It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has completely shaken up the way that typical business operations are done. Longstanding companies have been forced to pivot to the “new normal”, and for businesses that have just started, there are now new barriers to overcome. Contrary to what naysayers may promote, new businesses can successfully start during uncertain economic times. In fact, some of the most successful companies, like Uber and Airbnb were started during economic recessions. The key is to understand, that even during economic uncertainty, there are products and services in demand. Companies who meet that demand will see growth, and those who chose to operate under the rules of the “old normal” will not.
Some of the things that I have learned since starting my candle business, Gold Soul Candle Co. , during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly have to do with establishing your business, securing vendors and manufacturing, and shifting marketing tactics.
Find out how your local County Clerks office is handling operations
One of the first barriers that I became aware of was the lack of clarity pertaining to the government entities that issue licensing. In Texas, you must apply for your proprietor’s assumed name (DBA), or LLC certificate with the local County Clerk’s office. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, many, if not all government offices were closed to the public, which required learning the new ways of conducting business with the offices. This included an ultra-extended wait time. Therefore, I would suggest getting an idea of how you need go about securing your proper certifications as early as possible in the process.
Opt for local vendors and Manufacturers
Typically, I am an advocate for shopping around for vendors as much as possible to find the best quality for the most affordable price. However, during the pandemic, there has been major issues with shipping and receiving products in a timely manor. Many different companies are feeling the effects of these delays, putting an extra strain on customer service and customer relations. If possible, attempt to secure as many of your products and supplies from local vendors and manufacturers that can guarantee adequate shipping, or allow you to pick up the product locally. This will save you a lot of time and hassle in the long term.
Shift your Marketing and/or Product focus
When starting your business during the pandemic, the first thing that you need to understand is the current level of demand for the product or service. A great example of this is how Shopify started during the 2008 recession and realized that one of their greatest markets consisted of the people who had lost their jobs and decided to start an e-commerce business. Understand that although you may have started with a certain market sector in mind, you need to be able to adjust to fit the needs of the pandemic. Research is critical to truly gauging how effective your marketing strategy will be.