The Pandemic Pushed You Into Entrepreneurship... Now What?

It goes without saying that in 2020 COVID-19 shook humanity to the very core. Millions lost their lives and even more lost their livelihoods. But even amid all this chaos and uncertainty, there’s one group of people who are somehow still finding possibilities in a pandemic.

When overall unemployment skyrocketed to 14.7% and layoffs within the hospitality industry hit 39.3% in April 2020, employees across the board were forced to face the reality that job security is something no one can truly count on.

Either out of an immediate need for income or from a genuine pull to become their own boss and escape the 9-5, thousands have taken this unconventional time as a unique opportunity to explore entrepreneurship. 

I took the leap myself back in 2008 when I founded the Naked Brand Group, leaving a steady paycheck from a Newspaper I worked at.  Again in 2017, with ample opportunity to go corporate route, instead I chose to invest my savings and time in a new apparel company called Kosan Travel. And despite some incredible early success, with travel at a complete standstill over the last year, like so many other business owners I’ve had to pivot and adjust my strategies to accommodate the new normal.

If you’ve also decided to make this same move to take on the entrepreneurial lifestyle and you’re not sure where to start, I’d like to share a few key strategies to help you shift your mindset, and make sure your new venture is a complete success.

1) Work Hard Within Reason

In those first stages when the business is just getting off the ground, most of us fall into a common lie of “it will be better then.” We think that if we put in the work for 10, 12, or 15 hours a day then in just a few more months we’ll have time to hit the gym, reconnect with loved ones, and do all the things that truly fulfill us.

The truth is, the hustle isn’t all that temporary, and there is no definitive time when all the stress switches off and being an entrepreneur is suddenly a breeze. Because as a general rule, the more your business starts booming, the busier you’ll become. 

The entrepreneurial mindset to always do more, achieve more, and get more has helped millionaires sprout up seemingly overnight and has expanded the middle class in the developing world by hundreds of millions.

However, the problem with that is, when you begin to put work above everything and are constantly striving for more success down the line, you can lose sight of what’s truly important. Because life isn’t waiting on the sidelines for you to complete your goal or meet your deadline… It’s happening right before your eyes.

So by all means, dream big, put the work in, and go after what you truly want, but don’t let your vision of the future take away from your present. When you figure out how to balance these two, I guarantee you and your business will be better for it.

2) Accept That Adversity Is Inevitable

This is a tough one to hear, but the ugly truth is that you could do everything perfectly right - hire a dream team, have a solid set of company values, establish your big 'Why' from day one, and still experience failure.

There’s nothing wrong with wishing the best for your business and keeping an optimistic outlook for the future, but at the same time, we need to be realistic and remember that things won’t always run smoothly. There are always going to be setbacks and as my long time business partner always says: “We can only control our attitude and our effort”.

Whether it’s a marginal mishap like missing a deadline or a critical mistake that’s devastating to your business, you need to remind yourself that hardships are bound to happen. Because nothing extraordinary was ever achieved without any bumps in the road, and within every failure, there’s an opportunity to evolve.

As you scale up, mistakes and struggles simply come with the territory, but ultimately it’s not about what happens to you. It’s how you deal with it. You have to own up to your shortcomings, be willing to learn,  and surround yourself with a team that does the same. 

At the same time, don’t internalize every single thing that goes wrong in your business. Failing at something doesn’t make you a failure. So try your best to not take these low points personally and maintain the perspective that even if the stakes are high, they’re never as high as they seem. 

So, let go of any self-defeating thoughts or fears about failure and remember the vision you’re working towards. Because the sooner you can see your mistakes as opportunities to become a better manager, operator, and decision-maker, the better it will be for your business.

3) Welcome Change With Open Arms

Radical change is overwhelming for just about everyone, but for entrepreneurs, this uncertainty can feel like a matter of life and death. Markets change, stocks fluctuate, revenue comes and goes... If you’re running your own business then expect the unexpected.

Whether we realise it or not, our lives are constantly shifting and moving through transitions. My mom always used to say: “Seasons are for the soul.” Sometimes it’s rainy and gloomy. Sometimes it’s hectic and unpredictable like a whirling storm. Other times it’s bright with promise like those long summer days. And in business, it’s no different.

After months of searching, we could lock in that deal we’ve been waiting for in a split second. On the other hand, we could go from being the chief or CEO of a company to being demoted or even unemployed. 

As each season in life passes, opportunities sprout up from nothing and fade away just as easily. There’s no point in fighting it because, just like the weather, you can’t change it. It just is. So we’re far better off accepting our reality and searching for all the good in it. 

Because each transition invites an incredible opportunity for us to level up professionally, personally, spiritually, and bring a sense of greater purpose into the experience. The more you welcome change, the greater are your chances of success for yourself and your business.