When rumors of COVID-19 first started surfacing in early 2020, Justin Jones-Fosu didn’t think much of them. Like most entrepreneurs, he was focused on his business—Work Meaningful, an organization that helps entrepreneurs and teams improve workplace engagement through live workshops and presentations.
But when clients started canceling due to concerns about the pandemic, Justin realized that things were about to change. Quickly. Within just a few months, he went from holding in-person workshops and live presentations nearly every day to doing … nothing.
Like many entrepreneurs, Justin experienced a long stretch (in his case, 21 days) during the beginning of the pandemic where his business was completely shut down. He sat around the house, watched Netflix, and even contemplated becoming a cashier at his local grocery store just to keep some money coming in the door.
But then he had a reality check with himself. He had built his business around helping entrepreneurs and teams overcome challenges. This pandemic wasn’t going to end anytime soon, and there were already plenty of examples of entrepreneurs overcoming challenges during the pandemic while he was sitting around doing nothing.
Just because live events were out of the question didn’t mean his business had to come to a grinding halt. Like many entrepreneurs at this time, he just had to shift his mindset.
From deficit to abundance.
When the pandemic first hit, most entrepreneurs were focused on all the things they couldn’t do—and Justin fell into the same trap. But after some quick math on how many hours he would have to work as a cashier to make the equivalent of what he would receive from just one event, he realized that something needed to change. Instead of focusing on what he couldn’t do, he started thinking about all the things he could do as an entrepreneur.
He decided to go virtual, as so many entrepreneurs did over the coming months. But he wanted to do something different. He asked himself, “How can I make virtual amazing?”
His in-person presentations were engaging, but he realized there were certain things he could do virtually that weren’t even possible in an in-person setting. He could actually make his virtual workshops more engaging than his in-person presentations by speaking one-on-one with fellow entrepreneurs in Facebook Lives and providing a more intimate, personalized experience for his clients.
He went back to his own mantra: “It’s not about finding meaning in your work; it’s about bringing meaning to your work.” There were a lot of entrepreneurs who needed help overcoming challenges during the pandemic. He realized that he was in a position where he could not only help them get through the pandemic, but bring meaning to what they were doing at the same time.
With virtual workshops and presentations, Justin was quickly back on his feet and providing more value than ever to entrepreneurs and teams—in a time when they needed it most.
Overcoming challenges as a community.
We often talk about how adaptability is one of the greatest strengths that entrepreneurs possess. The ability to switch gears and pivot your business is essential for overcoming challenges, even in normal times.
But when we look at examples of entrepreneurs overcoming challenges during the pandemic, the power of adaptability really shines. Justin’s example is just one, and we’ve seen so many more examples of entrepreneurs pivoting their businesses in our community. Many entrepreneurs were forced to completely change their business model due to the pandemic.
When we asked Justin what motivated him to adapt his business model during the pandemic, he had one clear answer: “PEOPLE!”
When things got tough during the pandemic, Justin started talking with his fellow entrepreneurs in the Strategic Coach community. He was able to see how Strategic Coach entrepreneurs were overcoming challenges in their businesses and adapting to the new normal of life during the pandemic.
All around him were examples of entrepreneurs overcoming challenges during the pandemic, and he was able to incorporate their knowledge and experience into his own business. But in the process, he noticed something else.
There was a new challenge emerging for entrepreneurs that was even bigger than the pandemic—and he was in a unique position to help.
Diversity and inclusion in 2020.
Before Justin became an entrepreneur, and long before the pandemic, he worked in the corporate world. At one point, he was tapped to join a diversity and inclusion program—and he didn’t exactly like what he saw.
From Justin’s perspective, corporations were thinking about diversity in a completely backwards way. Diversity was seen as a number or metric that needed to be reached, and companies were shamed if they didn’t achieve it.
But really, diversity isn’t a mandate—it’s a mindset.
As an entrepreneur, Justin was already focusing on diversity and inclusion as a part of workplace engagement. But during the pandemic, things escalated. As racial tensions heightened around the U.S., Justin realized that he was in a unique position to help entrepreneurs and teams change the way they think about diversity. He could change the way entrepreneurs led their teams for years to come.
He started by creating a free seven-part YouTube series around the concept of embracing everyday diversity. He wanted entrepreneurs to understand that diversity was not some big initiative they needed to address, but an everyday mindset shift that occurred in the workplace—and especially in the mind of the entrepreneur.
By releasing free material and providing as much value as possible, he was able to help entrepreneurs around the country change the way they thought about diversity. Like so many entrepreneurs, he focused first on helping people—and in turn, he was able to create a new revenue stream for his business.
Just take it from us! We’ve brought on Justin to help the Strategic Coach team with our own diversity and inclusion mindsets, and we couldn’t be happier with his guidance, wisdom, and enthusiasm.
Want to hear more about how Justin is helping entrepreneurs overcome challenges, shift their thinking, and embrace diversity every day? Check out his latest book, The Inclusive Mindset.