The last few weeks have been rough, surreal, and marred by uncertainty.
When there's global uncertainty, the worldwide economy takes a hit — from soaring unemployment rates to financial markets plunging into records lows. Small businesses are no exception. There’s lost productivity, a sudden drop in customer base, and supply chain disruptions.
Here's what a survey of more than 1,500 members of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program reveals so far in terms of the current state of small businesses during a pandemic:
- 96 percent said they have already felt an impact of the outbreak
- 75 percent have observed reduced sales
- Half of the small business owners shared that they would not be able to continue to operate for more than three months given the current economic environment
For small business owners who are wondering if their businesses can weather the coronavirus crisis, the prolonged bouts of stress and anxiety can take a toll on them physically and mentally.
From small landscaping companies to clothing boutique owners, feeling stressed and overwhelmed is the prevalent mental state of many small business owners right now.
If you're one of these small business owners, you have to remember to take steps toward self-care.
Why self-care for small business owners is essential during a pandemic
While the word "self-care" these days is associated with Instagram posts of face masks rituals, self-care for small business owners like you during uncertain times doesn't have to be all about mani-pedis or sipping Pina Coladas by the pool.
In a nutshell, it's all about looking after yourself — physically and mentally — so you can look out after your employees and family in return.
Here are five practical self-care strategies you can do to help you regain focus during a pandemic, ride out the storm, and come up with a plan to build small business resilience.
1. Be mindful of your time.
For most of us, it seems like time has slowed down while under quarantine. For Douglas Quantizing of the Vancouver Bureau, it feels as though we've been caught in a time warp or living through the plot of a sci-fi novel.
However, for small business owners like you, running your small business during a pandemic may feel like you're putting out small fires every so often. You'll almost always find yourself saying at the end of the day — where did all the time go?
Before you know it, a massive chunk of your day goes to business calls or providing refunds online.
Your action plan— create a table with seven columns (one for each day of the week) and 16 rows (for each hour that you're awake). For a week, write down what you did for each hour so you'll have a clear idea of how you spent your time. You can make adjustments later on.
2. Stay in touch with your mates.
Once you've figured out how you're spending your day, dedicate a time in your day to go social despite the absence of physicality and self-isolation.
Whether it's one of your employees or a family member, stay in touch via text, FaceTime, or Messenger. A good 'ol fashioned phone call will also be a huge boost not only for the other person on the other line but also to you as well. A group chat or group video call is also an excellent venue for friends or family to share their stay-at-home experiences.
Finally, join a small business network or state-based business associations in your area. Look them up online or ask your local business bureau.
3. Identify your Weekly Big Three.
What's a “Weekly Big Three”?
According to leadership mentor Michael Hyatt, your “Weekly Big Three” are your weekly achievements that will move the needle on your major life goals. In the context of running a small business or trying to keep it afloat during a pandemic, identify the three big tasks you should do for the entire week.
Doing so will help prevent feelings of overwhelm, especially when you have a long to-do list for your business during a pandemic. Your weekly big three can range from learning how to use infographics for your small business to a digital declutter. Perhaps you should give your small business email marketing plan a makeover.
4. Develop a hobby or pursue an activity that is unrelated to your small business.
Find an interest (e.g. a hobby) outside of your business or usual interests. You get bonus points if it's an activity that you can share with friends and family members as well. Here are some great examples:
- Start a yoga practice.
How about taking on a one-yoga-pose-a-day challenge? Yoga is also great for back pain, which tends to develop after long hours of running your small business from home.
- Vegetable gardening in a small space.
Spending more time at home is the perfect opportunity to start your vegetable gardening ideas.
- Make time for unproductive hobbies or interests such as rewatching your favorite series or reading manga.
Go easy on yourself. Here’s a quick tip: pursue your "unproductive interests" during your non-peak hours. We all have those peak hours when we feel the most alert and productive. For example, Joe's peak hours are from 9 to 1 pm. So during these hours, he does essential small business tasks and watches Buffy (his favorite series of all time!) afterward as a reward.
5. Seek (or provide) support.
Seek support when you can. Whether it's financial support for more liquidity to your small business cash flow or seeking online therapy, asking for help is one of the critical things you can do to keep yourself sane and well during a pandemic as an entrepreneur.
If you're one of the lucky ones who managed to keep your small business resilient during these times, consider helping out others in some way or the other. Helping others is one of the most reliable ways of improving your own happiness.
The takeaway: Look after yourself and others
No one knows how long the recovery process will take after Covid-19. However, your small business is more likely to weather the coronavirus crisis if you look after its greatest asset - YOU.
Be proactive in looking after yourself and others. Before you know it, you'll feel more focused, coupled with a renewed sense of purpose for your small business post-pandemic.