It’s been a tough two years for everyone. Working closely with over 40 female business owners every month, I know this all too well.
Some businesses have limped through these last two years like the walking wounded, hoping they’d make it through, cutting back and implementing shoestring innovations. Others have been on wild roller-coaster ride, fearing their businesses would be decimated in the downturn and then getting smashed with unprecedented growth. Many of these businesses haven’t been able to forecast for nearly two years, as revenue has been lumpy and bumpy the whole way.
While some businesses grew by 300 percent almost overnight and have had their own set of unique problems, supply chain issues, talent acquisition and running a booming business in the middle of lockdown restrictions.
In addition to running businesses, most of these women are also the primary care givers in their homes, so on top of two years of limping through business, riding a rollercoaster or managing unprecedented growth, they’ve managed months of home schooling, with the whole family learning, working and living 100 per cent of the time at home.
And just like everyone else, there’s been the mental health struggles that we’ve all experienced just living through the pandemic – I know there’s no explanation required there. But as restrictions ease, businesses re-open and people start to come back to the office, there is not an easy sense of joy or excitement at getting back to business.
For a lot of people, it’s a feeling of overwhelm. In every meeting recently with Accountability Circle members, that’s a dominating emotion being shared amongst female business owners and to be honest, it’s exactly what I’m feeling too owning my own businesses.
3 strategies to navigate post-COVID overwhelm
The strategies we’ve been discussing in our monthly meetings (where groups of eight female business owners meet to share results, opportunities, highs, lows, challenges, and opportunities) have been a hive of discussion around this topic.
1. Being kind
The first thing we’ve all got an understanding of is that we need to be kind to ourselves. This might sound easy but ask 40 overachieving A-type women to be kind to themselves is much easier said than done.
What does being kind to ourselves look like? It means not putting pressure on ourselves to do it all, cutting back on 50 per cent of what we think we “should” be doing by remembering just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
A business woman is like an Endurance Athlete and it’s like we’ve just finished two back to back 100km gruelling events across mountainous terrains in all kinds of extreme weather. If we go too hard, too soon, we might sustain an injury or worse still, fall out of love with the sport all together.
The second thing that’s been discussed is that we all need to reset. We need to stop, think, and consciously decide how we want to move forward. This means we need to be conscious about what we want to create from here because if we don’t momentum will decide, and we might not like where that takes us.
This reset might involve deciding if, or when, we’ll take our teams back to the office, will we implement a hybrid system or now employ a fully distributed workforce? This reset might be about changing the way we personally work moving forward. I know there’s many women that have consciously decided they are no longer going to travel for work after realising how much being away from home and travelling takes its toll. The key to resetting is making it conscious and not just going along with what everyone else is doing or what you think you should do.
3. Changing it up
The third thing that most of us are investigating is how do I move forward and run my business differently. I think all of us are a little wiser and if we didn’t already have an MBA, managing a business through COVID has given us that honorary qualification I’ve seen a huge appetite in outsourcing, partnering and automation. And there’s definitely been more discussion around more considered growth strategies, many of us reassessing if the growth we once desired is now desirable at all.
Like so many things related to experiencing this Pandemic, there’s a real opportunity for female business owners to consider what they do and how they do it moving forward, with kindness, a healthy reset and consciously considering what we’re going to do differently.