There is no nice way to say this…
COVID – 19, or at least the reaction to it, has wreaked havoc on global, regional and national economies. It has also disrupted many enterprises, large and small, across a range of industries. It has led to massive increases in unemployment figures, and a large number of individuals have seen their savings and investments wiped out. Even if lockdown was withdrawn globally immediately, it would take many months, even years, perhaps decades, for economic recovery. The simple fact is that for very few, if any, of us there is a realistic chance of “going back to normal”. Our economic, social and political landscape has been turned upside down and back to front, and we cannot predict the future – to quote Margaret Heffernan “… the future has not happened yet.”
It is in this context that I was invited to share in a series of short articles some ideas on the future of business, particularly smaller enterprises such as family owned or single entrepreneur businesses. Whilst I feel very privileged to contribute in this way, I must also admit that I do not necessarily have quick answers or easy recipes on how to restart a business. The reason is simple. As for most people, my past experience is almost totally irrelevant because the past is gone forever. If the past is irrelevant, and the future unknown, as human beings we are left with few options but to decide what future we wish to create and then take the actions today to start the journey towards that future.
As business people, and like many of you I am an entrepreneur who have seen the value of my little business decimated, we are faced with a number of challenges. We feel guilty because we may not be able to continue employing or paying people who have become part of our “family”. We feel anxious because the lack of income is putting enormous pressure on our significant others and children. We may even feel some anger about the situation we are in, because it is not of our own making. Fear, guilt, anger and anxiety is not a good place to start thinking deeply and mindfully about rebuilding our business, particularly as for many of us it is about rebuilding our lives.
My own sense is that the first phase of rebuilding our businesses is to start to focus on restoring our personal mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. The more we are in a relatively “healthy” mindset and heartset, the more we will be able to make mindful decisions about our own future and the business we need to rebuild.
In this series of articles, I will share with you some thinking frameworks and “tools” which will hopefully help you think through some of the following themes:
- Rebuilding or Redefining personal purpose;
- Connecting my Purpose to that of my Enterprise;
- Building a business that has Impact beyond Profit;
- Thinking through the Economic Engine of my Business;
- Translating plans into Action.
So how do we begin to think about personal purpose in a very practical manner?
My sense is that there are some simple questions we could explore to do so, such as:
- In the world as it emerges from COVID – 19, what are the things I will have to let go of?
- Coming to terms with a sense of loss is important if we want to be able to move forward.
- When I depart this earth, what would I like to see written on my tombstone AND BY WHOM?
- We sometimes, for example, claim that the most important purpose of our life is to focus on family but our daily lives reflect something completely different;
- When do I really think and feel that I am the very best that I can be?
- Does it align to my life purpose?
- How can I increase the time that I feel like this? What are the time wasters that I can let go?
- When do I think do I add most meaning and value to other people?
- How does this relate to my life purpose?
A practical thing you may want to do in exploring these types of questions related to personal purpose is to keep a journal of your thoughts as they develop over time. You will be amazed how deep reflection and journaling can really help clarify your own thinking about the future you wish to create also for yourself.
In the interim, and during the course of the articles, I commit to also being available to act as a “thinking partner” to you. My contact details can be obtained from The Overberg Business and Lifestyle Magazine. There will be no fees for such conversations, and whilst I may not be able to give you quick answers, sometimes it helps to just have someone really listen to our stories.