What It's Like to Get COVID-19 and Still Try to Run a Business

What It's Like to Get COVID-19 and Still Try to Run a Business

We got the word late on a Friday - someone in my son's daycare class tested positive for COVID-19 and had been at school earlier in the week. This news hit us about the same time our mild symptoms did: congestion, fatigue (lots of fatigue), sore throat, aches.

A few days later my wife and I found out we tested positive for COVID-19. I took my son in to get tested; also positive. We've been under quarantine protocols since we found out about his direct exposure and will finally get to emerge tomorrow. 

Once I knew about the exposure, I stayed away from our warehouse. Normally, during November and December, Batch's production warehouse is my second home. My role? Chief Do Whatever Is Needed Officer. I'm there to assist our Director of Operations, Fulfillment Manager, Concierge, Operations Associations, and Sales Directors in whatever they need to get their jobs done be it closing deals, calling vendors, packing boxes, ordering supplies, asking clients clarifying questions - you name it and I'll stand in that gap.

It's killed me to be away from our warehouse for two weeks. But of course, the team hasn't missed a beat (or missed me, in all likelihood). In the midst of a global pandemic, we've set all time sales records for the quarter for online and corporate gift sales. We'll end up shipping five times as many packages as any previous year. 

Hunkered down at home, I've been doing what I can, which is mostly paperwork (you know, the reason most people start businesses: so they can look at spreadsheets and send emails). And this is good, mainly because even though I'm past my major symptoms, the fatigue seems like it's going to hang out for a while.

Before COVID hit my house, I was the guy who had his feet on the floor, ready for the day at 4AM. I'd rarely set an alarm. My internal clock and excitement to start a new day running my own business was enough to get me up and fully awake while some people were just turning in for the night.

I'd start the coffee maker and then read for an hour, catching up on news and social media and making sure to complete the daily crossword. By 5AM, it was a round of stretching and a light workout so I could start tackling email by 5:30 until my son woke up and needed a diaper change and a bottle. 

Getting up early meant I netted an extra two to three hours over most people. Two hours a day, over six days a week, over 50 weeks a year meant I could fit in 28% more working hours than you. What would take you a year to accomplish would only take me 9 months. The early bird gets...everything.

But the last two weeks this hasn't been the case. It takes effort to get out of bed even by 6AM so I can do anything I can to keep working before my son gets up and needs a diaper change and a bottle. Some experts are predicting that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a possible long-term effect Of COVID-19. This means I'll need to fully rearrange my workdays - forever - in order to keep chasing this entrepreneurial dream.

Scarier still are the currently unknown long-term effects of this disease. My sense of smell hasn't fully returned (this is both an asset and a liability when it comes to dirty diapers). I'm thankful and lucky that all my (and my family's) symptoms have been relatively mild, especially when compared with the hard-fought battles of others, as well as the staggering and growing death toll. 

And we were careful. Daycare took every recommended precaution and then some. I wore a mask whenever I left the house and limited where I went to the grocery store and our warehouse. I've got multiple bottles of hand sanitizer in my car. I haven't gotten a haircut all year. No plane rides or hotel stays or vacations. 

COVID-19 doesn't care. 

My son turns one today. Local family will celebrate through our glass front door later. He's shown little to no impact from all this, other than enjoying some extra time at home while Mom and Dad try to work and line up Hot Wheels cars at the same time. 

This year has tested my other chief asset as an entrepreneur: optimism. It's hard to hope now. I think next year will be better for everyone as we'll have an actual leader in the White House, a readily available vaccine, and perhaps even governmental assistance to individuals and businesses. So I'm clinging on to things getting better, even when they have somehow this year found a way to get worse.

I'm thankful that our team at Batch is strong and seemingly built for this. December is our Super Bowl and we start planning for it each February (although this year we rewrote our playbook at least twice since then). The team is staying smart and healthy and pallets upon pallets of gifts are leaving our dock each day. Sometimes I like to think the growth of this business is all on me, but then getting sick and watching our team perform at its peak reminds me very little of this business is all on me

And thank goodness for that. Maybe next year I'll get out of the way even more. Maybe the first seven-plus years of Batch were dreaming up the idea, building the team and now it's time to let the flywheel fly. Maybe I could use the rest and a slower pace to adjust to whatever my routine looks like post-COVID.

You build your network before you need it, and you build the team to coach itself. Because you never know when that need will arise, be it a personal situation, a disease, or a chance to grow.

Whatever is next, I'll be ready. (My team already is.)