15 Entrepreneurs Reflect on What the Pandemic Taught Them About Business and Life

Any experienced entrepreneur will tell you that having detailed plans is the key to a thriving business, but few could have planned for the events of this year. While many business owners continue to fight to stay afloat, many are reflecting on the last several months with an eye toward the future.

For those struggling to make sense of this year’s chaos, we asked the members of Rolling Stone Culture Council to share the top takeaways they have from this year and how they believe the future of business will be affected.

Remote Work Requires Over-Communication

It is important, now more than ever, to over-communicate. With a remote workforce, there is an increased need to touch base with your company, as there are fewer organic opportunities to connect and most communication is nonverbal. There are plenty of technologies and platforms that can help, and we have leaned into these as a company. Our hope is that this experience will leave us all in a better, more connected place moving forward and increase efficiency across the board. – Angela Ruggiero, Sports Innovation Lab

Navigating Cultural Shifts Begins With Authentic Understanding

Culture is not something created top-down. It is created and reinforced by the common values of the people making up the culture. Authentically interacting with and understanding a culture will help us to navigate and even anticipate the never-ending cycle of cultural shifts. – Salim Holder, 4thAveMarket.com

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Creative Adaptation Can Help You Get Through Hard Times

I’ve learned that flexibility and, above all, creativity are the number one things that will get you through just about any hard time. If you are able to reinvent yourself and adapt in a creative way, be it as a musician or entrepreneur, you will come out of anything in a positive manner. – Aleksey Igudesman, Aleksey Igudesman, Igudesman & Joo

Focusing on Employee Well-Being Is Key to Company Success

Maintaining the personal health and well-being of individual employees has been paramount in keeping a healthy business during Covid. As a business, making personal well-being a focus and finding either cultural or other creative ways to support it has been key. – Will Stahl, Offworld Industries

Leverage Your Business Relationships When You Foresee a Crisis

Leverage all your contacts when there is a crisis on the horizon. Our overseas factories warned us of a new illness in Asia very early on in the crisis. We had a lot more time to plan for the possible pandemic fallout and keep our employees safer because of it. – Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia

We Can Heal Through Music and Conversation

The pandemic has had its trials. The world is angry and hurting. I believe that through voice and music we can all begin to heal. We need less posting in our echo chambers and more conversations with those we don’t know. – Ryan Star, Stationhead / RSTAR

Productivity Shouldn’t Be Your Main Focus

Your productivity is dependent upon your habits and your mentality as a person. A job isn’t going to make you or anyone productive. That said, productivity can’t be the focus of your habits as much as happiness and your overall well-being. The way the world only views success as productivity is a dead-end street. – Mickey Meyer, Group Nine Media

Always Have a Contingency Plan

Plan for the worst. Getting through these tough times would have been so much easier if we had a contingency plan ready for if things got really bad. – Erik Huberman, Hawke Media

Don’t Let Anxiety Take Over Your Business Decisions

Hunger breeds creativity, and in uncertain times such as these, one can take the rare opportunity to be challenged by the climate. Learning to not hit the panic button and instead taking a moment to list what makes you unique and interesting is extremely helpful. What really makes you stand apart in your space? Be more aware of your resources and what you have already achieved and utilize them in new ways. For instance, circle back on relationships you have built and collaborate on new projects. Sometimes it’s as simple as reusing what has already proved to work once before. You might be surprised to see how much you have available to you if you don’t jump to conclusions and let anxiety take over. – Danny Fuentes, Lethal Amounts

Creativity Can Attract Customers Despite Hard Times

As an artist, if you are creative enough, people will always be interested in what you do even if you are not physically there to present your work. – Pierre Fautrel, Obvious

You Must Be Transparent With Your Team

Transparency is key. Being transparent with employees, talent, clients, partners and investors has never been more important than it is now. It’s a sine qua non with all the chaos and uncertainty we live with. – Rob Principe, Scratch Music Group, Inc.

Know Your Numbers

Know everything about every one of your numbers. How much cash do you have? How many people owe you money? How many people to whom you owe money? This really helps you understand the nuts and bolts of your business. – Cecile Lee, Trendalytics Innovation Labs, Inc.

Your Staff and Your Culture Need Your Support

We learned three important things while facing the pandemic: 1. Reinforce social interaction between staff and make sure you introduce programs and events that allow people to interact safely and digitally. 2. Reinforce the culture that you worked so hard to build in person and figure out ways to keep it going digitally. 3. Support your staff. If they need a desk to work from home, get them a desk. If they need coffee to perform, spend $50 and buy them a massive coffee care package. At the end of the day, your team will appreciate it and work harder. Plus, it’s generally the right thing to do. – Aaron Fletcher, Repeat

Customers Look to You for Stability and Reliability

When Covid happened, my co-founders and our marketing team collectively strategized the appropriate, sensitive messaging that we wanted to make sure was going out consistently across all our channels. This brand communication let our customers know we were right there with them in what they were feeling. We didn’t promote products we were hoping to sell, but instead focused on communicating our empathy and understanding of the horrible situation the world was dealing with. Our followers were so appreciative, and we felt we were successful in making sure the outside world understood that we were not a faceless brand that just cares about selling bags — but that behind every post and word were real people going through the same challenges. Times of uncertainty can be difficult, but they also remind us that our customers look to us to be a source of stability and reliability through all of the volatility. – Melissa Shin Mash, Dagne Dover

Difficult Conversations Need to Happen

I learned that progress is difficult and hard conversations are tough, but they absolutely must happen for real shifts in awareness and mindset to take place. We as a society were at a pain point and we needed to push for honesty in all conversations. As a leader I learned that it’s up to us to make room for vulnerability and safety and push for that honesty. – Nicole Plantin