Back in 2020, my personal life had been flipped upside down. The pandemic forced our kids into at-home learning for the school year. Sports were canceled and visits with friends and family postponed. Not surprisingly, tensions were running high between Theresa and I.
Professionally, it was worse. My event signage company had come to a complete standstill within a matter of weeks. With no events, there was no business. After a few months, I was forced to lay off most of my staff. A short pivot in our product offerings kept things afloat, but the future remained bleak. Physically, it felt like I was shrinking.
I’d lay on the couch in our empty office and rub my temples in an effort to squeeze out an idea. Was I in the wrong industry? How much longer could I afford to pay the bills?
After a few weeks of diving into waves of self-pity, I decided to do something small. I called a friend who was also an entrepreneur. He gave me some positive encouragement and a few ideas. The next day, I did the same thing with someone else. One short call, several times per week.
These discussions ignited a spark. If my current industry wasn’t going to correct itself, I’d jump into a new one.
Each day, I took one small step. I’d go online and research an industry to try and find answers to a few, basic questions:
- Is the market growing?
- What’s the manufacturing process like?
- What's a standard margin?
- Where do their customers hang out?
- What's the cost to acquire a customer?
It felt insignificant at the time, but each day I was building a knowledge base in industries that might be a fit for my personal skillset and interests.
Six months later, this led Theresa and I from Connecticut to Georgia to pack up a U-Haul with a used laser engraver.
If you had told me on that couch the result would be a custom stamp business with my wife, I would have called you crazy.
And if you told me 18 months later we’d have over 50,000 customers, I’d have called you a liar!
Tucked away in the back of my old office was a poster. During 2020, I’d forgotten it was even there.
When I moved into our new space last September, I framed those words and hung them as a reminder.
As small business owners, stuff happens to us every day that we don’t expect. How are we going to react to it? What are the small steps we can take each day to succeed?
This blog series will focus on two things: small business, and the incremental steps needed to get from point A to point Z when starting an e-commerce brand.
Welcome to Start Small.