Adaptability during COVID-19 has become an invaluable skill for many, especially for entrepreneurs. For Bryan Beck, owner of Blazing Paddles and stARTup Studios, and Robert Grant, owner of ShineOn and TGYMT Media, this has been essential to managing their goals. While their adaptability during COVID-19 has taken different forms, remaining open and flexible has helped these entrepreneurs during uncertain times.
Financial Shifts During COVID-19
A massive shift for many entrepreneurs during this pandemic has been financial. For Beck, his businesses were adversely affected by COVID-19, with safety guidelines limiting income potential.
“The most difficult challenge for myself as a small business owner is how to afford our utilities and rent.,” Beck said. “We have several artists who work out of our studio who rely on me to keep our studio accessible. With the hit of Covid-19, I lost 90% of my income, which came from teaching art classes to the public.”
Grant’s flagship company, TGYMT Media, has come to a standstill as a result of COVID-19.
“[TGYMT Media] essentially did influencer marketing within the tourism, hospitality, and foodservice industry,” Grant said. “Because the groups that we served were the hardest hit by the pandemic, my business went down with those industries.”
Though both Beck and Grant are eager to return to business as usual, neither are rushing to implement temporary or “in-the-moment” strategies.
“Things are changing so rapidly and frequently, that it is nearly impossible to be reactive AND effective at the same time,” Grant said. “And in my opinion, that will manifest itself in business decisions that many companies will regret at some point down the road… I don’t plan on being one of them. When we can make content that is up to par with our brand that took so much work to build, we will get back to work. Until then, its a waiting game.”
Adaptability During COVID-19
However, Beck and Grant are both creatives. This means creating projects, and staying busy helps them stay balanced. Beck has had time to return to his work as an artist.
“The pandemic has actually helped me work on some things in my studio I would otherwise not have any time for,” Beck said. “I started creating new forms for my own personal work and am rebuilding some equipment in my studio, which desperately needed some love.”
Grant’s creativity has manifested differently. With TGYMT Media on hiatus, he has created a new business to address an urgent need during the pandemic: sanitation.
“I started a hand sanitizer business to hold myself over in the short term,” Grant said. “It started as a small community service project to give free hand sanitizer to people in need but snowballed into a real business that is profitable and scaling up quickly. It has kept me so busy that I haven’t had much time to worry about my other business or the stress of this whole situation. Staying busy keeps me sane, I can’t fathom just sitting around waiting on this to be over.”
Entrepreneurship During COVID-19
In addition to their adaptability during COVID-19, Beck and Grant have witnessed others create a new normal during the pandemic. Beck has been particularly intrigued by art entrepreneurs finding resourceful ways to engage with their community.
“The sale of art is heavily reliant on a person being able to see or feel the work in person,” Beck said. “So a lot of artists have moved to doing virtual lessons and online sales where they normally would not have to. My studio, like many others, is starting to do online live demonstrations via Facebook in order to engage with our customers and just simply ask for donations to help us keep going and be able to open our doors when everything is safe.”
While some entrepreneurs have adjusted, others have put their entrepreneurial dreams on hold. As director of SparkMacon, Grant has seen this firsthand.
“Entrepreneurs who had been saving up money to start or grow their business now need to use that money simply to survive,” Grant said. “While SparkMacon, as an organization, has funding to weather the storm, its long-term success depends on people feeling secure enough to step out on faith and start a business. Moving forward, I don’t see people having that much confidence. At least not any time soon.”
Beyond COVID-19: The Future of Entrepreneurship
Although neither Beck nor Grant have crystal balls, they do have a good feeling about the future. Beck, set to open his artist lounge in March, sees the postponement as a positive.
“We know now that social life will most likely never be the same so we are using this time to think outside the box to open up to our future customers,” Beck said. “At first we didn’t know if we should keep working, but in the end it has actually pushed us to get a little more organized and set more deadlines for ourselves.”
Grant is interested to see how others adaptability during COVID-19 will change the entrepreneurial landscape.
“In my opinion, I see the playing field more level than its been in my lifetime, and there are more opportunities than ever before,” Grant said. Industries like cleaning and hygiene products suddenly have space for a small business like mine to gain a significant foothold. “
Grant intends to use this shift to find more opportunities to address needs. Beck plans to take it slow and analyze changes as they come.
“Everything is different and new, so just like I did before, I will continue to take everything one day at a time while planning for the future,” Beck said. “A new goal of ours is also to really try to help out our fellow artists as much as we can, so when a disaster like this strikes again, we can act more quickly to help support each other.”
If you enjoyed this piece on adaptability during COVID-19, check out early installments in the series. PandemicPerspectives: Chambliss & Martin On Service During COVID-19 & #PandemicPerspectives: Harwell-Dye & Macker On Passion During COVID-19.
About Featured Professionals
Owner of Blazing Paddles Studio, LLC, and stARTup Studios, Bryan Beck grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, and holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Glass from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Illinois. Bryan specializes in hot glass, flameworking, coldworking, hot cast glass, kiln cast glass, and stained glass.
Nearly five years ago, Robert Grant left his job in commercial real estate marketing to pursue a career as a Food and Travel Vlogger. Using his years of experience in traditional and guerilla marketing, he built a respected influencer brand known as That Guy You Met Today or “TGYMT.” He also has a new business, ShineOn, that sells Macon-made hand sanitizer. For each bottle sold, another bottle goes to the Free Hand Sanitizer Project, which provides sanitizer to those in need. He is also the director of SparkMacon, an incubator space for creators and makers.