It was an exciting day when the acceptance letter dropped in my inbox. That day back in Feb 2020 when I learned that I had been accepted into the CEED program (Center for Entrepreneurial Education and Development), and was that much closer to achieving my dream of opening my own boutique. However; just as that acceptance letter came, the unthinkable happened. Something that had not happened in over 100 years. The whole world began to shut down as multiple countries and continents attempted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
What did this mean for me and the development of my new business? I honestly did not know!! Myself, like I am sure many others, thought this would be a thing of the past in quick order. Well, as we know, that "quick order" is something we are still dealing with 17 months later. In the early stages of the pandemic, and with limited information and knowledge what the effects of the pandemic could be, I had to decide if I was going to stay the course with this journey or put it on the back burner for another day? Realizing that this may be my only time and that "another day" may never come, I chose to stay the course.
So what did this ultimately mean for me and the development of my business? It meant I had to navigate through challenges that never would have existed had the whole world not got turned upside down.
- This meant that I would have to complete my CEED program over the internet. There would be no in-class learning nor would I get to personally meet and interact with the others in my cohort. I would not benefit from the opportunity to form bonds with like individuals and develop a support group that I could lean on as we navigated the program.
- This meant that all my business negotiations would be done virtually, and I would not get the chance to visit showrooms to view collections. I had to make product choices over zoom or by viewing lookbooks online.
- I had to create a click and mortar business. Having a store front was no longer enough. With the fear of being mandated to shut down, I had to offer a second platform where people could shop my products. This not only comes with an additional cost, but also the need for my personal time.
- I had to learn how to deal with delivery delays, product changes, and excessive freight charges.
- I had to learn to manage the frustrations that came with the numerous set-backs in the construction/fit-up of my store front.
- I had to learn how to shift and pivot my business during mandated lockdowns.
The circumstances surrounding this journey were definitely not ideal, and I often questioned and second guessed what I was attempting to accomplish. At times it was scary and completely overwhelming!! So what kept me moving forward? I told myself to be patient and trust the journey, and even though things looked bad on the current path, it was not my final destination. Would I chose to open another business during a pandemic. Maybe, but most likely no. Am I happy that I trusted this journey to the end? You bet I am, and there is no where else I would rather be!!