"Because of Covid"… Have you been hearing this?
I hear it when I am on hold for what seems indefinitely. I see it when I head to visit my loved one in the hospital when I can’t bring any food or drink in yet I am barely asked the Covid questions that I am required to ask of my own customers. I witness it in almost every shopping experience simply by the signage on the door that forces me to remember that this Covid variant lingers in not only the literal but the political.
COVID is Exhausting
People are worn out from the conversation, the excuse, the masks, the dialogue that prompts arguments from friends and family.
We don’t have to worry about an outside terrorist attack, we are attacking each other right on our own turf as the Corona virus marches on and has created infighting that an outside terrorist plot could only dream about.
Yet here we are. Trying to operate our businesses the best we can amidst all of the chaos happening in our own backyards.
Related: Is Business Back to Normal?
I am one of the lucky business owners. I ran my business like a well oiled machine and when Covid first landed, the help from our government was most helpful. What I learned from this wild and disruptive ride is to rethink and revisit what was giving me joy and even more so, what was not.
Covid created a shift for many business owners and many people who work in unsatisfying jobs or commutes to those jobs.
Epiphanies About "Work"
I hear a lot of people say they can’t get workers to work, that people would rather stay home and have a free ride from the government rather than work. Though this may true for some folks, I think that Covid has made people reconsider their quality of life in how much they work and how much they work for. Many people I know have decided to live on a lot less so they don’t have to have two hour commutes to an office anymore. I have had many conversations with people who realized after the whirlwind of a shutdown how burnt out they were from being an employer.
I can say that this was me. I loved creating a business model that employed people. I loved paying them, training them, developing them and watching them fly in their careers and their families. But after the Covid shutdown when I was able to really take a deep breath and step away from the pace of two locations and twenty employees, I had my own epiphany.
I was burnt out and exhausted from the daily grind of running and operating a successful service business. Like depression, burn out is sneaky; you barely know it’s part of your daily constitution until you get to step outside of it and look at it from a distance.
The Covid shift for me was a complete reckoning on how I wanted to march forth in my service business as I looked down the yellow brick road of my future. I made the painful but necessary decision to close one of my locations, (the most successful one if you looked on paper alone) and instead kept the smaller location open.
What Gives Me Joy?
If money is the driver not the passenger, then it likely made no sense to the people looking in. But for me, doing a rewind of the loss I have experienced in my life, I based my decision on finances yes, but mostly joy, What gives me joy? What serves my soul? What brings me happiness and peace?
These answers were surprising in my personal evaluation. I realized that I love where I live. I love that my business is in the place where I live. I love having no commute. I really loved only having a few employees who wanted to work to fulfill their own personal evaluations they had for themselves during the shutdown. I began thinking about how small I wanted to be again instead of this large scaling that I had been focusing on as so many entrepreneurs do in their early years. I learned that though bigger was better for a time, it no longer was. Smaller became more interesting to me.
This really surprised me- how much pleasure I got from simplifying my work life. By allowing my small and mighty team to simplify their own work lives. I took a serious chill pill and decided that we would do a 180 in how we operated.
The first thing I did was make shopping for products easier by creating an online store so anyone could shop anytime and I could ship the product or have it ready for pick up. This simple shift has changed who I sell to and removed the barrier I didn’t know I had by making it easier to to order or reorder. And it allowed fans of mine to tell their friends who maybe didn’t know me. This has been a super game changer for my business.
Another Major Shift
This simple shift also created jobs for my team on the days that we wondered if we were ever going to do facials again. Thankfully we are doing facials again. We are the busiest we have been since the shut down for sure. People are craving touch, and craving better skin after seeing themselves on Zoom for the past eighteen months.
For us, we still keep our facial business small by only being open by appointment. We no longer open the doors for walk in traffic, for now anyway. This has allowed me a little flexibility with my schedule and keeps all of our appointments private and more personal for the clients who have appointments.
The Shift From Gift Cards
Another major shift for my business was the decision to stop selling service gift cards and instead selling beautiful custom gift boxes that I make by hand and send. This decision to stop selling gift cards has been somewhat disheartening to the many men who have relied on them as their go to gifts for many years. But in all fairness, I consolidated two successful long term businesses into one small location with much less availability. Along with that came all of the outstanding gift cards that needed redemption. I just didn’t think it was fair to sell any more gift cards until the outstanding ones were satisfied— especially the ones sold in 2019 and early 2020 before the shutdown.
And We Still Thrive
My business is thriving because I am thriving. I didn’t realize how muted I had become in the day to day maintenance of operating. I don’t use Covid as an excuse for making the changes that I did, but more of an awakening.
We only have this life to live. I want to be sure I max out in the joy department while I am living it. Every day. Without fail. This has been my Covid shift and I am grateful that I was awake enough to pay attention.
Have you had any shifts you want to share? Would love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.