By Sammie George, Bent County Development Foundation


This month’s column is about none other than… (surprise, surprise) COVID; but I’d like, just for the time that it takes you to read this, for you to NOT think about the bad things that are coming from this crisis — rather, I’d like you to think about the good … the silver linings.


Now, I do NOT want this column being misconstrued as not taking all of this serious; or anyone thinking that I’m downplaying the hardships that many are facing. I am fully aware that there are people out there that are REALLY struggling due to lost jobs, sickness, and isolation. I sympathize with these individuals, and I hope and pray for them during this time.


The reason that I want to talk about the silver linings during a time like this is because the bad is always the first to hit Facebook, and we are constantly surrounded by negativity … and quite frankly, I don’t want to talk about the negative things that we are all experiencing right now.


I feel that this is a point in our history that has tremendous opportunity for businesses and individuals alike. We are in unprecedented situations that are forcing many of us to take a step outside our comfort zone, recognize the impacts of the virus, and take advantage of the opportunities that can grow from it.


Much like the many wild fires that have been wreaking havoc in our region over the past number of weeks — there is destruction caused by these natural disasters — but the beauty that follows is an amazing testament to the possibilities of what comes next. There are businesses that have been in operation in our communities for decades (if not longer), and they are, no-doubt, cornerstones to our economy; however, I would argue that these are the same businesses that often need an act of God to change, pivot, and adapt for a bigger and brighter future … one that’s not attainable while sticking to the age-old “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality.


As the next generation soon becomes the leadership and driving force in our communities, there will be new trends, new demands, and new technology that will enable businesses to be conducted in more effective and efficient ways. Technology is ever-changing, and what you think is new now is, in reality, quite dated. If we, as a society want to be the shining beacon that I’ve mentioned in previous columns, then we must show a willingness to expand into these new horizons.


There are many examples in Bent County of businesses that don’t even have their information correctly uploaded to Google. They don’t use social media, and they refuse to invest in a website or any kind of marketing packages other than possibly the local newspapers. What many of these businesses don’t know is that utilization of updated marketing methods is actually less costly, and ultimately drives more customers to their doors- resulting in higher profit margins overall.


During COVID we’ve been relegated to shopping online, ordering pickup from Walmart and local restaurants, attending Zoom meetings with colleagues, listening to online lectures from teachers, and pushing the boundaries of our broadband systems. If this crisis hasn’t enlightened you in even the smallest way of the importance of having an online presence- then you’re not naive- you’re just stubborn.


The silver linings that I speak about will look different for each of us, but every one of us has the opportunity to come out of this pandemic a little better than we all went in, once recovery begins … and it will.


Maybe you’ve pivoted your business in a way that will enable you to expand your customer base even after you’re able to fully re-open.


Maybe you’ve begun offering services or new products that you never even thought of before COVID, and now- they’re your bread and butter.


Maybe you’ve started utilizing that member of the family that never really fit into the business before now, but has proven to be an asset with their knowledge of technology.


Maybe you’ve recognized that you need to learn some new “tricks” and you’ve either started teaching yourself, or you’ve found someone to mentor you.


Maybe you’ve realized that remote work is possible- which might allow you to downsize your office space and reduce your rent or mortgage.


Maybe you’ve been able to engage a completely new set of customers because you were “forced” to finally update your business Facebook page.


Maybe you’ve recognized Zoom as a time and energy saving tool that can be used to maximize your productivity.


Maybe you’ve been able to start a new healthy routine while you’ve been home.


Maybe you’ve had the opportunity to spend more quality time with your family, and you’ve realized that work has overtaken your life.


Maybe you’ve gotten some projects done at home that otherwise wouldn’t have been accomplished.


Maybe you’ve gained a deeper appreciation of greeting someone with a handshake or a hug.


Whatever your silver lining is… use it as your motivation to move into this “new normal” with purpose, and a strategic plan to grow bigger than you ever thought possible.


There are resources available to you that don’t cost you anything but your time … take that time to research and get the assistance that you need … a good place to start is the Bent County Development Foundation (BCDF).


It is the mission of the BCDF to increase general economic development and improve the quality of life for existing and future residents of Bent County. I would love to help you and your business thrive during this time. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or on our website www.bentcounty.org. You can also reach out to me at my email address sammie.george@bentcounty.org to set up a time that we can zoom.