Over the past six months, the formal definition of what it means to "build a business" in the world has changed considerably.
For example, it's no longer "unconventional" to have a large chunk of your workforce (if not your entire workforce) be remote. It's completely acceptable to substitute video calls for in-person meetings. And it's also acceptable to show up to these video calls wearing non-formal attire. Companies that had previously employed hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of employees are realizing they can operate much more efficiently with a leaner team. And entrepreneurs who had been questioning whether or not they needed to invest in more technologies have gotten their answer loud and clear: Yes, the future is here.
Covid-19 has given all types of entrepreneurs the opportunity to rethink who they are and how they run their businesses.
For us, the past six months have been a period of reinvention here at ThirdLove. We've had to make some hard decisions, but out of those hard decisions have come some big learnings for us as a company.
Here are three ways our business has changed as the result of Covid-19, but changed for the better.
1. We have shifted from a growth mentality to a profitability mentality.
In Silicon Valley, "growth over everything" is the most popular mantra.
And for many startups, it's the correct one--especially when starting out. When we first raised funding for ThirdLove, we weren't as concerned with operating a profitable business as much as we were a growing business. The problem with this mentality, however, is that it leaves you vulnerable to big changes in the market (like a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic).
One of the big things Covid-19 has done is force companies to rethink their business models, and shift out of a "growth over everything" mindset, and instead aim for profitability and longevity. The goal, especially right now, isn't to maximize growth rate, as much as it is ensure the business is still alive and well a year from now.
So if you're an entrepreneur, now is the time to really slow down and question whether the path you're currently on is a sustainable one.
2. We have rethought the way we work.
Another interesting takeaway from Covid-19 has been the way we have redefined what it means to "work."
Since March, we have spent a lot of time thinking about how our company is set up, how we run our offices, what kind of flexibility we've offered in the past, and in what ways we can change for the better. For example, we have never been a work-from-home type of company, but Covid-19 has really proven that, in many ways, we can be. Even though I prefer working in the office, and many other people still find value in working together in person, we have become more open to these new ways of working.
Looking at other companies, this seems to be a trend across the board.
We are living in a different day and age today than we were even a year ago. And every new trend that has emerged as a result of Covid-19--remote work, increased video conferencing, leaner workforces, more automated processes--are most likely going to continue long after the pandemic has subsided. Which means, as a business owner, thinking through how you plan on incorporating these new work styles and habits should be at the top of your priority list.
3. We have increased the cadence of communication with the team.
Lastly, the importance of effective communication has never been more prevalent.
I have noticed little things about the way we communicate professionally within ThirdLove. I have noticed this personally in the relationships closest to me. And I have seen this as a larger trend, just being aware of the ways in which people this year have appreciated one another. When we get on the phone with someone, or show up to a Zoom meeting, we don't just dive right into the task at hand. We ask each other how we're doing. We genuinely care. And that's because we're all experiencing something together, at the same time in history.
One of my biggest takeaways from this year has been the importance of maintaining this heightened level of compassion. For example:
Encouraging team members to grab "virtual coffee" with each other to chat, talk about what's going on in their lives, and foster personal connections.
Supporting team leaders to regularly check in on how people are doing, both personally and professionally.
Nurturing the company's culture to be inclusive and open to a wide range of perspectives and experiences--and providing the space for people to be heard.
I don't believe one day we will wake up and return "back to normal."
I believe that, in many ways, Covid-19 has challenged us all to look for areas of improvement: In our personal lives, our businesses, and the world at large.