Episode 117: Dealing With Unexpected Business Challenges

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Show Notes:

In this episode, I am taking you on a journey through some challenging times in my business this year, and shedding some light on how to face unexpected situations and overcome fear. From a contractor mishap to personal health issues and team betrayals, I am sharing valuable insights that can help you navigate tough seasons in your business.

How you deal with these disappointments is a key indicator to your long term success in business. Having mental fortitude is key. When the unexpected happens, it elicits fear. Our first response may be to run away and hide and say “forget it”.  It's okay to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or even want to escape but it’s important to honor your feelings and emotions during these tough times. And it’s okay to rest and take some time to process your emotions if that is what is needed. 

To move through these times you must look back at the excuses you made for yourself or others during difficult situations and take ownership of your role. Acknowledge the reality of the situation and get real about if it is as dire as it initially seems. Realize that the actions of others, such as team members or contractors, are not a reflection of you but rather their own choices.

You can learn from my experience that betrayal and challenging moments in business are rarely about you personally and people often make decisions based on their own self-interest or needs. Don't take it personally; it's about them. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and bad decisions. You can allow yourself to give grace to others, as you would want for yourself.

This podcast episode serves as a reminder that mental fortitude is crucial in business, and how you choose to react to adversity can greatly impact your long-term success. Embrace your emotions, face reality, and keep moving forward with a focus on your business and your well-being.

Thank you for tuning in to this episode. I hope you found value in knowing you are not alone and that this episode helps you navigate hard times in your business a little better. If you enjoyed this podcast, don't forget to subscribe and leave us a review. 


It would be very much appreciated if you would leave a rating and review wherever you listen to podcasts. It really helps to keep the show relevant, and I would love to come back to see some of your kind words. Enjoy this fall weather, and take some breathing time for yourself too!


About Michelle: 

Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.

In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies, and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.

Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.


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Hey y'all, welcome back to the podcast. I am switching it up on you guys again. Yes, so what I was going to do, remember when I took my break and I said, we're going to change up the format of the podcast. I'm super [00:01:00] excited. And I took a month off. We were reformatting things. What I was trying to do was to create seasons that had a certain topic or a certain theme that we were following.

And I've been doing some solo podcasts, as you've noticed for the last two weeks, I've had, some guests on the show, but what I, what I have figured out about this whole podcast thing is that I love the flexibility of chatting with different, really smart people and bringing different content to the forefront and being able to promote their services, or the genius or whatever the case may be.

When I sat down and was mapping things out with a podcast genius. She was leading me in this direction. And here's what I figured out, y'all will not get any podcasts if I have to follow, uh, follow a plan, it just, it just wouldn't happen. Maybe you'd get one a month. If it was just me following a plan or trying to come up with speakers [00:02:00] that fall in line with a certain seasonal theme or whatever the case may be.

So I've thrown that plan out the window. It was a good idea at the time, but it's just not going to work for me. I have too many businesses that I'm running a family that I love to see and be pleasant to and so forth. So I've got some special content for you today. And then I have some pre-recorded interviews that I did that you'll have in the next couple of weeks. Then I'm picking up my interview schedule again, so I'm super excited.

I appreciate your patience as I kind of go back and forth with the format and things. I know myself well enough that I would rather do this and have fun and enjoy it and bring you consistent content than to force it, have some half ass content and not enjoy it as much. Right? So that's what we're doing.

Thanks for hanging in with me. Thanks for going on this experimental ride. And what I want to talk about today for reals is, in [00:03:00] business? There are seasons that just kind of suck. Okay. Let's just say it. There are seasons that just kind of suck, and I am coming out of one right now. Let me tell you what this season has looked like.

And then we're going to talk about how you deal with it. Because if you've been in business for a day or 10 years, You have already or you will experience this and I firmly believe that if you know shit is going to happen that you can be a little bit more mentally prepared when it does. So I'm hoping that my crappy ass season can be of benefit to you.

It's brought me some good lessons. And that might be its own podcast. We'll see. But we're going to talk a little bit today about how to deal with the unexpected, unanticipated, unfortunate seasons. And that is the, let's see what it started off. I think it was in February that I confirmed that [00:04:00] one of my contractors who we have worked with multiple times and had worked with this particular client previously through us.

And they were pleased enough with his work that they had him back. And it turns out, as we found out in February, that he had supposedly ordered appliances. About a year prior, maybe 10 or 11 months prior, he'd supposedly ordered them. So he took their money and continued to do the demolition of the kitchen and built it back up and so forth.

