We caught up with Start-Up Competition finalist and client, Laura Jeffers who shared some of her tips for small business survival during the pandemic.
It has been a crazy year to say the least! With well established businesses shutting down all around us it’s hard to stay hopeful. If you’ve made it this far, I guess you can say you’re one of the blessed ones!
Honestly, there isn’t yet a fool proof guide to surviving a pandemic, but here are some tips that have helped me stay afloat in business during this crazy season.
1. Adapt your services – I’m a seamstress by trade, I make garments, it’s what I love to do. Although that’s the main focus of my business, I also sell smaller accessories, African print headwraps and Bow Ties that attract other customers. Someone proposed the idea of making Masks in African print fabrics. At the time I thought it was a bad idea, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but my options were limited so I gave it a try. Initially I created a DIY mask tutorial for my YouTube channel but to my surprise, instead of generating more video views, I had hundreds more sales. Now with masks being a compulsory item in the UK, it was one of the best decisions I made for my business.
2. Keep expenses to a minimum – Last year I actually launched a second clothing brand – Stay Lit Apparel. Initially I was printing the garments locally and shipping from my studio. Although it kept costs low, I found it took a while for the garments to reach the customers, especially when the printing service was delayed or unreliable. At this point I considered buying in bulk but as it wasn’t feasible for my business at the time I researched other methods of t-shirt printing. I came across a local drop shipping company. They print the garments according to my specifications and ship them directly to the customer which also means I don’t have to hold stock. During this pandemic that has been a blessing as I haven’t had major overheads or stacks of apparel stock to shift. This has been one of the ways I’ve been able to keep business costs low and keep my brand going.
3.Tap into support where possible – The government have been offering grants for eligible small businesses. I do realise however that not everyone qualifies for this support. On doing some research I have seen that there are other initiatives being put in place to help small businesses thrive and stay afloat during lock down. It’s wise to do your research, find out what is available to you and be willing and ready to accept the support if you need it.
4.Utilise free advertising and social media networking groups – Don’t underestimate the power of social media. My masks wouldn’t have reached as many people as they did if those who initially purchased had not shared their masks with others. It’s free for your friends, family and existing customers to share something about your brand on social media. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and feedback. In addition to this, there are also many groups on platforms like Facebook, that you can join, to network with other small businesses in a similar situation to you. These groups provide great support and that much needed community spirit.
5.Use your time wisely – They say time is money, so make sure you use yours wisely. Why not pick up a new skill, develop in an area that can either aid your business or even develop into another one. Invest in yourself! Do something you’ve never had the time to do, spend more time with your family, try to enjoy this season even though it’s hard.
6.Create a new normal – Try not to dwell on the past and focus on what you have lost. Instead take time to plan the future, what that might look like and how you can move forward.
7.Don’t give up, ask for help – Last but not least don’t give up! There is always support out there to help you create the future you dream of. Life is too short sit back and do nothing. If you need help and support, get in touch with business organisations that can offer that support to you. Cotton court are on hand to help small businesses like yours thrive and grow. Take advantage of their knowledge and services. You have come so far; you owe it to yourself to not give up!
I hope these business tips have been helpful. What have been the pros and cons of this pandemic for your business? Let us know in the comments below.
This blog post was written by Laura Jeffers a fashion designer from Preston. She currently runs two businesses, Asikara (,a African clothing and accessories fashion label) and Stay Lit Apparel (,a Christian clothing brand). If you would like to find out more about her you can follow her via the links below.
Asikara by Laura Jane – African Fashion, Headwraps & Accessories