8 Founders Share the Best Decisions They Made in 2020 They weren't always easy, but they've kept these businesses moving forward.
"Taking a partner-centric approach to accelerate market adoption of Arrive Outdoors’ rental model. We’ve built strong operations and logistics and a phenomenal customer experience to support the growing trend of experience-based consumers in outdoor travel. Industry leaders want access to these consumers, so a partnership model allows us to work with parks, brands, and retailers, helping them engage with this segment, use our rental expertise, and promote a sustainable model for accessing the outdoors.” — Rachelle Snyder, Cofounder and CEO of Arrive Outdoors, an outdoor travel gear rental company
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“Listening to my team. As soon as COVID-19 hit, my cofounder, our three directors, and I started having a check-in every morning. It kept things from falling through the cracks and allowed our directors to speak up when the team was reaching burnout. When we were ready to partially return to the office after months of working from home, we learned that there was too much discomfort around that decision—so we’ll remain closed through 2020. I really led with ‘people over profits’ this year, and I believe it’s why we were able to weather this storm.” — Iva Pawling, Cofounder and CEO of Richer Poorer, an apparel and intimates brand
“Choosing community over commerce. Like many mission-centric businesses, Brown Girl Jane has always needed to strike a balance between impact and growth, but we made the quick pivot to create authentic and dynamic programming, including a hugely successful economic empowerment initiative called the #BrownGirlSwap, mental health check-ins via our newly created You Good, Sis? show, and redirecting portions of our own profits toward initiatives that seek to support the wholeness of women of color. As a result, our community, and our business, has grown exponentially.” — Malaika Jones Kebede, Cofounder (bottom right), with Tai Beauchamp (bottom left) and Nia Jones, cofounders, Brown Girl Jane, a CBD and wellness brand
Related: Success Isn't About Making One Big Decision, It's About Making a Million Small Decisions
“The best decision was transitioning from the nonprofit to the for-profit sector to ensure that everyone with an eating disorder can access treatment. My cofounder, Erin Parks, and I saw a need to partner with payors instead of fighting them, and we built a research-based treatment model that puts patients and families first. We used to be skeptical of for-profit healthcare, but in many instances, nonprofits are not capitalized enough and academia is not risk-tolerant enough to drive massive innovation in treatment delivery.” — Kristina Saffran, Cofounder and CEO (right), with Erin Parks, cofounder and chief clinical officer, Equip, a virtual eating-disorder treatment program
“We invested a disproportionately high amount of our resources into staying connected with our customers. This was key to understanding how to serve them during unparalleled times and providing them with not just skin-care products but a support system. We implemented Instagram Live events that I hosted three times a week, instituted a wellness academy, offered complimentary consultations with experts, and directly asked how we could be helpful. We increased engagement threefold, and the positive-feedback loop was foundational in navigating this year.” — Alicia Yoon, Founder and CEO of Peach & Lily, a Korean skin-care and beauty brand
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“When the virus drove us into isolation, everyone was feeling lost and fearful — myself included. There were questions about the future of our business, the strength of our portfolio, and the impact on job security. It would have been easy to tell my team that we would get through this unscathed and that I knew what to do next. Instead, I leaned into the fear. Leadership is about the stuff we do and not the things we say; it felt very natural to not try and fill the void of solutions with empty promises. Today, our company is thriving. There is still adversity ahead, but I am hopeful that with more vulnerability and honesty, it all becomes a little less hard.” — Amy Nauiokas, Founder and CEO of Anthemis Group, a VC firm that backs digital financial service companies
“The conversation around diversity, equity, and justice has finally intensified, and I have been able to use my voice to speak specifically about diversity at the top — in the boardroom, at executive levels, and in investing. In the investing world, WestRiver Group has committed to ensuring that the allocation of investment capital happens by diverse teams, with the belief that diverse investors will invest in diverse entrepreneurs. I have been able to bring empirical data to light in interviews and other media, making the case that diverse teams can drive outsize returns. Diversity in investing is not just about doing the right thing; it is good for business.” — Richelle Parham, Managing director of WestRiver Group, a venture capital firm
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“Yogi Bare was recently in a trademark dispute with a global brand. I feared that if we lost our logo, we’d lose our brand, because that’s what people identified with. So I tried to fight a battle we would never win financially and in turn endured anxiety and anguish, impacting my ability to run Yogi Bare. But when I finally stopped resisting and decided to let go of the logo, I realized that our brand was never about the mark. Our brand is the power of our community. And that transcends a logo.” — Kat Pither, Founder of Yogi Bare, an eco-friendly yoga equipment company
Check out more stories from our October/November issue's list of 100 Powerful Women.