2020 has tested entrepreneurs worldwide, and we will see how that unprecedented year has shaped them for 2021. It has felt that way for me on many occasions. This year, I am learning how to solve my problems and pivot creatively. It was a tough year, and I saw many of my entrepreneurial friends give up on their dreams. They were on the horizon of manifesting everything they wanted to achieve for their companies, and the virus totally disrupted their plans. This is a part of life. Things often don’t go as planned. During my journey, I created long business plans with nothing ever panning out. I eventually stopped this because I felt that it was not the best use of my time. Instead, I started thinking from the perspective of the present. What can I do now to better my situation? How can I move on, given the conditions I am dealing with right now?
In my case, I lost everything, and my savings were stolen from me this year. I lost over a quarter-million dollars I had worked hard to save for times like this, and I couldn’t do anything to get my money back. It was the most tragic period of my life. I gave myself one month to be upset about it. I was working on a new venture and had to stop everything to figure out how I would move forward. I never had a support system, so I couldn’t exactly confide to anyone what I was dealing with. I had to pick up the leftover pieces and move on. I understood that nothing was promised and everything I lost might not come back to me, if anything at all. The first thing I did was allocate a smaller time period for my venture.
Here’s how I preserved during these volatile times:
1. Focus on revenue generation
The first step to recovery was figuring out my strengths and how I could get myself out of my situation. I remember going back to square one and focusing on finding income sources to support myself and help me recover. I reached out to my network and LinkedIn to find the best solution. This is a must; I didn’t like the idea of putting my venture on hold—something many entrepreneurs dread. They leave their companies to focus on their dreams. I didn’t have the opportunity to do this after my situation. I still allocated two hours a day to my venture so that I didn’t stop it completely.
2. Focus on completing your vision
I still believe there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes, things don’t pan out the way we envision them because the time is not right. During this time, I created small focus groups and spoke with many investors. I was inspired about how to change things up to support my vision. It was almost as if I needed this step to continue and recover on the way.
3. Let go of your plans and focus on problem-solving
As mentioned before, entrepreneurs are known for solving tough problems. This is what makes us who we are, and this is ultimately how some of the most renowned entrepreneurs, like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, keep going. When we stop creatively solving problems, we go back into the 9–5 mindset and don’t practice our leadership. The use of creativity doesn’t have to be a one-way street. There are many different avenues. For example, I knew I needed to minimize my costs and move out of my current place. I also wanted to travel and thought I would start my journey of inspiration. As an entrepreneur, the great thing about traveling is that it serves as a source of inspiration for new ideas for your next move. I met many people who enlightened me and helped me find ways to get out of my current situation in my travels. When I came back, I was ready to find the right path. Usually, I travel in solitude. I find that it is the best way to get the inspiration I needed. It also helped me discover new things about myself. The more I traveled, the more I learned.
4. Start pivoting fast –
From experience, I realized that pivoting your business doesn’t have to happen perfectly. You just need to start and try many different things before your idea comes to life. I remember my business didn’t perform well the first 15 times I launched it. I had to keep putting it out there. I received a lot of criticism, but I also received a lot of grateful, positive messages. I ignored all the critics unless they were actual customers. When it came to promoting the venture, I spoke to many “ad specialists,” who refused to work with me unless I had a proven service—a list of 100 buyers. They were not interested in helping me A/B test anything. It was a dreadful experience, and I didn’t want to work with anyone who wasn’t passionate about my mission. This is the first thing you have to ensure: Are the people working for you driven by your mission?
No virus or circumstance can stop an entrepreneur from going after their mission and dreams. This is something an entrepreneur has to accept early on. It may not be the right time to pursue their path, but it doesn’t mean that it is over. It means they must pivot, hold, and focus on revenue generation in the meantime. I am still making everyday count with my current business. It is a toss-up between speaking with investors and working on completing the vision. Don’t give up!