“Making It Work”: Female Entrepreneurs Surviving COVID-19
Whilst some enterprises are on the edge of closing during COVID-19, others have been able to adapt and manage. But what sets them apart? It all comes down to optimism.
In the US and Britain, governments have opened programmes to provide aid to small businesses. However, the chances of being awarded this aid are very slim, with 90% of applicants being disqualified in the UK alone.
Whilst larger companies may have plans put in place to avoid the deterioration of their businesses, smaller business owners are at a greater risk of their livelihoods turning upside down within weeks.
However, many small-to-medium businesses have been able to adjust to the current situation. Specifically, a couple of female entrepreneurs have been discussing how they have been adapting their businesses to COVID-19, alongside the challenges they have faced, in the ‘Making it Work’ podcast series.
One woman entrepreneur who has had to cope with the changes of COVID-19, is Dana Donofree. After surviving breast cancer at the age of 27, Dana was inspired to launch AnaOno – a fashion company that provides lingerie and support to women who have had mastectomies.
She expressed her worry in the first part of the COVID-19 special on ‘Making it Work’, about AnaOno’s ability to recover when all of the retail stores were forced to close. This was due to the fact that 50% of her business was serving retail stores. She was also expecting the business’s online sales to slow down because of consumers’ economic uncertainty.
In the second part of the special, Dana talks of having to restructure her life to the new situation, this was in order to be able to focus on her business and also on her own health. Alongside this, Dana had to face the challenge of furloughing several members of her team after the business took a hit in sales due to closure of the retail stores.
But, Dana pointed out: just because a segment of the business is gone, doesn’t mean that the work itself is less. Herself and her key employees have been working hard to ensure that customers are receiving great customer service and are being prioritised.
just because a segment of the business is gone, doesn’t mean that the work itself is less
Upon observing her peers’ retail businesses take a negative toll, Dana has been able to remember why her business exists and keep up morale. ‘I’m grateful that we’re an essential business,’ she says, ‘patients need us to help recover and to get through their treatment and to feel good about themselves.’
She has been using optimism to get her through the difficulties of COVID-19, and notes that despite her working life being under stress, she is able to go outside and see that ‘the sky is not falling and people are laughing and smiling.’
Another female entrepreneur coping with the hit of COVID-19 is Diana Ganz, co-founder of The Groomsman Suit – an online store that offers stylish suits for purchase at less than the price of most rentals.
Diana notes in the special, that fortunately her brand was born online, meaning that they are still receiving orders daily and can do enough to keep themselves afloat. She talks of how the pandemic has made her realise why her business existed in the first place.
The business provides people with affordable suits for their weddings and special occasions. Despite the pandemic closing down the Groomsman Suit show rooms, Diana and her team launched virtual show rooms to arrange remote appointments with engaged couples across the US.
When asked if she was frustrated about the slowing-down of sales, Diana pointed out that there is nothing any of us can do to change the situation and, ‘as a business owner and an entrepreneur we need to figure out how to adjust.’
Diana also states that she believes the pandemic will change how we shop. Many large department store branches may face serious setbacks in the future due to the new shopping trends which favour e-commerce. This will allow Diana to pivot her business, as she has adapted to online sales.
In the second part of the special, Diana talks about how herself and her team have taken the new normal of working remotely in their stride. Working from home, as opposed to their Chicago Headquarters, has allowed her team to work independently, more productively and further their knowledge and skills by taking online courses.
Dana and Diana have shown how being optimistic in a time of desperation keeps small-to-medium enterprises going. Hopefully, the pair, alongside other entrepreneurs in ‘Making it Work’ can inspire business owners to prevent the stalling of their plans due to COVID-19, and adapt to the new normal instead.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. In the Cover Photo: A woman working remotely. Photo Credit: Piqsel.