In early March this year my husband and I were running a growing and thriving business, building custom props and structures for events. “Marvellous March” was in full swing and we were excitedly working through a bumper events season. Fast forward to August and we are facing a very uncertain future for our business and the events industry. So how do we cope with not knowing what’s to come for our industry? Can we survive? Or even thrive?
During the first round of lockdown we were awaiting the birth of our second son and were actually relishing a little bit of down time after a hectic events season. In fact, we were thrilled our son was due over winter as it’s a quieter time for the events industry. But we soon realised Jobkeeper was not going to sustain a family of four and we had to think about what we could do to make the most of this downtime.
We had always wanted to diversify into a product-based business to support us when the event season was quiet. The lockdown provided us with an opportunity to utilise the machinery we had invested in to develop a range of baby and toddler play equipment. And so, “The Kids Builder” was born.
At first I thought this would be a good way to top up our income while we were in lockdown and keep as a hobby business once events invariably picked up again. But not only are there no events planned for the foreseeable future, there is no confidence that even if restrictions ease that we won’t be placed into lockdown again.
Now that we have the bones of a new business, we have to invest as much time and energy as we can (with a toddler and two-month-old) into building it into our main source of income, one that can hopefully weather the Covid-19 disruption.
So here’s my top tips if like us, you need to “pivot” (word of 2020!) your business during lockdown:
1. Pursue your passion
Lockdown is giving us space and time to create, challenge and grow. I’m sure like many business owners, you’ve had something you’ve wanted to try or pursue in your business that you haven’t had the time to do. Perhaps use this as an opportunity to upskill, invest in machinery or expand/diversify into new products or offerings.
2. Make it Covid-proof
Will your pivot survive in ongoing or increased restrictions? Or could it in fact thrive (think face masks and hand sanitiser!) Make sure you are investing in a strategy that can weather the storm. We chose children’s play equipment as there are plenty of parents trying to keep their kids occupied while stuck inside.
3. Just start
If you wait for the perfect logo, website or photos you may miss opportunities to grow your business. Get it going and out there as fast as you can and improve things as you go. We didn’t have the time upfront to work on a website, so created an Etsy store to begin with so that we had an immediate marketing platform while we developed our website in the background.
4. Find ways to rapidly grow business
To get the money coming in you need to get the word out fast. Use your existing business networks to share the word that you are doing something different. Offer loyalty discounts for existing customers, even when the business is quite different. Many of our clients in the events industry were parents, so offering a discount on baby and toddler toys was a great marketing tool!
This post was written by Karllie Lucas, c0-founder of The Kids Builder