Let’s talk business lessons from COVID. I know I’m not the only one who expected our COVID-19-induced pandemic to last… like, a week or so at first, right? Man, how naive we all were. When I think about life and business pre-pandemic, it seems like an entirely different world that we were all living in. Over the last few months, so much has shifted in our world and in our own mindsets—some of it beautiful, some of it insanely difficult.
As a creative with an entrepreneurial mindset, I’m always looking for the lessons that find themselves rising from the ashes. The way I see it, those are the really valuable lessons anyway. When it comes to my business, the pandemic has forever changed my perspective, my management style, and the way I run Uno Dos Trae. From learning to actually work from home and realizing the importance of proactivity to bulletproofing my business and intentionally switching up my structure, these are some of the lessons I’ve learned from running a business during a pandemic:
1. I learned how important it is to bulletproof my business.
So much of being a successful business owner involves defaulting to proactivity instead of reactivity—and MAN is it tough to do it. And as far as important business lessons from COVID go, the pandemic has showed us (and, like, reeeeally showed me), that things can always hit the fan again. When it does, do you want to be ready for the challenge or stumbling around trying to put Band-Aids on bullet holes? My friend, I know you’re in the ready-for-the-challenge group. By building a business that’s ready to face whatever’s coming to it, you’re already winning.
Uno Tip: First things first, create an all-inclusive business playbook that reflects everything about your business—from your workflows to your important documents to your favorite methods for getting things done—and keep it close. This way, you can find the instructions for closing any gaps you might find opening… and then you can prevent them from opening in the first place. I had implemented this a few years ago when I went on maternity leave. And thanks to a jam-packed spreadsheet filled with everything from Loom videos explaining workflows to links for all of our projects, it’s helped us to streamline big-time and I was grateful how prepared we were for the unexpected these last few months. My philosophy: for any tasks you do more than twice, document it and link it in the playbook.
2. I realized that I actually can work well from my actual home.
I’ve been proudly self-employed for years now, but I’ve never been the best at working from home. While my team and I are digitally driven and all about that #remotelife, I’ve always had it in the back of my head that I needed an actual workspace to be “taken seriously” in my business—yes, I know it sounds silly, but it’s true! I had my sweet studio set-up at a WeWork for a couple of years and joined The Wing when it opened, and it was great. I did love all of the benefits that came with belonging to an actual workspace that wasn’t connected to my kitchen table. For me, it was easier to keep boundaries and a schedule, and I loved the networking and community that came with membership. But, at the same time, it was an overhead expense, I spent way more money on food and coffee than I needed to, and I tended to fall back into your run-of-the-mill groundhog day routine often. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I realized how important it was to build a productive workspace at home, too. You might be the same as me, and it’s been an adjustment for sure. However, having a workspace at home (as long as you’re keeping boundaries), has been incredibly helpful for me in this weird season.
Uno Tip: I do miss the community and inspiration that comes with co-working spaces, but I also now understand the power of building a work from home routine that actually works for me. In this next business lesson from COVID, create a routine that makes you happy and productive at home, and give yourself times throughout the day to create little moments of delight for yourself. Make a latte before a client meeting or take your lunch break with a nice episode of Netflix. While I definitely see myself joining a social club of sorts once the world calms back down, I’m happy to say that I’ve created a solid WFH routine that is the perfect fit for me and gets me excited to start the day every morning.
3. I’ve become committed to optimizing my business model and structure.
Like a lot of service providers, especially in creative spaces like mine, Uno Dos Trae’s main revenue channel had been client projects. This means our branding services, custom web design, visual marketing, and 1:1 coaching. Thankfully, work never really slowed down for us during quarantine, and for that I’m equal parts amazed and grateful. It tells me that people continue to see the value of a beautifully branded and smart business, and we’ve been lucky to continue working on killer projects. But, as the pandemic moved in, I started giving a lot of thought to businesses that weren’t as lucky as ours. It really struck me how nothing is guaranteed—like, ever—in business (a solid business-lessons-from-COVID moment, for sure). And it reminded me of my days working in corporate—how relying solely on one stream of income is no longer the modern definition of job security. If your clients went away tomorrow, where would you be? Where would that put you? Does your business model solve for this scenario?
Uno Tip: Creative brainstorm like crazy, my friend! What does your business offer that people are always reaching to, and how can you democratize it? This is actually how Visual Brand Mastery came to be. I created a mind map of our most popular offerings, dreamed up how our team could offer them in a different way, validated the idea with our community, and ended up building a crazy-good, jam-packed membership program (and launching it!) in the midst of a pandemic. That’s something that we hadn’t considered pre-COVID, and now I can’t imagine Uno without it.
The thing is, and at the risk of sounding like a Pinterest pin, nothing in life is guaranteed—and that goes for business, too. While parts of me ache for pre-quarantine life, these business lessons from COVID are ones that are already taking my team and I into new territory that we might not have wandered into before. It’s all about rolling with the punches, learning from the struggles, and taking lessons from all of it.
This is also a pretty fantastic time to seriously hone in on what’s important to you in your business, what makes you who you are, and what makes your business so special. Download our Core Values Clarity Guide today, and start breathing that life into every aspect of your biz.