Lessons I've Learned About My Business During COVID-19 Shut-down
I can't believe I am writing this. I have over 27 years of owning Heart 'n Home experience...I can now write what it is like during a pandemic and being told by your governor to shut the doors.
I mean...seriously?! I have survived when they shut down our streets for three months to redo the concrete and the guts of all things underground in 2001. We were open for about three weeks when the world came to a stand-still when the trade centers crumbled on September 11, 2001.
We still went on and rebuilt. We were striding right along when the 2008 recession happened. I struggled and survived.
But, out of the blue, the governor said "shut your doors" and I was in complete shock. It was completely understandable - but never in my "emergency plans". I couldn't open up a file that said "how to handle your business during a pandemic."
But as a small business owner, we had never been offered assistance before. I couldn't believe that the government was recognizing us. I also quickly realized that they need to redefine small business (technical is less than 500 people and revenue less than $4 million). I qualified for that! However, I personally think there needs to be one more classification and that is for the "mom and pop" stores. The type that are mostly in Laurens.
I applied for every grant that was offered. I spent hours each day working on them. They wanted all your information (I was waiting for them to ask for blood type...ha!). I did receive a small grant from a private foundation. The Pocahontas County Economic Development had shared (they worked all the time and a great source of help and someone to talk to/vent to) on a Sunday...so I filled it out. It was the easiest grant to fill out and it was SO unprofessional. I had been figuring out bills and was literally crying as I typed out their grant. Something must of clicked because they gave me enough to cover the bills I was stressed out about.
What did I learn?
* Know your numbers. I had to quickly learn all about Quickbooks and figured out some weird kinks that I didn't have right. You had to have all of that for the grants
* You need to grieve what had happened. A friend told me it felt like grieving...and I couldn't agree more.
* Decide that this is what you want more than ever.
* Finding out your faults. Your weaknesses. Embrace them and say good-bye to the guilt of them.
* Did I say know your numbers? Not only that...but know your best selling categories, your worst, what you bought out of passion, and how are things need to change.
* I learned that I really still love designing. I got so caught up in growing the business that I forgot about the basics of what I love about it.
* I learned that I love what I do. I was still at the store Monday-Friday. I was cleaning, sorting, doing all the Quickbook stuff, watching webinars, watching educational videos about flowers. I was doing all the stuff.
* I learned that working on a website for ten years finally paid off.
* I also learned that I need at least two days off a week in a row. Funny thing is - we had decided to close on Saturdays before this started. There will be days we are open on Saturdays - we call them our "bonus days". You can find them on our website on the calendar anytime or on facebook. I like being with my husband. When this is over and we can go see our family - it will be the first thing. Then I am headed down to St. Louis to get my arms around my family there. We have had to cancel two trips down there all ready.
* I learned to tune out the negativity and focus on the good.
* I learned that people care...really care. I was sobbing more than once because someone reached out to make sure I was doing ok. Their gestures was full of compassion and kindness...I will never forget it.
What does this all mean? Heart 'n Home will be pivoting. There are some dreams I used to have that I thought was important...SURPRISE!...they aren't. I am excited for the avenues we will be taking. The pivots may be minor - but very major to us. There will be times when I send out a survey or questionnaire - just to make sure I am still on the right track.
I am so excited for the future. I am surrendering my stubbornness to the lessons I have learned during our business pause.
So...for now...we are gaining traction. The doors are open Monday to Friday from 10-6. We are doing deliveries and shipping. We are cleaning, have plexi-glass hanging, sanitizer for everyone and all the stuff that this time in our lives mandate. We also have a wireless doorbell outside the front door. If you place an order online and want us to bring it out to you...just ring the doorbell and we will be out and place it in your trunk for you....no contact.
If you have any questions - please feel free to ask. Right now - I need to get back to working on our pivot and all the great new things that will be happening.