How I Spent My Corona Spring
On March 6, 2020, I was just wrapping up a weeklong vacation in Vail. Given that we later learned Vail was one of the early hotspots for the Corona virus in Colorado, I am still not sure how I escaped infection.
What follows is an account of what I did in what was to become the Corona spring, every day of which I spent with my two cats, in Winter Park, Colorado.
My Top 5 Strengths
In the StrengthsFinder personality test, out of 34 possible strengths, my top five strengths are, in order: Strategic, Achiever, Analytic, Futuristic, and Learner. I leaned heavily on all of them at some point over the next 90 days.
Those first weeks in March, I lost two clients in my SEO consulting business and had a dozen projects put on hold, (maybe to never materialize, who knows). And frankly, I was having trouble motivating myself to do the work I did have. The fourteen steps to my loft-office seemed like a slog most days, but I kept going, even if the cats didn’t. Don’t worry, they’re still here, they just cut back on their office hours.
When I wasn’t baking or perseverating, I was spending countless hours helping friends and family file for unemployment, decipher various government assistance programs, and devise new marketing plans for an all-but-gone economy.
A Much Needed Rest
In some ways, the first weeks of Corona (except for the abject terror) were blissful. My usual 10-15 conference calls per week, which often gave me a headache, were down to one or two, or none. I rested up from a stressful 2019, in which I had billed so many hours of work that it had made me numb. And I thought about what to do next.
As part of my reflection, I came to the realization that a new business I’d founded in October 2019 would have to be put on hold. Last fall, I started a company producing artwork made out of old snowboards. I’d invested upwards of $25,000 and hundreds of unpaid hours, and had just begun to market the boards, when Corona hit. The snowboards are still for sale in a high-end furniture store in Avon, the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail, and a restaurant in Breckenridge, but that’s as far as it’s going to go for awhile. I just didn’t have the energy then to try and keep two businesses running, and I still don’t.
Something To Look Forward To
On a more positive note, one of the best things I did early on was to start scheduling weekly sessions with Joe, my new “SEO Apprentice.” Every Friday, we’d meet by phone, and I’d teach him something new about search engine optimization. From the start, he was teaching me, too – through the questions he asked, the tools he discovered, and the different ways he approached situations. I looked forward to each session because of the stimulation and because of the escape back to “normal.”
Our interactions helped me remember why I’d started my SEO business in the first place. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost my joie de vivre. It wasn’t a mystery – in large part, my enthusiasm had plummeted because a big chunk of my income was coming from a client that treated me like an employee, and not in a good way. But thanks to the sessions with Joe, my enjoyment started coming back, reminding me of those heady days in 2008, when I was trying to learn everything I could about Google.
New Projects And Skillsets
In April, a client asked me to start running her Google AdWords campaign, something I’d only done a few times, and not in several years. I agreed, because I had the time and the bandwidth to learn something new, luxuries I hadn’t had in years. I paid for a 2.5 hour video class from Boulder Digital Arts and spent 6 hours watching it, taking notes, jotting down ideas, and wondering how in the hell kids were learning anything online (so tedious!).
In May, a different client asked me to build her a new website in Big Commerce, an e-commerce platform. This, I’d never done. It made me nervous, but in a good way. I put up a fantastic website for her, and hardly minded making repeated calls to Big Commerce’s tech support line.
I haven’t decided if I will, but I now have two new services that I can offer my SEO clients and additional recession-proofing for my business.
Inspiration From The Queen
From the moment COVID-19 hit the news, I knew it would have far-reaching and devastating impacts on small businesses. In early April, I listened to the Queen’s speech, and throughout the spring, I kept thinking about the “best and highest use” of me (my term, not the Queen’s) and how I’d look back on my actions during these times and the days ahead.
Renewed Commitment To Helping Other Small Business Owners
My first priority was, and is, to keeping my own business strong. My second priority is to continue to help other small business owners do the same. I’m in the process now of fine-tuning some of my existing classes and designing new classes that will be offered remotely and in-person (in the Denver metro area). I’ll share details as soon as they’re finalized.
All in all, what got me, and my business, through the Corona spring?
Resiliency…and a willingness to let go. Optimism…and adaptability. A deeper appreciation for my clients…and the work I do. And, of course, the cookies.
Jennifer Croft, Founder of 5-Minute Classes