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There’s not much we can say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said before. Whether you’re trying to get by after losing income, struggling to manage your family life while working from home, stuck in a job you hate but can’t afford to leave, or dealing with double the isolation while living alone, this year has been tougher than any of us were prepared for. Simply getting through it is a major accomplishment.
And for many of us, 2020 has brought a lot of clarity. We’ve been confronted with everything from spending habits we used to have that really weren’t serving us, to unhealthy dynamics in certain relationships, to what actually brings us joy on a daily basis. We’ve been reevaluating our relationships with work, our loved ones, our home lives, and ourselves, and we know you have been, too.
To that end, we reached out to women who’ve really had to reevaluate their day-to-day habits: those who run their own businesses. Below, 6 women entrepreneurs tell us how they’re changing up their lives this year when it comes to work and money.
Andrea Travillian, President of Aspirify, Inc.:
“I have been able to adjust to this year by approaching it from two directions.
1) Making sure my morning ritual did not change. Every morning I wake up and meditate and then journal. This has allowed me to manage the emotional side of everything that is going on. So when I get to the work part of my day, I am better able to focus on the business and not the stress.
2) On the business side, I made sure that I took extra time to do a complete evaluation of my business to see where it made sense to make changes. To do this, I took a few days to review my strategy and marketing plans. Using assumptions that in person work would be taken out for most of the year, I was able to adjust my focus and keep moving forward.”
Danielle Bayard Jackson, Founder, TELL Public Relations:
“I have found that the key to surviving during this time has been flexibility and transparency. I now put up an away message to let clients know that our hours are over or to let them know when we are having an especially busy day. But I provide my phone number in case it is time-sensitive. Everyone is aware of the challenges we are all facing and have proven to be very understanding. I also sent quick videos to clients instead of long emails. It’s more personal and they are super responsive. They have enjoyed communicating this way. It came from a need to be more efficient and to be more clear and so far it is working.
I have also been listening more to my clients’ needs. Their needs have changed during Covid which has inspired us to be more innovative. For example, if many clients are no longer able to afford full PR services they have opted for publicity coaching instead. We did not originally offer this but so many asked about a new way to be served and the service emerged. So far it has become one of our favorite things.”
Annabel Gatto, Co-Founder/CEO at Suitably:
“My company launched about a month and a half before COVID spread throughout the country. We had an incredible first month and a half and we were well on our way to raising a full seed round. I am currently bootstrapping Suitably. While the country began to shut down, and it became evident that all non essential workers would be working from home, I made a business decision (within 48 hours) to pull all of our marketing spend & initiatives so that I could conserve capital and focus on providing resources to help Suitably’s community navigate COVID. Luckily, we are now 75% back to where we were before COVID but the past 6 months have been immensely chaotic. I wanted to share my tips for how I adjusted to a chaotic year.
1. Knowing my purpose and following through
Suitably’s community is core to our brand identity and at the heart of everything we do. I knew this was not a time for me to be focusing on driving sales. As a non essential worker, I also knew it was imperative that I do my part and stay home. My purpose has always been to make a positive impact on the world by helping others. During COVID, I fully commited myself to being there as a friend and resource to the members of our community. To stay on track, I set weekly goals for the type & quantity of content we would put out and for the number of virtual coffee chats I would host. Two of the initiatives I am most proud of are hosting over 100 virtual coffee chats and executing a campaign to encourage women to share their WFH style which we called Get Up, Get Dressed. During a very uncertain time for our business and the world, I knew my purpose and followed through. This kept me going and motivated during a very difficult time.
2. Embracing and adapting to change
Generally, I am the type of person who loves routine. I don’t like surprises, I like making plans and have always done whatever I can to execute on those plans. In a world of uncertainty, with no end date in site, I realized one of the most important things I needed to do for the company and my team was to become an agent of change.
3. Growth mindset
Given that my brand is workwear focused, at the height of COVID, I heard over and over that it would be near impossible for Suitably to recover from COVID and that we should shut down – at least until the country returns to normal. Boy were they wrong. What got me through this was an unwavering belief in my brand and our value proposition to professional women (whether they are dressing for returning to the office or their next Zoom call). As soon as parts of the country started to reopen, I started ramping Suitably back up with all engines firing, every day thinking about something I could do to move the business a step in the right direction. Pretty quickly things started clicking and I haven’t looked back!
Lynn Power, Co-Founder & CEO of MASAMI:
“I’ve started doing daily yoga (yoga with Adriene on YouTube), which has been a great way to find some balance and focus since otherwise, every day feels like groundhog day. Like everyone, I’ve become a heavy video conference user, but I’ve also been doing more one-on-one check-ins with my team. I’m finding that people are handling the stress of COVID differently so I am doing my best to be an empathetic leader and seeing how I can support them. The other thing I’ve done is banded together with other female founders to support our businesses and each other. We’ve done promotions, blogs, giveaways and also just shared learning and what’s working. That has been invaluable so I strongly suggest that if you don’t have a network of other female founders, you find one!” –
Lacey Kaelan, Co-Founder and Partner, Casting Depot:
“Running a remote business is tough. I’ve found that with keeping a schedule throughout the day – more airtight then usual – allowing times scheduled for breaks enables me to keep focus throughout the day. That + keeping an eye on my eating habits!”
Kristen Shenk, Founder + Creative Director, MLTI NYC:
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March/April, my business took a huge hit. As clients and marketing organizations worked through how to adapt to this unprecedented crisis, our design business came to a halt. Instead of stressing about what may come, I took the ‘extra’ time to get aspects of our business in order. I re-designed our entire website, which was a backburner project for quite some time. I built out lists of prospective clients and prospective future employees/artists/designers. And I took some time to get sharper about MLTI NYC’s purpose and goals. As a new creative agency that has been in business for less than 2 years, this was actually a welcome ‘break’ to get organized and prioritize projects that were always deprioritized to client work.
From a personal standpoint, COVID has really prompted me to re-center myself and to prioritize my own health and well-being above all else. Sometimes we get caught up in being busy as a badge of honor, and COVID encouraged me to re-evaluate priorities and what is most meaningful in my life. Ultimately, I’ve found that if I take the time to center myself and align myself (through meditation, yoga, fitness, reading, journaling, and introspection), I am happier, healthier, and my creative work is better. Furthermore, with this year’s ‘extra time’ I began chronicling life lessons that I’ve learned throughout my business-building pursuits. I am in the process of writing and designing a coffee-table book for entrepreneurs and creatives, to be published in 2021!”
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