A lot has changed over the past 4 weeks. And by “a lot” we mean EVERYTHING. Literally, EVERY DAMN THING. The world has been shaken to it’s core. Hundreds of thousands of people have become sick or lost their lives or their loved ones, and millions have lost their jobs, their businesses, their income.
Amidst all of the horrifying statistics, the isolation, the shelter-in-place orders, and the lack of essential goods, there is another reality … will small businesses survive? The backbone, the lifeblood, the free enterprise system this country was founded on.
And to us, this is a resounding yes. And here’s why … small business owners are fighters, they are warriors. They created their business on a dream and it’s that dream that will remind them in times like these that it is worth fighting for. Self-employment is not for the faint of heart … nobody ever said “I’m going to start my own business because it seems like it would be really easy”. NO ONE. You started your business with a fighter mentality, don’t forget that. Now is the time to dig deep.
There will be casualties. All will not survive. The fallout may last for months, years.
We’ve been asked by many what we’re doing to survive these times … we are no experts and even though we’ve been at this JG gig for over 20 years, these are unprecedented times and times like these call for an entirely different strategy. Here’s a little recap of what we’ve done…
Week 1: Texas Antiques Week, a 3 week-long event that brings in a HUGE amount of our revenue for the year was shut down. This means not only were we out that revenue, but we also had truckloads of merchandise in house to prepare for this 3 week long event. We closed our store and our inn in order to keep our employees, our community and our family safe. Store employees instantly went from getting significant overtime during this event to getting zero hours. We immediately reached out to Texas Workforce Commission as we didn’t want anyone to miss a paycheck and filed a Mass Claim … this DOES NOT mean anyone was laid off, employees are eligible if they have had a reduction in hours. This seemed like the perfect temporary option in order to keep our employees receiving a paycheck until we could figure out the upcoming weeks. By filing the Mass Claim as an employer, it streamlined the process and skipped a great deal of leg work for them that would normally be required. We held a FaceTime call with everyone and explained these steps and what to expect next.
Fired ourselves – that’s right, the first thing we did was cancel our own paychecks. Money in the bank is top priority.
Evaluate all expenses … get rid of any that aren’t necessary. We immediately canceled all unnecessary expenses. Every penny counts. At week 1, we had no idea how long (and we still don’t) this would last … so EVERY single expense we could eliminate, we did. Big or small. Do we really need that extra dumpster? Nope.
Reduce inventory – We immediately reached out to all vendors and either canceled orders, reduced orders, or put them on hold in an effort to reduce inventory. Everyone was understanding as they were in the same situation and know that we will come back ten-fold as soon as we can. You CANNOT accept orders for merchandise when your store is closed for business indefinitely. Very few exceptions here.
Week 2: We began researching as many grants/loans as possible. The government DOES want to help small businesses through this. They DO NOT want to deal with millions of unemployment claims … many of these government-based grants are a win-win for everyone. Also if you are a woman-owned business, there may be specific ones geared just to you!
Some good ones to check out:
- SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)- this one is pretty amazing. provides funds to cover payroll costs … and can be FULLY FORGIVEN
- Economic Injury Disaster Relief Fund – up to 10K for economic relief
- Sara Blakely Red Backpack Fund – 5K to woman owned businesses
- AssistHer by TWU – 10K to woman owned businesses
- Bumble – 5K grant to small businesses
- US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Forbes List of small business loan and grant programs
Also, reach out to your bookkeeper/accountant as soon as possible. Ours had knowledge and access to a grant that we weren’t aware of that she was able to submit on our behalf.
You may be able to file an insurance claim on loss of profit. Contact your insurance provider and research this option.
Very importantly, maintain a good relationship with your banker … he or she could be your best friend through helping with the PPP as you apply through your bank.
Week 2 is also when we started the most important step we have taken – and this step is ongoing and honestly we should all have been doing this all along but it took a pandemic to force us to do it: Re-evaluate your business model. How can you re-invent? How can you pivot? USE THIS CHALLENGE to become more creative in your business. Change your model. Modify your model. Stretch your model. Use this challenge as an OPPORTUNITY to create a new branch to your business. Where is there a need? What can you do? What can your business offer? What do people need now?
We’re not talking about arts and crafts creativity here (although that might be something to incorporate). We’re talking about thinking about your business in creative ways.
CHALLENGE FORCES CREATIVITY
THE MOST CREATIVE ONES WIN
BE OPEN TO CHANGE
ABOVE ALL, BE COMPASSIONATE
In a business like ours, we’ve been lucky enough to build amazing relationships with our customers over the past 20 years. The same people that are the reason we couldn’t sell our soul and do a reality show filled with controversy 7 years ago are the ones that support us now. The ones that are there giving us high fives and little cups of water as we run this marathon. It is a marathon. Small business owners, entrepreneurs … you are running a marathon and right now, you may want to quit the race. You may be on the longest uphill stretch of your life BUT don’t give up. When the going gets tough, the TOUGH GETS GOING.
Back to the questions above and what our specific answers were to these questions:
- Where is there a need? We can’t provide ventilators or volunteer our time at the hospital but there is a need for positivity, for good news, for an escape from the dire numbers on the TV. WE CAN DO THAT.
- What can you do? We can promote other small businesses that we wholesale from. We can bring people happy feelings through Bob Ross painting live with us, through chatting with people on instagram live weekly/daily. Through having a virtual prom, a virtual flea market. WE CAN DO THAT.
- What can your business offer? We can offer huge sales online and still offer stellar customer service … sometimes, talking to a real human versus an automated bot might lift someone’s spirits. WE CAN DO THAT.
- What do people need now? They need a break from anxiety. They may need a box o’ happy. They may need Willie’s Remedy CBD oil … WE CAN DO THAT.
What have we done? We’ve created new product offerings online. We figured out ways to load much of our new merch we had for the canceled event without having a photoshoot. We’ve ramped up social media exponentially. From instagram lives to YouTube … you name it, this time away from the office has actually been conducive to creating creative content for our social outlets.
In the beginning, we truly expected online sales to drop to ZERO. During this time, we started receiving requests/suggestions from all of you. One of the requests was to offer a Quarantine Kit … we loved this idea and we called it our hand picked box o’ happy. We didn’t really know if ANY would sell … we offered them at nearly half off their retail value. And guess what? They sold out in less than 24 hours! We offered a limited number again the next week, SOLD OUT AGAIN. And then offered more this past week … SOLD OUT AGAIN. Because we were OPEN to CHANGE and we were rethinking the JG model, we discovered something that people wanted to get their hands on.
Junk-O-Rama Prom was canceled with Texas Antiques Week so we hosted a virtual Junk-O-Rama Prom …
over 7K people joined in the fun! Who knew?
We’re currently super excited about several projects in the works that will help fellow small businesses … it will feature small business owners, makers, junkers, and artists … because we do believe sunnier days are ahead.
The way we look at it is that this situation is day by day. We’re going to do what we can TODAY and this week and then next week we may have to do something completely different. Because there is no manual for how to handle the current economic situation as a small business. Day by day. And truly, we really are all in this together. Now, more than ever let’s all join hands and help each other out.
Collaboration, Creativity, Compassion, and be open to Change.
Let us know what you’re doing by commenting below … or please share any resources you may have to help out a fellow small business owner! 💪
Read HERE for part 2!