Shortly after Thanksgiving, I started thinking about my New Year’s Resolution for 2020. I resolved to focus on gratefulness. Every day, I would share with at least one person how thankful I am to have them in my life. My belief was that if I took the time to focus on the wonderful things in my life, the better and more whole my life would become.
I had no way of knowing when I made this resolution just how much gratitude would shape my life in 2020.
Everything, of course, has changed in light of COVID-19, with shelter-in-place orders, social distancing and the temporary closing of business storefronts. Entrepreneurs are currently working hard to pivot their business models and adapt their services and offerings for consumers.
What is less spoken about, however, is how they are working to manage their disappointment during COVID-19.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the disappointment we are collectively experiencing is made up of different forms of grief. In this unprecedented time, the traditional stages of grief aren’t linear. They are scattered and out of order. Many are currently finding comfort in acceptance, which tends to be the final stage in this framework. Acceptance, in a COVID-19 era, means you have a bit of control. There is control in knowing you can wash your hands, keep six feet of distance, and get creative in finding ways to innovate your business.
What kind of lenses are entrepreneurs using to view COVID-19? I spoke with several small business owners to find out how they are managing their COVID-19 disappointment and what keeps them moving forward.
Finding the Opportunity to Pivot Our Business Model
At the start of 2020, Lindsey Handley’s EdTech company ThoughtSTEM had grown enough to separate into two businesses. The first business, ThoughtSTEM, would build educational software. The second business, MetaCoders, would operate all coding classes, camps, and workshops run out of San Diego.
Handley had big dreams for the growth of MetaCoders. Throughout January and February 2020, MetaCoders had started classes in three new cities. They were advertising summer camps in seven cities.
Everything seemed on track for MetaCoders to hit its goals in expanding classes and camps — until COVID-19 hit. Suddenly, all schools and classes were shut down.
Handley, who is the co-founder of both ThoughtSTEM and MetaCoders, admits that it was initially very difficult to manage disappointment. However, Handley’s team quickly worked to pivot MetaCoders to online classes. She is deeply appreciative of her staff and the amount of hours they worked to make the pivot happen and deliver the best possible online activities for students.
Since making the pivot, Handley now wonders if online classes were the direction MetaCoders should have pursued the entire time.
“We’ve had so much positive feedback from parents and students that have been joining our online coding club,” Handley says. “It gives me a lot of hope that we’ll be able to make it as a company.”
The big dreams for MetaCoders haven’t gone away during COVID-19. If anything, making a pivot with its business model has created new ones.
“My hope is that our new online class offerings will continue to be a new source of revenue for MetaCoders long after schools re-open,” Handley says. “Hopefully, that puts us in an even stronger position.”
Implementing a Self Care Plan
Shin-Di Cynthia Lai is a licensed acupuncturist and RN with her own private acupuncture business. Lai started her Southern California business in 2013. Three years later, the stable income from the practice allowed Lai to maintain her patient flow and go back to school for her nursing degree.
[Related: In the Business of Women’s Health]
2019 was what Lai refers to as her recovery year.
“It was the first year I didn’t have to work and go to school full-time. I allowed 2019 to be an easygoing year to rest, recuperate, and plan to build my brand and push to increase clientele in 2020,” Lai says.
Lai’s plan for 2020 was to execute major growth. Now that she had two licenses, she was open to bigger business opportunities, brand development, and an increase in clientele and revenue. She could treat many conditions in acupuncture, ranging from women’s health to fertility. Lai worked alongside athletes and sports teams for their performance, health, wellness, and recovery, both physical and mental. She was also a school nurse. It seemed like 2020 was the year she would take by storm.
Due to COVID-19, Lai has been unable to work for over a month. Her skill sets, unfortunately, interfere with social distancing guidelines.
“My line of business requires me to be within six feet of my clients,” Lai says. “Acupuncture has amazing benefits to help calm emotions and build the immune system. However, it’s risky because of the close proximity. It’s something I battle with on a daily basis – knowing that my skill set offers something so good for people, but I have to do the right thing and keep my social distance.”
Lai has been able to combat the mental toll on her personal health and wellness through self-care. In a COVID-19 landscape, this means socially engaging with friends and family via FaceTime calls. These calls take place at least four times a week.
“We do so much together,” Lai says. “We talk, eat dinner, and drink coffee. We watch movies and work out together. We’ll even do a trivia or game night on Zoom.”
Outside of calls, Lai’s self-care plan includes coloring in coloring books, engaging in at-home workouts, meditating, and taking baths. She credits her self-care plan for helping her to stay grounded and calm.
“Being positive has motivated me to work on coming out of this pandemic bigger and better than I was before,” Lai says.
Lai is also using this time to get creative with her business and its offerings. Now, she offers telemedicine appointments and has come up with new ideas for products and supplements. It’s time spent doing all of the things Lai once said she didn’t have time to do before.
“Setbacks are here to challenge us. We have a choice of how to react and if we want to learn.” Lai says. “I choose to be positive and move forward. 2020 can still be my year.”
Changing My Mindset
Author Alicia Carrasco truly felt like 2020 was going to be spectacular. In January 2020, her book Sé feliz ya: Descubre el poder de la Ley de Atracción (Be Happy Now! Discover the Power of The Law of Attraction) was the number one publication with Penguin Random House Group Spain.
Carrasco was ready to celebrate. She was planning to offer an online summit about happiness and success. Friends were ready to join her in Madrid at Carrasco’s wellbeing and happiness center to celebrate the International Happiness Day on March 20.
On March 14, a state of national lockdown was imposed in Spain due to the coronavirus. The space where Carrasco rented her center would be closed for two weeks. Instinctively, she knew the shutdown would last for much longer. She needed to close the space.
It’s never easy for any entrepreneur to close the physical doors on their brick and mortar storefront. After 13 years of joy and success in the space, Carrasco was able to let it go through acceptance and by shifting her perspective.
Carrasco focused on ways she could move on in her current situation. She relaunched two of her online summits, all the while thinking about how she could try to serve as many people as possible.
Ultimately, it was Carrasco’s mindset shift that enabled her to create a free online program for other people interested in doing the same thing and creating an extraordinary life.
“Being of service, for me, is the best medicine against worry,” Carrasco says. “I changed my mindset to trust in the only thing that I could trust — myself — and my ability to be successful again.”
Due to Spain’s lockdown, residents have not been able to leave their homes for more than 30 days. Carrasco uses this time to exercise indoors by doing yoga and meditation. She also tries to find the positives in this situation and, like me, practices an attitude of gratitude.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Carrasco says. “I focus on anything that makes me feel good. Before I go to sleep, I think about the little successes I have had throughout the day. I feel very proud when I do that. Challenges always have hidden treasures. I am finding my way through the most challenging time better than I ever have before.”
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.