Learning from the Pandemic and Moving Businesses Forward

We are now in our second month of Shelter in Place protocols across the nation. The uncertainty still makes me feel uneasy. I recently read a quote by Maya Angelou that read, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” I’ve been working closely with clients and businesses that are adapting to meet the COVID-19 regulations. The entrepreneurial spirit that lives inside me, and business owners, drives us to find the creative solutions and adjust – it is infectious!

While I can’t offer the answers to what business will look like post-pandemic, I can see how implementing creative solutions could enhance our businesses moving forward. I genuinely believe that these times have offered everyone time and space to reflect on what life looked like pre-pandemic. Did anyone notice, as events and commitments started canceling, how busy our lives were? These times are nudging us to sift through our schedule.

I believe this is true with our businesses as well.

Before we dive in, I want to acknowledge that these times have been incredibly difficult for many human beings. I feel especially grateful for the extra time with my husband and kids and continuing work as un-usual as possible. That being said, I know a lot of people are not in that similar situation, but I do wholeheartedly believe that our world will rise out of these times with more grace, humility, and compassion. Here’s how I see businesses and business owners contributing that movement in the right direction.

Careful Consideration

Obligations and to-do lists were at an all-time high for businesses before the pandemic! It seemed like meetings were constant, checking-in on employee productivity, this project over here, and that project over there – it was chaos! Then the boiling of activities came to a soft simmer.

It certainly feels like one big stressful waiting game, where is the next directive going to point us? What timelines can you plan on for your customer base to return to some semblance of “normal”? Moving forward, let’s carefully consider what is necessary for productivity. If we stretch ourselves too thin, we won’t have any strength! Perhaps you may want to place careful consideration on what magnitude of business routines you want to sustain now. The present can be stressful enough for a business owner in these trying times. For over a month, our lives have been halted, and as soon as doors begin to open, it will be a rush to work harder, longer, and faster. You don’t have to do it all. But I will tell you that you need an extended game plan to focus attention on doing things now that set you up for the future along with what’s essential today. Everything else can wait just a little longer.

Humility, Trust, Forgiveness

These three compassion practices – humility, trust, and forgiveness – stand as some of the most critical rituals to have in your business. Remember, these times have not only been scary for business owners, but the pandemic has impacted EVERY single person in our world. These three practices were fundamental at the beginning of the shelter in place protocols, and they will be equally important after. Routines have been changed and adapted. You can have all the plans, strategies, motivation, and goals. At the end of the day, if humility, trust, and forgiveness aren’t a priority- business environments will shift in less than desirable ways. Nothing will be the same post-pandemic, and that brings a lot of opportunities to stand mindful of these three procedures.

Humility: You will continue to shift from a place of worry and stress to hopeful and optimistic. This shift will ebb and flow. Our mindfulness should also shift to be authentic and humble to ourselves and others that work with us. Take care of your team. Take care of your customers. Take care of your business. Take care of yourself. Have grace with others and yourself as everyone does their part to be a proactive creator of solutions and attempt to refrain from adding to the burdens.

Trust: This pandemic has taught all of us a little more about trust. For example, I’ve witnessed some company’s belief system was that only the best work happened IN the office – which appeared to be rooted around lack of trust. Now with staff forced to work remotely, companies see and experience remarkable productivity – even despite the initial chaos from the pandemic. Trust continuously grows between teams and management/employees. And remember, trust builds empowerment, and empowerment drives results.

Forgiveness: Regardless of what action plan is set in place, people are going to make mistakes. When we stretch ourselves to do new things or work outside our comfort zone – frequently, phenomenal things are created, monumental efforts are completed, brilliant solutions are identified, and more mistakes and errors occur. Use those moments as learning opportunities and keep failing forward to pursue the end-goal. Take the time to forgive others and yourself and find the hidden blessings that allow you to overcome the challenges in a productive way. You’ll be amazed at the confidence it will build in your team and yourself.

Final Thoughts

Again, it’s impossible to say what business life will look like post-pandemic, but as we have seen in the past when unexpected times fall on the economy and the people—these everyday tools are best kept in the forefront. Lao Tzu once said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Keep that in your back pocket, and remember that life will be different. Business will be different. But that is by no means a reason to crumble. We are creative entrepreneurs and beings! Our brains are wired to find solutions.

You don’t have to do this alone. Your team and support system are here to keep your business moving forward. I believe we will all rise out of this more durable than ever. I have seen what these practices can do for others. They are the same practices I bring to the table with my clients!

My heart extends to everyone during the pandemic, and I realize this is going to be a hurdle that will take time to clear. And I am a believer that we *will* bounce back better than ever. Continue staying safe. Do your part. And as always, stay connected and reach out.


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A passionate organizer of people and initiatives, Erica Smigielski brings over twenty years of experience in project leadership to financial software and SaaS companies who want to launch their next big idea. She leads large-scale, complex projects like product launches and company mergers and acquisitions as well as focused efforts to bring structure and process to fast-track businesses. Erica holds certifications as a Stanford Advanced Project Manager as well as a Certified Group Facilitator, making her a master orchestrator of strategic planning, as well as a skillful communicator who can expertly navigate complex group dynamics.