This podcast is about crowdsourcing creative solutions with the small business community amid COVID-19. By talking to small businesses and exploring their innovative pivots and creativity, we hope to share important insights and inspiration to other businesses in the community, so we can all learn from each other. After all, rising tides lift all boats.
Former mayor, Sam Adams, has seen some things. Today, his takes on failure, vulnerability, and giving yourself permission to ask for help, are all incredibly relevant to small businesses and their leaders during this difficult time. During our chat, we visited some personal challenges Sam has faced, how he navigated them in a way that made him more resilient, and how this approach has shaped the way he sees the need for government transparency and true collaboration with the community.
Talking to Darren about his mindset made me feel like anything is possible. When COVID-19 hit, he could’ve packed it in. His business was losing 95% of its usual engagement, and he knew that continuing to operate “as normal” just wouldn’t work. But giving up or giving in just isn’t in Darren’s DNA, so he doubled down and got creative. The way he pivoted his business isn’t just inspiring, it’s really innovative. He’s leaning into some massive cultural shifts that are likely here to stay long-term, and not only is he future-proofing his business, he’s helping others at the same time.
I never thought I could have this much fun talking about HVAC. Seriously, I learned so much about how to make simple improvements for little to no money, and it was actually super interesting (and dare I say, entertaining). It definitely helped that Stillman is so into what he does — his passion for his work is definitely contagious. If you’ve got questions about ventilation, energy costs, filtration, and safety for your customers and team, this one’s for you.
Shopify expert, Rob Alan, has some really valuable recommendations for those of us thinking about implementing e-commerce solutions. For anyone taking more of their business online, Rob will challenge you to think more deeply about the most obvious options — just because they’re obvious, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re best. He’s also got some great bonus advice for those service providers out there, and how we can structure our pricing in a way that’s more accessible to our customers, without compromising on income ourselves in the long run.
When hair stylist, Luisa Torres, had to close shop due to COVID-19, she did something really smart. She started offering FaceTime consults where she’d walk clients through the process of cutting their family members’ hair—themselves! Sometimes it would take hours, but she stuck with them till the end. What a great way to generate a bit of income, foster relationships with customers, and show them just how hard it is to do what she does! In this episode, we explore additional ways she’s had to adapt to the new reality and how her unique landlord relationship ended up shaping important, rent-related conversations.
In this episode, publicist Lisa Schneiderman gives some tactical advice on messaging, marketing, PR, and brand engagement during and beyond pandemic times. But she also takes us behind-the-scenes of a mask sewing initiative she started when there was a shortage of PPE among health professionals. She walks us through what it takes to build a movement, rally a community around a cause, and how she went from zero to SEVEN THOUSAND masks like *that.*
This episode takes a slightly different format. Kate Ertmann took the time to prepare a presentation including four steps for strong operations planning, which we cover during this twenty-minute discussion. For anyone looking to adapt to this new climate from an operations standpoint, or if you’re starting a business and want to build a strong foundation from the start, Kate’s four-step framework is a fantastic resource.
“Mark my words, we’re going to be here at the end of this.” Kaie Wellman has no doubts that, despite the challenges she’s facing as the co-owner of a specialty grocery store, they’re not going anywhere. How can she be so confident? It’s a combination of her leadership style, the inner-workings of her landlord relationship, and seeing specific opportunities when most would see roadblocks. A must-listen for any retail small business.
“Entrepreneurship will gut you,” says LinkedIn marketing consultant, Chrissie Zavicar. But she also admits that hard lessons make us more resilient and teach us a lot about ourselves. In this episode we talk about putting ourselves out there a bit more, marketing our businesses in more effective ways, and how showing some vulnerability in our messaging might not be such a bad thing. Marketing on LinkedIn (or any platform for that matter) is about making meaningful connections, after all.
You know you’ve got something really special when you tear up just talking about your clients. Ryan Koral doesn’t just have something special, he is something special. He’s been giving back to entrepreneurs in the film world for years now, helping countless folks find the right balance of life, work, and clients they love. In this episode we talk about just that, the pros and cons of giving work away for free, and what to prioritize when you’re not even sure whether your business will survive.
Whether you’re a freelancer, business owner, or teammate, there are some really great insights here about building relationships and growing business opportunities. When freelance producer, Katie Vaughan, first moved to Portland from LA a few years back, she thought that with her 12 years of experience, finding work would be easy as pie. And then... crickets. In this episode she explains how she overcame some of the very hurdles many freelancers and businesses are feeling right now as a result of COVID-19, and shares some ideas for expanding our skills and staying top of mind.
Whether you hate exercise or can’t live without it, there’s perhaps no better time to be thinking about different ways to boost immunity. What I love most about this episode is the simplicity of the recommendations. When I asked Ashleigh Kayser about the easiest way to get more people moving, she offered three super simple recommendations (two of which had nothing to do with exercise) to improve our health during this stressful time, without adding a whole lot more to our already overwhelming to-do lists.
