Insights from the front lines: How the outbreak is affecting your world

Our Trends community is full of entrepreneurs whose businesses are fighting serious headwinds. Here’s what they told us about how they’re coping.


March 12, 2020

By Nick DeSantis

Our Trends community is full of entrepreneurs whose businesses are fighting serious headwinds as the virus spreads. We asked how their companies have been affected, and the contributions poured in.

Here are a few of their stories.

‘The numbers are staggering’

Natasha Miller’s company has already lost $100k in known business. 

That might not sound like a lot for an outfit that brought in $4m+ of revenue last year, but Miller knows it’s going to get worse. Her company, San Francisco’s Entire Productions, specializes in corporate events for companies like Uber.

She told The Hustle that her business had 178 events in the pipeline that would go to contract in the next few months.

“If I owned a company,” she said, “I would not be signing contracts for events until I know they can happen.”

Miller now expects her business to do about half of what it brought in last year.

“The numbers are staggering,” she said, and they’ll force business leaders to make hard choices. One thing she’s considering: contracts that are more open-ended, which come with more risk.

How can businesses bounce back? By banding together, promoting each other, and making use of mentoring resources, like the free program offered by the nonprofit Pacific Community Ventures.

‘We need them … to remain active so we can stay alive’

When those events get canceled, the consequences run downstream. Just ask Alex Bradberry.

Bradberry is the founder of The Sparkle Bar, a hair-and-makeup business in Scottsdale, Arizona. She noticed something as events in her area started getting called off: so did appointments.

“Clients are the lifeblood of The Sparkle Bar and we need them…to remain active so we can stay alive,” Bradberry said in a Facebook post. So far, she can’t quantify the hit to her business’s bottom line — but she’s worried about having enough business to support her 13 employees.

How’s Sparkle Bar adapting? By looking for new opportunities to shore up revenue. One of them: An online hair-and-makeup consultation known as a “virtual edit.”

‘Even firing someone who royally screwed up sucks’

Brent Hulderman is thinking big and small about how he can trim the fat. 

As the owner of Absolute Recovery, a repossession company in Charlotte, North Carolina, he’s been hoping to buy the property he’s leased for the last 5 ½ years.

He finally has a deal he’s happy with — but now he’s not sure he wants to part with the $70k he’ll need to do it. He’s scrutinizing expenses everywhere — even down to paper shredding.

With ~15 employees, he’s mostly out of day-to-day operations. But now he’s thinking about what roles he might have to cut back on. “Even firing someone who royally screwed up sucks because you know they have bills and a family,” he told us. “So doing it out of necessity is worse.”

‘Pressure is a good thing’

Brian de Groot’s business, Dispatch Custom Cycling Components, is seeing a surprising uptick: custom bike components are up 30% recently. Why? He chalks it up to warming weather and an increase in remote workers who want to “satisfy the distraction itch.”

Even so, de Groot is troubled by something larger — what he calls a lack of leadership in the business community. 

He says there’s an important distinction between “managing to a quarter” and managing for the long-term. “Short-term, I can see how some will suffer,” he said in a Facebook message, “but out of 2001 and again in 2008, we created some of the most amazing businesses of our time. Pressure is a good thing.”

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