In the spring of 2020, world paradigms changed.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that the Novel Coronavirus Disease, Covid-19, was a pandemic.
This came after China reported in December, 2019 that there had been more than one instance of a weird life-threatening respiratory illness in Wuhan, the capital and major industrial and commercial center in Hubei province.
The health-care professionals at WHO watched how the new disease spread and the effects it had on people wherever it popped up around the world.
The media, social platforms, and assorted rumor-mills went into overdrive trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Panic attacks and near-terminal confusion ensued.
Almost immediately after the WHO pandemic declaration the world-as-we-knew-it shut down. The rules changed and they still keep on morphing.
Every social system and economic construct that helped the world run along mostly predictable tracks was affected.
The underlying assumptions and trade-offs that built them proved to be flawed and mostly not-working so well when there is a contagious life-threatening disease that needs to be contained.
And because the lot of us have been aimed willy-nilly for a One-World, All-Together-Now Global Economy, it wasn’t just one nation or country that took the hit. The majority of the people in the world are affected by it in one way or another, it seems.
Uncertainty and fear ran rampant as projects large and small came to a screeching halt or were hauled off back to the drawing board for revision.
Businesses and other organizations stopped doing what they did as government leaders tried to get a handle on the rapidly changing situation. Everyone was forced to step back and pay attention to where their stories were taking them.
Meanwhile, life continues anyway.
LIVING IN INTERESTING TIMES
The late Sir Terry Pratchett, fantasy novelist extraordinaire and a very funny guy, had this to say about “interesting times”:
The phrase “may you live in interesting times” is the lowest in a trilogy of Chinese curses that continue “may you come to the attention of those in authority” and finish with “may the gods give you everything you ask for.” I have no idea about its authenticity.
However, my favorite quote about these kinds of time comes from the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He said:
Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind. And everyone here will ultimately be judged – will ultimately judge himself – on the effort he has contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which his ideals and goals have shaped that effort.
The Great Lockdown of 2020 has certainly slung us into very interesting times. Challenges and opportunities proliferate through it all and it is surely a time that calls for creative thinking and actions, big and small.
Sending nations into lockdown — closing down borders and discouraging visits from strangers and outsiders of any sort — had a particularly devastating effect on the fortunes of folks in the travel and the hospitality industry and the retail industry and pro sports and the arts…and just about every other industry you could name.
We are, after all, decidedly interconnected.
Businesses that depend on the free-flowing transport of goods from where they are grown, processed, or manufactured to consumers everywhere else have been affected.
Almost overnight the unemployment stats went ballistic as people were told their jobs were not “essential” and had to be shut down in order to foster the continued well-being of the people around them.
Many people got to be stay-at-homes. “Essential” workers went into overdrive and worked a heck of a lot more than they ever did before in increasingly stressful situations.
Often the shape of their jobs changed. Working remotely became more usual. Make-work and in-fighting fell by the wayside.
An initiative that’s a classic solution for keeping the projected large numbers of sick people from overwhelming less-than-adequate public health facilities mushroomed into governmental and social restrictions of various sorts that have paved the way for our current New Normal.
Everyday problems still remain the same: How do you feed the kids and keep them and yourself together? How do you keep a roof over your heads? How do you pay your bills? And what does this do to your Walk towards your Dream?
BEING A PART OF THE SOLUTION IS STILL AN OPTION
In this YouTube video, “15 New “Pandemic-Created” Business Ideas in 15 Minutes” published in April, 2020, serial entrepreneur and best-selling author Pat Flynn has a bunch of suggestions that make a lot of sense.
(The video actually has 16 suggestions and runs about 5 minutes over the stated 15 minutes, but the guy says he likes to over-deliver.)
Flynn advises us to think on and consider the problems other people are encountering in these interesting times and figure out ways that we can use our skills to help them resolve those problems.
As Flynn points out, if we provide solutions that are useful and of good value, other people would be likely to pay us for our help.
It’s back-to-basics: Who are your customers? Who can you help?
Flynn has an interesting array of possible customers as well as off-the-cuff suggestions for people who are in these groups and are probably also looking for ways to use their skills to keep them and theirs fed and sheltered as well as safe.
