Entrepreneurs have had to adapt their personal and business routines in the wake of the pandemic. Some of these new habits will be here for the long-term.
We asked small business owners what was the most surprising or counterintuitive thing they did during the covid-19 pandemic. This question was taken one year after the outbreak. Here are five of our favourite responses, ranging from reducing 50% of a company’s product line to creating a nighttime bath routine.
Jon Staff, CEO and Founder of Getaway
Staff, a Brooklyn-based hospitality startup, unexpectedly prospered in 2020. It turned out that people love the idea of sneaking out to small cabins in the woods without Wi-Fi or a job. The company experienced a 150% rise in bookings over 2019, as well as nearly 100% occupancy rates across its 13 current locations. The staff created a new nightly routine to ease the stress of increased workload.
I needed a replacement for my trips. The 25-minute walk between work and home was the barrier that separated my workday from my evening. When I began working remotely, that 25-minute walk was no longer necessary. All the things I looked at throughout the day were still there. There was no time to let my mind wander, to process difficult conversations, or to think about dinner. In March or April I began taking a one hour bath each night after work.
It’s not something I do with my electronic gadgets. I don’t talk to anyone. Our business’s whole thesis is that you need limits. You will be a better worker if your job is terminated. After leaving stressful meetings or tense discussions with colleagues, I’ve finished my day in the toilet and realized, without thinking, that I was, without having to, an idiot with this person. I call them back the next day and tell them, “Sorry I’ve been rude”/ “I have a new idea.” My colleagues will tell you, “This is Jon’s way of thinking.”
Ironically, getaway cabins do not have bathtubs. This is something we will have to change.
Nina Faulhaber is Co-Founder and CoCEO of Aday
Faulhaber and Meg, their direct-to-consumer fashion startup based in New York, launched their minimalist brand in 2015. DTC’s well-known roadmap involves seeking hypergrowth at the cost of profitability. This led to Aday having a growing product list and strong temptation to enter new categories. Then, the covid virus struck, forcing Aday and his wife to return to their roots.
Many brands instinctively followed the path to chase the demand when the pandemic struck. We all had lots of inventory so we needed to increase marketing and sales. Instead, we ask our most trusted friends and family members, “What do YOU really want?” We were very strict in removing the items they disliked. For 2020, we reduced the number both of return and new styles by half.
We really focus on one metric: Gross Margin Return On Investment (GMROI). We focus only on products that maximize GMROI. How quickly does the inventory change? What pieces are most profitable at the end? Aday required a lot of financial education. We learned a lot, and we were reminded how to build this business sustainably.
We are certain to be profitable in the next 24 month. Perhaps within the next 12 month. This is a lot more than expected.
Nicole Snow, CEO and founder of Darn Good Yarn
Snow’s company is based in Clifton Park (New York) and specializes in the wholesale and retail sale of recycled yarn, clothing, and household products. It has been named to Inc. 5,000 as one of the fastest-growing companies. The United States has been the fastest growing country for four years consecutively. Covid threatened to end this streak of growth, but Darn Good Yarn saw a hot second-half of the year that led to Darn Good Yarn making $ 10.1million in annual revenue. This is a slight increase over 2019. Snow’s own transition to a 4-day workweek punctuated the frenetic recovery.
One of my employees was found to have covid right after Thanksgiving. All of us had to shut down and return home. FaceTime with Anna, my daughter, was necessary. When I got out of quarantine, Anna started to stutter. According to my therapist, young children can exhibit anxiety in this way. One Friday I felt strangely noon and my therapist said that young children can experience anxiety like this. She has Fridays off so I decided to hang out with her. He stopped stuttering that afternoon.
The business suffered further. We lived day to day. My family was more important than I thought, so Fridays are now “mommy-me” days. From Monday through Thursday, I’ve redoubled my efforts. Now I get up at 4 AM and concentrate until the night. These days, I wake up anxious because there is so much to do. This is a difficult task. No. No.
People have found that being vulnerable has given them the opportunity to reach out to me for help if they are in need. Prior to covid, our focus was on growth. It’s now stability. Employees should be able to focus and not work in half. I understand the importance of having employees who are able to last.
Aaron Rasmussen is the founder and CEO of Outlier.org
Rasmussen felt isolated and lonely at the start of the pandemic. As a joke, the founder and CEO of a Brooklyn-based virtual school startup created a TikTok video called “Beautiful Things Around the World”. The video became viral due to his storytelling skills and his experience as a filmmaker – he was also the co-founder of MasterClass and the former Creative Director. Rasmussen claims that interest in the company with 37 employees, which offers credit-bearing online college courses at the University of Pittsburgh has increased 600% over pre-COVID. TikTok has helped Rasmussen learn a lot about Gen Z.
My TikTok account is for my own art. It’s amazing: Right now, I have 50,000 subscribers. It also means I watch a lot TikTok. This helps me understand Gen Z’s feelings about this. There are many jokes about online classes. Talk about student debt. People who are struggling to find their way out of one of the most important years in their lives. Marketing is a great place to start: get to know your customers and then speak directly with them.
It’s also interesting to me that TikTok hires. It’s funny to see Gen Zers making fun of entry-level jobs that require nine year experience. Is it possible to recruit talented, entry-level employees into your company that aren’t rejected because of this reason? TikTok has some of the most amazing editing and storytelling when it comes to direct hires. We are looking into the possibility of opening a TikToks business account to display the open jobs, offer advice and get comments.
It is not a bad idea to draw a main line from the feelings of someone else, even if it is from a business perspective. This perspective is a great privilege.
Karla Gallardo is the co-founder and CEO at Cuyana
Gallardo’s San Francisco-based fashion startup, Fashion Startup San Francisco, has seen rapid growth since its 2011 launch. It has doubled its revenue year-overyear and achieved profitability while also receiving $ 30,000,000 in growth equity financing through HIG Growth Partners. 2019 In 2019, She also had to answer a fundamental question for every fashion brand: How can photo shoots be produced virtually?
It is quite scary to think that the lockdown occurred during our first photoshoot in 2020. We have models and photographers in Europe. Our team is based in San Francisco. Some of our team members fly from New York City and Los Angeles. The borders were closed at that time and there was no way for them to meet.
Photograph shoots are just like other things. You can do it your way, and it’s the best. How do you manage time zones, style the model and run the shoot? With team members from different places calling, we have found a way to make one in London. FaceTime was used to do our hair and make-up the day before. Software was found that allowed our art director in San Francisco to see every photo and make changes in real-time.
It’s easier and more enjoyable than the ones we’ve done before. It’s a great way to save money and there’s no reason not to continue. This saves money as we don’t have to fly as many people to these shoots. The end result is better if more people can participate online. We need more voices to participate in this process.