In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.
What’s up, party people. I’m Marie Forleo and for over 20 years I have been obsessed with learning what it takes to turn dreams into reality. You know, I started my company back in the day with no clue, no connections, no money, and over time grew it into something spectacular. I created the award-winning show MarieTV, was named by Oprah as a thought leader for the next generation, and wrote the instant number one New York Times bestseller, Everything is Figureoutable.
I’ve helped millions of people transform their businesses and lives. And guess what? Every week I’m going to help you take action and make the difference you were born to make. But please do not expect anything about this podcast to be traditional. We’ve got songs, weird sound effects, the occasional F-bombs, maybe some fart jokes if you’re lucky. And anything else that makes me laugh. It’s all fair game because this is The Marie Forleo Podcast.
So on today’s show we are exploring a topic that is on a lot of people’s minds right now. How do you do business in a time like this? Should you even be doing business in a time like this? Is it moral? Is it ethical? Is it tone-deaf to be selling and marketing right now? So we’re going to dive into those questions and a whole lot more. But first a word from today’s sponsor.
Hey, it’s me because guess what? I’m sponsoring my own damn show because I am a business owner and I sell things. So let me share a not-so-secret secret with you. I would not be here today if years ago I hadn’t taught myself one of the most important skills of my life. Writing. Yes, I said writing, whether it’s writing my scripts for MarieTV or the speech I gave on Oprah’s stage or, hell, even this ad. Strong writing is essential to being successful in just about everything.
Look, I bet you’re a little bit like me. I bet you’ve got ideas to share with the world, too. Maybe it’s your own book or a business or some kind of product or service, whatever it is, I promise you, writing in a clear compelling way will make it a hundred times more likely, not only you’re going to reach your goals, but that you’ll actually make a positive difference. And the best part, you can write in a way that is completely true to your voice and persuasive without being pushy. And I’ve got a free seven-day copywriting class that’ll help you do just that. Get it now at thecopycure.com, that is the copycure.com.
All right, so let’s get into this, people. If you are feeling guilty or feeling unsure or confused about how to do business during a global crisis, I really think you’re going to love today’s episode. You’re going to learn five smart, creative ways to both sell and serve your community. But first I want to state the obvious. This situation is unprecedented in our lifetime. I mean from a health perspective an economic perspective, from a social perspective. My heart breaks for folks who have lost everything in a matter of days and for the extraordinary challenges our global society is facing right now. This is not easy for anyone.
Here on Team Forleo, we’re taking it day by day like everyone else. And as a CEO, my number one focus right now is on taking care of our customers. We’ve got thousands and thousands of B-Schoolers that we’re committed to serving at the highest level. I’m also taking care of my team. I’m making sure that they’re safe, that their jobs and their income are secure. And of course, I’m here to serve our global community, which includes you, listening to this podcast right now. And I got to say, one of the reasons that we work our buns off to create the best free content on the planet and share it every single week is because I know in my heart that if you not only listen to our show, but you actually take action on the ideas that we share, I guarantee you, you can and you will transform your life. That’s not hype. That is the truth.
And in fact, I want to prove it to you by sharing a little win. Why? Because I do not want you passively listening to my show. I want you to actively use it to create change and I’m going to shout out and amplify the people who do just that. So this week’s win comes from Elizabeth who writes, “Dear Marie, I’m writing to thank you for all the kick-ass content that you and the gang continue to turn out every week and also to thank you for literally saving my bacon. Last year I watched an interview with a man, I can’t remember, and yourself and he was the author of the Latte Factor. Now because of this program, I got into the very good habit of paying myself every week and saving every week, too. Because of this, I have savings to get me through the next couple of months.
The government here in the UK has put a package together to help self-employed people but we won’t be able to access the grant until the end of June. I would be up a certain creek if I hadn’t got the inspiration from MarieTV. I can’t thank you enough for being you. I’m a self-employed massage therapist and obviously cannot work with clients at the moment and therefore have no cashflow at all. It is seriously making me rethink how I earn my living. Two things though, I’ve been talking forever about writing my book about menopause and also developing my own massage bar for moms to be, so that is what I’m working on. Thanks again and thanks for reading my email. All the best. Elizabeth.”
Come on, y’all. Can we give it up for Elizabeth? Yes we can. I think it’s so damn good. That, my friends, is the power of taking action and if you haven’t seen the episode that Elizabeth is referring, to just Google “Marie Forleo Latte Factor” and watch that specific episode with my dear friend David Bach. It is such a good one.
Now speaking of money, a few weeks ago we put out a call for you guys to leave me a voicemail with your questions over at marieforleo.com/blog and oh my goodness, we got so many submissions and some big themes right now, which are not surprising, are around money and how the heck we’re all supposed to do business during this pandemic. So I’m going to tackle a reader question right now in a new segment we’re calling, Hey Marie.
“Hey, Marie. It’s Robyn Keith and I am from South Africa and here’s my question. We’ve definitely seen a number of bigger organizations giving their services for free and we applaud them for it and we are grateful as a small business owner that they are giving us their offerings for free. But as a small business owner, how do you navigate the repricing of your products that are still viable for individuals to use and to buy, versus giving your services for free? Or do we just leave it as it is? We are definitely in a new world and we want to be sensitive to the financial constraints of the global economy, but we also want to make an impact in the work that we do. I would love your take on this and your feedback. Have a beautiful time and please be safe. Thanks so much, bye.”
