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by Erin Joy | April 21, 2020

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As the COVID-19 continues its disruption, the livelihood of many entrepreneurs and small business owners has been threatened. According to a recent Goldman Sachs survey, 50% of business owners that were surveyed said they didn’t think they could continue business operations for more than three months.

Our current situation is deeply unsettling. Entrepreneurs are facing many obstacles, including ensuring the businesses they have put their blood, sweat, and tears into continue to stay afloat. On top of that, many of them have employees that they’re trying to protect and reassure—a monumental task when they themselves are struggling with burnout.

From hundreds of discussions with my clients, business owners, and regional leaders, I’ve been able to pinpoint five main worries entrepreneurs are dealing with during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Taking action and moving forward

A crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing requires quick thinking in the face of uncertainty. However, with such high stakes on the line, entrepreneurs find themselves dealing with “analysis paralysis,” or the inability to make a decision due to overthinking.

Delaying decisions will only lead to more problems—and those problems will require more decisions. As Jeff Boss wrote in a Forbes article about overcoming analysis paralysis, “In the military, it doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just so long as you move. Decisions are never final for the simple fact that change is never absolute.”

Break down what you need to do into smaller steps and then attend to issues based on their level of urgency. Once you start taking proactive measures, you’ll feel more in control and more confident in your ability to navigate oncoming trials and tribulations.

2. Keeping up with legislation

The business landscape is changing at a rapid pace. It seems like the government releases new regulations that affect business owners almost every day.

In order to understand and follow new legislation and changes, business owners will need to monitor news from the local, state, and federal government daily. Most importantly, make sure you’re getting your information from an official source, such as a government website, a bank representative, accountant, or other professionals in your network.  

One useful resource is the usa.gov website, which lists pertinent information about health and safety, money and taxes, benefits and grants, and much more.

3. Finding balance and achieving a healthy mindset

Fear. Anxiety. Hopelessness. We’re all experiencing a lot of intense emotions during these ever-evolving times, and entrepreneurs are no exception. To make it worse, there’s an additional level of stress as they try to do best by their employees and customers.

It can help to remember the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Overextending yourself leads to burnout, and once you reach that state you won’t be able to help anyone. That’s why it’s imperative that entrepreneurs carve out time to recharge and take care of themselves.

It can be hard to break away from work right now. Be intentional by setting a block of time in your schedule for self-care—whether that be going for a walk, spending time with your family, or enjoying a long, luxurious bath. The more you’re able to find inner calm during this crisis, the better able you are to make decisions and lead your business.

4. Dealing with information overload

It seems like every minute we’re inundated with a relentless flood of information about COVID-19. While having access to the latest news is undoubtedly a blessing, it can also be a burden. Information overload is a very real thing that occurs when there is too much relevant information being disseminated at the same time.

When there’s an information surplus, we tend to miss out on important news or even succumb to potentially harmful misinformation. In fact, a 2018 MIT study found that false news travels faster than true stories on social media.

In order to make sense of all the conflicting information out there, entrepreneurs need to take a moment to step back and evaluate whether the information they’re reading is fact-checked and from a reliable source.

It’s also good to set a limit for yourself. Continuously exposing yourself to upsetting news will only heighten anxiety. Make it a point to check for updates regularly, but as soon as you start feeling overwhelmed, take a break.

5. Selecting the right focus

Business owners are dealing with a million concerns right now and it’s difficult to know where to prioritize time and resources.

One way to choose is to consider what is truly important to your business. For most of us, that’s our people—employees, customers, vendors, partners.

Your first priority should be the safety and well-being of your employees. Up next would be communicating with customers. They may not be in a position to patronize your business, but they still want to be updated on any changes to its operations. The same goes for other stakeholders so they know what your status is and what to expect moving forward.

Next, break down what you need to do into smaller steps and prioritize them by how urgent they are. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for doing your best right now.

The scale of this crisis is unprecedented, but there is a silver lining. Eventually, we will come out on the other side of this pandemic with a greater sense of personal empowerment and increased connection to our community—all of which will be advantages for our businesses in the future.


Erin Joy founded the consulting and executive coaching company, Black Dress Circle, to help guide female business owners facing a variety of challenges. Erin and her team conceived the award-winning Midwest Women Business Owners’ Conference. In 2019, Erin was named a Silver Finalist for Women Helping Women in Business by The Stevie Awards, and Black Dress Circle was named as one of the Best Companies of 2019 by Women World Awards. To find out more about Erin, visit blackdresscircle.com.

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