Thoughts from Week Ten of COVID-19 Quarantine by Stephanie of exit343design

Hello from mid-May, in the year 2020. Two months ago, I wrote this blog post entitled, “What Your Small Business Can Do to Ride out the Coronavirus in 2020.” Yes, that title is a mouth-full- it’s called SEO, people! I am biased, but I do think the information in the post holds up and can be worth a read if you are a small business owner. However, the mental “place” from which I wrote that piece? Well, that place hasn’t held up so well in two month’s time . . .

I started March FULL of motivation to kick butt and take names in business and in life. I had just purchased a new time-blocking planner (which I do still love, BTW- shoutout to Passion Planner) and was time-blocking the heck out of my days, getting max productivity. We cleaned out closets, I planted a garden. I began my business workflow project. My husband and I were watching the 6:30pm news with Lester Holt every evening, learning more about the virus along with the rest of the world. I was used to March being a slow month of business for exit343design. I was prepared for April to be slow too and I accepted that.

Flash to now: motivation is fleeting. When is this going to end? What are days anyway? I woke up yesterday feeling like a slug and cried in to my cat’s furry belly for no reason. Today, I woke up ready to tackle this blog post and that’s about it. We haven’t watched the nightly news in days, it’s too upsetting in so many ways. The only news I want to watch is Some Good News, but that makes me cry too. I could handle March & April being a wash, but now that it is May? A wave of panic is rising within me and it’s getting harder to keep the anxiety in check.

For years, I have been taught to not put all of my business eggs in one financial basket. I have spent SO MUCH TIME trying to diversify: I sell in person at markets & events, I sell retail on my own website, I sell retail on the largest “handmade” platform on the web, Etsy. I sell wholesale to stores around the country. When my schedule allows, I sell custom wedding paper and take on freelance design projects.

But no professional conference, no educational podcast, and no business book could have prepared me for what to do when the entire industry your business exists within basically vanishes in mere weeks.

It doesn’t matter where your eggs are when all the baskets have been burnt to the ground.

And the shitty thing about all of this? People are still dying. I feel guilty to be upset about the future of my livelihood while there are thousands of other people hurting, with way bigger fish to fry. There is so much uncertainty and fear in the world in so many ways, it hurts my heart.

I am fine. WE are fine. My husband has a steady job, we have our health and a roof over our heads. I have built exit343design at a snail’s pace since 2007; “boot strap” is practically my middle name. I refuse to believe that this thing I’ve spent 1/3 of my life building will just vanish in a couple of months. These are things I know to be true. But, when the unknown creeps in, it’s so hard to be optimistic and the motivation dissipates once again . . .

What is the point of this post? I don’t even know. I needed to get these thoughts out of my head. My hope is that someone will read this and feel less alone. Inclusion is a feeling we could all use right now! This post is a reminder that even though social media makes everything look AWESOME all of the time, things aren’t awesome. They are far from awesome.

Stay well, friends. Support your local non-profits who are lending a hand to your friends and neighbors. Reach out to your friends and family often. Support your local businesses as much as you are able. Wash those hands and wear a dang mask. Remember that the news cycle is 24/7, so it’ll be there when you need it. We are all in this together.

-Stephanie, May 2020