Self-Care Lessons for Running and Pivoting a Business During a Pandemic

Mardi McMillan, CEO and Co-Founder of thrivor, shares her wisdom for how to run a business while promoting self-care during these challenging times.

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Experiencing disappointment is more common than not when you decide to start a business. Obstacles are continually thrown your way and building resilience to not only get through them but to learn and move past them positively is essential to surviving life as a startup founder. COVID-19 has presented us all, without exception, challenges, opportunities and personal as well as professional growth. For some, it has presented opportunities, but for many of us, we have had to pivot and adapt to the new normal which takes creativity and determination. It is also essential to be able to look at the problem from different perspectives in order to determine the most positive outcome.

My business, (thrivor: a clinical trial payment solution) had a significant opportunity fall through as a result of COVID-19. At the time, this was hugely disappointing. However, once I was able to get up and dust myself off (and put my mask back on), I was able to see a completely new business opportunity emerge. We have seen substantial traction in clinical trial sites requesting the use of our platform with the purpose to communicate and pay clinical trial participants quickly and seamlessly no matter if they are remote or on site. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot of soul searching, tense discussions and difficult decisions to be made but the result has been of high value. It is easy to say this now, and as a founder you are not normally afforded time to wallow in disappointment, but it is perspective that moved me through to this new business opportunity.

Here are some of the self-care lessons I learned running a business during a pandemic:

  1. Be kind to yourself. It has been very interesting over the last few months how we are all becoming more tolerant of each other and what it takes to run a business out of our homes. Balancing home schooling, your team and your own work is nearly impossible. This is the time that we need to remember to be kind to ourselves. Prioritise sleep over that last email and don’t stress about that home cooked meal or vacuumed floor. As women, we normally see this as a downfall if it is not done, but there is always tomorrow.
  2. Find your tribe, you are not alone. Start-up life can be incredibly isolating, particularly when you are in lock down but there are so many other founders out there that have experienced similar disappointments and challenges. If you can find some like minded people that understand what you are going through it will ease the initial pain and help you to feel supported. “A problem shared is a problem halved”.
  3. Have perspective. Your business is often your baby. I know blood, sweat, and many tears go into being a business founder. Don’t forget, though, that perspective is needed, as is balance in order to be your best version of yourself for both you, your work and your family. It may seem like everything will fall in a heap if the last task is not done today but if we have learnt anything from the current situation we find ourselves in, it is that often just staying safe and well is enough for today.

As women we can be extremely hard on ourselves. We may judge ourselves often much more harshly than our biggest critics would, but I have been reminded of late that a little kindness and the ability to create some space around you is more beneficial than burning the candle at both ends. Find your people, there is always tomorrow and remember to slow down and breathe!

Mardi McMillan is the CEO and Co-Founder of thrivor. She is a proven partnership builder who has facilitated thrivor’s current partnerships and created thrivor from an idea in a coffee shop with her co-founder to pivoting the business to what it is today. She has experience in the Health and Corporate sector in relationship management including leading the research with Cabrini Hospital. Mardi has an MBA (Innovation & Leadership) and runs the day to day business of thrivor. Mardi also has a son with an incurable health issue so understands the challenges of a health crisis on a personal level.

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