Surviving During COVID-19 by Patrick McIvor

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When my year started at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, 2020 I wasn’t thinking about Covid-19. My business plans, personal goals, and travel plans all did not include a pandemic, and I did not own masks. But, like for all of us, by March those things changed and Covid-19 quickly created massive challenges for all of our businesses that were unimaginable at the beginning of the new year.

So, what do we do when we can’t control our own fate? When we are not given options or choices as to what will be happening? We adapt. The people that ran, swam, crawled, scrapped and clawed their way to make it through - these people, these stories, are the definition of surviving.

Today with Covid-19 there is so much difficulty and uncertainty it can feel that when we are trying to do the right thing and listen to the experts, we are still not getting the results we want. I was talking with a friend about this and they said, that what they were doing now was “treading water” to keep themselves and their business safe until, we had a solution that would get us back closer to normal. I feel that the biggest problem is no one seems to know what to do all the time and the rules keep changing. So what should we do? My plan is a 3-part plan to survive and ultimately thrive in our industries new normal:

  1. Be Flexible

This year it is all new rules for business. Who ever thought you could shut business down? We have always believed that salons are recession proof, even at times of war. Those rules don’t apply during a global pandemic. If a business relies on high volume and close quarters, these new rules might create new dinosaurs. SO how do we stay flexible? Stay informed on as many levels as we can. As a hairdresser and Salon owner, we have state requirements, state board requirements, federal guidelines and the CDC that we need to look at and follow. Plus, we can look to other friends and professionals around the world for additional ideas that work for them. For myself and my business, I make sure I follow all the guidelines and rules and make sure I enforce the rules with my guests too. When we were given one-week notice and were supposed to open, within that week, guidelines changed. Some were mad, some confused, some resigned to the fact that no one really knows and some went with the flow. What I find best is to be flexible and to use as many of my 86,400 seconds in a day to make things better. Complaining during a crisis helps about as much as complaining about an arsonist while the building is still on fire. Every moment we are complaining is one moment less we have to adapt and improve.

2. Figure Out What Is Sustainable

Everything we are doing now is not sustainable. As we learn more about this virus and the more safely we work together, the faster we can learn what works and how to build back our businesses and lives. To figure out what works for you is to find your edges or tolerance limits. Think of walking in total darkness on a mountain, or if you had to walk across a minefield, or on a sheet of ice. Every safe step helps create a bigger and bigger safe zone but one wrong step, could put us underwater or over the edge. So how do survivalists and people in a danger zone survive? They don’t stay in one place, they move carefully and they test what they want to try every step of the way. That’s what we need to do!

We can’t just jump back into anything we used to do, but we can try new things and learn what works; we can learn from others and follow in their footsteps. We can commit to putting one foot in front of the other, not to go back to what we knew was safe before Covid-19. We can create new experiences to better service our guests and to help our businesses be profitable.

3. Innovate

Covid-19 “flattened the curve” for many successful businesses and created unprecedented opportunities for others. From face-masks to hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays, face-shields, and so many other things that we did not have in our Amazon shopping cart last year – we are seeing booms for companies that were never hot, or dare I say, sexy before. We always heard our industry was “recession proof” and then we learned that that statement doesn't mean its Covid-19 proof. So what do WE DO to get back to life? That’s where you and I come in. No one knows what to do, which means you and I have as much chance of helping to lead the revolution of innovative ideas in this industry- ideas that expand the guests experience, bring more of our craft back to our work, expand the opportunity to touch our guests again (something that I talked about in my TEDx Talk). Innovative ideas will make sure we can return to the profitability that we need not just to survive, but to thrive, building back our lives and our communities.

I look forward to hearing your stories on Facebook, or one of your blogs or videos and seeing how you are surviving and thriving and how we can all be leaders for each other through sharing ideas.