Perseverance Through It All
I think it’s fair to say every person on earth has faced some form of adversity, forcing them to persevere. It’s no different for the small business owner. Industry veterans have faced multiple challenges. The 1980s had recessions and inflation; the 1990s a period of economic boom with its own challenges; the 2000s brought increased regulations in a post-9/11 world along with the 2008 recession; and along came 2020.
A Whole New World
The world as we knew it effectively shut down and left even the savviest business owners struggling to adapt. But 2020 and the following years also brought about a bright spot—a boom in entrepreneurial spirit and a surge in new businesses being started (our business included).
Starting a business is difficult, but founding one during a pandemic is just crazy—or so I thought. When COVID and the subsequent shutdowns hit our area, it allowed a wonderful opportunity for my husband to walk away from a toxic work environment and start a new venture with his best friend – me! Was it terrifying? Absolutely! Do we regret it? Nope! What we thought would be the most challenging climb of our lives proved to be the opposite.
We invested very little in print or advertising, bought a new-to-us work van for $10,000 (thanks to help from family), and slapped on some vinyl lettering made from my Cricut. Thankfully, I had a part-time job that kept the bills paid, and we had savings that allowed us to purchase business insurance and do a manufacturer buy-in. We formed our LLC, registered with the IRS, got a business license, built a webpage and became official. There was no turning back now.
With the help of friends spreading the word and hiring us to film their homes, the phone started ringing and jobs were being scheduled. With more people staying home, there became a greater demand for residential window tinting—computer screens with too much glare, hot spots in the home office and stimulus funds allowing home-improvement updates. We didn’t know where the next job would come from, but we had faith that we would succeed.
The Good and the Bad
In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you the first offseason was trying—both on our business and our marriage. My uncle passed away, the kids and I desperately missed family and friends who were out-of-state, and the continuing COVID restrictions added insult to injury. But through all of the ups and downs, we made the tough decision that I would step away from my part-time job to focus on our business full-time.
We were letting go of a financial safety net in absolute faith that we would persevere. It allowed me to join local networking groups and further cement our standing in this community while Matt continued doing estimates and installs. We began forming lasting relationships and friendships that continue to benefit us emotionally and financially. Our little startup was growing in reach, and we were about to take another first step together.
Due to the rate at which we were growing, we realized we would need to hire in the offseason to prepare for the next busy season. We took another leap of faith and brought on our first employee. While we were familiar with hiring employees working in other businesses, this was our first go-round with hiring in our own business and the growing pains that would follow.
But we stepped out in faith, persevered through the colder months and hired our second employee by spring! Was it scary? Absolutely! Has it been worth it? Overwhelmingly! It’s one thing when you are spending payroll from a corporate account compared to payroll from your own small business account.
The stress of having enough revenue to cover business expenses with enough left to cover your personal expenses is rough. Sleepless nights, divided minds and irritability towards those you love most was challenging. But thankfully, we persevered through those circumstances and continue to grow.
A New Expansion
We were growing steadily, so we decided to open a storefront. Not being able to purchase a commercial space, we decided to lease a “to-be-built” unit with an estimated completion date of late spring 2022. We signed the lease and started to get excited about what the year would bring. But what was once excitement grew to frustration after multiple delays.
Our completion date got pushed from spring to late summer, from late summer to fall and then from fall to hopefully by the end of the year. Our business growth was slowed to some extent, and we became aggravated. However, we continued to persevere and focus on the areas of our business that we could diversify, which has reaped dividends.
We also continued to network, began advertising more aggressively and expanded our reach while we waited for the shop to be completed.
Finally, last week, we received the keys to our first storefront and are busy prepping for a grand opening!
To the Future
What began as a scary entrepreneurial dream at the start of COVID has grown into a thriving business with even scarier dreams. The blessing of working with my best friend every day makes my heart happy. The opportunity to provide wonderful jobs for people in this area and have them become a part of our family and culture is nothing short of extraordinary. Giving back to the community that helps build our business is an absolute honor.
2023 started with unique challenges, but they do not define us. We will creatively find ways to forge ahead. I hope that sharing our struggles will encourage you to keep on keeping on.
Cheers to 2023, facing adversities together and persevering through them all.