When a pandemic hits, all well-laid plans get thrown for a loop. Seemingly overnight, everything you thought you could get done is suddenly at risk. What’s an entrepreneur to do? You can’t just soldier on in the same way as before.
Instead, take a different approach. Here’s what you need to do.
Get clarity on monthly or quarterly goals
When a pandemic hits, you can’t make the same 1-5 year plans you did before. Of course you should maintain those goals, but they may not be as effective when things change rapidly.
Kerri-Lynn McAllister, the founder and CEO of pet-tech company Pawzy, said that a key for managing priorities is to focus on monthly and quarterly goals. But it’s not just about doing it all yourself.
“Involve your broader team and advisors or board members,” said McAllister. “I recommend shared task management software like Trello or Asana so that everyone knows how their work feeds up into the bigger picture.”
The shorter timelines give you the opportunity to think more strategically and tactically. Where longer-term plans are helpful for big dreams and big plans, a shorter timeline will help orient every team member to action, a critical part of surviving the uncertainty of a pandemic.
Allow day-to-day flexibility
The reality of rapid change means that your days will likely not always go how you planned or wanted. Embrace that. When you have focused monthly or quarterly goals, you can be flexible with day to day.
“As a business owner, you have to be flexible with your day-to-day,” said McAllister. “Priorities can change by the hour and sometimes that can be difficult to plan around.”
But this can create its own frustrations — when you can’t check something off a to-do list, it can feel like you’re not actually getting anything done. The solution, for McAllister, is about daily prioritization. She lists out the tasks she needs to accomplish for the day in priority order, so even if the day gets busy, you can still focus on completing the highest priority items.
“I keep my very long to-do list running, but pick out my top three must-dos for each day in the morning,” said McAlliser. “That keeps me focused and accomplished, while leaving me with the room I need to handle unforeseen shifts in my day.”
Take time to recharge
When things change more rapidly, it takes a toll on you. Constantly switching work contexts can be mentally exhausting and even cause physical tiredness. With that fact, it’s a simple reality that you have to take breaks.
But it’s not just about being lazy. Entrepreneurs need many different kinds of rest. From McAllister’s perspective, it’s about getting in tune with yourself.
“Listen to your body when it needs a rest. Go outside, take a nap, watch “The Last Dance” — whatever works for you — there’s no right or wrong way to unplug.”
Realize that resting and recharging is part of your job, not an escape from it. Just as professional athletes need to eat well and rest so they can perform their best, so too do entrepreneurs. When you don’t rest, you aren’t prepared for the challenges you will no doubt face.
“Don’t feel guilty about it because you think you’re not using your time productively,” said McAllister. “You will, without a doubt, be more productive when you come back to work with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.”
Stay true to your values
When bad times hit, it’s easy to use it as an excuse to forget all of your values under the veil of survival. Don’t do this. Stay true to your values, because that is what will guide you and your actions.
Acting in alignment with your values is the best way forward. Even as survival is a key (critical) focus, surviving by throwing out your values will leave you empty and hollow when better times return.