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October 6, 2022

These Two Founders Used the Pandemic as a Time to Regroup. Now, They Say, They’re Ready for Anything

These Two Founders Used the Pandemic as a Time to Regroup. Now, They Say, They’re Ready for Anything

Most business owners know they need to plan for uncertainty, and these days, that’s all the more true.

During a recent Meta Small Business Studios event in Columbus, Ohio, I asked two business owners about their plans and advice for trying times. Here are their top tips.

Diversify your revenue streams.

Both April Hancock and Kevin Lloyd–the founders, respectively, of retailer JaeLuxe Shoetique and entertainment company MYLE–pointed to the importance of diversifying revenue streams. So when the unexpected hits, you’ll have a backup plan.

Lloyd described how diversifying his revenue streams with virtual events during the pandemic helped keep the business going. It’s about “meeting people where they are, whether that’s at home, or out and about.” Businesses have to be flexible and fluid, he notes, and ready to adjust based on what the market is telling them to do.

Hancock, who started her business as online only in 2014, agrees that being able to pivot in a pinch is key. While she was forced to essentially close down her physical location in Beavercreek, Ohio during the pandemic, converting back to strictly online was not a problem. 

“We already had the infrastructure in place so all we did was set back time,” says Hancock. She focused her efforts on improving the user experience of her online store, making it more accessible. She also put metrics in place to offer online pickup at the store location, which is still a thriving part of the business even though her retail location is back in full force. And she adjusted her inventory to reflect the changing priorities of her customers, such as re-upping on lounge wear. Overall, she says, the company tripled its sales during the pandemic. 

When business is down, focus on making connections.

For Lloyd, the pandemic was quite a different experience. Since his company is focused on helping customers find events to attend, business halted seemingly overnight. But that didn’t stop him from building on the connections he previously made with clients in the entertainment industry.

“Because of the relationships we do have with a lot of promoters, a lot of venue owners, we stayed close to what was actually going on, what was taking place,” says Lloyd. 

He focused on reaching out, getting in touch with partners, doing virtual calls and meetings to stay engaged and up-to-date. When the pandemic subsided and people began to come back, he was ready. Similar to Hancock, he also took the opportunity to build out the MYLE platform–given the feedback he got from customers and clients. Between July and August of this year, his company had listed nearly 20,000 events on its platform.

Hancock took time to connect with customers too. She notes that she personally looks at each message that comes through over social media and often personally responds to customers. That degree of touch helps give her a good overall picture of any pain points that arise, during the pandemic and beyond.

“A lot of businesses will tell customers they have to send a formal email or call a support hotline. I answer customers over DM all the time,” says Hancock. “If they ask about a product, I’ll answer or send them a video of it. I’ve made sales from other businesses who don’t want to answer their customers.”

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