Starting a business during a global pandemic or crisis might seem a little crazy. After all, small businesses are closing their doors… And there’s for lease signs plastered across store windows where the opening hours once hung. But if we’ve learnt anything from previous crises – now could be the perfect time to start your own business (even if you’re out of work).
Do you know what Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp and Kickstarter all have in common? Well, these life-changing startups were all founded during the last Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Even Apple, Disney and Microsoft came from adverse times.
And while being out of work during a financial crisis is nothing to celebrate – it can often make way for creativity and innovation…
And that’s exactly what happened to me when I began my business, CFO Babe.
Starting A Business From Home During A Global Crisis
I’m Jennifer Khoo, and I founded CFO Babe during the global pandemic. I started my business after discovering that the number of female solopreneurs in New Zealand and Australia was rising. It was a shimmer of hope during these adverse times.
And so, I decided I wanted to support these busy, inspiring and ambitious women – both financially and professionally. That’s when CFO Babe was born.
CFO Babe is a boutique finance hub – blending bookkeeping, accounting, consulting and community. I work with female entrepreneurs anywhere, anytime through virtual cloud-based solutions – helping them to adapt and thrive in the face of changing times.
Here’s My Business Struggles So Far
Starting a business is challenging enough as it is – but during a global pandemic? It’s a whole different ball game. Well, that’s been my experience so far. So if you’re deciding whether to kickstart your dream business – here’s what I’ve learnt in 2020…
1. Not Everyone Will Support You (Yep, Even Your Friends)
While I wish CFO Babe had the support of everyone around me, I could write a book about the times I’ve been doubted…
“No one will need your services during the pandemic”
“Stay at home and look after the kids with their virtual school”
“There are too many female business owners out there, why add another one to the list?”
But thankfully, I learnt to take people’s opinions with a grain of salt, and push on anyway. And I’m glad I did. Sure, most small businesses fail within the first three years – but I’m determined to be apart of the 20% that make it. The 20% that thrive.
2. Balancing A Business And Kids Is Not For The Faint-Hearted
For many parents, the global pandemic meant homeschooling the kids at one stage. And while it was nice to have them around, being with my kids every second of the day didn’t leave me much time to kickstart a business! But I was determined to make it work.
When they were at home full-time, I would spend 2 – 3 hours in the evening after they went to bed. I learnt that when you’re running a business, it’s about doing what you can with the time you have. And eventually, all those small efforts will add up to something bigger.
3. Budgeting Is SO Important
I’m from a finance background – so numbers are my bread and butter. But unfortunately, since I am currently located in California with plans to work with Australian and NZ based businesses – I was not eligible for any funding or grants.
This might change once I move back to New Zealand, but for now, I’m relying on my personal savings. Because of this, I found it was so important to be diligent with my budget. I had a clear idea of my cash flow and where my money was going.
My Business Successes So Far
While I’ve met with a million and one challenges along the way – I’m proud to say that I’ve had some successes, too. Here’s what has worked for me so far…
1. Making Time For Exercise
I’m proud to say that throughout the ups and downs of a global pandemic – I’ve always made time for exercise. Whether it was going for a run, hiking or walking on the beach – exercise allowed me to let off some steam. And the best part? I was a better mum, partner and business owner for it.
2. Staying Connected
When it comes to starting a business, networking is key. And you never know who in your life might be looking for exactly what you offer. Thankfully, today’s technology allowed me to keep in touch with friends, family and ex-colleagues. I was able to share my new business with them, as well as check in on their wellbeing.
3. Becoming A Mentor
As a new business owner, becoming a mentor might not even be on your radar yet. But I was lucky enough to virtually volunteer at my old University in Wellington. I shared my story with future accountants and business owners – and this gave me a confidence boost and a sense of pride in my achievements. I came out of it feeling focused and motivated to share CFO Babe with the world.
Tips For Women Starting Their Own Business During A Pandemic
1. Assess The Market
If you’re looking to start your new business – I say go for it! But before you do, ask yourself is now the right time? Do people need what you have to offer? For example, a global pandemic may not the best time to start a travel agency. Remember to read the market before you get started.
2. Market Yourself
Unfortunately, people won’t just magically hear about your business (wouldn’t it be nice if they did?) You have to put yourself out there! This means using social media, marketing yourself and networking with the connections you already have. Never overlook those that are already in your network.
3. Know Your Finances
Your finances should be the driving force behind every business decision you make. So you must have a really good understanding of your books. Numbers not your thing? Then it’s a great idea to outsource this area to a finance expert, like CFO Babe. Which brings me to my next point
4. Outsource Work And Invest In Tools
As a business owner, you wear so many different hats. If your budget allows, you can save money by outsourcing tasks like finances or marketing. But be clever with what you outsource and invest in tools that will grow your business. I’m a huge fan of Xero accounting software.
5. Be Open To Learning New Things
The most successful business owners are always learning new skills. Embrace opportunities and be curious – you will learn so much about running a business, dealing with people, marketing and finances. My advice: Enjoy the learning process!
6. Most Importantly, Be Kind To Yourself
Don’t be too hard on yourself during this incredibly challenging time. Give yourself a break between the tough grind. Need a day to sit on the couch and watch Netflix? That’s absolutely fine – just make sure you get back on the horse the following day.
Starting a business during a global pandemic was not easy – but it was absolutely worth it. With the right know-how, determination and strategies… You can do it too. And if you need help along the way, I’d love to be apart of your network.
CFO Babe (by Jennifer Khoo) offers virtual bookkeeping and consulting so you can make sense of your numbers. Not only that, my growing community lets you connect with female business owners from all walks of life. Because I firmly believe that behind every successful fempreneur, there’s a team of like-minded women cheering them on. To follow the CFO Babe journey, connect with me on Instagram @cfobabe. I’d love to see you there!