Optimistic business lessons from a difficult year of pandemic life

Entrepreneurs see opportunities where others see obstacles. They think the challenges are exhilarating rather than scary. Knowing that the past year has been filled with more challenges and obstacles than ever before – and in light of World Entrepreneur Day this month – I wanted to see how business leaders navigate the business environment. ‘today.

How are they changing the world in a world that keeps changing? Why do they think it’s important for entrepreneurs to stay encouraged even during the toughest years in business? What inspired them throughout the past year? What advice do they have for other entrepreneurs based on what the year has taught them?

To answer these questions and more, I contacted five brilliant and influential entrepreneurs.

1. Stay Encouraged in Difficult Times: Alyssa Ruderman, Lantern COO

Lantern COO Alyssa Ruderman believes it is essential for entrepreneurs to stay encouraged through tough times: “As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to see the forest for the trees. If you see and show the big picture in great detail, your team will too. Changing a button becomes more than changing a button. A pitch becomes more than a pitch when it all fits into your larger vision. We started Lantern because we really thought it was something the world needed. We still do. Knowing its potential to help people get through their toughest times is what got us through all of the early rejections (there were a lot of them) and continues to be what helps us get through the tough days.

Lantern employees use a Slack channel and a section of the company intranet to share user feedback, which is a constant reminder of the human impact of their work. Alyssa says this has been one of the biggest sources of inspiration and motivation over the past year: “Nothing will get you over failure, frustration and working from home for two years like believing in what you build every day. “

2. Embrace the power of data: Lu Zhang, Founder and Managing Partner of Fusion Fund

For Lu Zhang, founder and managing partner of Fusion Fund, measuring success over the past year was about helping founders meet the challenges of the pandemic and helping accelerate their growth. To help founders capitalize on opportunities, Zhang said investors need to be qualified – so this has become the main indicator of success.

This required improving the company’s approach to data analysis. “There are so many venture capitalists talking about how they invest in tech companies, but it’s also a traditional industry,” Zhang said. “The way of doing business, of structuring the flow of transactions and of working with the founders has been the same for 30 to 50 years. Now we are talking about data analysis. Data can add value to VCs to help us make better decisions, especially when it comes to researching and evaluating deals, verifying founders, and analyzing industry trends and opportunities. We have now integrated data even more into our operations, and we have been very successful with that. “

3. Stay True to Your Roots: Ken So, Founder and CEO of Tillful

According to Ken So, founder and CEO of Tillful, the most important part of staying encouraged as an entrepreneur is a mindset of opportunity and a boldness in the face of challenges. “History has shown us that these are the tough years when businesses and entrepreneurs thrive,” So said. “Many of today’s ‘unicorn companies’ founders started their businesses in 2009 during the financial crisis. When others see tough times, successful people see opportunities. Entrepreneurs have to think this way to gain an unfair advantage.

To transform this encouragement and this state of mind into energy and action, So’s company has remained true to its roots: “To be energized as an entrepreneur, we have remained true to our mission: to help small businesses. access credit to realize their full potential. Due to our commitment to our core mission, we have spent a lot of time talking directly with customers and listening to their issues. When the pandemic took hold, we spoke with dozens of existing and potential customers about their needs, challenges and hopes. They shared inspiring stories which in turn inspired our team to take action and led to our new product focus.

4. Turn to your assistance systems: Larry Clarke, CEO of NanoGuard Technologies

After the year has passed, the teams at NanoGuard Technologies found motivation when they remembered their desire to accomplish something greater than money. CEO Larry Clarke said a CEO of a large multinational told the company that NanoGuard’s technology would be the most interesting technology since refrigeration. This is the kind of encouragement we needed to keep pushing. “

Clarke would also like entrepreneurs to remember to give themselves grace and rely on their support systems. “While you may feel like you have to do everything perfectly, that is not going to happen,” he said. “It’s important to move past that feeling and find someone you can trust who will listen to you and give you honest feedback. Yes, everyone loves it when someone tells them they’re doing a great job – and hearing that is important – but you also need to listen to the things that need to be fixed. A trusted advisor is worth his or her weight in gold.

5. Measure Success Beyond Your Finances: Sean Miller, President of PointCentral

Sean Miller, president of PointCentral, has found that measuring success by more than just financials has huge benefits for his business. “2020 has been a financial shift for our business – both good and bad, at different times. Fortunately, we set our goals with metrics other than pure income and profit. By tracking how we were working to achieve these goals through one or two critical goals and key results in each department, we were able to see how the organization was still making progress in achieving our overall goals.

PointCentral has also integrated new operational tools and approaches to thrive in the face of challenges. “We have strengthened our customer success team and started using communication analytics tools, which help us communicate more easily with the team and collect data from their conversations with customers. Ultimately, this allows us to identify where we have an opportunity to better resolve issues.

These business leaders show that entrepreneurs who navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19 have good reason to be bold and energetic for the future. With the right tools, the right mindset, and the right support, challenges can truly be opportunities to shine.

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