What It’s Like To Launch A New Business In The Middle of A Pandemic

Sabrina wearing her designed earrings for a selfie

Hi! I’m Sabrina. The crazy lady with four kids who was stressed out of her mind and thought “Hey, I’ll start a business!”

My background and COVID

To be honest, this wasn’t my first go around. I’ve been making jewellery for 30 years. But I always sold at festivals and craft shows. And I never made anything more than a bit of extra cash. My booth was never very focused. I’d start with a theme and then “Oooo, shiny” and I was off making something in a completely different style. “Bad Sabrina. No!” But I love the challenge of perfecting a new design.

The shows were all cancelled and I couldn’t go back to work because I messed up my back. (I can’t even blame it on COVID so no unemployment for me). Time to tackle a new monster, E-Commerce. It does have an awful lot of teeth!

A new try

I never had much luck selling online. I’ve been trying to make Etsy work for me for YEARS with no more than a handful of sales. I blame SEO. Or, more specifically, my complete lack of understanding of SEO. Even now, I don’t get it. And product descriptions make me want to tear my hair out. Especially since some of them come out pure poetry and others just sit there like old liverwurst that no one even wanted in the first place.

I found a deal for free website hosting for 90 days and started attempting to put together my website. I think it took me an hour to break down into tears. There I was, a sobbing mass on my sofa. My tech days were way too far behind me. I needed help!

Help from online resources

I’d been following this one particular person on YouTube. All of her topics were focused on how to take your handmade business online. Some parts I had down, some parts I knew but didn’t know how to implement, and some parts I never even thought of. She offered a 12 module how-to system that broke everything down into baby steps. With a support system! But the price sticker hurt, even more so because of my current predicament.

I did it anyway. It took half of my savings.

But I built a website with far fewer tears (I suppose I could lie and say no tears but it’s not my style). I learned about marketing, and branding boards and all sorts of useful things. Remarkably kind people walked me past my breakdowns and pointed me back in the right direction. It was worth it.

Hard work and success

Now I’m a huge success and making thousands of dollars! Pffft, no way, I only joined 3 months ago! You’d need some Jack Sparrow kind of luck to have a profitable business in 3 months! And anyone who tells you differently is either lying or delusional! And no, the group that I joined did not promise that I would. Right up front, she said it would take 3-5 years to earn me a livable wage. I appreciate honesty, it’s part of why I joined.

So what is happening now? I’m looking for a job that I can physically do while still allowing me time to run my business and raise my children. In the future, I’m aiming for a teacher’s aide at my daughter’s elementary school (cross your fingers). I’m also utilizing the group support to keep me on track and motivated. Without that support, I would have given up before I even started.

I still have bad days. I still freak out. But I’m learning to balance my time. And I have hope, even on those bad days.

Have a dream? Go for it

My website is getting traffic and my social media is building followers. My conversion rate isn’t where I want it to be but I only actually launched my website 2 months ago and have already had more sales than I did with years on Etsy. I finally feel like I’m on the right path and I will make it to my end goal. A better life for my family. Freedom. And a chance to make a difference.

So, moral of the story? If you want to start a business then do it. Find support. Find a teacher or a mentor and do it. If you don’t you’ll regret it. But don’t expect any quick returns. Know that you will be tired. Know that at some point you will want to give up. You have to be tough and stubborn. Not everyone will be kind. And not everyone will like what you do. It’s ok. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about finding your path and following it no matter what obstacles come along, sharing your light and taking a leap and learning how to fly.

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