A year later, where are the appliances? Where are the appliances? Still waiting on them, still waiting on them is what he was saying. Well, it started to get a little bit hinky, so I cornered him on a Sunday, met him in my old office. And it turns out he had not ordered the appliances. He took their 55, 000 and did not order appliances.

So we were dealing with that fallout from the client. Uh, the client [00:05:00] has gone back and forth. Of course, they're really pissed off at him. But then at some point when they were getting frustrated, they were taking it out on us because we had brought them to the project. And even though they had worked with them in the past, I mean, think about it.

They're, they're mad, they're hurt. They felt betrayed. They were just lashing out at whomever they could. So I couldn't take it personally, but it was it's it's been a tough year. So, since then, I'm recording this in October, and they have their appliances. Thankfully, we went ahead and handled it on their behalf, but they're not going to get the money back from the contractor.

So basically, they're out 55, 000, which. Sucks. It's, it's, it's not a huge amount of money in the overall scheme of things for these clients, but the betrayal that they felt, the lies that continue to perpetuate and so forth has just really made for a difficult scenario on our part, I went and had coffee with the client [00:06:00] and they were mad at us because they didn't feel like we had done enough for them.

So it was, Eye opening to them to understand what we had been doing in the background on their behalf. they wouldn't have ever found well, they would have found out eventually, but it would not have come to light as quickly if I hadn't had that conversation with the contractor and basically forced him to tell them what was going on.

They didn't understand that we pulled in some favors from our dealers over here to get them their appliances. Or that we had been making multiple calls in the background and handling things and passing on any pricing benefits that we had. expediting the situation and so forth. They were still unhappy, but they weren't as pissed off at us understanding that we had been working in the background.

But that was a difficult conversation. I met, you know, the man for coffee and I didn't know if he was going to yell, scream or whatever the case may be. So that was, we just had [00:07:00] coffee recently. We've been going through this for quite a while. So that was what kicked off my season. Next part of the season, Was that all of a sudden I stopped getting calls for ML interiors group, my interior design firm, and it turns out that my search engine optimization was kind of broken, so I was not coming up on Google searches.

So business really started to slow down, or at least that's what I was told is that my SEO was broken. We'll get to that in a minute. Then. In May, my husband, uh, went into the hospital for a week and had part of his, part of his lower intestine removed. So for two days, we didn't know what was going on, what the problem was.

And they had to go in and do exploratory surgery. They found out what was going on. Thankfully, it's not life threatening. But for a week, there was just all of this. I, I, y'all, I have never had to deal with a loved one being in the [00:08:00] hospital. And how much you have to report updates to the family, like, oh my God, like.

I don't speak “doctor”, I don't have any updates, and then I finally started group texting everybody. I don't care if it was the ex in laws and the in laws and all the things, y'all are in one group text. You'll know what I know. And then we have doctors in the family. What about this? And what about that?

I was, here's the doctor, here's the surgeon's phone number, call her. So in addition to the stress of my husband being in, you know, crazy pain and then the family, and I understand, I totally understand. That they want to know what's going on, but it was very overwhelming. If you have any tips on how to navigate that in case it happens again, I'd love to hear from you.

And of course, trying to juggle business. And then my daughter who could not go see him in the hospital, they wouldn't let her up into the emergency and the, uh, not the ICU, but this other area that wouldn't let her in. And of course we didn't want her to see her dad like that. So trying to explain, trying to be a [00:09:00] single parent and all the things.

Thankfully, I have some fantastic friends and support that helped me navigate with Genevieve, but that was difficult. That was the first part of May. And I'm not telling you all of this as a sob story. I just want you, I want to give this some perspective. Okay. So we've got a couple of things going on.

That's not all that big of a deal, right? You deal with the contractor. You deal with the potential thing about the SEO husband. He's in, then he's out of the hospital. Then in June, we were opening studio works, which is a co working facility here in Dallas. My intent is to focus on interior designers, contractors, builders, vendor reps, all the things.

We were opening up, it was a Thursday night, it was our grand opening party. Well, it turns out that same day I had to let go of two of my key employees because they had, I had found out that they had been creating their own interior design business on my time and on my dime. So, one of the girls had been with me for eight [00:10:00] years.