Robyn, thank you so much. Yes, you are right. It is fantastic that some larger businesses are offering free services and we’re all grateful for that. And for small business owners like us, there are lots of creative and compassionate ways to do business in this environment. So today I want to share five guilt-free ways to market and sell with both heart and integrity during this global pandemic.
To be clear though, the following ideas are not exhaustive. All right? They are not a fit for every small business. For example, back in New Jersey, members of my extended family have run an Italian bakery for generations and I just found out the other day from my parents, they texted me, sadly, the bakery had to close their doors. So of course, our hearts are breaking, right? And I am praying both for my family and other small business owners who have had to close too. I’m praying they’re going to get some relief and find a way or make a way to reinvent themselves and re-emerge on the other side of this crisis.
So with that, let’s dive into five strategies for small business owners to sell and serve during this crisis. And I got to tell you, if any part of you feels guilty or cringey even hearing me say that, please, for the love of all things holy, listen to the end of this episode because I got a lot of feelings about why you should not feel guilty about doing business during this time.
So let’s get started now with strategy number one, which is buy one, give one. So this idea is super straightforward. For every item that you sell, give one for free to somebody in need. So I’ve got two examples here of business owners who are doing this right now and I think it’s working so well. So Line is one of my B-School students and she writes, “I run an online course in hypnobirthing, which is a course that empowers women to achieve positive birth experiences. I have a three and a one year old who I’ve been solo parenting while the country is on lockdown.
“This week I made $3,000 selling my course during a pandemic, but that’s not it. I decided I wanted to make a difference and decided to give one course away for every course I sell to a pregnant woman who struggles financially. I opened up a simple application on my website and the response has been unreal. I got so many applications from women who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic or have partners who just lost their jobs. I also had women who recently separated from abusive partners and therefore are facing birth and motherhood alone. So I invited them all in and I’ve received the most heartwarming emails. Such a simple thing for me to do, but according to these women, it’s been such an enormous help in a difficult time.”
So that’s Line’s story, but guess what, you guys? Line sent me another email a week later and here’s what she said, Line, again, “Since sending my email one week ago, I made another $5,000 in one week as a stay at home mom and found out that I’m being made redundant from my day job due to the pandemic. Guess what? That doesn’t matter now because clearly I have found what I’m meant to do.” That’s the end of Line’s story. I think it’s really incredible and beautiful and very simple. Just buy one, give one.
So let me give you another example. This is from a friend of a friend of mine. Her name is Natalie Golonka and she’s also a small business owner. So typically she’s designing swimwear and resort wear under her own brand, which is called Jungle Gurl. And that’s G-U-R-L. She’s based here in Los Angeles. Definitely check her out.
So Natalie started producing these very stylish cloth face masks. Right? We’re all going to need to start wearing face masks. And she also gave her face mask a great name. They’re called It’s a Jungle Out There face masks, which I appreciated. I thought that was awesome. Now get this. For every one she sells, she’s donating one to local folks in need. So this first round is actually going to help elderly people living in assisted living facilities here in our neighborhood. So again, super simple idea. Buy one, give one, but very impactful. This is a great way to keep your business running and to keep your team employed and to make a difference too.
Now let’s move on to our next strategy, strategy number two. You can sell your product or service and then donate a portion of the proceeds. So I don’t know about y’all, but we are taking this stay at home life real seriously. And you know who I’m loving up right now. It’s @D-Nice on Instagram. He’s doing this thing called Club Quarantine Homeschool, and it is so much fun. He’s bringing that unce-unce-unce to all of us. Seriously though, his live sets on Instagram are legendary and they’re really doing two things. One, he’s serving his audience with his incredible skills. And two, he’s launched this limited edition hoodie where 50% of the proceeds are being donated to the CDC Foundation coronavirus fund. And I thought that this was fantastic. So he’s offering a simple paid product and then donating half of the proceeds to folks who really need it right now. So think about this in terms of your business. Maybe you could offer 25%, 50%, 75%, whatever works. But I think this is another beautiful win-win idea to both sell your products and make a difference.
Moving on, strategy number three, sell your products and offer scholarships. So this is something we’ve done in our company for years and we’re going to continue to do this because it’s awesome. So we offer our paid training programs like B-School, The Copy Cure, sometimes even live experiences, and we always have a scholarship program, meaning we offer full scholarships to folks from marginalized communities, who wouldn’t be able to invest in our training experiences otherwise. So again, it’s another really straightforward concept and it’s totally win-win.
Strategy number four, sell your goods, collect tips on the service bit and give those tips away. So check this out. This one’s awesome. Neve & Hawk is a fashion brand and coffee shop in Northern California and they were able to stay open and do business curbside safely and then they shared something on their Instagram posts that we at Team Forleo found so inspiring. Here’s what they said, “The fact we are able to open in this capacity, while so many of our friends cannot is not lost on us. So many stores and businesses have no way of generating income at this time while their bills keep piling up. Because of this, we will be donating our tips to a different business on the Avenue daily.” Come on, isn’t that beautiful, y’all? I think it’s such an inventive idea for any local business who wants to support other local businesses in this time of need.
