Positives In the Pandemic: Small Business Lessons Learned
My mom is a bit of a packrat. She’s held onto crayon drawings, homemade Mother’s Day cards and embarrassing pictures of me, my sisters and my brother for over 40 years. Every once in a while, she’ll give me something she finds as she digs through all of her treasures. Her recent treasure revealed some positives in the pandemic.
This time it was a list I wrote in 5th grade of things I wanted to do when I grew up – become a marine biologist, try stand-up comedy, find a radioactive spider to bite me, have a pet lion. Solid list. But nowhere on the scrap of paper was written ‘run a small business in the middle of a pandemic.’
While it turns out I’m not a big ocean guy, my kids only groan at my dad jokes, radioactive spiders are harder to find than I expected, and owning large wild cats is a really bad idea (thanks Tiger King), I am finding myself working at an ad agency I love, trying to figure out how to keep new work coming in while having everyone at the agency stay connected, productive and employed.
As I am wrestling through all of this along with the rest of the world, I have been writing down a new list – stuff I am learning along the way. Catchy title, I know. Whenever I write a blog, I typically try to make sure it has some practical tips that other marketers may find useful. This one doesn’t quite fit that mold. But my hope is that sharing some of what I am experiencing may be of help to someone else. So that said, here are a few of the positives in the pandemic I’ve picked up.
- When the economy is strong, a lot of warts in our businesses get covered up. This pandemic is ripping that cover off. How we deal with them once they are brought into the light is going to determine where our businesses end up.
- This situation calls for us to be leaders, not just managers. And leading a team means we need to care about the people that make it up, bring them together towards a common purpose and give them what they need to accomplish it. We might be able to fake our way through it in different circumstances, but not the ones we’re in now.
- Make hard decisions. Be smart about them and get as much information as you can, but holding off on a decision that has to be made doesn’t help anyone.
- Find a trusted mentor and reach out to them. Don’t work in a bubble.
- Everyone is going to react to this whole thing differently. So be nice and treat people like people.
- Opportunities are out there. Be strategic and consistent in going after them.
- Communicate often with your clients and your team. Be honest and caring when you do it.
- Don’t pretend you have all the answers. Get ideas from your team. They have good ones.
Probably nothing too earth-shattering here. It certainly isn’t as imaginative as my list from 5th grade. But I am finding that as I remind myself to actually reflect and act on these things each day, our small business is moving forward. There are positives in the pandemic, we just have to find them.
I’m not giving up entirely on the original list, though. There has to be a radioactive spider out there somewhere…
Paul Leese, MBA is the Executive Vice President of Keenan-Nagle Advertising, Inc. located in Allentown, PA. He specializes in marketing strategy development and execution and has over twenty years of successful experience in marketing, management, team building, media services and strategy development for non-profits, large corporations and small businesses.