“Never let a good crisis go to waste”: Entrepreneurs pivot in the face of the pandemic

Earlier this month, I participated in a “First Things First” Group Huddle—a “Mastermind Call” facilitated by entrepreneurial expert and professional coach, Deanna Litz (of “Powerful Nature”).

The session allowed participants to discuss, in a supportive atmosphere, some of the struggles and accomplishments that come with working as entrepreneurs in a global pandemic. While much of the content was confidential, I secured permission to speak about some of the broader outlines of the group “mastermind” in current times.

Before we can think about entrepreneurial strategy in a pandemic, Deanna suggested that entrepreneurs must remember to acknowledge and “honour who and what we are.” This includes identifying whether we are introverts, extroverts or somewhere in-between (“ambiverts”); and how to cope with the excesses and stresses each of our own personalities feels when we must isolate ourselves—for months. These are factors to consider before we can even begin to think about our marketing strategy as entrepreneurs.

An accomplished small business coach and an excellent facilitator (at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship), Deanna reminded us that in so-called “normal” times, entrepreneurs always provide services (or products) for our clients. So even when choppy waters might tempt us to suspend our business planning and work (or, in others’ cases, to jump ship for a “day job”), we must stay connected with our prospect base. We also need to ask where our clients are at and how we can best serve them, in this crisis period. To lose that vital communication is to lose everything.

Citing “Pareto’s Law,” that 20% of one aspect of one’s biz (e.g. customers) are responsible for 80% of our activity (e.g. sales), Deanna reminded us that most of our functioning is determined by our finite capacity to regulate and manage our emotions. When we cannot do that emotional work over long periods of time, we face the brink. This is where we need to seek external, therapeutic help.

The reality is that we need to find strategies to tap into our positive feelings when the entrepreneurial world (and those in it) push our buttons or provide us with daily triggers that can subvert our efforts to succeed and to be well.

Deanna cited psychological studies that find that people’s responses in crisis times often fall into 3 groups (those who fight; those who take flight; and those who freeze). She encouraged us to look at the colossal disruption of Covid-19 as an opportunity to do more than those three things.

She invited us to “pivot” or deliberately move out of the fearful places where we feel tempted to hide. “Pivoting” by definition means to prioritize the most important aspect of a situation and to use that as a point on which our business processes can turn and move. She added that “the energy we bring to our pivoting can greatly influence our outcomes.”

Citing celebrity coach Marie Forleo, Deanna said that “Everything is figure-out-able.” We can meet challenges, even in pandemic times. And I would add that even if it isn’t (as argued by philosophers and theorists like Jacques Derrida), “it” will become grist for the mill of entrepreneurial growth.

As one participant stated, “the obstacle is the way” (citing the book by Ryan Holiday, that I reviewed in an earlier posting). The only way around life’s greatest challenges is to go through them.

An unnamed source (but not Deanna, herself), says that we should “never let a good crisis go to waste!” This observation sounds to me like it came from Oscar Wilde (or, maybe more recently, Bette Middler). And it applied to us: By “masterminding” the challenge of Covid-19, as nuanced and directed by (the talented) Deanna Litz, a small group of world-weary entrepreneurs found our “ground legs” needed to plan and act with courage and hope.

And now it’s your turn: Have you fought, fled or frozen your way through the past weeks of the Covid-19 Pandemic? How do you keep on, keeping on, as a small business or entrepreneur?