It is the middle of a worldwide pandemic and it seems as though the world is coming crashing down. 2020 is surely not the year for the faint of heart. While lockdown measures and limits have placed a burden on various markets and industries, it has also opened the door for some, like me, to branch out into alternative business ventures.
When I was placed on furlough in March, I was about six weeks pregnant, working my day job from home with two kids running around. Although, financially, the thought of furlough was not appealing, I would be lying if I said the idea of not having to work in my current state and environment wasn’t welcomed. I’d soon, however, start to feel a bit useless. You know, “bored in the house and I’m in the house bored”- the song was starting to represent my day-to-day. One day, while I was browsing along social media, I was presented with an opportunity to become a part of a team and start my own business with a brand I had sold in my retail past and strongly admired. Growing up, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit- I started a logo design company when I was younger- so there was little hesitation to find out more. The start-up costs were attractive, and I would have my own mentor to guide me along the way to get my business up and running. It was daunting, to say the least, starting a business which thrived from face-to-face interactions and social gatherings in the middle of a lockdown where everything was now migrating to online platforms for survival but I took it in my stride and now, six months later, I can honestly say I’m glad I took the leap.
My business is far from being a huge, successful, and profitable one but so far has brought me some benefits and pleasures along the way.
As I briefly mentioned above, after a month of furlough, even with two children to entertain, I was starting to feel a bit useless. I had been working full-time for a year before I was furloughed and the changes that came with that option were sudden. There was no phasing out or gradual reduction of tasks- one day I was waist-deep in emails and last-minute reservations and the next day, I was informed I was on furlough and it was my last day of work. With my day job being in accommodation, trying to manoeuvre around the new COVID protocols was a hassle and even more challenging when working from home so the furlough was somewhat welcomed. However, I soon started to find myself losing purpose. Since starting my business, not only did I have access to a selling platform to manage and grow, I created an alternative social media page which allowed me to branch out and share my other skills such as arts and crafts and encouraged bonding with my son, Liam, as well who was stuck at home.
Added Financial Security
While my business is still making a name for itself and has only been marginally profitable, with the right amount of dedication and strategy, I can see this business becoming a secure financial nest. As my role is an independent organiser of an already established and well-known, timeless brand, selling a popular product, my main hurdle is to make myself known within my local area and take advantage of the wonders of social media and marketing to create a name for myself within such a market. Within 6 months of beginning this journey, I have already built a repour with some faithful customers, been recognised for top monthly sales in my team and have an upcoming deal to set up and sell in my local centre. So, as daunting as the thought of increasing monthly expenditure to get my business up and running, I am excited for the journey ahead and reaping the benefits. My goal is to be able to make enough extra income to maybe accumulate more savings or even have extra holiday money.
As much as I love what I’m doing in this business so far and I whole-heartedly believe in the product and brand, I am not yet at a point where I can see myself forfeiting my day job to do this solely. Not yet. Do I see it in my stars though? Absolutely! Although I don’t particularly yearn to be self-employed as opposed to working at a company, I welcome the idea of having the independence to make my own hours, take my own holidays and make my own money without having to answer to anyone. Who wouldn’t?
If I had to give myself a 2-year plan, I’d love to be able to rely on this business as my main source of income and enjoy the freedom that comes with it.
One of the greatest assets I believe I have acquired through the start of this business is the community of people. I think, in a time like now, being able to communicate and share experiences with like-minded individuals who may be sharing the same struggles or aiming towards the same goals, is important. Not only have I been able to connect with other members of my brand community, I have also connected to a lot of women who are mothers, teachers, child-minders and even small business owners in their own rights who help to keep me motivated along the way. Knowing the product I sell is having a positive impact on families makes me feel accomplished.
I know these times are hard and motivated may not be what anyone is feeling right now. But, if you are stuck at home, furloughed, or made redundant, finding an alternative activity, starting your own business or indulging in your hobbies may provide that purpose you may be lacking. I can admit on the quiet days, I really do feel like I’m not doing much of anything and my days sort of run into the other. Being pregnant and soon on maternity leave, there is not much variety to my day-to-day and I have certainly lost some focus. But, starting a business and having deadlines to reach, orders to fill and people to help has really allowed me to re-focus a bit and give me a way to occupy my time until I return to the working world.
If you have considered starting your own business and the pandemic has caused you to put your plans on hold, don’t. Now may be the time, more than ever, to hit the ground running. In the absence of long commutes, a bubbling social life and many of the things that used to keep us busy, you have potentially more time than ever to invest in getting an idea off the ground. If you can start a business in this current climate, it can only get better from here.
There is no perfect time to start a business. What matters is how motivated you are to begin, the grit to persevere and to leverage any situation to make lemons into lemonade.