7 Case Studies of Entrepreneurs Who Kept Their Businesses Alive During COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed many businesses forever. The rapid transition to e-commerce and limited in-person shopping created an impossible situation for some businesses, 60% of which have closed permanently. However, some entrepreneurs have successfully worked through the challenges, getting help from anywhere they can.
To help your business adapt, you can take on the same approaches that these seven entrepreneurs have.
New York City was at one time an epicenter of the pandemic - which brought every business challenge possible, especially for the food sector. Co-founder and CEO of Ovenly, Agatha Kulaga, knew she had to act quickly to adjust to the pandemic, or risk closing her doors forever.
Fortunately, she adapted through the use of new tech and new shopping dynamics. Now that the world attempts to reduce the spread of germs, Kulaga used contactless payment methods and to-go windows to keep everyone safe, employees and customers alike.
These two changes introduced safer in-person shopping, which helped Ovenly stay open and thriving during this time.
2. Maintco Corp.
On the other side of the country, Inna Tuler, CEO of Maintco Corp., had to adjust in a similar way. The family-run construction company focuses on repairs and remodeling of fast-food restaurants and grocery stores. With this specialisation, Tuler knew how to help businesses stay open.
As sanitation and distance are two key factors in slowing the spread of the virus, Tuler focused on helping clients and businesses with deep cleanings and Plexiglas barriers for social distancing. With these changes to her construction approach, Tuler has helped keep people safe while adding an essential service that keeps her doing business.
Tuler also stated that, to properly make it through this pandemic, you need to plan far ahead and know how to budget.
3. Triangle Home Fashions
In 2020, e-commerce grew by 44%, which is nearly triple the growth from 2019. It can be hard for companies to adapt so quickly, but this shift is now imperative. Putting online shopping first has been the main approach from Jenny Zhu at Triangle Home Fashions.
Zhu’s business model already entailed selling home textiles through her online site. However, she had to zero in on a niche that was going to continue buying her products through the pandemic. She then began to work with bigger retailers like Kohls and Wayfair. These pairings helped her have a continuous income.
While she helps with order fulfillment, the vendor ultimately packages and ships the items.
4. Abacus Financial Business Management
Small businesses are sometimes just a few employees. Belva Anakwenze knows this feeling well, working with only four other people at Abacus Financial Business Management.
Anakwenze’s approach to surviving the pandemic has involved a significant amount of flexibility in scheduling and working from home. She understands that she and her employees have personal lives outside of work. The key is finding a space and time to focus on the work, and give it their complete attention.
She also states that business can safely continue as long as people wear masks and stay six feet apart.
5. Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. found itself at a crossroads once the pandemic hit hard. It could either fall behind the competition, or it could progress forward. Founder and CEO, Shyla Sheppard, adjusted in two different ways.
First, government guidelines for businesses during the pandemic depend on the state and region. Sheppard followed what New Mexico was permitting at different stages of the year. For instance, when businesses could have 50% capacity, she made sure the brewing company did so in a safe way, with masks and distancing.
Second, Sheppard expanded their product range. The company opened up a canning line to sell canned beer. That way, they could keep up with the demand and bring in a profit.
Daniel Zubairi, president and director of SydanTech, has specialised in government contracting for several years. In fact, he was already used to picking up the pieces of a business, from experience in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Resourcefulness is key. Zubairi says that unlikely partnerships could be a saving factor during the pandemic. For instance, if your business must partner with another enterprise that has typically been a competitor, it could help both companies survive.
In fact, in 2021, a Business Insider survey showed that business partnerships are one of the biggest transforming factors that entrepreneurs are investing in.
7. Happy Cork
In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, the Happy Cork is finding more business than ever. The owner, Sunshine Foss, only had four employees before the pandemic began. Then, it got into full swing, and she found that people were actually buying more wine from her, rather than less.
The Black Lives Matter protests and movements that reached global recognition over the summer of 2020 also spurred some new business. Yelp reported that support for black-owned businesses increased by 7,043% from the end of May to July, compared to the same period in 2019.
This support and success, alongside affordable prices, has helped Foss double her staff to eight employees. She also credits a strong social media presence for helping to draw customers in.
The Power of Being Resourceful
In addition to the resources these entrepreneurs called on, almost all of them applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the US Small Business Administration (SBA). If your business needs assistance, a PPP loan is the first thing you should apply for.
From there, you can implement the same resources that these entrepreneurs have - new tech, partnerships, and work dynamics. Then, you can survive the pandemic with a successful business.