21 Apr Stressful Times
As you can imagine, during a global pandemic, it has become more challenging to be an entrepreneur and small business owner. I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts, challenges, expectations, and optimism.
Firstly, stress is always present as an entrepreneur, however the additional stress placed upon business owners at this time is exponential. Being constantly concerned for the health and wellness of your staff, clients, subtrades, suppliers, and our family has added a level of stress that I have never experienced before in my business nor in my personal life.
Social media plays an ever-increasing roll in our lives and is a great source of information, but one of the main challenges is to sort the accurate information from the fake news. Another side effect of social media is potentially sensory overload. We are constantly being inundated with information regarding the crisis which makes it difficult to take a step back and relax. This is taking a toll on many people in our society which is causing higher levels of anxiety and fear, thus the hysteria. This hectic environment ultimately hinders our ability to focus, first and foremost, on staying safe and healthy. In many cases, shutting off or limiting the social media is necessary to maintain personal mental health and well being – entrepreneurs are no exception.
In the construction industry, we are designated as essential services, and we continue to operate. That being said, it certainly is not business as usual, however we are continuing to function amongst the ambiguity and continually reassessing and making adaptations. The stress of putting together crew schedules with limited staff per site and enforcing social distancing measures is a challenge but manageable. On top of this, there are many supply chain disruption due to closure of manufacturers or delays due to reduced production staff or hours of operation which adds to the complexity of the situation faced by entrepreneurs.
My heart goes out to the businesses that have been forced to close their doors. I can only imagine the level of anxiety and pressure that has been placed on them and their staff, financially and emotionally. Many of them have put blood, sweat and tears into building their companies and, unfortunately, some companies will be lost due to this pandemic. I believe that in the time being, we must cope with our ‘new normal’ and, hopefully soon, we will begin taking small steps working towards a better solution where businesses can reopen or expand operations once again. Each new state of normality will come with hurdles and we must continue to embrace it and learn to accommodate on both personal and business levels.
As an optimist, which you must be as an entrepreneur, I am looking to the future and the progress we have made in terms of remote working and home office solutions. This stage of our ‘new normal’ came with the realization that we do not need to be travelling to a downtown core to do our jobs, face-to-face meetings are appreciated but not necessary, and we should take better advantage of our available technology. We will use e-commerce at an explosive rate as we have been forced to make the switch during isolation and have become more familiar.
With e-commerce in mind, it is also incredibly important to remember all the small businesses and local entrepreneurs who are struggling to keep their doors open right now. Please be kind to them, engage them, hire them, shop with them, and support them through this pandemic as well as when it is over. Small business is the lifeline of many communities and necessary to ensure a vibrant, diverse, healthy economy. They are your neighbours, coaches, mentors, and volunteers and they can only survive and continue to shape our communities with our support so let’s step up and make an impact.
What do contractors need to do to survive during this crisis? We need to remain focused and diligent on the issues we can control and make contingency plans for the issues we cannot. We need to be responsible to our staff and clients and communicate regularly and clearly regarding new adaptations. We need to increase safe work practices to remain functional in a responsible manner. This is not the end of the world but this will change the world. The pandemic will end, they all do, and we will weather the storm because we are resilient and determined. Let’s be kind to each other, support each other, and use this to learn, grow, and nurture so we can regain the ground that has been lost and be stronger than ever when the ‘new normal’ returns.
I hope this article gave a few nuggets of knowledge that can help you as you move forward with more confidence and understanding. Stay healthy and stay safe.
Dan Monk, P.Eng.
Owner / Civil Engineer / Red Seal Carpenter