How 8 Founders Are Preparing for Continued Economic Uncertainty

From embracing unexpected changes to leaning on their teams, here's how these entrepreneurs are playing defense.
How 8 Founders Are Preparing for Continued Economic Uncertainty
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This story appears in the October 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

We asked eight of the entrepreneurs featured on our 100 Powerful Women list: How are you preparing for continued economic uncertainty? 

 

“I founded my company in 2009, in the midst of the last economic downturn. A lot of the lessons I learned then are applicable today, but most come back to the team. It’s vital to hire those driven by and committed to your mission, who embrace wearing many hats and learning new things. By constructing the right team, we remain lean and versatile, with a low burn rate, to keep pace with economic curveballs. This is critical for most startups, but as companies are forced to navigate major market fluctuations, it is key to maintaining business continuity.” — Pooja Sankar, Founder and CEO of Piazza, an online educational platform

Related: 4 Ways to Turn Uncertainty into Strength for Your Business


“We’re saving as much as we can, reducing overhead costs (especially with the temporary closing of our brick-and-mortar shop), strengthening our online presence, and meeting consumer needs. We’re leaning into what sets our business apart from your typical bookstore, home goods retailer, record shop: We have rare, one-of-a-kind objects and artifacts. Continuing to make Black cultural ephemera accessible means literally filling a void in the antiques/vintage industry, best filled by the people to whom those histories belong.” — Kiyanna Stewart, Cofounder (left), with Jannah Handy, cofounder, BLK MKT Vintage, an antiques shop and online community


“Our products are designed to take the anxiety out of accessing the right healthcare for your pet, and with so many people bringing home their first pets during this period, our plan is to double down on making our products helpful and easy to use. We have introduced additional services like a pet parent concierge, discounts on dog training, and access to a community of other new pet parents. Wagmo was built out of empathy for our customers, and we carry that throughout the entire experience, including providing options for members who find themselves in financial stress.” —Christie Horvath, Cofounder and CEO (right), with Ali Foxworth, cofounder and COO, Wagmo, a pet insurance startup

Related: Taking Coronavirus Uncertainty Head-On: A Small-Business Owner's Guide


“Despite everything that has occurred, there’s one Frederick Douglass quote that keeps running through my mind: ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.’ In the midst of uncertainty, the only way to move forward is to do one thing: Focus. It might sound simple and clichéd, but it’s one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to do. At the beginning of each week, write down three things you want to accomplish. (Make sure they are realistic.) Believe me, in a month you’ll look back and give yourself a high-five.” — Lisa Love, Cofounder and CMO of Tanoshi, an ed-tech startup that creates and distributes kids’ computers


“Both our customers and our employees are parents, and it is really hard to be a parent right now. Our goal is to be a much-needed support system. For employees, we are subsidizing 1:1 in home childcare, and offering tutoring stipends and flexible working hours. Our shared struggles are actually the source of inspiration for future product ideas. If we stay focused on being of service, we can thrive during these challenging times.” — Jessica Rolph, Cofounder and CEO of Lovevery, an education-based toy company for babies and toddlers

Related: Focus on Stability During the Uncertainty That Coronavirus Brings


 

“We knew that this period of economic uncertainty would be particularly difficult for our landowners. While shelter-in-place was in effect, we added an option for Hipcampers to donate to the host of a canceled trip. (We are proud that one in four participated!) Since shelter-in-place orders have lifted, campsite hosts are earning more than three times the income they made this time last year as people are eager to get outside — and connecting them provides economic distribution between rural and urban communities.” — Alyssa Ravasio, Founder and CEO of Hipcamp, a booking platform for campsites


“We’re doubling down on two things within our control: our products and our customers’ happiness. Back in March, as people began to spend more time indoors, we saw an explosion in sales. Managing that demand came with its own challenges, but as lockdowns ended and people began to get back out, a curious thing has happened for our business: That demand continued. So we’re staying focused on the goal of delivering great new puzzles and new products.” — Rachel Hochhauser, cofounder (right), with Jena Wolfe, cofounder, of Piecework Puzzles, a jigsaw puzzle startup

Related: Entrepreneurship Often Involves Uncertainty. Here's How to Deal With It Productively.


“The pandemic has given our Burn Boot Camp community the chance to shine. We meet our members where they are: our gyms, the parking lot, their homes. Our future success depends on our ability to bolster our core offering by servicing a hybrid of digital content to supplement our in-gym experience while layering nutrition, retail, and equipment into our wholesale model. We are a franchise company, and we will not allow a pandemic to change that; we take extreme pride in servicing our franchise partners who’ve invested in this brand.” — Morgan Kline, Cofounder and COO of Burn Boot Camp, a fitness franchise for women

Check out more stories from our October/November issue's list of 100 Powerful Women.

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