Over the past few months, I have been experiencing all of the difficulties of running a product-based business during the pandemic. In fact, although I first started my business while the pandemic was first beginning, this year has been particularly difficult. From delayed shipping times to product shortages, to issues with distribution companies, I have had to pivot more times in the past 4 months than I did in the previous 8 months prior to 2021. After losing motivation and confidence due to the seemingly endless hurdles I was facing, I decided that I needed to make some changes if my business were to survive and thrive during this time.
So over the past few weeks, I’ve implemented some changes in both my business and my psyche to help persevere through the impacts of the pandemic.
- Remember Your Why – Prior to COVID-19, I had dreams of becoming one of the nation’s top candle company brands. The Nike of home fragrance. As I started building the business, I got obsessed with branding and product design so much so that I wanted full control over every aspect of the product. Due to COVID-19 and glass shortages, I was unable to find large quantities of glass jars in any of the styles that I had envisioned. Instead of releasing control and just using what was available, I wasted weeks constantly searching for what I considered to be the perfect glass. Finally, I had to stop and remember my why. My ‘why’ has nothing to do with what glass jars I use in 2021. My ‘why’ is a vision that could still be accomplished if I took ego out of play and focus on doing the best that I can with what I have. Similarly, as a small business owner during this time, don’t get caught up in perfection so much that you miss the bigger picture and forget why you started.
- Accept that you will never have enough resources – It’s so easy to get consumed by the narrative that the media portrays as starving small businesses during the pandemic. The truth is, every business is starving. The government is also starving. No one in the entire world has enough resources for all of their ideas. In fact, by the time that you do get enough money and time to complete what you have going on now, you’ll also have more demand and ideas that again put you in a place of neediness. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are two of the richest men on the earth and they frequently speak of how high the cost of their space endeavors is. Even with all the money in the world, you could never buy time so focus on using your time and money as efficiently as possible.
- Do what you can, when you can – Getting overwhelmed during product shortages and delays can really hurt your overall sense of productivity. Instead, focus on what you can do right now to control the situation instead of waiting around for things to change. One of the ways that I force myself to do this is when I get overwhelmed with situations beyond my control, I repeat to myself “If you don’t have it, you don’t need it.” In the meantime, make things happen with what you do have.
Overall, I want small business owners to understand what a powerful position we are in now. We don’t need 9 levels of executive approval to change our policies, packaging, or marketing. We are the most agile businesses in the US. So as some of the aftershocks of the pandemic continue to disrupt business, continue to remember your why, accept that you will never have enough resources, and do what you can, when you can.