If you watch the news as much as I do, you undoubtedly see countless depressing stories about the toll that the pandemic is taking on everyone around the world. However, you will also see an increasing number of stories about how people are working together to keep things going and make life better.
One of the first stories I heard early on was about a choral group that continues to share music by individually recording each singer’s part and stitching those voices together electronically. The results are not only beautiful, but they served as inspiration on what we can accomplish when we work together.
Whether you work alone or have a team by your side, you need other people to help you achieve your goals. If there’s a brighter side to this pandemic, it may be that it teaches us the many ways that creative thinking can broaden our definition of teamwork.
What Teamwork Looks Like
Many small business teams see themselves as family members, as much as they do employees. Understanding that the company’s accomplishment translates to their own success, they typically go the extra mile to solve problems and generally make things better for everyone.
The people waiting around for work due to a bottleneck might be in a unique position to identify the cause of the issue and know how to fix it. The Customer Support Representatives might know that sales are lagging because of a lack of color choices. When they share their information with people inside and outside of their immediate areas of responsibility to inform and collaborate on solutions, they are valued team members.
This is what teamwork has always looked like. However, the pandemic has added a whole new dimension to the concept of creative-thinking.
The Pandemic Has Inspired Amazing Creativity
It’s easy to become overwhelmed about the bad news during these times. But, if you dig deeper, you can observe the many ways that people are continuing to maintain their team spirit, even if they’re now physically far apart. They are expanding their thinking to find new ways to continue getting products or services to their customers safely.
- Restaurants now provide pick-up services; many stores are providing order pick-up services, as well.
- Auto dealers are bringing cars to their customers for test drives.
- Auto repair services allow customers to drop off cars outside and fully sterilize the repaired cars before retrieval.
- Everyone from real estate agencies to universities now offer virtual tours.
- One supermarket chain created one-way aisles to help maintain social distancing.
- Even my dog’s veterinarian, who remains available for emergencies, has a creative vet tech staff that just figured out how to set up Sunday nail clipping services, with drop-off and pickup from the parking lot.
Not only do these businesses find creative ways to continue serving their customers, but they do whatever it takes to get the job done during very difficult times. I still can’t believe that the vet techs are voluntarily giving up their Sundays to provide a needed service; but my dog and I are sure grateful. I’ll recount stories about their kindness when anyone asks me to recommend a vet in the future.
Even Solopreneurs Have Teams
If you run a one-person shop, you might normally feel isolated from time to time— and even more so during these times. Good news: solopreneurs have teams, too, and many have extended their services to help others through the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.
You may view interactions with outsiders as simple business relationships, but open your eyes to a much bigger picture. The vendors who provide office supplies are actually vital members of your team. In many cases, it takes only a friendly phone call to do anything from extending payment deadlines to brainstorming ideas that might help your business survive now and thrive in the future. Similarly, your customers are also part of your team, and they will work with you to find new ways to keep receiving your shipments or services.
During the pandemic, many small businesses are finding unique ways to help each other while helping themselves. For example, one family-run jewelry business in New York can’t have in-store customers right now, but they can still sell gift cards online. By offering a $20 donation to local restaurants in exchange for a $50 gift card purchase, they are helping struggling restaurants now, while ensuring future jewelry-customer visits.
Of course, don’t forget your professional network, too. Whether you meet in person, attend meetings online, or even talk with members on the phone, they will often make every effort to help you work through your ideas and concerns. You may even find ways to partner together by sharing resources or making mutual customer referrals.
The point here is that solopreneurs need to sustain this new way of thinking and mutual cooperation even when times return to normal. You may run a one-person business, but you still have a team.
New Forms of Teamwork Should Outlive Our Current Challenges
Listen more deeply to a variety of news sources, and you will find stories that represent much-needed silver linings for now and into the future. Most stories seem to highlight a new level of creativity and cooperative team spirit. Maybe you found better, more efficient ways to conduct business. Perhaps you reached out to another business, even as another one reached out to you. Every new idea might mean the survival of many small businesses.
We all hope that the pandemic will be in our rear-view mirrors sooner rather than later. But, we should never forget the lessons we learned, and we need to live those lessons every day. Why wait for an emergency to give customers a break when they can’t pay their bills on time? Should you only help another business during a pandemic?
Never forget that everyone is part of your team — and hopefully that team has been thinking outside of the box to weather the rough spots. This creativity should become a habit for all team members, even during times of prosperity.