The reality of opening a business during a pandemic

Graphic of beer glass with the word "Craft" and stylized hops bud

Starting a small business comes with numerous challenges, but dealing with a pandemic weeks after your grand opening is not one you normally plan for. I opened the end of February and shut my doors three weeks later. Having spent the past five years completing my MBA, gaining direct industry experience, investing my entire savings and going through all the steps required to start a business I was devastated when Covid-19 hit my community.

With uncertainty, fear and anxiety running through me I started worrying about the survival of my business. Initially there was little aid or assistance for brand new businesses. It felt like someone punched me from behind and I was staggering to just stay on my feet. What can I do? How long will this last? How will I survive this? Questions began piling up in my head.

When I realized the pandemic would be around for a while I decided to stop worrying and start brainstorming. What can I do to generate revenue while also connecting with my community? Being brand new one of my initial struggles was to get the word out about my business. I came up with the idea of working with established local breweries and creating Crafts Over Covid packs. These packs would be for sale on my website and picked up at my retail location during select hours. Each pack featured beer from local breweries, stickers and swag, a code to access a beer judging survey, custom koozie, voucher for a free beer, coloring competition sheet, and entry into the raffle (prizes donated from the breweries).

By creating these packs I was able to use the breweries vast networking to boost the visibility of my new business in the community, create lasting relationships with them, help drive sales their way and generate some revenue for my business. The community loved it! I sold out quickly and was able to grow my customer base while also demonstrating my mission of supporting local. This past December I created a winter edition of Crafts Over Covid and, once again, sold out. These packs were a life saver to me as I needed the revenue to keep my doors open and business operating. During the course of 2020 I was shutdown multiple times, and can say I am unique in that during my first year of operating I had one grand opening and three more re-grand openings. One of the struggles of having to reopen multiple times was generating a solid set of regular customers. Just as I would start to see growth and consistency I would be forced to shutdown again and would have to mostly start fresh on the next reopening. With determination, some creative thinking and support from my community I was able to make it to 2021. This year is about infusing the wisdom I have learned over the past year to not only help my business survive but thrive.