What does Hamilton have to do with small business owners? At this point in the pandemic, I keep finding this song from Hamilton stuck in my head. I love the show and different songs and moments stick with me. In the play, the song begins with “The Bullet”, an unnamed character in the play who foreshadows death, has just missed Hamilton. In the picture above, The Bullet, played by Ariana DeBose stands behind Hamilton, played by Lin Manuel Miranda. We know he won’t outrun her for long.  Meanwhile, the voice of Eliza, Hamilton’s wife, implores him to “Stay Alive.”

Keep Business Alive

There are a couple of reasons why this song is resonating with me right now. In the US, we are experiencing a health crisis and a growing economic crisis. As a small business owner, whose clients are other small business owners, I am doing OK for right now with my current clients. But my business can’t stay alive without growing. If I can just, as General George Washington says, “outrun…outlast” then I know new clients will be ready for me when “this horror show has passed.”

I am taking my own advice.  I am building my profile. The virtual conferences where I have participated as a speaker and as an attendee have resulted in some wonderful connections for me and my clients. While virtual conferences can’t replace in person ones, they also present opportunities for at the moment connecting and follow up.

For example, at the WBEC-Pacific Ideation conference, I listened to the keynote speakers talk about the importance of data and analysis. During an in-person conference I would have had to find them later to introduce one of my clients. She specializes in market research and analytics. But during a virtual meeting, I could put their information directly into the zoom chat for the attendees to see.

At the WPO Conference, I was able to talk to the sponsors of the conference at their virtual booths. Together we discussed what one of my clients offered.  I was able to make a connection immediately and brought my client “into the room” right away. I didn’t have to text her to see where she was and try and arrange a meeting in a room of thousands of people.

Still, the uncertainty during these moments affects me in waves. As I finish Q3 and look at Q4 I wonder, will my clients also stay alive? I am being creative about the ways I drive value when conferences, and preparing for conferences looks totally different than it has before.

Keep Momentum Alive

In our Business UNusual series, my business partner Heather and I ask people what they hope stays when coronavirus goes away. I’ve heard so many thoughtful answers to this. As we reel from episodes of police brutality against Black Americans and vigilante violence against the protestors of this violence, I want our focus on racial justice and police reform to stay alive. While for a business owner The Bullet is metaphorical, for a Black American it is literal.

The people we’ve interviewed on the series have had varying degrees of optimism about whether the momentum of the social justice movement will stay alive. The Philadelphia Citizen has a great series about how big business can help Black communities thrive and touches on the value of supplier diversity. As someone who has been in this space for a long time, to see corporate procurement linked with community development and social change as well as the bottom line gives me great hope. But then, I’ve also been called an apocaloptimist.

Keep Connections Alive

The same can be said for people who have lost loved ones to complications from COVID or whose loved ones are fighting COVID now. It’s a struggle for some to simply stay alive. I hope we can make great strides in public health in the weeks and months to come.  There are certainly many images on social media to make you lose faith in your fellow humans,. Overwhelmingly, though, what I hear from people is how beautiful it is to see community members coming together for the greater good.

Fall brings us back to school and the reality that we’re not going to be done with COVID-19 in 2020. Here’s to keeping our businesses, our momentum, our connections and our hope alive until we are done with it.