Jana Sanchez, a business adviser with Trebuchet Group and local accelerator LaunchNo.CO, says that while the future is unknowable, the past should give hope. Courtesy Jana Sanchez

COVID Diaries Colorado: Jana Sanchez navigates ‘horrible situations’ of small business owners


When the coronavirus pandemic hit, a coalition of Colorado journalists already had been talking about how to better serve the public by collaborating and sharing stories. The urgency of the situation accelerated the work. More than 40 Colorado news organizations — newspapers, TV, radio and digital outlets — are now sharing their reporting through the Colorado News Collaborative, COLab for short. And on April 16, 22 outlets joined together to report on the impact of the pandemic on Coloradans. The result: COVID Diaries Colorado, stories of grit, ingenuity and hope.

FORT COLLINS — Jana Sanchez started her day by shaking the nine inches of snow off the trees in her backyard, a chilling beginning for what would be another difficult day for the former Arizonan.

Sanchez is a business adviser for dozens of companies with the Trebuchet Group and local accelerator LaunchNo.CO.

At a personal level, self-isolation is difficult. She prefers talking in person, but is relegated to video conferences. She’s running strict isolation protocols with her husband, a chef at a local retirement home. She hasn’t seen her daughter in days while she shelters in place with her father.

A mid-day phone call with a local business owner faced with a dire choice: lay off her staff, or lose the business entirely. A few hours later, she heard from a loan administrator that many local businesses won’t get a cut of the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

Conversations like these are what Sanchez has been talking with clients about, day in and day out, for the past month.

“You have this horrible situation over here and this horrible situation over here, and how do you navigate some kind of solution down the middle of the road that still fits with your values and your morals?” she said. “And how can you make a decision that you’ll actually be able to live with?”

But some of her calls are from laid-off Coloradans looking to start their own business in the midst of a generation-defining crisis.

“We’re going to see some amazing new people out there who are thought-leaders and executors who have some really good ideas about how the future of our economy and society looks,” she said.

If a future crisis forces her to return to working from home, she’ll be ready with some nicer office furniture in her basement. She’ll keep singing power ballads from the eighties in between meetings to keep her spirits up. And she will turn to a whiteboard behind her desk bearing a quote from Winston Churchill, one of history’s finest crisis time leaders:

“The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.”

Editor’s note: This story is a part of COVID Diaries Colorado, powered by the Colorado News Collaborative, or COLab. BizWest joined this historic collaboration with more than 20 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve the public.

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