How to Maintain a Positive Focus, Survive and Thrive During a Pandemic
2020 is a year that will forever go down in history as one when the pandemic triggered by the Coronavirus outbreak changed our world forever and forced us to face up to a new normal’ daily. And while we battled enormous losses and adapted to uncertainty as a way of life, it was incidentally also a year that ended up teaching us plenty of lessons in its wake!
With social isolation, distressed healthcare systems, restricted movement, and world economies under duress, the pandemic forced us as a race to dwell on the ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ aspects of our lives and move forward by embracing science, innovation, and humanity- our three greatest allies.
As a small business owner, some of my biggest challenges and lessons about surviving a pandemic came from staying positive in light of enormous human suffering and practicing resilience and courageous leadership, in a time of an unprecedented crisis. Here I share 8 lessons that helped me stay positive and navigate the bumpy ride of surviving a pandemic:
1. Take care of yourself, first
As we now know, global disruptions like a pandemic put enormous stress on an individual’s mental and physical wellness. So good food, rest, a fit body and mind coupled with a positive attitude, and being surrounded by loving people and experiences is vital for an entrepreneur to steer his business out of the crisis. Chances are that this healthier mindset will trickle down to your team and also motivate them to develop a 'can-do' mindset towards tough times. Remember to allow yourself to take a step back when faced with drastic decisions so that you can take it on with a balanced approach rather than a panic-stricken one. Always remember that you are not alone! Reach out to near ones, connect with your network and remember to ask for emotional help or therapy when needed, as this will ultimately help save you and your business.
2. Communicate clearly and with intent
If you are a leader then it is most likely that your team, your clients, vendors, and customers are looking to you for direction on how to handle a disruption like a pandemic. Remember to communicate with your stakeholders regularly and with great intent, care, clarity, and courage, especially when the times are tough. Take them on board with key decisions and ensure to provide adequate, authentic information on the pandemic and how the business can support them. It is often observed that customers, staff, and other stakeholders are willing to ride out the bad times with a company and give them another chance if they feel it has been authentic and communicative about its challenges.
3. Form a pandemic response team
Form a support team or desk that will not only track key developments related to the pandemic and relay it to the team, but also track effective aspects like social distancing, handwashing, medical support, health insurance, vaccinations, travel advisories, and safety procedures in the workplace or during employee travel. It pays to get therapy or mental health support systems for both you and the staff to quell panic and repair frayed spirits in such tumultuous times.
4. Pivot your business
A crisis is a good time to tie up the loose ends and pivot your business in new directions. Pivoting is to adapt to a new strategy amidst a fast-changing scenario or change tracks when something may not be working for your business. It could mean anything from diversifying your business to changing your business model to going for a marketing overhaul, adopting new technology, finding a new audience or target market, changing vendors, initiate budget cuts, or even changing from software to an app. This change could be crucial to staying relevant and thriving in a competitive marketplace and breathe new life into the business as well.
5. Switch to WFH mode
More than anything, this pandemic has taught the world to develop and integrate an ecosystem that allows and supports a healthy work-life balance. With millions of companies operating with global teams and with countless cities being burdened by failing civic infrastructure and ever-increasing traffic, most have now switched to the famous Work From Home (WFH) mode. With WFH becoming inevitable, it is important that you encourage it and usher it in-house through effective policies and HR systems and invest in technological tools or software that enables it.
6. Up skill- Take a course or two
It is important to keep your staff engaged during a crisis. And with a raging pandemic, WFH allows employees more time and options to work on developing additional skills, to make them more efficient and aid them in having a well-rounded CV. With a plethora of affordable courses available online, it is imperative that both you and your employees take the time to learn new skills with courses that could add value to the existing business. While many employees might jump at this offer, you may have to nudge a few-including yourself to keep learning and growing!
7. Take Government support
In the event of an unprecedented crisis like the pandemic that we are now witnessing, it is quite common for central governments to bring out many stimulus packages aimed at supporting and regenerating small and medium businesses. It is imperative that small business owners must explore all the options presented in such schemes that could help support their business tide over these tough times. A useful way to find authentic information about such schemes is to check government portals, or connect with financial institutions and banks to find out how these government initiatives can help your business. Another good way to find government support is to help local civic authorities and government officials in times of distress by contributing your company’s time, money, resources, or technology that can ease their work aimed at rebuilding communities during the pandemic and post.
8. Plan ahead for the next 6-18 months
Planning and preparing ahead for worst and best-case scenarios amidst a pandemic makes business sense, as no one can predict how long it will last. By having short-term, focused goals aimed at the next 3-9-18 months- your business can ride out the pandemic in a sure-footed manner. This can be done by planning variable expenditures like marketing, traveling, hiring, and buying technology based on the current situation. One can always reconfigure the plan once the situation changes and when the governmental and health protocols change. This approach could well work as a contingency plan until the situation is better or changes drastically and it helps in ensuring that there is no knee jerk response taken by the company in response to the pandemic.