And was my senior and had just become principal designer and the other gal was my director of operations. So of course she had all of my passwords, all of my trust, been in and out of my house multiple times. So would the other one for that matter. And, like in 24 hours, they poof, they were gone. And one of my other contract designers who was absolutely lovely had just moved across the country.

 [00:11:00] Holy free holies, right? So that's what I want to talk to you about today. You're going to have seasons like these seasons suck. And really [00:12:00] what, what topped it off was me having to let go of those two and having to deal with the feelings of betrayal. And then the things you find out about after the fact, the things that they were saying and doing and whatnot.

Oh my word. After you treat somebody so well for eight years and It's just like a gut punch. That's all I'm going to say about that. What I want to talk about today is how you deal with it. Is really a key indicator to your long term success in business, I think, because if you have seasons or one or two of these things happen, it's going to happen at some point.

Basically being in business for yourself is not for the weak of heart. So the mental fortitude is key. What I have learned over the years. Is that when [00:13:00] the unexpected happens, whether it is a contractor stealing money from your client, or, you know, the husband going into emergency surgery, the betrayal of staff that you thought were friends, whatever happens, what it does is it elicits fear, and there are two ways to deal with fear, and I'm going to share it with you.

How I describe it and then I'll go back and explain it. So the first way you can deal with fear is to Production you're gonna have to beep this out. The first way to deal with fear is to “F everything and run.” Okay. Yes. Uh, F E A R. “F everything and run.” The second one is to face the excuses and reality.

So the first option is to just F everything and [00:14:00] run. That's how you feel. I have felt like that for quite a few months now. I feel like I'm coming out and can talk about this and exhale a little bit because I've just been fighting for my life. But I really just wanted to say, you know what? Let me just put a match to it and, and run.

I was done. I was tired. Again, we hadn't had a lot of leads coming in and I was being told that our SEO was broken. I honestly still don't know if the SEO was broken because I'm getting leads now or if they were being redirected. Don't know. It is what it is, right? But at the time I was just like, I'm going to put a match to it.

I'm done. I don't want to run an interior design business ever again. I'm tired of this. I just want to do my coaching and run studio works and a side mark and be done with it. Just be done because in addition to all of the stress of having to release [00:15:00] my team, we had to deal with clients. I had to go tell my clients, Hey, this is what's happened.

And some clients were like, Oh, well, that's okay. Others were a little disappointed. And some have tried to manipulate the situation for their own. So there's fallout from that that doesn't just end the day after you let somebody go. And then of course, trying to pick up all the other details. So F everything and run is, I want to share with you that that's perfectly natural.

And it's imperative that you go through all of the emotions that you're feeling and you honor them. Even the ones where you just don't want to get out of bed and it takes all of your fortitude to get dressed, get in the car, and go to work. Or to fire up your laptop at your dining room table.

Like, sometimes that's just as hard. Even though you're in your pajamas, your hair's a mess, and you haven't brushed your teeth. Okay. Honor the way you're feeling. And if you have the [00:16:00] ability to take a little bit of downtime, whether it's an afternoon where you go get a manicure and pedicure and you just breathe, or whether it's a long weekend or a full week, whatever you can fit in where you can truly unplug and just relax.

I highly recommend that. So F everything and run is is is one way to deal with fear I think that's most people's gut reaction and I'm just speaking from my own experience and Having been 53 years on this on this earth the experiences that I've had in other situations Have been similar reactive reactions of the fear so the first way Is just F everything and run the second thing that I believe is also necessary is to face the excuses and the reality what I mean by that what I've [00:17:00] done and let's talk mostly about the, um, the team.

Or the former team members because I've really had to do some deep diving on it. I was thinking, what's the term? I was shook. I don't know. Is that still a thing? I was shook.

I believe in all relationships That we hold some of the responsibility for the outcome, even though these two individuals were working on their own accord for themselves on my time and my dime, what level of ownership do I have on that? What level of excuses did I make? So I need to face the excuses that I made and face the reality.

And that's, it's a two pronged, it's a two pronged approach. the excuses. As I look back, it was that my principal designer had been loyal for a long [00:18:00] time. She missed her best friend's wedding to get work done because she had a deadline that she was meeting. She reminded me of that at one point when I mentioned something to her and so I'm thinking, Oh, okay, well, she is loyal.

And I know I thought I knew her heart. Then, things started coming up where I could not figure out literally what either of them were doing for the 40 hours a week that I was paying them. My principal designer had been offloading a lot, if not most or all of the work on my contract designer, who was absolutely lovely and brilliant and a hard worker and wanted to please her.

