The Covid-19 pandemic is the most significant global event of many of our lifetimes. It has affected every aspect of the way we live — often in unique ways. Our economies, social lives, and even our day-to-day lexicon have changed drastically in a very short time.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably accustomed to the unexpected, taking chances, and assessing risk. But you couldn’t have seen this one coming. And at least before now, no business school was teaching pandemic preparedness. Because no one anticipated the danger of a global health crisis.
The good news? Amidst a pandemic, we have much to learn from an entrepreneurial mindset. And we’re seeing economic policy and societal shifts like we’ve never seen before.
So let’s examine the big picture and how it affects your business. Then we’ll offer you some tips to get through these challenging times. You won’t want to miss it.
We’re Facing a Global Economic Recession
Let’s normalize it because there’s no getting around it. We’re all affected, and so are our businesses. Every nook and cranny of the economy has been damaged by the pandemic.
The hospitality and travel industries have been demolished, the gig economy nearly obliterated. While some businesses that provide services have experienced economic growth — benefiting from the shelter-in-place and lockdown orders — but they are of the lucky few. And nearly all companies will be affected by worldwide halts in manufacturing.
B-school alumni are unlikely to doubt these stark facts. But here’s some more data just in case. A survey done by the National Federation of Independent Business (April 2020) found that half of small businesses are at risk of failing during the pandemic. And Yelp data reported that nearly 60% of those who do, will never re-open.
These numbers may seem alarming at first, but we’re here to remind you that this level of economic distress is nothing we haven’t seen before. What is perhaps more unsettling are the societal effects that we’re experiencing at the same time.
Cracks in U.S. Society Have Been Widened by the Pandemic
The pandemic has created a multi-crisis — sadly, the circumstances were just right. Or rather, just wrong.
For years, the United States has failed to deal with the shameful truth of its healthcare system — an outlier among other developed countries. We are the only large rich economy without universal health coverage. We were ill-prepared for a health crisis.
And this, coupled with the enduring inequalities maintained by white supremacy — caused communities of color to be disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Fueling the perfect storm after the murder of George Floyd — bringing racial justice into the limelight once again. (Hopefully this time it stays there.)
While the pandemic likely caused a record number of voters in the 2020 presidential election — this victory of civic participation was largely ignored. Too soon removed from the news cycle due to all those other crises — including threats to our democracy. The insurrection at the capital, impeachment, economic stimulus policies, and new strains of the virus.
The spiral of emergencies is truly dizzying. But we promise, there is hope.
Potential Paradigm Shifts Are Reason For Optimism
Now, we don’t mean to minimize the terrible and tragic effects of a pandemic, especially considering something we haven’t even mentioned yet — the large-scale loss of life. Of course, there is no upside to that.
And since this is the second economic recession in less than twenty years, some are already calling millennials ‘the lost generation’ — the first to end up poorer than their parents. But humor some optimism for a moment.
Joan Michelson of Forbes said, “This 21st-century pandemic is forcing us to redefine what and who we value, how we govern, whose opinions we listen to, how we view facts and science, and even our relationships. Much of society used to focus on status, power, wealth, and celebrity. Then came COVID-19.”
However you want to slice it, Covid-19 has been life-altering for almost everyone. And we like to view change as an opportunity for growth. Michelson went on to say, “Covid-19 is creating a paradigm shift that is realigning every system in every industry across the global at once – in an instant.”
So it may be overwhelming, but it’s certainly not all bad. And there are certainly signs of some encouraging progress.
We Can Make Big Changes & Learn from Past Economic Crises
The key to any paradigm shift is looking back at the past and leaving false assumptions behind.
Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to learn from our past economic mistakes. While no one is to blame for the cause of this global recession, we are very much responsible for how we address it. And it already looks like we’re doing better than the last time around.
The University of Notthingham is generous in its assessment of our economic reaction to the pandemic. They share our optimism and believe we’ve learned a thing or two about economic recovery since the financial crisis of 2008.
According to their vision, the economy after Covid-19, we have at least learned this: “when jobs and firms are destroyed by economic crises, the economy loses skills and capacity that are hard to re-build. Workers lose skills and suffer worsening mental health. Entrepreneurial talent and business acumen go to waste. These things don’t bounce back in the way economists used to think they did – instead, they are scarred.”
The upside here is hindsight. The sweeping economic policies we are seeing worldwide is proof of that. Governments are moving forward with unprecedented spending to make a real impact.
But that’s the big picture. The political economy seems to be recognizing the importance of entrepreneurship — they’re coming to the rescue. But businesses have to play their part too if they want to survive. So let’s explore some practical tips that will also be critical in keeping your businesses afloat.
3 Business Strategies to Survive the Covid-19 Pandemic
At a time like this, an entrepreneurial spirit is essential. Now is the time to embrace large and small scale change, because it’s very likely that the traditional economy as we know it will disappear.
Here are three business tips to survive (and just maybe thrive) during these difficult times.
Strategically Adapt Your Business
If you want your business to make it during the pandemic, or you want to get your business idea off the ground — you have to get creative. And you have to be strategic. Make the changes you need to — because it all comes down to adaptation, determination, and luck.
Don’t be afraid of cataclysmic adjustments. Embrace the remote revolution if you can, get frugal if you need to, and focus on pandemic preparedness. And if you’re in a corporate environment, encourage intrapreneurship to tackle new challenges.
Focus on Mindset and Employee Wellness
Coping with a prolonged crisis has been traumatic for everyone. The stress and anxiety created by this tragedy is likely to have long-term mental health effects on our society.
So welcome the opportunity for culture shifts and normalize the prioritization of mental health in your companies. This may look like increased wellness programs, increased sick-leave, or more flexibility. Do what you can for your people and it will pay off in the long-term.
Take Advantage of Support Programs
Remember that unprecedented government spending we were talking about?
The economic stimulus packages that governments are dolling out are remarkably generous considering our track record. But for many, they’re still not generous enough.
But let’s not make assumptions, this support could save your business. So make sure that you’re aware of all the coronavirus relief that you qualify for — and take advantage of it.
Don’t leave any tax credits or PPP loans unclaimed. And since most coronavirus relief is constantly evolving, make sure to stay vigilant and stay up to date.
Be an Entrepreneur — Find Balance and Embrace Change
Being an entrepreneur is tough. You probably already knew that. From solopreneurs to corporate businesses, many of us face the same challenges — pandemic or not.
But try to take this opportunity to shift your business for the better. Stay calm and seek safety and balance for your company.
If you haven’t already, consider moving in the direction of social entrepreneurship. Because as a society, we’re going to need a lot of help — and we could use your entrepreneurial skills.
Comment below and tell us how you’re embracing change and using your business experience to make it through this pandemic.