May 11, 2023 marked the end of the public health emergency for COVID-19. Many businesses for months have been acting as if the pandemic was long since gone. But the official end to the public health emergency on May 11th, an emergency that lasted more than 3 years, impacted business in many ways. As well, the pandemic affected how entrepreneurs approached and conducted business. Why is it that some entrepreneurs barely survived while others thrived?
In the middle of the pandemic, I had read an interesting article at bigideasforsmallbusiness.com about what small business had learned during the pandemic as of the then second anniversary of the pandemic. Below are some statements and quotes from that article that continue to stand out in my mind and especially as the public health emergency has officially ended…
What’s clear now is that on this second anniversary, there’s no going back to “normal.” Things have changed. What have we learned?
The worst of times don’t last.
In the midst of a crisis, it seems that it would never end. But it always does, albeit with some victims unable to recover. While hundreds of thousands of small businesses closed during the pandemic—some temporarily and some permanently—times have changed. The number of new startups is exploding, with 5.4 million new business applications filed in 2021. The unemployment rate peaked at 14.8% in April 2020, but was only 4% nationally in January 2022.
The lesson for small businesses to learn:
Hang in if possible until conditions change. In the words of televangelist Robert H. Schuller, “Tough times never last. Tough people do.”
New solutions need to be found.
Mandatory lockdowns forced many businesses to find new ways to do business. Some changes included:
- Restaurant take-outs when dining in wasn’t permitted.
- Curbside pickups at restaurants, supermarkets, and big box stores.
- Remote work arrangements for employees.
Some of these new solutions likely will continue to be business as normal as consumers and employees have adapted to what may have been thought of as temporary measures.
The lesson to learn:
Be prepared to continually adapt to changing conditions. In the words of musician Duke Ellington: “A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”
Expect the unexpected.
Who could have anticipated the pandemic? Yes, historians tell us there’s usually one every hundred years or so, but who remembers. Many, for example, have experienced and probably will experience natural disasters—hurricanes, wildfires, tornados—and other events. Think about the rioting that destroyed many small businesses in cities across the country in 2020 and 2021.
The lesson to learn:
There’s likely to be new events that challenge business owners. In the words of songwriter Bob Dylan: “Doesn’t expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?”
Anticipate unintended consequences.
It appears that two years after the declaration of a national emergency, we’re living with some unintended consequences that many experts are attributing to government programs—and printing money to pay for them—that helped individuals and businesses get through the worst of the pandemic.
And other conditions have changed:
Small businesses are struggling to find workers. Nearly half (47%) of small business owners said in January 2022 they had job openings they couldn’t fill.
Inflation is surging. The rate of inflation hit a 40-year high in January 2022.
Supply changes have been disrupted. Businesses are challenged to get the items they need and meet their customer demands. It’s generally agreed that the pandemic changed the global supply change.
The lesson to learn:
While a serious problem may fade away—the waning of the pandemic—new problems may arise. In the words of Apple founder Steve Jobs: “There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything.”
Looking back, I think about an article I wrote last year when I asked, What would Jobs do? Today, with an official end – and a new beginning – upon us, I thought it’d be good to revisit that article.
Is Entrepreneurship the Path to Economic Recovery?
Is it necessary to change how to conduct business, adapting to the circumstances of the times instead of adjusting, revising which may be more akin to putting square pegs in round holes? Are we crazy to think different (as entrepreneurs, restaurateurs & small business owners), or should we just go with the flow?
Maybe we need a wrist band to remind us? WWJD… What Would Jobs Do?
Think Different Because the American Entrepreneurial Spirit is Alive!
As we know, small businesses and restaurants are having a difficult time due to rising costs due to inflation, supply chain issues, and labor challenges (I’m not so sure about actual worker shortages). Feeling the inflation pinch, as well, customers are being more diligent as to where and when they shop or as they may decide to enjoy a meal at or from a restaurant.
Although, some businesses and restaurants are realizing sales increases over pre-pandemic levels. Why and how are they thriving while others are barely surviving? But the real question in my mind has to do with change – not a shift, not a pivot, but actual change.
I just love the words of Steve Jobs shortly after he returned to Apple, the company he founded and launched the Think Different campaign. He started things off with these words:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
I especially find his words fitting as it’s been repeatedly stated that entrepreneurship will be our country’s path to economic recovery. After all, we may not be able to imagine life without the contributions of one, Steve Jobs.
I am an entrepreneur. Go ahead. Say it!
So, if entrepreneurship is front and center as the path to our country’s economic recovery, why is there reluctance to say, I am an entrepreneur? I’ve been asked that question many times. Heck, I’ve asked that question of myself on more than one occasion. It seems, at times we’re prouder to call ourselves, Founder or CEO or to say, I’m a business owner. Why is that?
Are those titles more respectful than entrepreneur? Yet, we hear of late, we’re in an entrepreneurial economy. So, is that a bad thing or a good thing, and especially if we have a hard time fully admitting to entrepreneurship? Or should we just be entrepreneurial in how we approach our work, whatever that truly means?
Are we claiming to be in an entrepreneurial economy to justify the disappearance of the lifelong career at one company, and this is just a way to say we need to create and prove ourselves over and over again, and forget the gold watch?
Back to the reference of being an entrepreneur… Is there a stigma of being a dreamer, always looking for something better, bigger, faster as opposed to what some believe is mundane, repetitive work with the security of a paycheck? Often, I hear it’s mostly due to yesterday’s immigrant mindset of being thankful to just have a job, yet it’s that same immigrant mindset that is the epitome of entrepreneurship.
We are living our fears.
Actually, I believe it’s because of fear — fear of failure, fear of what other people think, fear of the unknown, fear of the what if, fear of starting over, fear of change… But it’s when those fears are hit head-on and the adrenaline rush of success far outweighs those fears because you know, deep in your heart, that you have a deeply ingrained talent that can and will make a difference.
Does that mean failures aren’t possible? Hell no, but it’s working through those failures, those blips, those aberrations that provide experience and resiliency to improve and innovate to make the next step, the next task, the next venture successful. That is entrepreneurship.
And it’s when I don’t consider what I personally do as entrepreneurship that failure mostly occurs. Conversely, it’s when I focus on what I do as an entrepreneur, complete with that thinking outside the box and failure is not an option perspective, and when focused more on results as opposed to opinion of others that success mostly occurs.
Yes, I’m an entrepreneur. My focus will stay as such as it is not only good for me, but also for my family and for those that rely on me to help them achieve their wishes, hopes and dreams! Why? Because I believe in possibilities, as without them, there are none. How about you? Are you an entrepreneur? If so, then say it, and say it proudly because our great country needs you!
Still not sure about being an entrepreneur? If so, I’ll leave you with another quote by Steve Jobs…
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Resources & Support
The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate.
You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email at Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797–9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com and at Entrepreneurship411.com.
Make it a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!
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