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Thriving through

Step 2: Turn on “maintenance mode”

Next up, you need to reclaim your time, energy, and resources so you can invest them as wisely as possible during this season. 

To be clear, Scott and I believe you should always protect your time, energy, and resources (this is what we live, breathe, and teach every single day), but when an unexpected crisis happens, these three assets HAVE to be protected as if your entire business depends on it. Because it does.

That’s why, as a part of our own Crisis Protocol, we created → Maintenance mode

“Maintenance mode” is what we consider the bare minimum needed for our business to continue to be in business. This includes the minimum sales needed to generate the minimum revenue needed to pay the minimum bills. This also translates to the minimum team, minimum marketing content, minimum to-do list, etc.

Essentially, maintenance mode allows you to create the leanest version of your business possible, which will free up your time, energy, and resources so that you can hyper-focus on the most profit-generating tasks and thrive amidst the uncertainty. 

In this way, maintenance mode accomplishes two very important outcomes:

  1. It allows your business to calm and stabilize itself,
  2. It gives YOU the time you need to process, grieve, and heal so you can strategically lead your business forward from a place of wisdom instead of panic.

This new level of stability gives your business its baseline.

Which means, as long as you are at least in maintenance mode, your business will still survive, you’ll still pay all the bills, and everything will still be okay.

Important Note: The goal with maintenance mode is NOT to stay in maintenance mode forever.

No business can stay in maintenance mode long-term, but in seasons of unforeseen crisis, reverting into maintenance mode can give you the capacity you need to weather the storm until you can transition into “growth mode” on the other side.

I took this picture at a public rest stop in 2018, when Scott and I were escaping Hurricane Irma. I cried so hard when I saw this sign—alongside these free socks and sanitary pads.

Over our past 9 years in business, there have been several seasons in our lives that have required us to enter maintenance mode. And there’s no denying the fact that maintenance mode has literally saved our business AND saved us—as individuals and as a couple—multiple times.

This is why we want to remove all of the guilt, pressure, and shame that the online marketing industry has perpetuated when it comes to doing more, achieving more, and scaling more in the midst of a crisis.

You are allowed to stabilize first.
You are allowed to grieve first.
You are allowed to be a human first.

And THEN—then you will have the capacity you need to break every single glass ceiling you were always meant to break.

But before that … 

You have to define what maintenance mode looks like for you and your business.
  • Expenses

Every business has expenses that are needed for it to operate. But those expenses look different in different seasons. In maintenance mode, you want your expenses to be as lean as possible. 

To help create this lean version, we recommend creating two lists: A “cut” list and a “maintenance-mode” list. The first question you’ll need to answer is, “Where can I make cuts to decrease my expenses?” Look through your bank statements and past purchases. You might find recurring expenses (like software subscriptions, office supplies, etc.) that are not necessary in this season to keep your business operating. All these expenses go on your “cut” list.

Next, make a list of all your “maintenance mode” expenses. Answer the question, “What are the things that are absolutely essential for me to stay in business?” Everything else could get cut, but this specific “maintenance-mode” list of expenses will always be a priority.

  • Team

As business owners, it’s an honor and a privilege to provide employment for other people, but in crisis, there might be a moment when downsizing your team becomes vital to your business’s survival. 

Although we hope you’ll never have to use it, make a third list of which roles are essential to your business in maintenance mode. Without these roles being filled, the business cannot stay open. All other roles could be downsized in maintenance mode, if needed. 

  • Revenue

Now that you know the bare minimum expenses your business needs in maintenance mode, we can calculate the bare minimum revenue that you need to generate to “keep the lights on” in your business. The goal is to get this “needed revenue” number as low as possible to make it as easy as possible to stay in business while in maintenance mode. So if your current revenue target is $5,000/month, that is going to be more challenging to generate than $3,000. How can you get creative and restructure your business to decrease expenses so that you only need $3,000/month? 

This maintenance mode revenue number becomes your new goal. Now that you know the total, you can do some math to know how many sales you need to generate.

So if you need $3,000/month to stay in maintenance mode, this means you would either need to sell your:

  • $1,000 offer 3 times each month
  • $100 offer 30 times each month
  • $10 offer 300 times each month

Figuring out HOW you’ll hit this new revenue goal is where your creativity and ingenuity as an entrepreneur comes in!

  • Other maintenance mode considerations


As business owners, we’re constantly outputting—whether that’s social media content, newsletters, podcasts, DMs, ads, etc. And while this kind of output is important to the success of your business, in maintenance mode the goal is to make everything as lean as possible. This means you don’t need to spend as much time/energy/resources outputting social media content, or podcast episodes, or newsletters, or new sales funnels during this time.

Remember, maintenance mode allows you to do the bare minimum so that you have the capacity you need to focus on other things (like grief, healing, etc.). We do not want you to (accidently) reroute any time/energy/resources to busywork or vanity metrics.

Other commitments

During maintenance mode, you are also required to reduce the number of things you say “yes” to. Whether that’s being on podcasts, participating in online summits, or pursuing new ideas. If it doesn’t help you with your maintenance-mode goals, it’s a “no” in this current season. 

Remember, maintenance mode is NOT a forever thing.

It is a season of adjustment that paves the way for healing, security, innovation, leadership, and growth.

Once your business has the baseline it needs to survive, growing beyond that baseline becomes your next step.

As you start to define your own version of maintenance mode, we want you to write down each step so you can see your maintenance-mode plan in one place.
  • Your first to-do is looking through all your business expenses to see where you can lean down. This is your “cut” list. Remember, maintenance mode is the bare minimum needed to keep your business operational. It might be painful, but there will be benefits in being aggressive here.
  • Next, make a list of all the “maintenance mode” expenses. These are the expenses that your business can’t operate without.
  • Look through the roles and team members that you have supporting your business. The business phrase for this is called your “skeleton crew.” Just like the skeleton is the most basic structure in a body, this maintenance mode crew is the leanest team structure you need to keep the business running. Maybe your skeleton crew is just you. But make a list of the essential roles and team members in your maintenance mode, and don’t forget to calculate their wages into your expenses above.
  • Run the numbers to figure out how much revenue you need to generate in maintenance mode (Example: $3000/month). Then translate that number into the exact number of sales your business needs to make (Example: “I need to sell my $1,000 offer 3 times, or my $100 offer 30 times, or my $10 offer 300 times”). This is your maintenance-mode revenue goal.
Output + Commitments
  • Take some time to analyze how much marketing/sales content you’ll need to output in maintenance mode to hit your revenue goal (it might be less than you think). Where can you free up time and capacity in these areas? Send fewer newsletters? Post less frequently on social media? Say no to new collaboration requests? Back out of commitments?
Your Maintenance Mode Plan
  • Once you’ve successfully analyzed these 5 areas and strategized how to lean your business down, it’s time to execute the plan. Cut the expenses, restructure the team, narrow down the output, and cancel the commitments.
  • With a lean business, we can focus on generating more revenue to hit that revenue goal (and beyond).
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