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Looking Back on this Year: A Message From Kyle LaFond

This year has been a challenging and tumultuous time for all of us. The onset of the Worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic has created confusion and uncertainty beyond anything that most of us can recall. As a society we have endured greater loss in this last year than ever before. The loss and uncertainties have been trying for us all.

It’s no secret that many small businesses have suffered and continue to struggle. Economists have projected that 20-30% of all small businesses have, or will close because of our collective inability to respond to the disease outbreak. Of those that remain open, 2020 will likely be one of their worst operational years as revenues for the average small business are down an estimated 25%.

I’ve always considered myself an optimist and I’ve tried hard to find any kind of silver lining amongst everything that has happened this year. With some encouragement from my team, I want to share some of my thoughts with you about what this year has been like and what I’ve learned from my experiences as a small business owner trying to understand and adapt.

Prioritization



I think a lot of folks have used 2020 to take a good look in the mirror and reevaluate their personal and professional priorities. I’ve made it a point to frequently share with my team that their own personal health and the well-being of their families is far more important than anything we do as a business. I’ve encouraged my team to do whatever they need to do to feel safe and comfortable in consideration of COVID-19.

Patience & Understanding



We’ve come to live in a World where most folks expect immediate responses or instant gratification. The pandemic has forced us all to slow down a bit. People have far more to contend with than a work schedule. I’ve been encouraging my team to try to understand the lives of others. People have partners, kids, and parents to worry about and care for. I hope that we’ve all become a little more patient and understanding of the situations of those around us. Sometimes we need to make accommodations or adapt to others as situations arise and change. I hope that we’re all more compassionate and flexible.

Work/Life Balance



Even before the pandemic, I tried to stress to my team the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I’ve always thought that life is too short to be focused entirely on work and that we all need time away from our professional responsibilities to disconnect and recharge. I’ve shared that same philosophy with my team and I’ve encouraged them to take breaks and not feel overwhelmed or overburdened by the situation that we are all facing.

Somewhat surprisingly, I feel like most of our team has been more productive and efficient working from home. Additionally, I think that our team members are actually working more while at home than when they were formerly in the office. I’ve tried to explain that my expectations (although reasonable) have been lowered. However, I still get emails at odd hours. This is both encouraging and concerning as I hope my team is taking the time they need for themselves and their families.

Control



Throughout the pandemic I’ve tried to control what I can and not worry too much about what I cannot. There’s no point in creating additional stress or anxiety over things that aren’t under our own control. I’ve learned to let go of things that I can’t change or influence and instead, to focus more on what I can.

Transparency



I’ve always been a fan of transparency and I think that I’ve been able to create a work environment that is more transparent than any that I’ve ever worked at before. I’ve made it a point to be open, honest, and realistic with our entire team. I want everyone to know what I’m working on and going through, so that they can understand where I’m coming from and why I’m doing the things that I do for the benefit of the company. I’ve always had an open door and I’m very happy that our employees feel comfortable coming to me with their own questions and concerns.

Help, Kindness and Compassion



More than any other time I can remember, this year has reminded me that it’s ok to ask for help when you need it. I think that I’ve been more willing to ask for help when I really need it. Before COVID, I used to refrain or avoid asking for help. The pandemic has taught me that there will be time when we all need help. Instead of always offering help, it’s ok to ask for it in return.

This year has also highlighted the importance of kindness and compassion. My grandfather always said that “kindness counts” and I’m glad he was right.

Have a Hobby or a Distraction



We all need an outlet to clear our minds. Having a hobby or a healthy distraction has been very important in 2020. I took up gardening, propagating mushrooms, and chicken farming to clear my mind and give me something other than business to focus on for a few hours every day. Who knows, I may even take up a new language.

Don’t get buried in Vices



It’s been very easy to overindulge this year. The stress, anxiety, and depression that we’ve all felt at one point or another can be substantial. It’s very easy and convenient to turn towards alcohol and/or drugs to cope. I think we all need an outlet, but it’s important to keep things in check. Everything in moderation, even excess.

Communicate



I’ve spent a lot of time this year simply talking with people. It’s important to allow yourself the time and grace to go through all of the emotions triggered by COVID-19. Give yourself permission to feel and process. Then take the time to talk with someone.


I hope that some of this has been insightful. 2020 has been a tough year for all of us and I hope that some of the things I’ve felt and experienced are relatable whether you are a business owner or not.
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