It is hard to make progress as an entrepreneur when your business has been forced into lockdown. For many people, it felt like the world came to a halt in 2020. Now, reopening the economy proves to be a slow process, and consumers are tentative as their money is tight. Uncertainty is around every corner. What will tomorrow bring? When can we go back to ‘business as usual’? As cases spike, is a fresh round of lockdown ahead? How can we cope in a time like this? Covid-19 has taken the world on an emotional rollercoaster, and the ride isn’t over yet.
While this is certainly a new challenge, the entrepreneurial journey is almost always an emotional rollercoaster. While Covid-19 is creating the highs and lows right now, the trick has always been knowing what to focus on in your business during each part of the ride – something Sinapis has been teaching for over a decade.
Two Sinapis trainers recently had an online chat to find out how entrepreneurs can ride the emotional curve in a helpful way. Ann Gitari, who trains the Sales & Marketing units, interviewed Leonard Nyamai, who covers Operations, Leadership & HR.
ANN: In simple terms, Leonard, how would you describe the Entrepreneur Emotional Curve?
LEONARD: The entrepreneur emotional curve defines the highs and lows entrepreneurs experience at various stages of the entrepreneurial journey. It takes the shape of a wave, with a series of dips and rises that form based on the business environment. It is also impacted by the successes and challenges a business experiences, and how these affect the entrepreneur’s self-confidence over time.
ANN: Many businesses plot all sorts of graphs and charts, especially based on sales performance and financial projections. Rarely will you find an emotional curve as part of one’s business records, and yet it appears to be a vital concept to consider, especially during these unprecedented times. Why is this an important topic at Sinapis, especially in the last week of the program?
LEONARD: By Week 16 of the Sinapis Entrepreneur Academy, the entrepreneur should have a better understanding of the moving parts in their business as well as an understanding of how to navigate areas that they were weak in.
At this stage, leaders can be deceived into thinking that all will be smooth sailing in their business moving forward. But business isn’t just about the physical aspects of customers, charts, accounts and business plans. You also need to consider the emotional side of business, and how these emotions can affect you as the leader of your enterprise, your team and your family as well.
Consider entrepreneurship as a journey from Nairobi to Mombasa and back. Whether you travel by road, by rail or by air, it would be wise to plan for the journey. You would do this by anticipating various challenges and joys you may encounter along the way. Entrepreneurs need to plan similarly for their entrepreneurial journey; the emotional highs and lows of entrepreneurship and how to deal with these phases in the journey. We want to equip you for the journey ahead!
ANN: From your perspective, what will most entrepreneur’s emotional curves look like during the pandemic? What should we be aware of? Anything to be concerned about?
LEONARD: The current global pandemic has shaped many entrepreneurs’ emotional curves. This season is unique because many entrepreneurs are experiencing significant, lengthy lows in a very hostile terrain. The terrain is marked by limited cash-flows, downsizing and even business closures. Of more concern are that some factors such as government restrictions, like curfews for instance, are beyond an entrepreneur’s control. Additionally, there appears to be no predictable end in sight to some of these restrictions or to the end of the pandemic itself, to allow businesses to resume normal operations.
This unpredictability is causing undue pressure on many entrepreneurs, who are already experiencing what we call a Crisis of Meaning. In this phase, an entrepreneur begins to doubt if they can keep the business going, or if they were ever meant to go into entrepreneurship in the first place. As these thoughts proliferate, it becomes even more challenging for an entrepreneur to make sound business decisions. As they sink lower and stay longer in the dip, many entrepreneurs are likely to crash and burn.
ANN: Many of us are already experiencing a Crisis of Meaning as the pandemic wreaks havoc on our businesses. What can we do to hang in there? Is there any way to still thrive during this dip in the curve?
LEONARD: One thing for sure is that we cannot lose hope. I believe Sinapis entrepreneurs, both alumni and current students, stand at an advantage. They can access many resources available to them. Here are three of Sinapis’ timely resources to pay attention to:
- Now more than ever is the time to leverage on the Kingdom Business Framework. We must especially lean into Calling from the Creator and having a Personal and Vital Connection to Jesus. Whether or not you have created a plan for these concepts, this framework is still at your disposal and worth looking at right now.
- Second, do not be afraid to redesign your business model. One can easily do so on a Lean Canvas (an adaptation of the Business Model Canvas). Many businesses’ customer segments have changed recently, and so their operations, distributions and marketing channels must change accordingly.
- Third, and speaking as a business coach, I would recommend reaching out to mentors and coaches to help you make key business decisions. If this is not an option, you can also tap into the information being shared in the numerous webinars and workshops being hosted online every week. The main point here is not to give up. There is so much you can do, even when you are stuck in a rut.
ANN: I can’t let you go before hearing your final words of advice to entrepreneurs.
- This is not the time to make major changes in your business. Put a hold on capital-intensive expansion projects. They can be done later.
- Seek professional advice when making major business decisions.
- It’s a great time to learn something new. Read, research, look around you and learn from other businesses. Rebuild yourself and your emotional strength.
- Don’t join the pity-party. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Hope is the fuel that keeps the business running!
Leonard Nyamai is an organizational effectiveness coach and Sinapis trainer with over 13 years of experience in training and people development. He has excellent facilitation skills. Those who have attended his sessions describe him as passionate and energetic. Leonard has an easy-going personality that enables him to bond well with clients. He is the Founder Director of ICA Consulting Ltd, a vehicle focused on the development of soft skills in individuals, teams and organizations.
Ann Gitari is a Sinapis trainer as well as a Business Innovation Consultant and Trainer. She has a strong passion for local entrepreneurs who are working to transform the nation with their business ideas. When she isn’t training, Ann can be found running The Writing Agency (K) – a brand storytelling enterprise she founded 7 years ago. The agency helps businesses identify and tell their authentic stories with clarity, helping them become more visible, marketable and profitable.