Running a small business is hard even when there isn’t a global pandemic. I started this business with no prior industry experience and only one shirt idea.
Small businesses become successful by doing a lot of things well - customer service, company culture, human resources, sales, financial planning, and managing growth, to name a few. Sometimes, even when you do a lot of those things really well, success isn’t guaranteed.
I have lived in a constant state of fear over the last two months that even though we have done a lot of things well, the future for us is uncertain.
And yes, I know I just used one of those overused cliches about COVID-19. But you know what? All the cliches about the current situation are true. There isn’t a better way to say it and that’s how people feel. That’s why we keep hearing them.
I have felt a lot of anxiety about being in this situation while knowing that my employees look to me for answers and reassurance. The truth is, I haven’t always felt confident I could provide them.
In the beginning, I didn’t know what to do. One thing we have repeated and reminded ourselves throughout it all is that we’ll be smarter in a week. I’ve said it to myself on a daily basis - I’ll be smarter and better in a week. From the stay at home order to PPP to unemployment to existing quotes and orders, it applied to everything we were doing. While it has been true, there is still a nagging feeling that I don’t have enough information and that circumstances are changing too quickly to feel confident in my decisions.
Providing a great place to work is something I was proud of and committed to creating. Layoffs are devastating. The only time I’ve cried more in a one week period was when my mother passed. Weeks later, I still feel bad about laying off 70% of my staff. I miss my employees and am conflicted about the ethical implications of my decisions, even though I was quick to hire back those that I could.
My employees’ response to being laid off and to being rehired gives me hope for the future. They comforted me when I had a hard time breaking the bad news and they have all been excited about coming back even if being on unemployment was a better deal for them currently.
Unprecedented, uncertain, challenging, trying. Yeah, we’ve felt all of this recently. But we’re all in this together and we’ll get through it together.