When people ask me if a glass is half full or half empty, my answer is “both.” A glass can’t be half full if it is not half empty and vice versa. That’s the attitude I’m working through as I watch the world around me reeling from the COVID19 crisis.
Jobs lost, people facing losing their entire business, and a lot of fear and frustration seem to pervade everyone’s experience, including those of us who are already used to working from home and having to take extra measures to stay healthy.
I’m also seeing things that are encouraging. Like I will share in my upcoming book (shameless early plug), part of being an entrepreneur is making things happen. It’s seeing a problem and realizing you have the resources and ideas to fix it. It’s finding ways to pivot around a huge obstacle to stay in business. Or, believe it or not, it’s knowing when the challenge is too much and deciding to close, at least temporarily.
Restaurants, even the tiny mom & pop places we all love, quickly learned to adapt to a carryout/delivery system only when restaurants were forced to close their lobbies. I’ve also seen restaurants develop family-style meals so families can enjoy food together without purchasing separate meals.
I’ve seen companies like Dyson and some of our local breweries realize that they had the capacity to make much-needed products such as ventilators and homemade hand-sanitizer.
I’ve also seen companies, many companies of all sizes and types, figure out at almost the turn of a dime how to make most, if not all, their workforce able to function from home. That had to be chaos but for most, it seems to be working.
That’s where I want to address what I hope all of this teaches us for the future.
Remote access for disabled workers
For many with disabilities and chronic illness, they would be able to be employed if they could work remotely. Many apply for jobs and are told that a simple remote setup would be beyond being “a reasonable accommodation.” That has now been proven false.
Many companies across the country figured out how to do it for their entire workforce in a matter of days. It can be done for one or two people. I hope this form of obvious ableism is no longer an issue once this is all over.
Flexibility for small business
I’m sure that some of the measures mom & pop stores (and their larger counterparts) are taking to stay in business are not sustainable long-term. But my guess is, with a few tweaks and “lessons learned moments”, they could offer more services and a different variety of products. Being able to diversify and respond to the market is how any business, large or small, stays in business over time.
Entrepreneurs are creative by nature, but that can sometimes be stifled when we are focused on running our businesses. But we’ve proven that when a crisis arises, we as entrepreneurs can rise. We can come up with creative, viable solutions that don’t require years of research, approval, and marketing.
What do you hope to see happen in the business world as a result of the COVID19 crisis? Share your thoughts in the comments.