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The Real Gifts of COVID-19 coronavirus

Social distancing is taking a toll on employees and small businesses, but I can think of three gifts personal chefs can gain from COVID-19. Chefs aren’t working right now – that’s the elephant in the room. It is hard because bills are due whether money comes in or not. But there is also a golden opportunity for chefs. I want to be a positive voice. So, hear this: Chef, nobody’s picking on you, we’re all in this together, and right now you have the chance of a lifetime.

What Does the Black Death of the 14th Century Teach Us About COVID-19?

Between 1347 and 1352 the Black Death forged through Europe killing 25-30 million people. Once the crises ended, numerous practical problems presented themselves, resulting in a more flexible, leveraged and transformed workforce. What will you learn from the Black Death of the 14th century? (Please read on, I’m not the doomsday type. This is an awesome time, chef!)

Black Death can teach us how to respond to COVID-19
photo credit: I. Columbina, ad vivum delineavit. Paulus Fürst Excud〈i〉t. – 1. Johannes Ebert and others, Europas Sprung in die Neuzeit, Die große Chronik-Weltgeschichte, 10 (Gütersloh: Wissen Media, 2008), p. 197.

COVID-19 Gives Us Back Our Time

The number one excuse I hear from chefs is “I don’t have time.”

  • “I don’t have time” to learn a new skill, take a class, or read a book.
  • “I don’t have time” to spend with my family or go out with my friends.
  • “I don’t have time” to start the personal chef business I’ve been dreaming of for years.
  • “I don’t have time” to work on my personal chef business because I’m too busy working in my personal chef business

And the list goes on.

Use your time well during social distancing from COVID-19

Enter COVID-19 and social distancing. Chef, now you have the time to work as hard for yourself as you do for someone else! Or, if you already work in your own personal chef business, you have the time to work on your business. 

It’s Never a Good Time for a Pandemic, But You Can Use This Time to Prepare for a Brighter Future

True, right this moment is not the best time to sell services to strangers, but that shouldn’t stop you from positioning yourself to start and/or leverage your culinary skills into a business that will magnify your current income. You heard me right. The chefs who prepare NOW will be best positioned for the recovery that WILL come. And you want to be ready!

If you’re an ostrich sticking your head in the sand, you won’t be able to see when the smoke clears!

Get your head out of the sound and use social distancing wisely to prepare for a brighter future

Three Gift the Coronavirus is Giving You

Here are three gifts the coronavirus sent you. Don’t miss the opportunity to make use of this unique time in our history, your life, your work.

Gift One: A chance to catch your breath

If your hours were reduced or eliminated in response to COVID-19, apply for unemployment NOW. Period. Do that first. Then get a good night’s sleep. Enjoy a day free from rushing around. Spend time doing the things you’ve neglected with the people that you say matter the most. These are likely the same people that have taken a back seat while you put someone or something else first. 

But DON’T use this time to binge-watch Netflix or over imbibe. Don’t burn up this valuable time. Please. Protect your mind from the onslaught of unproductive information (there’s plenty of that out there). Get some exercise and stay healthy. Transfer the massive energy you’ve put into someone else’s business into your own! Be prepared to open your own culinary business. 

Gift Two: Time to work on you and your business

There are literally dozens of self-help and business improvement projects you can do. Map Your Business. Take time to launch your business, identify your ideal customers, the services that differentiate you from your competitors, price comparisons, marketing campaigns – someone stop me! 

The list is endless but it’s fun if you pick and choose wisely where to focus your attention and time. Wherever you are in business, whether you’re a launcher, grower or multiplier there are strategic steps you can take now that position your business to emerge strong and ready.

BONUS TIP 1: Already in business? DON’T lower your prices for the high-demand days of 2020 and 2021. These days will still be in high demand when coronavirus is a distant memory.

BONUS TIP 2: Already in business? Send out a COVID-19 coronavirus statement to your customers. Post your coronavirus position statement on your website and through your social media platforms. Reaffirm your commitment to your clients’ health and nutrition (e.g. food safety, hygiene, sanitation, HACCP, etc.).

Gift Three: Time to adjust your expenses

Now is a great time for an internal audit of your personal and business expenses. Remember that $9.99/month app you don’t use but haven’t cancelled? Cancel it! The Hulu, Netflix, ESPN sports, NFL Game Pass subscriptions are adding up, chef. You can cancel services, reduce services, or simply reprice them. 

Here’s how: Call your insurance company, cell phone and internet providers. Ask for the retention department. Tell them you’re calling to find out if what you’re paying is accurate for the services you’re using. Ask if there is something they can do to reduce your bill without impacting the services you are using. This internal audit can reduce your monthly expenses without changing your lifestyle.

Expenses are not the same as investments

Warning: Understand the difference between expenses and investments. Cut, reduce, or reprice expenses. Keep your investments. Expenses, by their nature, are meant to give you one thing in exchange for another (paying for cell phone service keeps your cell phone on). Investments, on the other hand, have a cost that is intended to give you a return of multiples (an advertisement in your region that reaches thousands of viewers).

The Black Death Offers Indisputable Proof NOW is the Time to Act, Chef

Black Death offers hope during COVID-19 coronavirus

The Chaos Imperative is a fascinating book that explains how change and disruption increase innovation, effectiveness, and success. The book describes how the Black Death ultimately led to inventor Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press. Results of the Black Death led to shifts in socioeconomic status. An emerging paper industry resulted from using rags from the left-over clothing of the dead. A disproportionate number of priests and monks died during this time because they administered care and “last rights” to the ill. At the time the priests and monks were also society’s trusted scribes of the written word. The tragedy created a “white space” in society in which change could occur. Paper from rags was readily available but the workforce to scribe was not so there was a need for a practical printing method. This resulted in a radical readiness and society’s willingness to embrace a crazy invention we call the printing press.

chef, it's your turn to come out ahead after COVID-19 coronavirus

Like the Black Death Centuries Ago, Coronavirus can be a Chef’s Best Gift

I’m asking you to be a Chef “Gutenberg” of 2020. Like the Black Death centuries ago, coronavirus can be a chef’s best gift if you use this white space  to become radically ready. Don’t wait to be called back to you job. Create our own job and map your future business as a personal or private chef. Use social distancing to position yourself for a great new future. 

Please chef, use this time well. It truly is a gift! I guarantee in a very short period of time we’ll see certain chefs catapult forward in business and in life. For each of these success stories, we will look back to find that these chefs used this time to their advantage. Let that be you!