How to Start a Business During a Pandemic

Written by: Clare Tries, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

The Disruption

I was one of those who believed that a few weeks of lockdown would be the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wasn't concerned when things closed down, and I felt lucky. Working from home full-time pre-pandemic, I didn't have to worry about losing my income. When the schools closed, it was tough having three kids at home while trying to work. But, it was short-term, so I knew I could survive this. Then March turned into April, which turned into May, and the reality of how a pandemic unfolds hit me hard. That dawning realization that this wasn't going to be over anytime soon felt like a sucker punch. It manifested itself in a lot of anger and bitterness. I was short-tempered, I cried a lot, and I questioned everything about my new reality.


The Change

Leaving a stable job amid an economic crisis wasn't my first plan. However, it ended up being the change I needed. I was laid off a few weeks into the lockdown. Juggling full-time work with two kids was tough. Add online learning with a newly crawling baby to the mix; dedicating myself to an 8-5 became impossible. On top of that, my job was not fulfilling. I longed to focus the little energy I had on something that fueled my soul. When it came time to decide if I would go back, I chose not to. It was time for me to start something new, to build something that would make me proud.

Reality Check: Part 2

Saying goodbye to a stable income during such an uncertain time in the world was cathartic. If I could build a successful business during a pandemic, I could do anything! But could I do this? Hello, impostor syndrome. Who did I think I was taking such a gamble during this chaotic time? What if I fail and my family suffers? Maybe I should have stuck with a comfortable, stable income and made this change after COVID-19 was over. The constant self-doubt was a real struggle!

The Secret

The only way to overcome self-doubt is to keep taking action and celebrating the small wins. I was digging out in the garden one morning and listening to a podcast talking about a training course. Covered in dirt and sweat, I felt a determination to keep propelling myself forward. So, I enrolled in the training. Then, I built a website. After that, I collected testimonials from previous work experience. I started talking about what I was doing on all of my social media accounts. After signing my first client through a freelancer platform for TERRIBLE pay, I celebrated anyway. After an awful experience with the first graphic designer I partnered with, I refused to give up. I joined Facebook groups and kept looking until I found the fantastic graphic designer I partner with today. No matter what obstacles I faced, I kept taking steps forward. And, I celebrated every win along the way, no matter how small.

The Future

Three months into my new business venture, I signed my first big client. They came to me through spreading the word on social media. They needed help with their marketing initiatives, and I couldn't have been more excited to tell their story. This win was the confidence booster I needed to focus on the "right" type of client. I stopped saying "yes" to every opportunity that came my way. I said goodbye to all the low-paying work I was doing on freelancer platforms. Soon, I sought opportunities to speak for groups of companies that fit my ideal client profile. My business gained momentum that I couldn't stop. Today, I write this article in the dark and quiet early morning hours. It's been five months since I started my journey. I have a team of five people who work with me on multiple projects. I have doubled the comfortable, stable income that I was afraid of leaving behind. More than all of that, I have the pleasure of focusing my energy on work that I love every day. And I have the flexibility to support my children and spend more time with my family. I have found happiness and fulfillment during a worldwide pandemic. Who would have thought that was possible?

How You Can Do It Too

If you feel uninspired, tired, burnt out, unfulfilled, and unhappy about the work you are doing, maybe it's time for a change. Give yourself some quiet space to focus inward. What would you feel happy dedicating your energy to for the foreseeable future? Is it time for something new?

If you are ready to take a leap of faith in yourself, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Cover your bases. I was lucky to have a partner earning a stable income when I started my journey. This stability allowed us to lose my income for a few months before I started bringing in regular work. Make a plan for your finances. Or, dedicate yourself part-time to your new venture until you can afford to leave your job. Also, don't forget to look into government grants that might