of the best feedback I get is when we talk about how these challenges of operating a business impact us all. But nobody ever wants to really talk about it because you kind of like well, I don't want to appear weak, I don't want to appear like I don't know what I'm doing. And if I've given you anything to take from this episode, it's that you're not. Don't worry about it. There's definitely a healthy like line there between like sharing too much and sharing not enough, and y'all can. Y'all can guess which side of the line that Lisa ends up on. I'm on the oversharing side and that's fine for me. I've made it work. But it's not for everybody and there are definitely some people that would say to me, like Lisa, roll it back a little bit and I get it, and that is healthy feedback for me to receive. But I just want y'all to know that none of us are out there alone. We all go through these moments of being just like wildly overwhelmed and everything seeming to impact every part of our lives. My being overwhelmed at work is is rubbing off at home, like I just don't need one more thing to do at home. I haven't been sleeping great, so that's a thing, and that makes everything just a little bit harder. So, yeah, these are just things we go through in life and challenges, and I think all we can try to do is learn from them, like learn through the experience. Try to keep as positive a mindset and attitude as possible. Do little things to lift your spirits. You know I got the latest issue of furniture, lighting and decor in my office yesterday. It was the November 2023 issue and I, you know, I flip through it every month and on page 10, I opened it up and it said eight work life integration tips and I went, oh, that's so handy. I was just sitting here thinking about how, like this is becoming a bit of a challenge for me keeping everything going, and one of the tips given in the article was never feel guilty about self care. I think, especially when you're having these like overwhelmed moments, that not not feeling guilty about like taking a minute, probably more than a minute, half a day. Take a weekend day, take a whole weekend to really reset your brain, because when you get so overwhelmed and stressed and pulled in 25 different directions that you can't remember the first task before the second task comes along, you're just you're not helping anybody really and you're certainly not helping yourself. And so if you can take some time to oneself doing things you love, that are meaningful to you, that recharge you and this is different for everyone Like recharge for me might be sitting and reading a book, watching some of my favorite Bravo reality shows, catching up on the Bravo con content Like that was me last weekend for sure. So don't judge, whatever it is, it's going to be different for everyone. My friend Kirsten she gets a lot of benefit out of doing some professional development and going and getting some training and things that help like reset you to your place of positivity and success, that self care, that doing something alone or with family or friends, whatever, whatever it is. And the other thing in this article that has been like so so important for me over these past few weeks is setting boundaries Like this is so hard. It will again will surprise none of you. As a person who can has a tendency to be an overshare or anti people pleaser, it can be very hard for me to set boundaries on things because, well, I just want to do everything. I have a tendency to buy it off more than I can chew. I it's just, you know, a personality quirk of mine. Now, in some ways, this is a great thing. It helps me be really Whatever an entrepreneur. I was just gonna say successful entrepreneur and then I was like maybe that's questionable, but but it helps me with that entrepreneurial spirit, right, like that willingness and that that urge to always go out, do more, be more, get more whatever you can Like, to have the best possible business, to have the best staff, to have the best run warehouse, to have great inventory Like these things really motivate me and get me going every day. It sounds it might sound silly to somebody else, but these are things that really bring me like true enjoyment in life, and it can be really hard for me to say like, look, these other things are going on and I need to set a dividing line right here and these are the things that I'm just not gonna be able to do right now, whether it's a out of work commitment, whether it's anything, you name it things that are not like mission critical, that you just need to set a boundary on. I've been really trying to do that as best I can and without you know, without causing any harm to myself or anyone else, of course, like in my business. But like setting that boundary of like I can't, I just don't have the bandwidth for this right now. It's gonna have to wait, because it's not like the end all be all or there's time or whatever. So those are my things that I've been focusing on. So set some boundaries, do some self-care, take a weekend off. I highly recommend that, if you're able, or if you're not able to take a whole weekend, take a day off, take half a day. Something that allows you to just recharge. I think is so important when you're going through these challenging moments. So I'm speaking from this position of being like overwhelmed and too much to do. But you know, I've certainly been through moments where I felt similarly, when I've just been stressed about the future, not quite knowing what decisions to make for the business, wanting to make sure my staff is well engaged in taking care of and supported and like what's the best way to go. I'm extremely lucky that I have a great business partner that is an amazing sounding board, so that's been like just the best resource for me. But not everyone has that luxury. So having these times where you can just kind of like try to disconnect as much as possible so that when you re-engage everything just seems a little bit clearer, a little bit easier, I find that to be just wildly valuable. As a person moving through this world and just trying to do the very best I can for my business, for the industry as a whole, of course, most importantly, for my whole staff and my family, that's where this all you know really comes from, and the things that keep you up at night are those concerns about the impact on those people, and you just really want to make sure we're doing the best we can for all of the people in our lives and making sure that they are supported and happy. All right, thanks so much to Lights America for sponsoring this episode. Please go check them out, lightsamericacom. You won't regret it, and thank you all so much until next time, take care.