What if I was to tell you that, with regard to small business, this pandemic actually contains a very valuable silver lining?
Oh, I can hear you now: “Get the heck out of here, Steve!” you may be saying, and of course, I understand that. Covid-19 has been almost nothing but bad for most small businesses.
But you may have noticed that I said, “almost,” and inside that ‘almost’ is the sliver of silver. In fact, it is more than just a sliver; if you look closely, there is an entire vein of value to be mined.
Let me explain: Entrepreneurs are nothing if not resilient and creative, and that certainly has been the case during this pandemic. From restaurants pivoting to takeout to distilleries developing hand sanitizers, many small businesses have adapted and, in the process, created new profit centers, new skills, and new opportunities.
So when PayPal and I started talking about having me meet, speak with, and highlight some of their merchants who have very successfully navigated these turbulent times, I was all in.
I want you to meet The Adaptables.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to be posting blogs and videos of my conversations with these remarkable small business owners. Today, we are going to start with the truly inspiring story of Funlayo Alabi, the co-founder and CEO of Shea Radiance.
Shea Radiance is an impressive business on many levels, and Funlayo’s response to the pandemic has only added to that. Founded in 2009, the company creates natural beauty products out of unrefined shea butter. But get this: Shea Radiance sources it’s shea butter only and directly from women-owned cooperatives in West Africa, and as such, has become an economic lifeline for these women, allowing them to be self-sufficient and thereby be able to feed, clothe, house, and educate their children.
To fund Shea Radiance’s growth (their products can be found in most Whole Foods markets for example), Funlayo has used a variety of sources, including a PayPal Working Capital loan, which, especially as a women-owned, minority-owned business, was vital considering the challenges these businesses face with regard to getting access to funding.
Needless to say, the advent of Covid-19 seriously affected Funlayo’s business. Yet she was undaunted; she was, in fact, adaptable. And so, even in the middle of a pandemic, Funlayo Alabi found an opportunity (or two or three!) For instance, our collective newfound reliance on hand-washing meant that chapped hands need moisturizer like, well, shea butter. “We leaned into that opportunity,” she told me.
I had a fascinating conversation with Funlayo about how she navigated the pandemic and Black Lives Matter at the same time, how she found new opportunities, and had better conversations with her suppliers. There is much to take away from what she learned and her experience.
So yes, even in a pandemic, great entrepreneurs use their natural ability to adapt to mine the silver lining.
By: Steve Strauss