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Between frequently changing laws and mandates, loss of income, having to adjust to working from home and/or among family/roommates, getting used to a new “normal,” feeling isolated, and everything else that’s come with the coronavirus, many small business owners are exhausted.
And, friend, if you’re a small business owner, I get it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve listened to hours worth of podcasts and webinars and read countless articles and blog posts trying my darndest to set my business and family up for success during this time. And, a lot of this content has only made me feel even more nervous, overwhelmed, and defeated.
While I do believe that it’s our responsibility as small business owners to do research and stay up to date on the latest laws and regulations for our businesses (or consult experts like lawyers and accountants), Christian business owners have a very important question to ask themselves right now: “How does God want me and my business to respond during this pandemic?”
I by no means have all the answers, but today, I want to break down five Christ-like ways small business owners can respond to the coronavirus to (1) bring God glory and (2) love others well.
1. Abide by the laws & regulations your federal, state, & local governments have put in place.
Now, there are a lot of opinions about COVID-19, especially regarding social distancing and stay-at-home orders. That’s all well and good, but here’s the thing. God instructs us to abide by the laws our government puts in place.
Romans 13:1-2 says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
In these verses, Paul is telling the people of the Roman church that they need to obey government authorities because God has put these individuals—as He does all government leaders—in their roles.
Basically, no matter how you feel about COVID-19, social distancing, the president, or other government officials, we are called as believers to obey our government. (Unless, of course, the government asks us to do something that isn’t God honoring.)
If you’re a Christian small business owner, this means that you need to (1) practice social distancing and (2) ensure your business is following both federal and local laws and mandates.
For example, Indiana has instructed “nonessential” businesses to cease work outside the home for the next couple weeks. As a result, I can’t legally photograph weddings or sessions right now. While I could try to bend the rules, this would go against government instruction, and as a result, it would be dishonoring to God and a poor reflection of the church.
Even if you don’t 100% agree with the government’s decisions, as Christians, we are called to obey the law and can trust that God is in control of both federal and local authorities.
Edited to Add: Indiana has announced that outdoor photo sessions can resume as long as social distancing protocols are practiced.
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Remember the Golden Rule? Luke 6:31 says, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” It might seem a little elementary, but Jesus’s instruction applies in every situation, including this global pandemic!
As a small business owner, I want to encourage you to pay special attention to how you treat your customers, employees, and even other small businesses over the next few months. (This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t always be thinking about these people!)
Right now, you’re worried and nervous. But, guess what. So are your clients!
I mean, my clients are brides and grooms who are having to reschedule their weddings. That’s stressful and disappointing!
As a small business owner, it’s important to think about how you’d want to be treated in your clients’ situations. For me, that’s meant being proactive with communication, creating content specific to my clients’ concerns (Find out how you can postpone your wedding without losing money!), waiving rescheduling fees, sending gifts to those affected, and just being there for my brides.
Think about how you’d want to be treated if you were in your customers’ shoes, and operate your business accordingly.
This might go without saying, but how you treat your customers now (at the worst point) will absolutely affect how/if they want to work with you moving forward.
If you have a team—even if it’s just contractors or freelancers—you need to think about their well-being too. After all, these are the incredible men and women helping you make your business and dreams possible!
Finances are tight for everyone right now, but if you can, I want to encourage you to figure out a way to keep your staff. (Isn’t that what you’d want from an employer?)
This might mean making budget cuts in other areas, applying for the CARE Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (Everyone feels differently about loans, but this choice is ultimately up to you!), or getting scrappy in another way.
If you can’t afford to keep your staff, I’m sure you’re already heartbroken for these individuals. But, having to let members of your team go doesn’t mean you can’t be there for them. Serve them by helping them find new jobs or by providing them with whatever help or resources that you can.
It’s a devastating time to be unemployed, and regardless of your financial situation, I want to encourage you to support your team to the best of your ability and to not forget that they’ve helped make your business possible.
Other Small Businesses
You reap what you sow; practice what you preach; or refer to whatever cliché you need to remember that if you want others to support your small business, you need to support other small businesses too!
