Beware the Ides of March,” William Shakespeare wrote. But my wife and I ignored that sage advice, to return home from an overseas winter respite under the raging Covid-19 threat. President Trump had barred U.S. entry to European nationals (except, at the time, citizens of the UK and Ireland) and only a few airports were open for flights from Europe. When we landed in Chicago, the chaos in the health-check line threw “social distancing” out the window. Even though we had no symptoms, we were put on a two-week home quarantine. That was seamlessly extended with Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order.
Since my return, I’ve talked to a few entrepreneurs. The common theme has been, “What should I be doing?” A shock of this scale has created a profound shift—for them, their employees, and customers. The pandemic has altered their carefully crafted plans, and they wonder if things will ever return to normal.
Here is a sampling of practices they have instituted, gleaned from our discussions:
Winston Churchill supposedly said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This crisis will end; however, we will see a dramatic restructuring of the economic and social order. Entrepreneurs, even in the midst of their present problems, need to collect, retain, and brainstorm ideas for the inevitable new normal. Some ideas can be deployed now; others may be opportune later. No sense in wasting this game-changing circumstance.
An incomplete list of the areas that hold promise for entrepreneurs are:
This pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in our present global systems. The ultimate goal will be to make our systems more resilient to shocks and to react better when we encounter them. The present adversity offers a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs, even as they struggle with present problems, for potential opportunities by capturing insights. Every problem that we are encountering has a potential to create a new normal. After all, it is entrepreneurs who change the world.
Rajiv Tandon is executive director of the Institute for Innovators and Entrepreneurs and an advocate for the future of entrepreneurship in Minnesota. He also facilitates peer groups of Minnesota CEOs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.