Starting a business in lockdown
In March 2020, the world went into lockdown and life as we knew it changed forever. As my social media feeds filled up with people starting new fitness regimes, getting crafty, baking more bread that the country could consume and generally doing whatever they needed to do to survive, I decided my lifeline would be starting a business. I have been called crazy and so many people asked me why now... I didn't have an answer other than I just knew this was my time.
So as the world came to a standstill and I got over the mild panic, the fog cleared and I got to work. I started to cram in as much time at my bench as life would allow. With 2 and 3 year old toddlers at home and my husband working full time, I pulled many late nights and he would entertain the boys at weekends so I could work.
I pushed through all of the noise, I created a bubble and I kept telling myself that with no distractions or pressure to go anywhere or do anything, I could finally focus.
I can't say it was plain sailing, I was so unbelievably exhausted and amidst it all had an emergency appendectomy, landing myself in a hospital for almost a week. I drank too much wine, fell out of my exercise routine, allowed my boys to watch FAR too much TV and barely saw my husband for 3/4 months BUT I knew failure was not an option. Why? Because I have never wanted something so much in my life. As soon as I invested in my branding, decided on my packaging and built my website, Soul Purpose was alive and it was my job keep it that way.
The biggest thing I had to overcome was self doubt. It's not easy to believe that you're capable of being successful in business if you have never done it before. I had days when I felt flat but I didn't let it fester for long. I think the pandemic taught me to think "what's the worst that can happen" and I reminded myself of that daily. I said yes to all opportunities, I spent hours up-skilling, practising, drawing and developing... I made mistakes, I cried and I picked myself back up again.
I am walking into 2021 positive and happy that I have Soul Purpose but as a new lockdown has been announced it will be a time to reflect, time to work out a new strategy and continue to develop the business in whatever way I can with such uncertainty still looming over us all.
Lots of people have asked if I have any tips for starting a business during a pandemic, so here are just a few things that have helped me along the way:
1) Find your why - whatever it is has to be big enough to make you happy to stay up until 2am, miss out on 'relaxation' time at night and make you happy to sacrifice other things in your life.
2) You can LEARN everything - most elements of starting a business can be self taught. Never built a website? It's OK, there are plenty of resources available online to help you work through it.
3) Believe in yourself - sounds cheesy but self doubt is one of the biggest barriers to success and working on that daily will help you push forward and make progress.
4) Say YES - weigh up all opportunities but ultimately as long as they are not detrimental to your brand, say yes and figure out how later!
5) Have strong values and stick to them! Enough said.
6) Value your time - don't work for nothing. You have to make money otherwise it will be a hobby and not a business. It's so hard to believe that you are "too expensive" or that "people won't pay that" but if you have a pricing structure, add in your time spent and keep any eye on the market to make sure you're not miles away, it will save you a lot of time down the line.
7) Connect and engage - connect with people - get out of your comfort zone and keep making connections, then engage - really listen, reach out, talk to people on all of your channels. I had a call about some house related issue - when I was done the lady was checking my website. I am definitely not a sales person, I just live, breathe and believe in Soul Purpose so I am happy to tell the world about me, the brand and my mission.
If you would like to read more about my story, check out CEO Secrets where Dougal Shaw explores how I and two other mums started our businesses during lockdown.