It may be hard to believe, but it’s been more than six months since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States. Although every new morning since early 2020 may feel like Groundhog Day, it’s true that time waits for no one. When the pandemic first hit our community, like many, I felt a wide range of emotions. As we learned together, it was cathartic to admit our feelings of confusion and uncertainty. Although I’d say that collectively, we’re still a little unsure of the future, I’ve come to terms with that.
Now that I’ve had some time to process things, I wanted to share my experiences. You’ve probably seen at least a few social media posts or think pieces about running a business during uncertain times. While I’m not here to say I have all the answers, I do think that reading different experiences can at least give you some perspective. So without further ado, here’s what we’ve learned during the pandemic, where the business is at currently—and a glimpse of what’s next.
I like to think that I was a pretty grateful person before this all went down, but damn, I feel like my worldview was fundamentally changed in so many ways. When I wake up in the morning and the sun is shining, bringing warmth and light; when I walk through the forest or by the lake and take in all of the magnificence; when I go to the grocery store and the staff is working hard to provide stocked shelves (toilet paper!); when I see the smiling faces of the farmers working hard to deliver all of the great food at my farm share pickup; or when I see the faces of all my friends, family, clients, and staff—I’m blessed to have you all in my life. It’s the little things, right?
2. Nature is awesome
Our crew has been on more hikes and walks in the past five months than in the past five years. We continue to discover new trails and swimming holes all over our area. The opportunity to get outside and move has been such a gift. Trust me, take advantage of nature when you can.
3. Time to purge
If there is one conversation in common across clients, team members, friends, and family, it’s that so many have found a renewed sense of what matters and what doesn’t. Previously, we were all mostly running in our hamster wheels making money and going through the daily program—so having this time both together and alone has been profound. Mother nature and I both hope that it sticks, because there’s truth in the notion that the best things in life are free.
4. Video conferencing is still awesome
I’ve been working from home for 11 years, so using Skype, Zoom, or WebEx has been standard procedure for quite some time. Clients that only used to use video conferencing for its audio features now all use the video functionality, and almost everyone turns their video on. This is even with companies that, six months ago, would have no participants with video turned on. It makes you wonder how many companies will slash the overhead of offices now that they see what’s possible when everyone is rocking a remote workplace…
5. Cooking rocks
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’ve been cooking a ton and I love it! Recipes that I would have found intimidating previously, I’m diving in and figuring them out. I definitely can say that my cooking skills have expanded and we are enjoying lots of new dishes and flavors in the Buckland household.
6. My family is tighter than ever before
Who would have thought that spending this much time together could be a good thing? While it certainly hasn’t been easy at times, we continue to navigate through the challenges of being together so much to form stronger bonds and find new fun things to do together.
Our business, just like millions of others, has been impacted in many ways. We’ve had clients run the gamut: some have literally disappeared; some have reduced the scope of their services; and even others have remained steady, but challenged by the current environment.
My biggest takeaway throughout this time? Stop thinking about what might come. Instead, focus on what’s happening right now and manage things that need to be addressed. From reviewing expenses and budgets, to having conversations with my team or our clients about what all of this means, it’s important to find new ways to embrace the free time and look for new opportunities that are presented during challenging times.
8. Saying goodbye stinks
We’ve had to layoff a number of our talented team members—and we can’t wait to hire them back if we have the opportunity to do so in the future. It was right around the second week of March when the phone started ringing and the emails started to come in with clients cancelling. We lost upwards of 200 hours of billable time within two to three days. I wish I could say that it stopped, but attrition continued into the early summer, requiring us to conduct layoffs in multiple rounds. Out of everything that has happened, this is what frustrates me the most. We all spend so much time and energy finding and training great people and bringing on great clients—and it’s a damn shame that so much can change so quickly.
9. Our values and commitments remain strong
Thankfully, despite everything that’s going on, we’ve been able to uphold our company values. We are maintaining our commitment to our 1% for the Planet membership and are up to date with our donations of just less than ten thousand dollars so far this year.
10. The road ahead
We are more committed to our clients, team, and long-term success now more than ever before. It took 11 years to build this company to what it was prior to the second week of March—and we intend to blaze a trail ahead that will exceed that level by next March. We’ll accomplish this by delivering excellence to existing clients, looking at business opportunities within the current landscape, and never forgetting that the future is ours to create as long as we continue to meet the needs of our current and future clients.
11. Where focus goes, energy flows
Sound familiar? My man Tony Robbins and so many others are all about this mantra—and you should be too. If you want to focus on what you’ve lost or what isn’t, you certainly can do so. I prefer to set my sights and place my energy on what I want to create. This simple shift can take you from focusing on what’s lacking, to getting in touch with your deepest desires for what you want to create in your life and getting after it.
These are just a few of my experiences. What have you learned during this time?