In this episode we hear how Creative Director, Salman Sajun, and his team have adapted to working remotely in an industry where collaboration and proximity to others are often key to great work. It took some finagling, but after some tweaks and iterations, they’ve found a workflow for creating great content for their clients with little interruption. During our conversation we explore what it took to iron out the kinks, but also compare how our two respective countries have handled the pandemic. As a newly-minted dual citizen, I’m always curious how Canada and the USA handle things differently, and Salman offers a really interesting perspective.
In this episode, attorney Alexandra Devendra shares some legal considerations for small businesses as we re-open the economy. We discuss the risks of being sued if someone gets sick in your place of business, the worst case scenario of bankruptcy (and maybe it not being as bad as we might assume), and the dilemma some employers may face in bringing employees back in the face of Unemployment checks sometimes being bigger than payroll checks. Lots to consider as we open back up, from a legal standpoint.
In this episode, Augusto Carneiro takes us under the hood of Nossa Familia Coffee and really opens up about the numbers. We talk about customer segmentation, profit margins, the major shifts that COVID-19 has caused, and his plan for moving forward in the new normal. We explore negotiating with landlords, making realistic projections, knowing what you can and can’t control, and the importance of really understanding your business from an operational and economic perspective. Some great food for thought for businesses of all types.
With so much contradictory information coming our way, it’s hard to know whom to listen to when it comes to reopening safely. Even the CDC and the WHO seem to be sharing contradictory recommendations at times. In this episode, infectious disease physician, Dr. Dana Lerman of The COVID Consultants, gives us some practical advice on how to parse out the best recommendations and focuses on the three biggest health and safety measures we can adopt as we reopen, both as business owners and as consumers.
Sam Pardue and his team created a science-based safety system for their own company, and now they’re packaging it as a free resource for other businesses in any sector — restaurants, retail, manufacturing, you name it.
In this episode, Sam walks us through a safety workflow his team at Indow implemented at their manufacturing facility, and how it evolved into a safety standard for businesses of all types. He calls it “Clean Practice” and it’s all about engaging your whole team in customizing the best solutions for your business. It includes an easy-to-implement safety roadmap that’s available to businesses entirely for free at CleanPractice.org. Start with their templated plan, and collaborate with your team to adapt it to your precise safety needs as a business.
In this episode, restaurateur Eugene Jung talks about some safety protocols he learned during his short stint at an Amazon warehouse in March. After closing his restaurant, Eugene found temporary work at a local Amazon fulfillment center, where he took mental notes every day about safety implementations and workflows he could adapt to his restaurant when it came time to open back up. He shared some really creative solutions for reopening safely during our conversation.
In this episode, we hear from therapists, Léa and Jessica, about mental health during this difficult time. They offer practical suggestions for those times when our emotions might start to spiral, and how to address the very real notion that we have a lot less control over things than we’d like. They remind us that in the event of air pressure loss in an airplane, we’re supposed to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before helping others. Likewise, we can be much more effective in our responsibility to our friends, families, and colleagues when we are at peace ourselves.
In this episode, motivational speaker and author, Bonnie Milletto, shares insights on leaning into one’s emotions, and how to re-center in times of stress and uncertainty. She discusses the challenges involved in taking her conference online for a virtual live all-day experience, and how embracing a mindset of action can help us all navigate the challenges we’re facing.
In this episode, financial advisor, Jake Withnell, shares practical advice on the finance side of surviving COVID-19 as a small business. Jake has family members who own small businesses, so the crisis really hits close to home. He graciously shares three core questions we need to be asking ourselves, and suggests some important ways to answer them.
What is it that small businesses need to hear right now that nobody’s saying? In this episode, Rick Turoczy plays good cop and bad cop. Together, we dive into the parallels between COVID-19 and the Dot Com bust, lessons we have (and should have) learned, and some invaluable advice for how to think about business strategy moving forward.
In this episode, Ian Williams of Deadstock Coffee shares what has made him the type of person to stop at nothing in the pursuit of his dreams. Having gone from janitor to shoe developer at Nike in the most astounding way, he now takes this attitude into his fight as a coffee shop owner during COVID-19. This episode gets a little bit personal. Thank you, Ian, for letting us in.
Really great conversation with designer, Gabriel Mathews of Con Cor Design, about staying creative while there’s a life-threatening disease just outside your window, leaning into healthy catharsis, and finding ways to stay engaged with clients between projects.
Particularly helpful was his perspective on not just thinking outside the box (since we’re literally trapped in one as we shelter in place), but seeing it as a fish tank or some other vessel in order to spark ideas from new angles. He recommends putting yourself in the shoes of a banker or a bookstore or any business other than your own, and imagine your situation from a completely different view to inspire new ideas and fresh approaches.
In this episode, Lisa Kroll offers insights about how to have hard discussions and make some of the most difficult decisions as a leader. We talk about furloughing employees, collaborative vs unilateral decision-making, showing up as your “whole self” and what it takes to be a true leader in this difficult time.
Find Lisa Kroll at bit.ly/lisakroll
In this episode, April Gutierrez of Pacific Northwest Tax provides invaluable advice for anyone thinking of applying for the SBA’s PPP program, and how to think about other programs including unemployment insurance. You can find April at www.pnwtax.com.
A little introduction! I’m Amina, the creator of Float Small Business, and this first episode goes into how this platform became a creative pivot for me as a small business owner. Let’s lift up the small business community together.