Living in perpetual flux takes a toll, no matter who you are or what you do. That truth recently led psychologist Amy Cuddy to coin the term “Pandemic Flux Syndrome,” which she discussed on a recent episode of Dare to Lead with Brene Brown.
Pandemic Flux Syndrome is a (non-clinical) way of describing our conflicted feelings as we grapple with the shifting news cycles, protocols, social obligations, and health regulations related to the pandemic. Not only does this perpetual uncertainty affect our home and family lives, it also affects our ability to work or run a business.
In our latest episode of Stories of Resilience, we spoke to a leading shark on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank Robert Herjavec to discuss COVID’s lingering effects on small businesses. Here are his tips for maintaining your resilience in order to keep your business moving forward.
We’ve all felt unsteady in different ways over the past year, but how has the pandemic affected small businesses in particular?
Robert Herjavec: The pandemic was actually the greatest accelerator of business cycles. It has exposed every weakness and strength in your business, as well as whether or not you have the resilience to double down on it. This is especially true for small businesses. We’ve seen great hardships there, but also wonderful stories of resilience and change.
The shifting regulations and protocols have made it extremely difficult for leaders to lead. What traits do you look for in an entrepreneur or small business leader in a time like this?
RH: Number one, I want somebody who has a deep passion or purpose. If you have a greater purpose, when your business hits a roadblock, you’re going to get through it. If you’re doing it just to make a buck or for some other fleeting reason, you’re not going to make it. Success is not transient; success is everlasting.
Number two, you’ve got to know your numbers. It amazes me when leaders don’t know the status of their own business. The language of business is numbers, and if you can’t speak that language, you’re going to get left behind. I have a classical English literature degree; I’m scared of math and I never took any business courses at school, so numbers used to scare me. But you’ve got to get through that fear. What I always say to entrepreneurs is this: If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way, and if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.
What role does technology play in helping small businesses move forward? How can it help them grow and compete?
RH: I’ve been in technology since I was 21 and I’ve seen its power to transform. Technology is what gives us an equal playing field. What I love about technology is it’s all about value. Nobody cares where you came from or what size your company is. It’s all about whether or not you can add value. When you run a small business, you’ve got to add value every day, and technology is what can help you do that.
For example, you have to understand who your customers are. You have to understand where they are, both online and physically, so you can build a relationship with them. You use technology for that – technology to find and connect with your customers.
What advice do you have as small business leaders look toward life after COVID?
RH: My advice is to believe in your own success. Nobody is stronger than their belief system, so if you’re struggling, you’ve got to change your belief system before you can get on the road to success. People often think, “Oh, I’ll get there someday, or I’ll hire somebody to do things for me.” But you can’t subcontract success – it starts with you. Survival is not enough; you’ve got to grow and learn from every experience. That’s the only way to ensure success.
For more small business inspiration, watch the full episode with Robert Herjavec, Amanda Brinkman, and Justice Sikakane here – or check out other episodes with leaders like Sara Blakely, Daymond John, and more.