Business resilience and creativity in tough times

It is an understatement to say that the business community is facing a daunting challenge as we try to navigate the pandemic. The likelihood of returning to the status quo fades with each passing day, despite the promise of government funds. These circumstances test all of us; most are overwhelmed, and some are frozen and defeated.

However, a resilient and creative subset saw the “lock-down” as an opportunity.

An environment for innovation

Mary McCarthy, co-founder and executive director of the Women’s Small Business Accelerator contends that “now is the time to think creatively.  While we are forced to take a step back, let’s make use of this time to pull out ideas that we have put on the ‘back burner’ or to create new programs or products that can be sold online.”

McCarthy points out that “it is amazing but true that more businesses are launched in tough economies; most of them generate substantial revenue because the time was available to create and launch them.”

She adds that it’s critical to communicate regularly with existing customers or clients during this uncertain period — to provide updates and develop a sense of community — because when we get back to business, we want our customers to continue the relationship.

Finally, she reminds owners of service businesses such as a salon that “you may find yourself going from famine to feast — meaning all your clients in desperate need for a cut and color will be calling trying to get on your schedule. Start planning now.”

The blog post “Creative Resilience: Five Strategies to Help You Thrive During Times of Transition” by Linda Naiman (Creativity at Work) states: “to be resilient, learn to face reality with staunchness, find meaning and purpose in the hardship you are facing, nurture your creativity and improvise solutions using available resources.”

Naiman says it’s also important to re-frame your perspective — seek opportunity in the middle of seeming disaster.

Take advantage of the resources

Assistance is available in Ohio during this difficult period from the Minority Business Assistance Centers and Small Business Development Centers.

Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, provides words of encouragement: “Businesses are not only working to survive the current crisis, but also to come out stronger on the other end. Together with our partners, we are working to identify ways to support businesses during the current crisis and to ensure they can continue to innovate and grow in the future.”

Mihalik offers networks of specially trained advisers who can help companies with applying for government contracts, building international markets, improving manufacturing processes and launching high-tech initiatives.

We cannot think of anyone better to offer words of wisdom in the face of unprecedented challenge than the late Sir Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II and Nobel Laureate in literature: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

We will prevail.


Becky S. Cornett is a member of the WELD Impact Committee. Barb Smoot is the president and CEO of WELD. Women for Economic and Leadership Development desires to increase the number of women in business and government leadership in Central Ohio.