Inside My Business During COVID-19
Pivot! The word of the day, week, and month as we have all had to change our day to day lives. My business has also had to pivot significantly to fit into this new reality. I have been talking a lot lately on social media about how we need better examples of leadership from the companies we work with and look up to as well as the leaders in the reselling community overall. I thought it was only fair that I disclose the actions I am taking within my own business during this time, even if my options are limited.
What we are all experiencing is completely foreign to us and with any luck, none of us will have to see anything like it again. As a small business owner, I put every dollar I can back into my business, making times like these more difficult to navigate without much liquidity. I imagine we will see many smaller businesses shut their doors, there will sadly be an even wider gap now. As resellers, I see a better fate than a complete shutdown of our businesses. We come from the bins, the dumpsters and are geniuses in seeking out that that is worthless to some and treasure to others.
When the news of COVID-19 in NYC hit I was reminded of the way I felt when we learned that there was an Ebola case in NYC years ago. I felt that “Yikes!” but also never could have understood that we would be where we are today. I will admit I was thinking well, it’s not going to be nice but NYC will keep moving and so will I even if it would be in a more cautious way for a while.
I had just started offering bulk bundles in February and was excited about providing my fellow resellers with the inventory. Especially when everyone began being much more cautious about going to any thrift stores. Because of that bundle inventory, I was actually able to save some extra inventory for myself to list “just in case” we went into a shelter in place order. Now we are officially in week two of a shelter in place order in NYC but I (we) began social distancing and stopped sourcing in public about two weeks prior to the order.
It takes about 2-3 weeks for an item to go from source to listed. An item will go through the inventory, steaming, photographing, and the listing process then will be put away. So that means we already had about 2-3 weeks’ worth of items to be listed without having to source. With the additional items that I took in and kept that were meant to be allocated for bulk bundles, we may have an additional 1-2 weeks’ worth of inventory to list. I am painfully aware that once that ends we won’t have anything more to add and I have debated what to do. I wondered if I should stretch it out and limit how many items a day we would list? Ultimately I concluded that the best course of action would be to get it all listed ASAP in case this lasts longer than projected and sales further decline.
So how are my sales? My numbers usually run about 2 weeks behind the week I am operating in so right now I am still looking at the tail end of my sales from before the official shelter in place order. Though I can tell you my unofficial numbers are indicating an approximate 30% decrease in sales. I have calculated that this could actually sustain us for a while with no extras and of course no buying.
My theory is that we will see a step down in sales until the stimulus checks arrive, then I think we will see a small pop followed by a stepdown again until we have better predictions on “the end” of the shelter in place and business closures. As soon as we do start hearing firmer dates on that I believe we will see an immediate increase in sales as many who were holding onto their money begin to plan outings, vacations, and (hopeful) summertime activities. This is based on a very positive and hopeful outlook, where things begin to go back to “normal” by mid-June.
Now, what about Ana?! As many of you know one of my best friends began working with me full-time this year as an independent contractor. When I asked her to start working for me full-time she had another job, one she didn’t like (I hope she likes her job now lol). It was a huge leap of faith for her to believe in what I was doing and that my business would provide steady work. But she took that leap and I am determined to not let her down even in a time of crisis like this.
We spoke very candidly a few weeks back about what might happen. I told her if shit hits the fan I will keep working and there will be work for her but if sales didn’t come in we would essentially be working for future payment. She didn’t seem to be too worried and we decided that I would pay as much as I could when I could and anything unpaid would be owed to her when business was back to running at full capacity.
So that posed the question a few weeks ago…. How do we keep working if she’s home and I am home? We quickly decided that since we had already been social distancing with no contact with other people other than each other it would make sense for her to come to stay with me and ride this out. And I am so thankful we did this! We have been able to continue working and also keep each other company without compromising ourselves or anyone else’s health and safety.
Here is how I have planned things out for the foreseeable future. All revenue will be allotted to bills first and foremost, then groceries and any other essential items (there aren’t many). After that, the next priority is to pay Ana what is left over. I will no longer take my usual salary, I have reduced it to the bare minimum needed to survive hence the bills and groceries only. If, and a big if, anything else if leftover it will remain in the business account to roll over into the month after, hopefully giving us a small cushion. Ana and I will continue to work full-time, she is now listing what we have left until that runs out as well as working with me on my, not ready to reveal yet, project. I have pivoted to start working on said project almost 100% of the time. When inventory runs out Ana will switch to helping me full-time on my project, which will accelerate it and allow it to begin months ahead of schedule.
At the end of the day, my goal is to come out on the other side of this ready to hit the ground running. If my business has a chance of making it every sacrifice will need to be made to make it happen. So for me, I will fight my urge to step back from work every day, though I may not win that fight every day… I will win on most days. And if the worst does happen I will revert to the self I know who has survived through times without food, work, or home. Because she knows how to get back to a better life from the bottom, and ironically she has always been the voice in my head reminding me not to get too comfortable.
Sending my love to you all, please stay safe and take every precaution you can.