AnitaB.org’s Grace Hopper Celebration PitcHer event.
The $2.3 trillion U.S. stimulus package focused on staving off the economic collapse brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a response to a national cry for help; it’s a catalyst. Or it will be once it gets in the hands of small businesses.
Entrepreneurs, nonprofits, small businesses and startups will likely face the worst economic fallout during this recession, but now is not the time to underestimate who they are and what they do. With 47% of all U.S. employees working for a small business, nearly half the population is required to play to their strengths and work together to overcome what’s ahead.
True, the landscape brought on by COVID-19 is one of the greatest in impact and scale the world has seen in the past century, and it is also the first the modern and digital world has faced. But entrepreneurial thinkers thrive and profit in variable work environments – especially when it comes to making use of unchartered territory. In other words, their problem solving skills, regardless of the industry, has prepared them well for this very moment.
Now is the time to adopt a holistic approach to problem solving, to retrace the steps of our routines and take different paths that ultimately lead to newly relevant answers. And in doing so, you will not only solve your own problems, but those of others as well. Pandemic or not, small businesses thrive most when responding to the needs of the community.
You and your team have a unique point of view, a set of skills and a singular passion that serves the population in some way. Why not give each other the permission to do things differently? At the heart of entrepreneurship is the expectation of discovery, the welcoming of different approaches and the generation of uncharted market value based on these very distinctions. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups who know how to quickly adapt and respond to the task at hand will not only help their business survive, but also serve and share the resources [and inspiration] so desperately needed.
Early last week, AnitaB.org hosted a webinar on entrepreneurship amid a time of crisis with three AnitaB.org members and entrepreneurs: Irma Olguin Jr., Co-Founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries; Chris Upperman, CEO of Envolve Entrepreneurship; and Michelle Millben, Founder and CEO of Explanation Kids. To paraphrase the words of fellow panelist, Irma Olguin Jr., here is the harsh truth: in order to meet today’s challenges with solutions, one must stop waiting for yesterday’s normal to return. It is up to every entrepreneur, every small business owner and every member of our communities to solve the problems at hand.
Together, this team identified several recommendations for how entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups can come together to navigate today’s challenges:
1. Pass Along Your Intellectual Property
Sharing your discoveries and solutions is one of the simplest, most appreciated ways to help yourself and others right now. If your ways of working help you and your business navigate the impact of COVID-19, it could help your neighbor, too. In exchange, they are often willing to inspire you with solutions of their own along the way
2. Communicate and Collaborate
Focus on the ways you are connecting with teammates and your network at large. You may find opportunity in having the answer to a question they have, just as they may find it in the questions you have. You would be surprised at how often these exchanges lead to the creation of something – a project, a partnership or a mission – more.
3. Pivot Your Core
COVID-19 has changed your state of play. Now is the time to relearn the skills you once honed to respond to a different reality and search for new opportunities in the process. In doing so, your new priorities will better meet those of your consumer base.
Adapting, problem solving and uplifting others is how everyone – especially small businesses – can holistically approach success in our new way of life. Believe it or not, the way entrepreneurs work now will ultimately evolve the way everyone works and rise to the challenges of the future.