I am inspired by those who find a way to cope by giving back: solo founders provide meditation classes, consultants organize online think tanks, coaches share inspirational stories, teams of co-founders provide supplies and repurpose their production chains, craftspeople dedicate their time and abilities. I am comforted to see fellow entrepreneurs remain productive and involved.
The crisis has deprived entrepreneurs of interaction, freedom and space – ingredients which for a lot of us are necessary to exercise creativity. After six weeks of lockdown, and more to come, not to mention a much longer period of readjustment, I'd like to reflect on anchors that have helped me, a small business keeper, keep the balance so far. Even though this crisis seems to have stopped a lot of what I do on a daily basis, I find reassurance and energy in the things I can continue doing.
The crisis made ‘How are you doing’ calls all the more important: checking on friends, clients, partners. I empathize with those who are affected. I can hardly complain about the confinement; it’s an inconvenience, for sure, but rather minor if it allows us to preserve our homes, jobs and lives. And there is some comfort in knowing that we are all in this together.
Feeling – and expressing – gratitude
I feel grateful for clients who have been able to adapt their activity during the crisis, providing entrepreneurs with the ability to work via online tools. I feel happy to receive ‘How are you coping’ messages from customers who see how destructive this crisis could be for business creators. I am thankful for ongoing assignments and opportunities that are only postponed. These opportunities provide the motivation that small business founders need to overcome the effects of the crisis.
Whether people have less time because they are combining childcare and work, or more time because of the disappearance of their daily commute, this lockdown is providing incentive and opportunity to try out new ways of working.
For example, I recently discovered replacing typing with dictating. It turns out that I can compose emails, blog posts and messages in 40% of the time I dedicated to it previously. Ever since I began testing the Gmail and Word voice-to-text converters, I have been saving at least 6 hours per week. This productivity hack allows me to include punctuation and works seamlessly in French, English, Spanish and Polish. I cannot recommend it enough.
Business leaders and politicians agree that long-term planning is impossible in the current situation. But how about long-term thinking?
This crisis cannot strip us from the ability – and need – to reflect on our future and think ahead. If 2020 may seem to many like a lost year, how about 2021? Consultants often work on a portfolio of projects spanning the next 12 to 18 months, partly because of clients’ planning and decision-making processes. Long-term thinking provides business founders and their clients with room to adapt as times become tougher. A robust, far-reaching portfolio helps ease the pressure from events that are currently postponed.
For a small business, diversification is everything. The more diversified the project portfolio in terms of types of clients, assignments, contracts and revenue sources, the more protected small business owners are against the risk of activity stopping when a few key clients decide to postpone or, worse yet, cancel contracts.
At a time like this, when the world goes quiet, I encourage creators to spend time on business preparedness and think of strategies to protect their activity in the future. For some entrepreneurs, this will mean signing one or more contacts abroad. Others will expand their offers to include coaching or teaching. The result is worth the effort: a diversified portfolio will enable entrepreneurs to keep working while waiting for the storm to pass.
In my view, there are two ingredients to business development under lockdown:
1) keep cool and
2) continue developing.
Entrepreneurs need to show clients that their business is solid enough to survive several weeks of shutdown. It is easy to give in to panic, but entrepreneurs, who are optimists by design, need more than ever to spread their optimism and confidence in the world while at the same time proactively managing risks.
Because at some point, there may be a new routine, and it may even resemble somewhat the world we remember from before the virus.
Thank you for your attention, dear reader. I will be back when I have more to share. In the meantime, stay safe.