Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
By Kevin Elliott
We filed our LLC on April 6, 2020, about the time the world fell apart.
Our plans, along with yours, halted as entire states, and then the United States, locked down. People were not in the mood to start video projects.
Adversity is a great teacher, so what have we learned from all this? Situations like this one can make you question whether opening shop is a good idea after all.
Here are our thoughts.
1. There is No Perfect Time to Start A Business
Some of the most successful businesses of all time were started during times of great uncertainty, including the Great Depression. Many of those businesses are still around today.
Titans like Disney, General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, and IBM were started during serious economic times. Microsoft, Apple, and Uber were all founded during recessions.
Are economic downturns the same as a global pandemic? No, but the businesses mentioned above also didn’t have the internet or social media to help them grow. There are always constraints in starting a business.
We are choosing to look at successful businesses that started in difficulty and find hope that we will do the same.
2. Marketing Should Never Stop, So Get Creative
The worst thing you can do when things get tough is stop marketing. In my experience, though, that is usually the first thing to go.
“We can’t afford to market when we don’t have revenue,” is the common excuse.
Brand building is cumulative. You don’t establish your position in the market with one marketing effort and you lose steam when you stop. Marketing is an ongoing conversation with people, thousands of little touch points that make your business stick in their mind.
Out of sight out of mind, the saying goes.
So what can you do? I mentioned social media before. As long as you pay your cell phone bill, you should be able to market for no money at all. What do you think people are doing with all those hours stuck at home? Scrolling their social channels. Try meeting them there.
In our case, we are a video company, so we are making videos. One idea we had was a series of shorts about life during the pandemic called “COVID Chronicles.” Our first one is called “A Mug’s Life.” In about 45 seconds, we look at a day in the life during quarantine from the perspective of a coffee mug.
This is one way we’re marketing. It’s timely and shows our video skills. This time is uncomfortable and has stretched us in ways we do not like. But frankly, no one cares. If we want to be in business, we have to find ways to get the word out.
What can you do to turn this situation into a marketing opportunity for your business?
By the way, we’re also writing blog posts like this one, about video production, project management, and entrepreneurship. Have a look at some of our other articles.
3. “Diversify Your Portfolio” is Not a Joke, It’s a Survival Mechanism
We entrepreneurs tend to be gunslingers. We have our vision and, many times, go all in to bring it to life. That means sinking too much of our financial future into a single venture.
Has that worked before? Sure, but real success in entrepreneurship comes over the long haul (In my opinion, it takes a good 5 years). You have to be financially ready to stick it out.
I currently have three jobs. I have a “day job” as a marketing creative director at an engineering firm. I am also an adjunct professor of communication at Florida State University. Then there’s Wewa Films.
Courtney, my business partner and co-founder of this company, shoots wedding videos and does photography when not making magic for Wewa Films.
In other words, we have multiple income streams, so we are in better shape to weather the pandemic with Wewa Films intact. If we had quit everything to start this company, we’d be screwed right now.
The image of the go-for-broke, devil-may-care overnight success is largely a myth. Usually, success comes from slow, steady effort and growth.
If you aren’t prepared for the long haul, you’re toast.
4. We Learned If We Really Want to Do This
There is nothing like a crappy time to make you do some soul searching. Starting a business is hard enough in good times. When it hits the fan, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and see if you want it bad enough.
As for us, we really, really do.
P.S. – Here are some related articles: