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An Open Letter to Covid 19 From a Small Business Owner

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Dear Covid 19,

I am a small business owner and I have something to say. I know biologically speaking you are only doing what you evolved to do, but if I’m being honest I think you’re kind of an a**hole. And by kinda I mean a lot and by think I mean I am certain. I am certain that you are a lot of an a**hole.

I remember vividly sitting on my tiny, apartment balcony overlooking a busy road at the start of March and getting so excited for spring. That was a month ago. Even as I type that I have to double check myself because it feels like SOOO much longer ago than that. That same once busy road is eerily quiet tonight as I write this.

In the last 30 days I’ve been through so many emotions. Starting with the anxiety and gratefulness I felt when my husband was sent home on March 13th. I was both overwhelmed with happiness that he was safe and still earning money and concerned about how to balance it all.

Thanks for that learning experience.

Then the anxiety of how to cope eventually gave way to genuine fear. The numbers in New York were scary. Every day was scarier than the last. The outcry of desperate healthcare workers was heartbreaking. I couldn’t watch the news for more than 10 minutes at a time but I felt such a powerful need to stay up to date that I downloaded at least 4 news apps to stay apprised. Thinking about you even for a second made me sick, physically feel my guts twist in a knot, sick.. But not knowing what you were doing, where and to whom was somehow worse.

That fear morphed into depression, then anger, then motivation, before going back to depression and leaving me confused. We’ve been home, isolated at home, for about a month. There are protests popping up all across the country, I guess for the right to get infected with you and pass that festering life-threatening infection on to others. 🤷 Some states are reopening, others are cancelling all summer events.

How long can we do this?

On one hand, I understand the need for the economy to reopen. So many people are out of work. Too many. And those people need help NOW. Not in 30 days, now. But on the other hand, you are a viral pandemic. (Not name calling, That’s a fact.) Do you give a shit about our retirement accounts? Or our ability to pay your rent? 🤔 My guess is no. With no way to test everyone and no vaccine there is no way to get people back to work.

So what choices have you left us with?

I work in digital and content marketing so my industry is not closed. Some may count me lucky for this; I am one of those people, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune. I’ve lost clients. I have a dear client in New York I haven’t heard from in a few weeks and I think about her every time I watch Governor’s Cuomo’s address. I have other clients drastically scaling back and even more that I fear will eventually be forced to decide between me and my services and their bills. (Full Disclosure: I will recommend firing me every single time.)

So what am I to do? Do I wait it out or is that quitting? I’m sure so many business gurus would tell me to keep pushing. Make money when I sleep. Capitalize on the (insert whatever nonsense here). But what if I don’t feel up to it? What if it feels wrong to market now?

Alternatively I could hustle harder. I could use this time to grow my skills, build my brand, strategize for when things reopen and crush it then. But when is that? Next month? Next year? How do I plan when I don’t have a clue what’s going on. How do I hustle when I’m paralyzed with the fear someone I love will get sick? Or that anyone else anywhere in the world will get sick?

The thing is I don’t know what to do. You’ve left me, a planner, an eternal optimist, a #momboss without a clue on how to proceed. Everyday is a delicate balance of keeping my spirits up enough to work in the wake of the worst global pandemic in 100 years, with no end in sight and trying to give myself enough grace to feel what I feel. 😣

I talk to other business owners every single day. I don’t know what to say anymore. I don’t know what to recommend anymore. I don’t know how to read my data anymore. Is the ad performing poorly because my creative is rubbish or because no one cares right now? Do I stop reading the data for the time being? How does that even work?

If you’re a small business owner and you’re reading this; know I’m thinking of you. I know you are resilient and I know you will get through this. If you’re closing shop indefinitely or forever as a result of this you are not a failure. I will say it again in case I am not making myself clear. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. You will rebuild, you will thrive again, eventually the skies will clear and we will return to the land of the living.

Do you hear me COVID 19? Your days are numbered. We will defeat you. It will be entirely too late, but we will.

Until then my best advice to you, small business owners, is to do what feels right. Ignore the pumped up salesy bullshit. If you don’t want to hustle today, don’t. Taking a day to drink coffee and watch pointless reality tv is okay. If you feel like planning, growing and diving deeper into your business, do it. Everyday will be different right now and that’s okay. You cannot hold yourself to the same standard you did a month ago. We are not the same people, this is not the same world.

To you Covid I want to say thank you and also screw you. Thank you for gifting me with enough time to get certified in several Google Concepts I’ve been meaning to get to, for providing me with the depression necessary to prompt me to spend upwards of 70 hours this month playing the same video game because I was too upset to do anything else with my free time and thank you for making me appreciate all my fellow humans just a little bit more than I did a few month ago. But screw you, for all the obvious reasons.


Christi Underwood

Small Business Owner in 2020

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