I’m writing this right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many small businesses are closed or have their operations drastically scaled back, and every business is affected in one way or another. People are afraid because of the possibility of them or their loved ones contracting the virus, and also because of the economic impact that we’re already experiencing and are likely to experience for some time now.
Many are wondering if their business will survive this crisis, and if it does, what it will look like in the post-coronavirus world. Government aid is on its way, but we wonder if it will be enough. The long and short of it is that there is a tremendous amount of fear for all of us right now, and particularly for entrepreneurs and business owners.
I wish I could say that I hadn’t felt this fear myself, but that’s just not the case. I’m fortunate to have low overhead, and a number of clients who are still moving forward with work in the current environment, but I’ve experienced canceled meetings and lost (or at least delayed) opportunities. Right or wrong, marketing is typically one of the first things to gets cut in hard economic times.
There are a few things, though, that I’ve found particularly helpful in combating anxiety and fear. When I’m doing well, I’m doing some combination of these thing. There are three main practices that I’d like to share with you:
1. Focus on what you can control
There’s so much that we can’t control in everyday life, and we feel this la ck of control even more acutely at times like this. We can’t make the virus go away. We can’t make businesses reopen. But there are many things that we can do. By focusing on these things we can gain a sense of peace in addition to accomplishing something worthwhile.
You know how, when business is up and running in it’s typical fashion, you never seem to have time to accomplish all of the things that you’d like? Well now you have the time! Work on your strategic plan. Make updates to your website. Get your financials in order. Learn that new skill you’ve wanted to learn for awhile now. If we look at things this way, we actually have a fantastic opportunity during this time.
2. Take an infinite mindset
I’m taking this idea (or at least the term “infinite” in this sense) from Simon Sinek and his fantastic book The Infinite Game. In the book and his talks on the subject, he talks about how we often view business as a finite game, with definite winners and losers. The reality is, however, that business is an infinite game. There’s no endpoint. Business goes on. We may be ahead or behind on a particular day based on a particular metric, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be in the same place a few years down the road.
Taking this viewpoint during the current crisis allows us to have hope. We may be behind where we planned to be at the current moment, but it’s a step along the journey, not a final destination. We can step back and take a look at the big picture, realizing that one day this crisis will end and business will resume. On that day, people will be excited to be able to be out the house, and we’ll be excited to be able to serve them. I believe this excitement will propel us forward for some time. In certain ways, we may even be better off for having gone through these hard times.
3. Stay connected
One of the things that makes this crisis so difficult is that we are social creatures by nature. Whether we tend to be more introverted or extraverted, we still need some level of social interaction and community to really thrive as human beings. We need to make an extra effort during this time to stay connected.
Of course we need to connect to friends and family, but I think it’s also important to stay connected with others that are on a journey similar to our own. There can be a unique loneliness to being a business owner or entrepreneur, where we’re expected to lead with confidence and have all the answers. This makes vulnerability all the more important. While it may not be wise to pour out our souls to our employees or every person we meet on the streets, it’s essential to have a handful of individuals who we trust.
There are a number of digital tools, video chat perhaps being the most powerful, that we can use to maintain this connection. Video chat gives us the closest thing to face-to-face connection that we can get during this time. The important thing, though, is that we make the effort. Schedule a video chat, pick up the phone, or even write an email. It all helps.
I’d love to hear if you find and of these principles helpful or if you have thoughts to add.