If you can, continue to safely invest in your favorite small businesses (order takeout, shop online, buy gift cards, etc.). Bonus points if you share whatever you get from these small businesses on social media! (We’ve been doing takeout a couple times a week, and I’ve been sharing the meals on Instagram stories.)
If you aren’t in a place where you can financially support other small businesses (or want to do even more), there are other ways you can serve your favorite businesses for FREE. For example, you can write glowing online reviews for these businesses, talk about them on social media, create blog posts or videos explaining why you are specific businesses, share their information with friends who might be interested in their products or services, or even simply send a message to these businesses letting them know you love and appreciate them.
Long story short, friend, you aren’t the only small business owner who’s nervous right now. Help your small business brothers and sisters out!
3. Be careful & kind with your words—even on social media.
Now, it’s no secret that this situation has been hard. Isolation has been difficult. Lack of income has been worrisome. And, adjusting to a new normal is something else altogether. But, can I share what’s been hardest for me? Seeing so many people attack others online with cruel, hateful words.
As Christians, our words matter, and we will be held accountable for the things that come out of our mouths. In Matthew 12:36, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”
Not only do our words matter in terms of judgement, but our words are also important because they can show nonbelievers what life with Christ can be like. (I’m not necessarily referring to sharing the Gospel here. I simply mean that our words can be kind and bring peace and reflect that a life with God is different and can be more positive.)
In Ephesians 4, Paul explains to the church of Ephesus that it’s important for their lives to look different than they did before they became believers, as well as different from the way nonbelievers are living. To give the church a clearer idea of what he means by this, Paul talks about theft, dealing with anger, idleness, and finally words.
In verse 29, Paul tells the church, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
And, friend, right now, it’s so important to remember this instruction. We might not be using words outside of our homes (Side note: It’s also important to use kind to those you live with!), but a lot of us are spending more time on social media than usual.
Before you post or comment on something, I want to encourage you to make sure that your words are helpful, not hateful. Use this opportunity to be a positive influence and a light in this crazy time—not to put others down.
And, not to scare you, but words are remembered. I can almost guarantee you that the hateful words you use out of fear now will lead to loss of business when the world goes back to normal.
For the sake of bringing God glory, showing others what life with Christ can look like, spreading positivity, and your business, be careful and thoughtful with your words.
4. Use this time as a chance to rest & reassess.
Now, I think it’s safe to say that most small business owners are naturally workaholics. After all, we love what we do!
However, while God does want us to work, He also wants us to rest. (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-10, Psalm 127:2, etc.) In fact, during his lifetime, even Jesus made time to rest (Mark 1:35 and Mark 6:31-32).
If I were a betting kind of gal, I’d bet that you’ve been going a million miles an hour for weeks, months, or even years, and figuring out what to do with this unexpected downtime has been difficult for you. (Or, you’re filling every minute with projects you’ve been meaning to get to.)
During this time, make time to rest and reassess. Read a book, watch TV, play board games, and take a step back from your business and busy schedule. Then, when you’re ready and have a clear head, look at your business and ask if there’s anything that you can change to bring God more glory and/or better serve others.
This might include streamlining processes so you have more time to rest or to spend with friends and family. This could include creating content that helps your clients during the coronavirus or for years to come. Whatever the case, use this time to both relax for your sake and innovate to help others.
5. Remember that God is in control.
Last but not least, we need to remember that God is in control and that He loves us.
This isn’t to say that this situation won’t be difficult and trying, but God does care about you and is aware of everything on your mind and even the smallest trials you’re facing.
In Luke 12:22-26, Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?”
In other words, God takes care of everything—even little birds. He has not forgotten about you or your family and will provide. The way He provides might be different than the way that you think that He should, but you’ll be okay.
While much of the world is fearful, you can rest easy knowing that God has your back.
Friend, if you made it to the end of this post, thank you so much for reading. It got a lot longer than I intended, but these things have been on my heart lately, and I felt like I should share.
In summary, if you’re a small business owner who loves Jesus, I want to challenge you to (1) stop living in fear in the midst of COVID-19 and (2) use this time to love God and others well.
This time of crisis has presented a unique opportunity for you and your business to stand out as a positive example in the midst of chaos and to show your customers, audience, team, and peers what life with Christ can look like.
Stay well, friend, and don’t worry!
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12:12