With the recent developments around the coronavirus (COVID-19), small business owners have been sent into a tailspin.

Understandably, people are feeling uncertain, anxious and a little worried.

A number of things happen from a psychological perspective when faced with a situation outside of our control like a pandemic. Our amygdala response kicks in, and our reptilian or primal brain is passed the microphone. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests, when our basic human needs (shelter, food, safety etc) are threatened, we are unable to access the self-actualised part of our brain, which is the centre for our creativity. We are more likely to see the reasons why not, rather than the possibilities. With all of this in mind, we have to work a little more diligently on staying on track as creatives and entrepreneurs. 

 

Here’s our top tips for staying in the Thrival space in business, when Survival is kicking in:

 

Go back to your plan and foundations 

In times of unrest, revisiting our business plan and the foundations of our business can ensure we aren’t diluting our message and straying from what makes our most impactful contribution to the world through our craft.

Reminding ourselves of why our business exists, our purpose, values and strengths is the guiding beacon through times of uncertainty, and can help to keep us on track. To find out your strengths, try www.viacharacter.org for the VIA signature strengths test, and download our brief values exercise here to help you uncover what is truly important. 

 

Use creativity as a business skill

Creatives have the most impactful and neverending business resource at their fingertips – their creativity. Using this skill may show you a better way around a seemingly impossible hurdle over the coming weeks. Think innovatively:

  • How can you deliver your service in a way that challenges the norm?
  • How can you disrupt or challenge thinking you’ve come to believe is ‘the only way I can do what I do?’
  • What new ideas can you cultivate and move forward?
  • What could you do better, do differently, and do more of?

Remember too: idle moments are the birthplace of creative ideas. Go walking, get off your phone, meditate, garden or take a long bath and allow space for new solutions to come to fruition. 

 

Stay agile AND on track 

By all means pivot if you had that planned, however make sure any pivot or change during this time still sits within your big picture. Revisit or write your overarching plan and strategy, and try be strategic vs reactive. The current situation will be short lived, and life will eventually resume to normal. Taking our businesses into a space where we are responding, reacting, and changing what we offer may create a monster we don’t want in the room when all goes back to normal life. Try and see this as a bump in the road, rather than taking a turn in a new direction. 

 

Be conscious of your mindset 

This is an unprecedented time, and our fight or flight response will be encouraging us into go into overdrive. Whether it be stockpiling toilet paper, selling off shares, or avoiding public places, our amygdala response will be overactive right now. Focus on your creative process, and use your creativity as a wellspring for accessing that optimal part of our brain. 

  • Use social media for good: stay connected to others in a constructive way. Try starting Live videos with your community, open that membership or Facebook group, engage with your audience in a positive way, and feed your mind with constructive stories, rather than the ones that trigger your fight or flight response.
  • Look after yourself: take a bath, exercise, do yoga or meditate, and enjoy the slower pace of life that uncertainty sometimes provides.
  • Focus on thriving rather than surviving: use any extra time you’ve been gifted by not having to travel to work, or being kept home from the workplace or public spaces by growing and developing – do that online course you have flagged (or join ours!), read a nourishing book, or teach yourself a new skill.

 

See this setback as an opportunity 

Every setback can be an opportunity.

During the most tragic and challenging parts of my life, I have learnt and grown the most. The impact of the COVID-19 virus may mean our lives may get a little slower.  Life slowing down means we can create more thinking time, time to work on the bigger picture (being vs doing). Get stuck into that project, think big, bring forward that website development, reach out for that collaboration or develop that online program. And remember the even bigger picture: as a dear friend reminded me of today, this constriction we find ourselves in is a beautiful gift to our planet. Emissions will be lower, pollution will dissipate, the community will live and buy local, we might be a little kinder and more generous towards one another and life may get a little more present.