How Do Small Business Owners Help Themselves During The Pandemic?

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They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This proverbial phrase likely resonates with many self-starting entrepreneurs who turned adversity into more than a cold beverage – but an entire lemonade empire serving others.

Founder of Slutty Vegan Atl – a vegan restaurant – Pinky Cole
Pinky Cole, Forbes8 Mastermind WILLIAM GEORGE DELEHANTY, FORBES8
More than a health crisis, the pandemic is causing massive unemployment and a staggeringly quick deterioration of the global economy. While the entrepreneurial “can do” mindset exists – there is no toggle to increase productivity. It seems like much is out of your control as new societal safety rules affect almost everything.

Sure, there are historical examples of big accomplishments in times of tragedies. Shakespeare’s King Lear was likely written while he was quarantined during a devastating plague and Sir Issac Newton’s creation of calculus while social distancing. Where are the small business success stories today?

Here’s a good one: self-taught restaurateur, Pinky Cole the founder and CEO of Atlanta-based vegan comfort food restaurant Slutty Vegan, had her share of hardship. From restaurant fires to employee lawsuits, it has been Cole’s biggest mistakes that propelled her entrepreneurial evolution.

The take-out restaurant is used to serving customers on-the-go. The business actually improved recently. With social distancing in place, instead of the traditional hour-long lines, customers order through an updated POS system for home delivery by Uber Eats or a short and safe restaurant pick up (now in less than 10 minutes).

In a recent Forbes8 Mastermind, Cole shared advice on how entrepreneurs can push past their stumbling blocks “What may look like a perceived failure is really not a failure at all, it’s really an opportunity to go to the next level and be an expert in your field. I learned it from real life experience,” Cole explains.

After losing her first restaurant in a devastating fire in New York, Cole shifted careers and moved to Los Angeles to work for the Oprah Winfrey Network as a supervising producer. She stayed there for two and a half years before moving to Atlanta, Georgia for a casting producer position. The inspiration for her second restaurant business was fueled by her own problem – there were no healthy, vegan restaurants available.

She again took the plunge opening her business and needed to market it. Learning how to tell her personal story is how Cole garnered the attention of what became a cult following. “Everybody has a story. It’s up to you how you tell that story and how you get your audience to hear it, and how I did that is through social media,” Cole explained.

“If you can tell a good story, you can get people to buy your product.”

– Pinky Cole
By perfecting her personal storytelling and creating a memorable customer experience, Cole cultivated a community of die hard fans positioning Slutty Vegan for long term success. “So we tell people, ‘You come for the experience, you leave with the food.’ Because it’s bigger than burgers and fries,” Cole shared.

And during these difficult times, Cole is giving back. She set up a weekly Entrepreneurs Anonymous virtual meeting to offer advice to other small business owners. The Pinky Cole Foundation is also helping pay rent for neighboring small businesses who are having a more difficult time.

Here is some advice from a woman working her plan:

Make your mission bigger than your product and be willing to help others.
Don’t be afraid to start over after a pitfall even if it’s in an entirely new direction.
Prioritize people – put your employees and customers first.
Nail down your story so that your audience can understand where you’ve been and where you’re going.
Utilize social media as a tool to connect your business to targeted customers.
Create a memorable customer experience to achieve long term success
Entrepreneurs can’t control everything. The things you can do everyday – work hard, care about others and use setbacks as learning experiences – do pay off.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes8/2020/04/16/how-do-small-business-owners-help-themselves-during-the-pandemic/#26bfc69f59de

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