The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shockwaves through the US economy, with small business owners being particularly hard-hit. I recently had the opportunity to speak with leadership and personal development expert, Kelly Meerbott, about how the pandemic has affected her business and shaped her perspective on the future.
B2Z: Can you describe the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on your business?
Kelly: COVID-19 has made our business stronger, leaner and more resilient. We have had the time and space to create and evaluate what was working and what wasn’t working. We tightened up our processes and procedures, added more team members and have been able to accomplish more.
B2Z: What sorts of fundamental changes did the crisis force you to make in your business processes?
Kelly: The Greek root of the word “crisis” means to sift and that is exactly what we have done in our business. We have sifted out the processes, procedures, people and clients that we were not aligned with from a values standpoint. We found our niche that feels resonant and directs everything we do now. That niche is belonging. We believe that we must first belong to ourselves no matter how we manifest in life. In short, being comfortable in your own skin. Once we have healed the unresolved trauma in our lives, we create a space of belonging wherever we go.
B2Z: Have you had any experience with assistance programs for small businesses?
Kelly: Yes, we were passed up twice for a grant from the Commonwealth of PA, but on the third try we got one at the end of 2020. We also received a disaster loan from the Small Business Association (SBA).
B2Z: Have you sought or obtained any small business loans?
Kelly: Yes, we received a disaster loan from the SBA, we received a small portion of the original EIDL and we just applied for the targeted EIDL.
B2Z: Have you added or lost any workers during the past year?
Kelly: We’ve added five 1099 contractors and let go of two 1099 contractors who after an audit we discovered were not doing their jobs after two and half years of employment.
B2Z: What recent changes (if any) do you see becoming permanent alterations to your business model?
Kelly: We hired a project manager and are using Click-Up as a system to keep track of all our projects. We also created a diverse coaching cohort, which will be a permanent part of our business moving forward. We realized that time is of the essence here in creating and unrolling this resource. As we move forward from a year of lock-down and a time of extreme isolation for many employees, redefining and identifying how we are going to proceed into a "new normal" needs to be accomplished with real intentionality and humility. The need for recalibration is now.
No one is the same as we were a year ago. The unmasking that we have all faced at the hands of the pandemic, eroding social equity, increased racial tension and harm, have all come together to leave us feeling raw and unsure of how to proceed in our respective work environments. As we are all committed to continuing difficult dialogue and not falling back into patterns of silence and pain, we need real tools that will help us on our journeys forward.
As we move forward from a year of lock-down and a time of extreme isolation for many employees, redefining and identifying how we are going to proceed into a 'new normal' needs to be accomplished with real intentionality and humility.
B2Z: Any other changes or permanent alterations to your business model?
Kelly: We have put together a team of change agents, masters of difficult discourse and experts in extending the dialogue into how to hold each others' complex humanity. This team includes experts in Racial and Equity Work, LGBTQ+ inclusions, Disability Justice and honoring/integrating our past traumas into new ways of being and working together.
For any corporation interested in growing in any of these directions, this is a team of diverse, women led experts on intersectional marginalization that can help set the course for a future of emboldened conversation, productivity, and measurable inclusion; allowing more to be said than unsaid and more to be done than undone.
B2Z: What are your projections for your business in 2021?
Kelly: I see us growing more rapidly as emotional and mental well-being become more and more crucial. The demand for great coaches to help people navigate the new employment landscape is becoming more the “norm” than ever before.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about Kelly Meerbott Leadership & Team Development at https://www.youloudandclear.com/.