And finally, we’re going to go onto strategy number five, which is this: offer generous payment plans or put payments on temporary pause. Now, admittedly, this one is not going to work for everybody, but it can work really well if you’re a business owner who has some cash reserves in your business. And here’s an example. So there’s this landlord in Brooklyn named Mario Salerno who owns about 18 buildings and has about 300 tenants and as soon as coronavirus hit, of course, people started losing their jobs. Everyone was understandably feeling fear and panic and guess what Mario did? He said, “You know what? I’m going to cancel April’s rent.” He said, “My concern is everyone’s health. I just told them to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.”
I read that article in the Times and I thought it was just amazing. Think about that for a second. Even if you can pause payments for a month or two, I promise you that can help. If you can find a way to treat people with caring and generosity and respect, they will remember it. And if it’s at all possible for folks to keep doing business with you when this thing is over and they get back on their feet, I guarantee you they will. So there you go, Robyn. Those are five different strategies to get your creative juices flowing. And the bottom line is that when it comes to doing business during a crisis, I need to remind everyone of this, it is not a binary choice. It’s not either you make money, or you make a difference. Don’t think either or, always think both and.
So I got a few other things that I want to share on this topic. First of all, do not feel shame or guilt about keeping your business running right now. I am telling you we need as many small businesses to stay open as possible. Whether you’re a small business owner or a consumer, you are a critical part of getting our economy back online. Please hear me when I say this. We need to keep the money flowing. Think about this, how happy are you that grocery stores are open right now? Right? Or pharmacies or any business that’s able to remain open safely?
Personally, I’m buying all kinds of things. Of course I’m buying food, but I’m also buying electronics and beauty products and art supplies and wine and online classes, you name it. And I am so grateful. I am so happy to hand businesses my money. And look, this is another point, society wants small businesses to win. Nobody wants the economy to tank. Everybody wants folks to get back to work. We want the money flowing. So if you and your business can be open right now and you can do business safely, you need to do it. Do not apologize. Do not feel guilty. As long as you’re doing good, honest business and you’re taking care of people, small business owners like us, we are a part of the solution. We are not part of the problem.
Now, second, on a personal level, I am responsible for the livelihood of dozens of human beings, human beings that have families and kids. So many women work at my company. Some of them are single parents, many of them are the breadwinners for their entire families. So you got to get this, it is my responsibility to keep making money through this crisis if I can. It is my job to produce revenue to keep all of my employees paid and safe. It’s my job to pay their health insurance and fund their 401ks and keep their paychecks coming in so they can buy groceries, they can buy goods and services, they can take care of their families and their kids.
And look, I am well aware that at the time of this recording, over 16 million people just filed for unemployment here in the US alone. That is painful. That is scary. That is heartbreaking. Not every small business has been able to stay open, but you, if you are able to stay open, if you can sell, if you can get creative and figure this out, you need to do it. It’s like a symphony, right? We all have a part to play in helping our society heal and get back on its feet and everybody has different roles, but we all have to have compassion and understanding for one another.
And another important point, doing business and keeping people working, that’s about a lot more than just making money. And look, money is awesome. Money is great. I love money and I will never apologize for that. But keeping people employed, if you can, it’s vital. Because work is about more than just a paycheck. Work is about dignity and focus and meaning. These are the core elements of human happiness that we need right now. We all need a place to show up and contribute. And when you provide a job for someone, it is healing for the human soul. So yes, work is about income, it is about getting that paycheck, yes, but it is also about so much more.
It’s about agency and contribution and creativity and connection. And those are the real reasons why, if it is safe for you to do business, if it is possible for you to do business, we need you to do business. It is your responsibility to play your part, to help our society heal. And I believe at this time, as a small business owner, that you need to step up and decide who you are and what you stand for. This crisis forces all of us to reconsider what we value and who we want to be in the face of this thing. I think for many of us as small business owners, this is going to help us discover better versions of ourselves. We have an opportunity right now to become even more caring, even more generous, and even more creative. And with that, it is time to turn all of this podcast insight into action. Ready? Let’s do this.
All right, so let’s make this real for you right now. Remember, I don’t want passive listeners here on The Marie Forleo Podcast. I want you to take action because that’s where all the growth comes from. So we’ve got a two-part question today. You can answer one or both of them. First question, if you’re a small business owner who can still do business right now, ask yourself, what can I genuinely offer? What do people need? How can I best serve? Question number two, I would love you to name three businesses that you are grateful for right now, and then can you send them a message of appreciation or give them a shout out on social media or in some way support them?
Now, feel free to comment over at the magical land of marieforleo.com/blog or hit me up on Instagram. I am @marieforleo. And if you enjoyed this episode, screenshot it, tag me @marieforleo and share it on social. Or even better, leave me a review on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, stay on your game and keep going for your dreams, because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Love you so much and I’ll catch you next time on The Marie Forleo Podcast.