But then why am I paying a premium for my contractor when my principal designer is not, not doing anything? She was busy moving into an RV. They had sold their home and they were moving into, you know, a temporary situation. So, I was allowing her to go and handle [00:19:00] all the entire packing up of the home and the move during work hours without blinking an eye because I trusted her.

But the excuses that I was making is that, well, work getting done. and really I just did not want to argue and I had removed myself far enough from the actual day to day design that I didn't feel like I had the knowledge to course correct or to call out any behavior that I was instinctually, I was feeling it.

But I didn't know how to course correct it because I have removed myself from the day to day operations. That's, as CEO, that's my, that's my goal. That's my goal.

The other excuses were the feeling of judgmentalness. I felt very judged and that was something relatively new to the dynamic of the relationship.

[00:20:00] And my excuse was basically that she's a designer. She's a better designer than I am and things along that line. So just specifically here around studio works, I designed everything in here, but it wasn't good enough. Okay. so that's just the way it felt. Again, looking back, there was less of a familiar friendship there.

And therefore, you look back in hindsight, it's always 2020 because you can say now, now I know what was going on outside of, you know, anytime, or when we, when I was talking about needing to be in the office, working, not working from home was not going to be an option anymore because we needed to kick some things into high gear.

And I hadn't just laid down a bucket of money for our studio for people to be working from home. And there was pushback. Okay. I see the excuses that were there that I allowed and I made. So I take some of that [00:21:00] responsibility as the business owner, as the head person. I don't need to be the best designer here, right?

I don't need to be. I own the company. I hire people better than me and support them. So why was I feeling inadequate or insecure when I was being judged by these individuals? Why was I, why was I afraid in that respect? And I just said that out loud, and that's truly how I felt, and I didn't realize it until just now.

So you look back at these excuses that you made for these other individuals, and I went against my instinct. There's that. Face the excuses and the reality. The reality is almost what the reality becomes. Losing those two was not the end of the world. At the time, I was thinking, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, what am I going to do?

I'm, you know, upside [00:22:00] down over here in this business. I'm working my tail off over there. I, you know, I, I still have some really great team members here that I had had on board and that were not being completely utilized to their extent. That's a God thing that they were sitting there ready to pick up the pieces.

But the reality of it is that it's not as bad as it felt. So you have to face the reality of it is that I Let this happen. The reality is not as bad as you think it is. Most of the time we see things as we feel they are and not as they really are. So when you're going through these scenarios, when you're going through the contractor who takes the client's money and runs, Or you can't really talk about health the same way, but when situations like this happen, face the reality.

Like the reality of it is, yeah, it sucks that he took the client's money. Good thing it wasn't [00:23:00] mine. I mean, that was good. Yeah. That's, it feels very callous and it feels very, you know, cold, but it's face that reality. Face the reality that. In this particular instance, they had worked with them before, and they had asked for him to place the orders because they didn't want to pay our procurement fees.

The reality of that is that we shouldn't have let them go down that path, even though he was a familiar and quote unquote trusted individual. Well, the reality of it is the cold hard facts and not the feelings. The cold hard facts about this, team turnover. Is that it's not personal to me, you know, I've, I've known that the whole time these, these girls made a really bad decision to go about this because my, my promise to my principal designer from pretty much day one is that whenever, if you choose to go out on your own, I will always support you.

She went [00:24:00] about it bass backwards. Right? Don't do it on my time or my dime and then tell me you're gonna do it and expect me to support you. Uh uh. Not cool. But it wasn't personal. It was not about me. When you find yourself in these situations of betrayal, it's not about you. It's about the other person. I look back from, you know, from a few months out, what was that?

Was June? It was the first of June, July, August, September, October were coming up at the end of October, so it's been about five months and I can look back clearly and see that I knew it instinctually. It's not about me. That's not about me at all. It's about them getting too big for their britches, thinking of themselves first.

And y'all, that, that is not judgmental on their part. I've done the same thing. I've made stupid decisions. I have lived to regret things, whether I've, I've told that person or not. It was, [00:25:00] it was a bad decision on their part. I don't take it personally. Are my feelings hurt sometimes? Yeah. Absolutely, I'd be lying if it wasn't

and if by chance they're listening to this, this, this podcast. I know it wasn't about me. You might have thought that I wasn't doing anything and told the team that I wasn't doing anything, but that's my prerogative. That's your prerogative as the CEO of the company is that your goal, or at least my goal is, is that I can run an empire, you know, from the top, that I'm not in the weeds doing things, that I hire people smarter than me to do the things for the company.