Because he built and grew his own businesses online, Flynn’s suggestions and solutions are heavily tech-oriented.
However, his idea of looking at the needs and problems of the people around you and learning all you can about them so that you can figure out how to use your own skills to help them is a keeper.
Here’s a list of the customers Flynn points to in this video and a little taste of the kinds of solutions you might be able to offer:
- PARENTS. Home-schooling, parenting help and ideas are among the possibilities Flynn mentions.
- CONTENT CREATORS. Newbie bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, writers and other creators can use help with getting their offerings repurposed, organized and out into the world. With all the venues for large gatherings shut down and events and conferences and such canceled, many speakers are looking to book virtual events or even create them. Some want to write books or find other ways to share their knowledge. Can you help them?
- STARVING ARTISTS. Flynn suggests that these folks can use their skills to teach their art or craft, develop courses and foster creativity in others. He suggests that they would need help doing it online.
- STUDENTS HEADING INTO THE WORLD. Setting up ways to connect young people fresh out of school with the companies who are looking for them and helping those companies develop remote work solutions might be something you might be able to do.
- ENTERTAINERS. Helping entertainers set themselves up online and build their personal brand is a possibility.
- HEALTH AND FITNESS. Specialty fitness solutions that use your expertise and knowledge in these fields can be the springboard for developing your own online business
- SOLUTION-SPECIFIC BUSINESS SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS. Developing software-based solutions for problems that are specific to a particular company or industry might be an opportunity to explore.
- MEMBERSHIP PLATFORMS. Developing a place where people can go to connect with other people with similar interests is another possibility.
- GARDENERS. Newbie and wanna-be gardeners are another group of customers that would definitely need help from those who have green thumbs.
- E-SPORTS AND GAMING niches might be a good place to find people who need help connecting with each other as well. Tournaments, guides, YouTube channels, product reviews are all of great interest and people who can put them together could find a good place to make some money.
- ATHLETES. Like performers and entertainment people, professional athletes might need help developing personal brands. Is that something you can do?
- BRICK AND MORTAR BUSINESSES are probably looking at going online if they haven’t already. They are in new-to-them territory and you might be able to help as a native guide.
- VIRTUAL REALITY can be another great way for people to connect with one another and you could be a part of that.
- EDUCATION – online courses and trainings of various sorts — are definitely always going to be a large part of everyday life.
(There is one other, but I’ll let Flynn tell you about that one.)
Flynn points out that you don’t have to have a huge client base to do any of these things. You just need a small group of people for whom your solutions are a perfect fit and build your business from there.
In order to set yourself up as a helper and an ally, you do need to communicate with your target customers.
- What are their problems?
- Where is their pain?
- How can you help?
Once you’ve successfully developed some solutions, you can expand your offerings to add other solutions for other problems to your repertoire of skills earned.
There is another important thing to remember: Doing what you can with what you’ve got where you are is the key to building something that will help to support you and yours so you can survive and, perhaps, even thrive in these interesting times.
We build the future one moment at a time, you know. So, what’s yours going to look like?
Here’s a poem:
Life has to begin again
When the fabric of life gets torn…
It says here.
“Torn” isn’t even the half of it.
When your life gets ripped,
Rent from stem to stern,
You go into a tailspin.
What-what-what do I do now?
You sit there…
Crying and wailing,
Feeling all self-pitiful
Wondering why, oh, why.
You curl up in a ball.
You try to disappear
Into the wilderness of yourself.
But, that doesn’t really work,
Because you start feeling stupid.
As you wander around, lost and whimpering.
It gets to be a bore.
You stop shuddering and shaking,
And you stop sighing,
Cease making all
The other funny breath-noises
And you blow your nose.
You put your feet back on the ground
And you walk
And, maybe, after a while,
You notice that the world’s still there.
The world is still there….
by Netta Kanoho
Header photo credit: “my yard in the morning” by SoulRider.222 via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
This is probably going to be the first of a series of posts regarding the pandemic response and its effects on our ordinary lives. Like most of the topics I think on, this one’s way too big for a one-off.
We will go on, us humans. The only real thing to ponder is how we are walking and whether our choices bring us and those around us to joy.
Thanks for your visit. I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.