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What can entrepreneurs learn from 2020?

Tips for adapting and moving forward mindfully (personally and professionally)

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This spring things fell apart. Much has been lost in recent months. But with the dark, comes the light. “No mud, no lotus,” says philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh. We’ve just been through a whole lot of mud. Now how do we get the lotus to sprout? How do we adapt, re-build, become stronger and move forward mindfully—personally and professionally?

Widespread unemployment globally has been an opportunity for free thinkers to check in with their values, imagine a new future and reinvent themselves. This “new normal” is also a new beginning.

We are becoming the CEOs of our own lives. We’re exploring wild ideas and creative ways to making a living (think digital nomads, wellness coaches, food trucks, adventure guides, micro-brewers, adventure guides, graphic designers, podcasters…there are infinite diverse possibilities). We’re seeking richness beyond dollars and cents—lifestyle, mindset, purpose and passion. We’re trail blazers–I call us Wildpreneurs.

Our first steps as Wildpreneurs can be scary, but fear is a healthy emotion. “Acknowledge that fear and doubt exist and choose to move forward anyway” says intentional living expert Sanni McCandless (featured in the Oscar winning documentary Free Solo). As Wildpreneurs summon their courage and roll up their sleeves, what can we glean from the economic and social collapse of spring 2020? We have an opportunity to adapt to new circumstances, learn and consider the following elements to guide and strengthen our business models.

Simple & Minimalist. With uncertainly on the horizon, simple businesses offer resilience and adaptability. Let’s consider the food truck down the street. Easily closed, easily relocated, easy to offer take out! Seasonal, portable and low overhead business can be closed and re-opened without much trouble. Quick pivots can be made as needed. As financial hardships have given us a needed reminder of survival basics, Wildpreneurs can use this to guide their business models as they ask themselves: “Personally, what are the fundamentals that I need to be healthy and happy? Professionally, how can I keep my business as basic and efficient as possible without compromising quality and profit?”

Daydreams. Slowing down allows inspiration to catch up. Abundant time at home in quarantine gave us a mindfulness pause; an opportunity to step away the culture of speed and make space for creative energy to flow. Historically, many famous masterpieces have been composed while in quarantine (think Shakespeare and Isaac Newton). Daydreams have no geographic restrictions—unleash those wild ideas. Though entrepreneurs are typically eager to make “progress” it’s a powerful exercise to pause and give ideas a chance to morph, evolve and find their ideal shape. “If you were told as a kid to get your head out of the clouds it’s time to re-wire that thinking,” I wrote in Wildpreneurs.

Virtual Back Up Plan. Virtual options are a crucial “plan B” (or plan A, depending on the business). Digital nomads have thrived on this strategy for years—they can work from anywhere that Wi-Fi is available (think bloggers, podcasters, life coaches via zoom, etc.) If our previously mentioned food truck’s physical location is temporarily closed, might they offer an online menu and ordering options? Or, perhaps supplemental virtual offerings such as online cooking classes, a downloadable recipe book, etc.

Quality of Life—Redefining Success. We’ve been given a sharp wake-up call: humans aren’t invincible and life is short. Wildpreneurs are eager to live now and tune into what makes them come alive; Carpe Diem! Traditionally, success has been based around the pursuit of two metrics: power and money, “The mad drive for these two conventional goals can be unhealthy to the point of being fatal,” says Arianna Huffington in Thrive. Instead, Wildpreneurs shift their priorities as they reconnect with their values and trade GDP for GWB—general well-being. Bonus: If we’re doing what we love, we’re more likely to stick with it for the long haul. The journey of a Wildpreneur is simple, but it’s not easy; grit and persistence are crucial.

Triple Bottom Line. Now, more than ever, it’s clear that we’re all interconnected. From COVID-19 to racial inequalities, humans are part of the circle of life and the natural world—if we are going to thrive we must work together. Wildpreneurs may strengthen their businesses by embracing a triple bottom line philosophy that is mindful of people (founded upon social justice and systemic change), planet and profit. Thinking holistically, sourcing locally, collaborating and creating strong relationships within a community give Wildpreneurs a solid, supportive foundation (and good karma!). Perhaps our food truck could source fresh supplies from local farms? Wildpreneurs may also look to the natural world as a teacher and business model. Mother Nature is a master at efficient and brilliantly simple systems.

Health. Clearly, a strong immune system is invaluable. Wildpreneurs have good reason to integrate healthy lifestyle into their business design. No more sitting at a desk from 9 – 5 in an enclosed office. Fresh air, sunlight, movement, nourishment and diverse relationships are all part of this new equation. Our food truck example might consider serving green super-food smoothies and offering to-go deliveries by bicycle!

Diversify. Wise mama always said, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This trusted philosophy rings true, particularly in a time of volatility. Keep it simple, but offer a couple of different baskets of products or services. Back to our food truck…in addition to fresh meals, could it create its own line of homemade energy bars? Perhaps they could be available either at the counter or online?

May Wildpreneurs be mindful of the lessons from spring 2020 and go boldly forward. There is no failure, only stepping stones. Wildpreneurs are prepared to adapt and become masters of artful mistake making. Let’s let the wild ideas flow as we enjoy the journey and the destination. May we all thrive together!

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