To all you entrepreneurs out there, scuttling to keep afloat during this pandemic, I want to thank you. You are the unsung heroes keeping food in our refrigerators and supplies in our pantries. You keep our bodies moving through at-home yoga, our minds clearer through meditation and wellness apps, and our businesses and social lives running virtually. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
COVID-19 likely challenges you in unprecedented ways. You’re doing your best to garner supplies, keep customers as happy as possible, and make payroll while working remotely. Some of you have to balance this while entertaining, feeding and caring for your homebound children. How can you navigate these turbulent waters both professionally and personally? Is it possible to not only survive but find opportunities to thrive? And as Ryan Holliday says, to see the “obstacle is the way”?
Keeping our business ZICO Coconut Water alive while raising two young daughters during the Great Recession of 2008, and now coaching entrepreneurs during this pandemic, I do believe this is an opportunity. I see COVID-19 as a call to action: to re-evaluate, retool and recommit to your business and your personal life. But how?
Although it may seem untimely, there is no better time than a crisis to re-evaluate your business and your personal missions. For your business, who are you? What does your business stand for? What are its core values? What need do you address for your consumers, customers and clients? Is your business as relevant in the current environment? If not, what steps can you take to become more relevant? Involving your team and customers in this process can generate new ideas, alleviate fears and help motivate everyone. And laser-focused execution is easier when everyone is aligned and clear about the mission.
The same can apply in your personal life. COVID-19 invites us to ask: Who am I and what do I stand for? What do I want to contribute to my family, my community, the world? Who in my life is most important to me? Crafting a simple personal mission statement helps you prioritize where and with whom you want to spend your time, energy, and resources.
Once you are clear and aligned around your business’ mission, you are ready to ask: What bold moves are necessary to survive and thrive in this climate? What are the key decisions you need to make in this moment? What parts of your business do you need to cut? What areas can you amplify (e.g., online, specific services)? How can you use current resources in new ways (e.g., produce personal protective equipment)? What new skills and systems do you need to develop today so that you are well positioned as the economy begins to recover?
I’m witnessing entrepreneurs retooling their businesses from top to bottom, making difficult decisions about lay-offs and pivoting to address supply chain issues and lost revenue. It is a time when every business must reassess their cost of goods, salaries, bonuses, expenses, new hires, sales and marketing plans, growth and forecasting. Crisis requires decisiveness, innovation and timely action. No matter what type of business you have, it is helpful to run various what-if scenarios to identify potential risks and opportunities that may arise to minimize surprises and to prepare for how you will address them. Depending on your specific industry, you may have “extra” time on your hands. What a great opportunity to update your website, adopt Quickbooks, or learn a new skill like Click Funnels so you can soon take advantage of the world economy that just went virtual in the past three weeks. And as Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and investor advises, educate yourself about “every bit of legislation” that can assist your business especially around small business loans and new tax credits.
On the personal front, COVID-19 stirs up fear, anxiety, and interpersonal challenges that come with social distancing and “staying at home.” You may be quarantining alone, with a partner, with family members or friends. In order to stay healthy and sane, taking good care of yourself is important not only for you but for everyone around you and your team. Long intense days “at the office” (such as home offices, living rooms, closets!) demand that you schedule in downtime and breaks no matter how small. High performance coach Brendon Burchard recommends taking a few minutes between activities to renew your energy by closing your eyes and taking deep, calming breaths to release tension in your body and mind. Questions you can ask yourself are: What do I need in this moment? How can I structure daily and weekly routines that include healthy habits such as exercising, eating well, and connecting with loved ones? Self-care practices are essential during this time to keep your immune system strong, to stay grounded, resilient and emotionally stable. Facing this pandemic is a marathon not a sprint so pace and nurture yourself as much as you can because your family, your team, and the economy need you for the long term.
Identifying and recommitting to the people who are most important to you in life and business increases the probability that you get through this time intact both professionally and personally. In your business, assess your relationships and identify who you need most, who you want to work with, and then dedicate your time there. Frequent communication helps deepen your relationships with key customers (and beware, lack of communication can result in losing them). For your team, commit to be a great leader by acknowledging the fear they are experiencing while inspiring action and resolution around a shared purpose. Being honest about the challenges your business faces may not be welcome news to your team, but transparency reduces fear and can engender loyalty. Recognize your employees’ efforts and highlight the value each individual brings to the organization. Many of you have had to furlough employees or reduce salaries. As leader, reducing your own salary demonstrates solidarity with your team and sends the message that everyone must make sacrifices.
In your personal life, seek support from those closest to you including your partner, spouse, family, and friends. Just like in business, we must consciously choose how we show up in our most important relationships. As Brené Brown writes in her best-selling book Daring Greatly, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.” Use this time to spark more meaningful connection by sharing your feelings about what you are experiencing and asking others how it is for them. Dream together about future vacations you may take once travel bans are lifted. Create moments of joy and collective fun by telling jokes, playing games or making art and music together. As author Robert Greene says, you can make this “alive” time or “dead” time. You have a choice— to be creative and proactive while supporting one another or let life happen to you, waiting for things to “normalize” and bingeing on Netflix and wine. Which will you choose?
Call to Action
COVID-19 is a catalyst, an invitation for you, for all of us, to pivot our businesses and examine our lives. By choosing to re-evaluate, retool and recommit to our priorities and relationships, we take this seemingly insurmountable obstacle and create opportunities for growth, learning and connection. How are you adapting or responding to this call to action? How do you want to remember this time? I want to hear from you! Stay focused, stay connected and remember: You Got This.