Alumni Advice: Tips from an Entrepeneur in the Time of COVID-19

By Amy Shack Egan (’14) of Modern Rebel

Amy head shot

Amy Shack Egan (’14)

I’ve lived in New York City for five years. In that time I’ve learned to love its complex, unforgiving nature – the push for innovation, hustle, and noise. But several weeks ago, New York City went quiet. What makes this city great was taken away and I was forced to stay home with my husband to try and fill the space that New York City takes up.

Can you imagine how that went? Not well. As a wedding planner, I went from a busy Spring of weddings to a busy Spring of rescheduling – we’re at 30 and counting – and all new business froze. My husband had just left his stable, salaried job two months earlier to pursue his passion; worst timing ever. All our plans for the near future vanished from our calendars. We were completely disoriented. We fought. One night I just lost it and cried into a pillow and I couldn’t stop.

Now it’s seven weeks later and we’re actually thriving. I joked last night, “I could never have predicted that we’d thrive in a crisis but here we are – we’re happier than we’ve ever been and more excited about life and our careers, too.” So, how did I go from crying into a pillow to thriving? Here are my top tips:

  • Acceptance is a small quiet room.” (Cheryl Strayed) I’ve accepted that today is all I can truly control. I write a list of daily tasks, check those off, and address tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Building a business from scratch? The same principle applies. Do not be 10 steps ahead. Be where your feet are and chip away. If you get caught up in the 10 steps ahead, you’re going to miss an essential part of your business you need to pay attention to and you won’t make it to 10 steps ahead.
  • The landscape has changed. Act accordingly. Here’s a metaphor for you: If you’re climbing a mountain and suddenly that mountain turned into a beach, you’d make some changes, right? Maybe shed a few layers or stop and take a dip in the ocean? Stop rooting yourself in a reality that doesn’t exist anymore – the coolest success stories of entrepreneurs that I know of are people that were faced with serious challenges and change, and they decided to roll with it rather than resist it. This week, we’re launching virtual wedding coordination. It wasn’t in my plans but the landscape changed + my customer’s needs did too, so here we are.
  • Find out what keeps you motivated. We’re all different, but we all know when we’re operating at peak performance. Take a moment and write it down. For me? It’s when I get up early and do some physical activity, a few minutes of meditation, and quiet time with coffee and the news before diving into work. Right now I’m pivoting my current business, launching a new business, all while managing clients. I have to operate at peak performance. Do I get lazy? Sure. And I give myself permission for 20 minutes here and there and a full Sunday without email notifications so I can stay fresh not just stressed.

If you’re lucky enough to have your health right now, you have an opportunity. No, not to “pivot” but to dig deep, find your why, and dance to that new direction. Entrepreneurs, by nature, want more out of life. The best entrepreneurs? They create more out of life. Here’s your opportunity.

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