In October of 2020, I took a huge leap of faith by deciding to transform my new found love of soap making into a business. This choice was mostly due to the loss of my job and a need to find a creative way to make money to pay my monthly bills. The unexpected loss of a pretty significant salary left me scrambling trying to figure out what to do. While yes, to some degree I was presented with a new opportunity to reinvent myself, I was also presented with the very real challenge of trying to generate an income to survive. Anyone looking for a job nowadays knows the job market is pretty dry. The Covid-19 Pandemic caused a lot of shifts in the employment and economic landscape, making it challenging for folks without work to reenter the workforce. While there are jobs out there, none of them are within my area of experience or interest. So, I had a choice to make. Do I just apply for any job out there in hopes to cover my living expenses, none of which come even close to my former salary, or do I roll the dice and try to start my own business.
Anyone who has started a business knows there are several steps you need to go through to do so successfully. Starting a business requires commitment, some dedication, and sacrifice. First, you have to have a clear vision of what the purpose and goals of your business are and if there’s a market for it. You need to research the market and familiarize yourself with the competition to differentiate yourself enough to generate a client base. Then you need to have some sort of plan to launch and promote your business which includes start-up fees. The initial cost of starting a business is something that prevents tons of people from going out on their own in the first place.
As a solopreneur, I had to learn all of the aspects of creating and running a business alone, and fast. Before Covid-19, promoting an idea or your business typically meant going out in public and networking with people. The pandemic however has made that a bit challenging with all of the social distancing and quarantine rules. Opening a new storefront during a pandemic doesn’t make sense, especially when multiple local businesses and even some large businesses have been forced to close their doors and have gone out of business. If Covid-19 wasn’t an issue I would be selling my products at farmers’ markets and craft fairs. Sadly, they are not in existence this year. These factors required me to rely on building a website and launching my business via the internet, something I had never done before. While it sounds easy, anyone who frequents the World Wide Web knows how many businesses already exist on the internet, making it hard to generate online visibility. In my situation, there are thousands of soapers and soap businesses already in existence. So how does someone make their business competitive with the thousands of online businesses already in existence? Good question! This is something I work on just about every day and am hoping to figure out the right algorithm with time.
What I have found to be most helpful has been relying on the support of family and friends. Word of mouth is still very applicable in a web-based business environment and a pandemic. Fortunately, family and friends of family and friends have slowly been spreading the word and helping my soap business grow by getting my business name out there. I am forever grateful for these people. Without them, I am not sure how I would financially survive. I am thankful for folks like the local garden center who values the rallying of local businesses supporting one another and for welcoming my products into their store. I am also thankful for my in-laws who purchase custom soaps for their business. It’s little nuggets like this that hopefully will evolve into larger chunks of gold.
While it’s exciting to do something new and fun, it can also be a bit stressful. I wouldn’t say I am at a place where my soap business draws in much of an income. The juggle and struggle of getting started can easily deter folks into giving up altogether and secure other employment instead, even if at mediocre pay. While starting a business during a pandemic has its challenges it is doable. Like with any business, there are really good weeks and not so good weeks. You just have to be mentally prepared for this. There are still days I stress about meeting my monthly quota to cover my mortgage and other expenses, but truth be told, I would stress just as much if working for an employer. If you are like me and were met with challenges during 2020 that forced you into reinventing yourself, my advice to you is not to give up hope. Hold onto your passions and dreams, even if it takes time for them to come to fruition. God and the Universe wants you to live a happy and abundant life, even if it means having to struggle.