BUSINESS OWNERS: Get our guide to COVID-19 recovery here

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In a crisis, leaders must take care of themselves first
For business owners, it's even more critical to nurture mind, body, and spirit amidst a pandemic

Owning a business in the best of times is a lot. Never mind during a global pandemic. 

You wear many hats. You’re responsible for livelihoods, your own and others. None of the nitty gritty financial advice  will matter if you aren’t sleeping, aren’t focused, aren’t at the top of your game. 

The goal here? Get to “pragmatic optimist” mode. 

Face the fear. Move beyond it. If there ever was a time to remember memento mori (“remember, you must die”) this is it. This, too, shall pass, with tragedy and comedy and everything in between. 

Get perspective. We have been here before, whether we’re talking recessions or pandemics or the combination of both. I read about Austin during the Spanish Flu of 1918, and what struck me, along with the obvious similarities - good hygiene never goes out of style! - was the big difference: that one took place during the Great War, the first world war, with UT students marching down Congress Avenue in uniform. Can you imagine? Perspective.

Get honest. I fear we will be quarantined much longer than anyone expects. It’s going to get harder before it gets better, and the economic reality will not improve from denial. You will need raw honesty when you communicate with your employees; it will never work if you can’t be honest with yourself. Try reading this article before you face it - it helped me.

Nurture all of you. Millennials call this self-care. Call it whatever you want, but don’t stop with 5 minutes of meditation. Try and nurture your physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and financial self every day in some small way. I do daily “resilience training” with HeartMath’s amazing app - highly recommend. I also journal - tracking my progress in all five areas. 

Stop “doomscrolling”. I just learned this word, and I think it’s pretty self-explanatory: stop scrolling through your social media. It’s nothing but bad news and quarantine selfies these days, anyhow.

Laugh. Dance. Laugh at yourself dancing. The one silver lining of quarantine? All the great music and art being shared with everyone, for free. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City, for example, is livestreaming an old performance in HD every night. Willie Nelson livestreamed a performance from his ranch. Try checking quarantineculture.com for upcoming music, art, and even cooking lessons.

Find the opportunity. Walt Disney's creations began to charm the world in the 1930s, right amidst the Great Depression. General Motors went on a buying spree around the same time, becoming the GM we all know today. I could list examples forever, but you get the gist. Focus on the possibilities. 

When you have yourself right, check out our nuts & bolts guide for small businesses. It's everything you'll need to know - and do - to get your business on the road to survive and thrive the pandemic. It's available here.


Cole Harmonson is the CEO and co-founder of Dare Capital. You can reach Cole on Twitter, LinkedIn, or by shooting him an email. 


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