I was recently asked what one lesson I learned from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on my small business. What would be the one thing I would share with other business owners, if I could.
Although I could blather on about financial strategies and how to scale back to manage decreased cash flow, that is learning for any time, regardless of crisis; business must be managed for cash flow. In this time of crisis, the key is understanding that I am not my business. My business is an entity discrete from myself and my family (McCrea’s is a family business which can make it feel like a critical piece of our existence) and it will be best served if I take the care of myself (and my family). It is impossible to take care of the business in a state of frantic fear brought on by having our being intertwined with our business.
This is easier said than done. Particularly since financial wellbeing is tied up in business, but in a time like this we are tempted to keep a business going at great financial peril. The first step is to admit that our business might fail. My husband and business partner and I sat with this when we started our company and we sit with it on a regular basis to remind ourselves that we will still exist even if the business fails. Once our independence from the business is clear, then we can think more clearly about strategies to prevent failure.
I know that my ability to think clearly, make decisions, and execute strategy is critical to our business. The only way I can function at the level I need to during this time of complete upheaval and fear, is by practicing radical self-care. There are three tiers of self-care that I employ to stay balanced as best I can:
- Support – I have mentors and advisors who have lived through business crises before. There is no reason to manage alone. I reached out immediately to people I trust and have continued to check in with them. I also reached out to other businesses so that we could support one another through this challenge.
- Stress Management – I stepped up my stress management as the quarantine hit. There is no way I could do this alone. Part of stressful for me is ignoring my health, so I signed up with facilitators to keep me meditating and working out. Their guidance has kept me true to myself. In addition, we kept a commitment to eating well, having a family dinner every night, and spending a lot of time out in the yard. In this way, I show up every day and do my best. Sometimes my best is a lot less than it was before the quarantine, but right now, it’s enough.
- Values – We’ve remained true to our values. “We’re in this together” has been a guiding principle for our company and it includes our employees, customers and vendors. We believe in working together to achieve the best ends for us all. By keeping this focus, each day our whole team carries the company forward to success in what will surely be a very different business environment for the foreseeable future. When I feel overwhelmed, I remember that I am not alone in this venture.
You are not your business, and your business will do better if you show up well cared for and ready to step into the new normal.