Ever since I became a copywriter, I’ve loved working with small, service-based entrepreneurs. The passion and care they bring to their work inspires me, and I couldn’t think of a more enjoyable group of people to serve.
But when COVID-19 started making its way through the U.S. earlier in 2020, the types of businesses who normally fill my schedule and pay my bills were also some of the first and hardest hit economically. And like many of them, I started bracing for impact.
Looking back now, it’s safe to say 2020 hasn’t played out anything like we thought it would. For small, service-based businesses like mine, it’s been a year of learning to navigate the unexpected. And today I’m sharing a few of my biggest takeaways from these “strange and unprecedented” times.
1. Pivoting isn’t for everyone
As soon as COVID-19 hit the American small business scene, so did the call to “pivot.” Gurus everywhere announced that this was the time for entrepreneurs to rework their business models, create new and affordable offers, and serve their audiences in this time of need.
I was impressed by the nimble entrepreneurs who made these quick shifts, but I had to accept that I probably wouldn’t be one of them. I liked my business model, and I didn’t want to get sidetracked creating half-baked offers that wouldn’t serve me or my clients well.
I decided to wait, hold onto my current offerings, and see what happened.
As it turned out, many of my ideal clients were now sitting at home thinking about how to improve their businesses, and realizing they needed a copywriter. Work started to come in slowly, but steadily, and I was glad I hadn’t invested time or resources into creating a quick fix before I knew what people really wanted.
Pivoting may have been popular, but it wasn’t the right choice for me.
2. Off seasons leave space for growth
Like many of my clients, I realized that during slower times, I finally had headspace for the business projects I’d been putting off for months.
So, I started tuning up my website, developing new digital products, and creating automated emails and workflows that would continue saving me time as work picked back up. I also streamlined my booking system for returning clients, which has allowed me to serve my clients better long-term while not having to worry about finding new work all the time.
Making these improvements helped me feel less powerless during a season when I had very little control over what was happening around me. And my business has been able to come back stronger than before because of the work I did during that time.
3. It’s okay to slow down
Before the pandemic hit the U.S., I’d been flying through one of my busiest seasons as a business owner. I loved the people I was working with and the projects I was a part of, but I was also edging closer to burnout each week, with no sign of stopping.
Even though I’ve never been attracted to “hustle culture,” I still fall into that mindset from time to time – usually because I’m afraid of what will happen if I slow down. Will the clients disappear? Will the business go under? Will I be unable to support my family?
So, like many entrepreneurs, I came face-to-face with some of my biggest business nightmares when COVID-19 struck. But I also had no choice but to slow down. In doing so, I started to see that life and business could still be okay on the other side.
I know my business will continue to see ebbs and flows, even in a “normal” year. So, I’m grateful that I can now view slower seasons not as threats, but as opportunities.
Navigating tough times as an entrepreneur
I don’t think any small business owner struck out on their own because they thought it would be easy. But we never expected a year like this one, either.
Making it through this weird time – and watching entrepreneurs and other copywriters around me do the same – has shown me that tough seasons in business can also open us up to grow, innovate, or simply slow down.
And if nothing else, they prove we’re capable of handling so much more than we give ourselves credit for.