Celebrating Small Business Owners in 2021

Small business owners share their #1 learning from the past year of navigating the pandemic

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has forced business owners to get creative, pivoting to adapt their business models, introduce new revenue streams, and protect their employees and customers. According to a Capital One Business and Morning Consult survey conducted at the end of 2020, 42% of small business owners had seen a decrease in sales over the past three months, and 62% had no plans to hire new employees over the next six months. 

Despite all of the challenges presented by the pandemic, small business owners remained optimistic. Six in 10 reported that they were confident the U.S. economy would be favorable to business in 2020, and 67% were confident that their business would return to pre-pandemic operations and revenues. 

We connected with five entrepreneurs from across the country and asked one question: As a business owner, what was your biggest learning from the past year? 

Kristen Gardner Beal & Lance Lemon, co-founders of RichWine

“The biggest lesson from last year and our first full year in business is that you truly have to roll with the punches because entrepreneurship is not perfect. You could wake up and have the busiest day you've ever had, which calls for you to hydrate and adapt to the pace almost immediately. Or, you could have 0 orders and that's ok too, that is the universe creating time for you to recharge. These ebbs and flows have allowed us to further define our fixed vs. variable expectations and business practices, and from this perspective, change is exciting and we welcome the opportunity to grow. It is all an opportunity to grow.”

David Collado, president of Happy Howie’s All Natural Dog Treats

“During the last year I learned that I have a duty to keep my team safe and ensure that they feel safe at work. I use the acronym CANER (Constant And Never Ending Reassurance) to constantly remind me of this responsibility. It’s one of my favorites for anyone in a management role. At the beginning of the pandemic (March through June), we had company meetings 2-4 times per month sharing updates and answering questions. This helped the team feel safe and trust that management wasn’t sticking their head in the sand.” 

Ericka Perry, founder and CEO of The Stork Bag:

“As a business owner my biggest learning and most beneficial takeaway from 2020 was resilience and flexibility. I group both resilience and flexibility together because, in my opinion, they go hand-in-hand. Not only did I, as the organization's leader, have to think quickly and become more flexible, I also had to teach and demonstrate that to my entire team with the intent of instilling confidence in them, so that they were able to navigate and readjust through such a trying time. The resilience emerged from the flexibility in that-- we became more flexible as a team and more resilient as a company.” 

Jeff Braverman, Chief Nut at Nuts.com

“Focus – things got really difficult for us and we just put our heads down and focused on that which was absolutely necessary.”  

Shantelle Brown, owner and operator of Hope Pharmacy

“The biggest lesson from the past year is that you have to be willing to be flexible and open to change—and you have to do whatever it takes. Sometimes that means you’re putting in more hours than planned in order to strategize and make things work. You also have to ask those who believe in you and your vision to advocate on your behalf.”

Capital One is a proud sponsor of Small Unites, an advocacy program designed to rally consumers and communities across the country to champion the local small businesses they love. Visit smallunites.org for more information on how you can support small businesses in your community. 


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