I have been running my nonprofit, aimed at serving those with intellectual disabilities, for seven years now. I have built up a client and employee base, expanded our services and even moved us to a new facility to better serve our clients. I am used to rolling with the punches. But nothing could prepare me for the now two-month campus closure and laying off of half of my staff that Covid-19 has caused.
I have had to tell the families of 89 clients that we temporarily cannot serve them and redesign the services we are still allowed to offer to our 29 remaining clients. I have to continue to build up nearly 70 employees, assuring them everything will be OK despite the uncertainty of our current situation. I have made tough decisions with my $2 million operating budget as I try to get through this “pause” in operations.
To gain a little perspective and refocus on what’s important, I scheduled a Zoom meet up with two friends and fellow entrepreneurs, Kelly Anne Harris, an operating partner of Keller Williams franchises, and Drew Hardesty, owner of Wonder Boy Media. We all started something from scratch, so it’s ours to own, ours to thrive, ours to keep the heartbeat going and ours to fail at too.
Although Kelly’s real estate company is deemed an essential business, allowing her to remain open through the Covid-19 restrictions, she and her agents had to handle a 50 percent decrease in property showings during this time. For her, this meant coming up with ways to help her clients so she could keep them long term.
For Drew, the videos he had planned during this time were postponed or cancelled, forcing him to ask himself how can he still grow as a business and reach people? The answer meant going back to his roots — real estate marketing. Unique equipment and his skills of videography have allowed him to stay ahead of the creative curve.
Here are some of the main takeaways from our conversation on how to maintain your purpose through this uncertain time.
- Be around other leaders. Everyone is going through the same ordeal right now. Lean on people that understand you and inspire you.
- Know your people’s personalities. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your team, you can help them get through this crazy time. Not everyone responds the same to a crisis and by understanding your team’s personalities you can better help them succeed.
- Over communicate. A lack of communication leads to nervousness or negativity. And it’s OK to have a bad day, but be real with your team about what you are experiencing as a leader.
- Confirm your passion. Do you want to be at work? Do you miss the hustle? Let that energize your purpose and why you are doing what you are doing.
- Stay creative. Even if that creativity comes from something outside of your business or role as a leader. Creativity will feed your soul and help drive you.
- Don’t catastrophize. Take things day by day or project by project for now, until you get your footing back.
- Don’t quit. Dig deep. Stay motivated. It’s not about thriving right now, it’s about surviving.
- Get out of your comfort zone. This may mean new technology to stay connected. This may mean taking risks. But you will be more effective when this is over.
- Appreciate what you have. Learn what you can live without and stay grounded throughout this crisis.
You can watch my entire Zoom meet up with Kelly and Drew below. You also don’t want to miss the opportunity to miss what these two rockstar entrepreneurs are doing. You can find them both on Facebook at Kelly Anne Harris and Wonder Boy Media.