This article was initially published by Forbes and written by Meeta Vengapally.
Being an entrepreneur is hard enough. In the best of times, it can feel like skydiving without a parachute. So just imagine what it’s like during continued lockdowns, economic uncertainty, and the news about the COVID-19 pandemic changing every day. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it—you’re probably living it.
I’m not only an entrepreneur myself, I’m also a wife and mother who is trying to balance running my business with taking care of my family during these difficult times. I’m here to tell you that I feel your pain, and as fellow entrepreneurs, we’re all in this together.
There’s a good chance you feel a loss of direction right now. Every business in this country is being put to the test, and now your bright, shiny business idea may seem impossible. Hold on! I have always believed that with fierce challenges come even fiercer opportunities. Are we going to get to the other side of this? Yes, we will. And if you follow some of the tips I’m sharing here, you may even come out on that other side a stronger, better, badass entrepreneur. It’s time to dig down deep.
1. Work your butt off
Yes, you’re quarantined at home, taking care of kids, preparing meals, and keeping the house in order, but you can still find some time to focus your energy on your business. The entrepreneurial spirit will move you forward. Even if you’ve experienced a decline in business, which is likely, that doesn’t mean that you should back down and give up. When your business rebounds, you’re going to find that you can reach new heights if you continue to drive forward at this time. And while it’s almost impossible to create “normal” working conditions while trapped at home, I can tell you one thing—it can spark a whole lot of creativity.
2. Communication is more important than ever
Talk to people. Be open and honest with them. This includes your employees, clients, and shareholders. Everyone is drawn to strong leadership right now. It brings us comfort. Step up and be one of those leaders, opening your heart and your mind to those that rely on you. If you give them a sense of direction and purpose at this moment, they’re going to be more devoted to you than ever before. Stay positive and resilient and you’ll put stakeholders at ease. Inspire confidence. And be sure to use social media like a boss to let people know that you and your business are staying strong.
3. Keep the passion alive
As entrepreneurs, we know that our businesses are about passion. Passion is what gives us the courage to do the impossible. It’s the force that drives us to new heights. Don’t let go of your passion! Make it deeper, fiercer, and more focused. We all have more time on our hands. Even in busy households, some lulls allow you to use your imagination. What a great time this is to dream about your business, breathe new life into it, and see it differently. Make a dream board for where you want things to go. Start planning what your passion project is going to look like in the future. This time can either be a black hole for your business or it can be an incubation period—make it the latter.
4. Know what you can and can’t control
There’s very little that we have control over right now. But you’ll find that there are a lot of aspects of your business that you can control. For instance, what are those things you’ve put off forever because you never had the time for them? Maybe it’s putting some new systems in place to replace those that weren’t working in the past. What skills have you always wanted to improve upon that could benefit your business? Consider updating your website, asking employees to take online training courses to improve their skills, rethinking or expanding your social media approach. These are all things that you can control.
5. Plan for a much different business landscape
Let’s face it, when most businesses come back, the consumer market will have changed. Whether you’re selling goods or services, what are people going to be buying? How will the COVID-19 pandemic have changed your customers’ needs, and how can you better serve them in that new era? It’s going to be a remarkable time for innovation. If you start to brainstorm now, you’ll be way ahead of the pack once the country opens up again.
6. Communicate with compassion
It’s scary out there right now—there’s no denying it. If you have an email list, or a Facebook or Instagram page, now is the time to put out quality content that shows you care. Say something meaningful and don’t step back and disappear. If people have signed up for your emails or subscribed to you in any way, it’s time to speak up consistently and with a compassionate tone. If you have business or service providers that are reaching out to connect with you at this time, aren’t you far more likely to return to them once this thing is done? Put out the good feels and see your customers’ positive energy return to you when the time is right.
7. Get personal
I get a kick out of watching the evening news or entertainment shows now being broadcasted from people’s living rooms. We’re farther apart these days, but we also have an amazing opportunity to be closer than ever. Get personal with your customers, staff, clients, and board members. Bring them into your home. Introduce everyone to the family. Have a Zoom coffee date with someone you want to network with. Just because we’re physically separated doesn’t mean we can’t get to know each other better and build even stronger bonds.
8. Don’t give up
Entrepreneurs can not only survive this time, but they can also become better versions of themselves. Yes, it’s really hard, and there might be days when you think you’re going to go insane. The dog won’t stop barking, the kids won’t stop screaming, and none of them are going anywhere for a while. Breathe, center yourself, and know that you’re killing it right now. Keep learning, growing, and innovating, and feel free to consider yourself one of the greatest badass entrepreneurs out there.