Small business lessons are being learned all over the economy these days. Two weeks ago, I was looking at stories from the founders of businesses during the pandemic. Those small businesses were formed out of necessity and opportunity and provided some good case studies for people looking to start a new business in 2020. Later that same week, Bloomberg had a similar feature on pandemic small business lessons learned by six companies. Unlike those who started their business during 2020, these business leaders run businesses that have been in existence long before the pandemic (in the case of the Dallas Museum of Art, since 1903). These small business lessons are a good complement to the lessons that the new businesses have been learning in 2020.
Pandemic Economy Lessons
Across a variety of industries, these companies found ways to adapt and survive the chaos of 2020. The small business lessons are adaptable to whatever industry you are in.
Inspiration to Start a Nonprofit
Lenore Estrada lost her biggest client when Google shut its offices in March. She runs Three Babes Bakeshop in San Francisco. The challenges she has run into inspired her to start another business, a nonprofit, with her friend in March. Her nonprofit, SF New Deal, connects local restaurants with organizations that are providing food to people in need during the pandemic. It’s great to see the pandemic providing inspiration to assist those in need.
Adding a Video Chat
Lindsay Gibson, the COO of TextNow, was forced to make cuts and end some employee perks. But as the months progressed, they were also able to find opportunities to grow. By adding a video chat function, they offered a free way for people to connect. This was especially helpful for those who were unable to continue to afford their cell phone bills. As a result, they are now back on track to meet or even exceed their revenue targets.
Focusing on the Mental Well-Being of Your Employees
Vistra Communications owner Brian Butler has been through a lot of disasters. He’s a Gulf War veteran, worked at a munitions plant in Virginia on September 11, 2001, helped coordinate Hurricane Katrina relief and started his business just before the 2008 recession. As things got worse in 2020, he focused on the mental well-being of his employees. They’ve been given money to buy something to help them work and they have informal coffee meetings. Working from home for Butler means being a few feet away from the bedroom where he started his company in 2008.
Moving Classes Online
Imagine running a business that is based on in-person dance classes during the pandemic? That’s what Nancy Umanoff, the Executive Director of Mark Morris Dance Group has been forced to do this year. By moving classes online, however, they’ve been able to expand the reach of their classes. Their donors increased from 300 last year to 1,400 this year and they even created a class for people with Parkinson’s Disease, which attracted 1,200 people from 38 countries. As a result, there will always be an online component to their business going forward.
Finding New Sources of Employees
Six years ago, Melissa Wirt founded Latched Mama to provide affordable and functional clothing for nursing mothers. When things began to close down, Latched Mama lost inventory that was supposed to come from China. As the business refocused and opened up again, Melissa changed the makeup of her employees, finding some teenagers to do part-time work in the warehouse. While she’s not as productive as before, she’s comfortable with cutting some profit if needed to help people and their kids get through the pandemic.
Spreading an Important Message
Unlike many museums, the Dallas Museum of Art was able to keep its employees during the lockdown. They focused on keeping the morale of the employees up from home and moved their programs online. Recognizing its importance in our current social climate, they also made Arthur Jafa’s video “Love Is the Message, the Message is Death” available online for free. It will remain on view until March 2021. In August, they were able to reopen with limited visitors and reservations.
Lessons for Your Business
The variety of industries in the Bloomberg piece is encouraging. Regardless of the area of the economy you operate in, can you find a lesson from one of these companies?
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If you are thinking of starting a business or already started your business and want to make sure your legal documents are in order, give me a call and we can set up a Legal Strategy Session to discuss the process and what documents would be best tailored for your company – (877) AMAYERS.