As the CEO of the company, I remember when I was managing restaurants, I was the general manager of the restaurant. I knew everybody's position there. I, I could cook up a pizza. I could saute. I could do the dishwasher. I could do the [00:26:00] hostess, bartender, server, whatever it was. I wasn't, I did not need to be the best.

I just needed to know enough about it.

So again, keep in mind that when these things transpire, it is not about you. It is about the person who is taking the action. I think about some of the guys I dated that broke up with me or cheated on me back in the day. It wasn't about me. It felt like it, boy, that poor little insecure girl in her twenties.

Ooh, that was a painful decade y'all. I could tell her what I'm telling you now. I really hope that you get some benefit out of this. Because in business, some shitty things are going to happen. It's just going to be a level of what type of shitty and when they stack on each other, I'm just dying for 2023 to be done.

Please Jesus bring 2024 sooner than later. So that's how we deal with things. It generally elicits fear. [00:27:00] Fear in our bodies elicits a response, fight or flight. So you can F everything and run, probably to begin with, or don't. But you also choose how long you're going to do that. I couldn't hide for more than, you know, eight or 10 hours because I had businesses to run.

And then when things, when the energy level decreases a little bit, you can really be introspective and then you can face the excuses. I made excuses for these girls, but I knew for weeks and weeks and weeks that there was not 40 hours of work being performed. By either of them. And then reality. Did it suck?

Did I have clients whose projects we're going to burn to the ground? No, we're not in the operating room. Nobody's going to die. Was it uncomfortable to have some of these conversations with the clients? Yeah. None of the clients, there's one client that I told, could go back to them after the first of [00:28:00] the year.

Didn't want them anyway, but for the most part, all of the other clients were completely, completely amenable. One of them was like, Oh, thank God, because I felt like I was getting forced into doing things that I didn't want to do. And it was because they had checked out and were not listening to the clients because they were just listening to their own desires.

Again, y'all give grace where grace is due. I give grace to these two individuals for making bad decisions.

Wasn't I young at one point and made stupid decisions that were based on my own self, self interest? Hell yeah, I'd be a hypocrite to say that I didn't. And if you're thinking about it, you have to, if you're listening to this, you've made bad decisions. You might not see them bad right now, if you're in the midst of it.

But you're going to look back and say, Oh yeah, that was a bad decision. Oops. I've written letters to friends of mine, family. It's like, sorry, that was a bad decision. That, that, that, that was a bad year for me. Whatever the case may be. So when you're in the middle of [00:29:00] it. And it feels personal. Remind yourself.

It's not the same thing with the contractor who took the money. It wasn't about the client. It wasn't about the project. It was all about him and his needs, wants or whatever. I have no idea what he did with that. It's not my business and I'm not going to spend the energy. To go chase him down. I'm not going to spend the energy to go stalk these, you know, former employees.

And become obsessed with anything that they're doing. They're, they're done. They're dead to me. Wish them well. Please drive through. And I really, really feel good about that. And again, I'm not here to share a remote on the podcast. I want to share this experience with you like I am raw and transparent about everything else.

And share with you that being a business owner, having team members, having contractors, having vendors, or whatever the case may be,[00:30:00] it's hard. And some years, some days, some months are harder than others. Just know you're not alone and know that the natural inclination for fear is a human reaction.

It's a human reaction. Acknowledge it, roll around in it, wallow in it as long as you need to. Just don't live there. Don't live there, babe. Oh, okay. That's my TED talk. Not that encouraging. Was it encouraging? I don't think it was. Well, hopefully it was insightful and educational and will allow you, when these situations arise, to reference back to something that you might have gotten today on the podcast.

If you can, if you did get anything from this or any other podcast, what I would absolutely appreciate, Is heading on over and dropping a review. I read those. I appreciate them. It lets me understand what direction. Well, I thought I was going to take the podcast in one direction, but I went the other way, but nonetheless, I'd love to hear from you or take [00:31:00] a picture of where you're listening to this podcast and tag me in it on Instagram design for the creative mind.

All right, y'all thanks for listening. Stay tuned for the next couple of weeks. I've got some great interviews coming up that way we can be consistent. Take care until the next time.

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