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I Spent 10 Years Building My Small Business. COVID-19 Destroyed It In Just 8 Weeks.

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Especially because I know I’m not alone. With U.S. unemployment numbers reaching the highest rate since the Great Depression, I know I’m just one of many facing the same ― or much worse ― economic conditions. I feel for business owners who’ve had to confront the additional emotional burden of letting employees go and know it weighs heavily on their minds.

I worry even more for their former employees. Our teams generally consist of independent contractors, so officially we haven’t had to let anyone go or sever any partnerships during this crisis. But we know that many of our contractors are receiving far fewer assignments and we’ve worked especially hard to keep any opportunities on the table that we can. 

The truth is I feel resigned to this temporary existence. I’m trying to keep as many balls in the air as possible while giving my all to the clients we have left. I’m also spending more time than ever on my knees.

And yet, there are silver linings. It’s true that you often don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Even though I feel the losses of my company, this situation has reminded me to hold onto what I have with deeper appreciation. That I can still wrap my arms around my wife and children matters so much more in the end. And being able to spend additional time with them these days is a blessing I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. Our four children are all under age 10 and these are indeed precious years that I feel grateful to witness more of. 

But I also have to admit that sometimes when I see their faces looking up at me, I feel a pang of worry and concern about what our future holds. The reality is that I don’t know where my company will be when all this is over or if we’ll have any livelihood left at all.

In the meantime, the least I can do is share my experience of loss with others. I believe that no matter what battle each of us is fighting, it helps to know we’re not fighting alone.

Daryl Austin is a small business owner and writer based in Utah. His byline has previously appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, Business Insider, NBC News and Newsweek.

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