For 3C, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to take stock of the accomplishments of women small business owners – and after a year like 2020, we consider staying open for business an accomplishment!
Women-led small businesses were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that “the number of female business owners who ranked their business’s overall health as “somewhat or very good” fell 13 points during the pandemic, from 60% in January to 47% in July 2020. By contrast, the number of male business owners reporting a “good” business health status only fell five points in the same period (67% to 62%).” According to our Digitally Driven 2020 report, women-led SMBs were less digitally prepared for the pandemic, projecting 6% less revenue for 2020 and 8% more permanent closures than men-led SMBs.
Despite these challenges, women-led small businesses persisted – and even found ways to empower others during lockdowns.
Read these stories of women-run small business resilience:
Beddy’s: Digitally Empowered & Thriving
Betsy Mikesell (CEO/Cofounder) & Angie White (COO/Cofounder)
When COVID-19 hit, Betsy and Angie wondered whether their “self-making” bed covering business would survive. Thankfully, Beddy’s had an established social media presence and robust digital advertising portfolio – and, according to Betsy, “Our numbers started going crazy.”
The team began working overtime during the pandemic, keeping in touch over Google Meet and Zoom while using digital tools like Gorgais to ensure the company’s G Suite-enabled operations kept going. Other than halting a planned brick-and-mortar expansion, it was full steam ahead for Beddy’s, which began hiring more employees. The company also made sure to reach even more potential customers by targeting social media influencers in new and creative ways while simultaneously upping its spend on digital ads.
CareAcademy: Rallying for Essential Small Businesses & Workers
Helen Adeosun (CEO/Cofounder)
The U.S. has long suffered from a shortage of qualified direct care workers, a problem exacerbated by the country’s aging population. Nigerian-immigrant Helen Adeosun, a former practicing caregiver, thought someone should do something about that. Her solution was to build CareAcademy, a digital-first business that would empower senior home care professionals to build businesses of their own in the home care industry, pairing online training with easy-to-use technology.
Before the onset of COVID-19, Helen’s education and upskilling platform had already emboldened many caregivers to both pursue continuous education for themselves and to improve the quality of care for their patients. After the pandemic struck, her business used a host of digital tools and created a range of in-demand digital content that helped CareAcademy become a rallying point for health-focused small businesses and workers across the country.
“I’m proud of our role as a high-growth startup helping drive the creation and success of small businesses across the country overall,” Helen said, “but I’m especially proud of how our digitally-driven company was able to step up and provide resources that help others save lives.”
Goodr: Putting Food on the Table for Those in Need
Jasmine Crowe, CEO
Inspired by her work feeding people on the streets of Atlanta, Jasmine Crowe started Goodr in 2017 to divert millions of pounds of excess food from landfills and toward those who need it most. In the face of COVID-19, she evolved Goodr’s mission, driving food towards families in need.
Goodr’s digital connectivity allowed the company to continue working with clients during the pandemic, including reaching out to shuttered businesses with excess food that would have gone to waste. Goodr decided to provide a new platform for those looking to donate groceries to families in need. “We were able to get that capability up and on our website in a matter of minutes,” Jasmine said, “and then we got the word out on Twitter.”
Goodr was founded to achieve what it calls a triple-win solution: help hungry communities in need, reduce greenhouse emissions from landfills, and find a way to help clients succeed financially — all at once. Jasmine, Terrence, and the rest of the team are proud to say they can achieve this every day, even during a time of crisis.
NAME GLO: Giving Back and Glowing Up
Sas Simon (Cofounder) & Lena Imamura (Cofounder)
Sas Simon, an actress, and Lena Imamura, a visual artist, have always been fans of light. In 2014, when Sas’s nephew was born, she hoped he might grow up to be a fan of light as well. But when she tried to order a specialized neon light for him, she found the process surprisingly opaque and difficult. So, Sas teamed up with her artist friend Lena and opened a business that would allow them to produce their own custom-made neon pieces.
NAME GLO quickly evolved from passion project to profitable venture. When the pandemic hit, the pair turned to the digital tools that helped them build their business in the first place to effectively weather the storm and find unexpected opportunities to do good.
Sas and Lena had just opened a new brick-and-mortar location with production capabilities, so they put it to positive use: they started producing face shields to donate to health-care workers and ended up providing more than 2,500 units.
“More and more businesses are going to need products like these as we continue transitioning toward a new normal under COVID-19,” Lena said. “We’re glad to be able to do what we can to help out.”
MedHaul: Providing Critical Services During a Pandemic
Erica Plybeah (CEO/Founder)
Erica Plybeah will never forget the time she watched her mother struggle to lift her grandmother out of a wheelchair and into a car for a routine doctor’s appointment. Erica, determined there was a better way to handle such situations, launched MedHaul, a digital-first company dedicated to streamlining transport for those with special needs, such as immuno-compromised patients. It does so by connecting health-care providers, such as doctors and hospitals, with non-emergency transportation options for their patients.
Demand for MedHaul’s services exploded due to COVID-19. “The demand was so high, we weren’t sure how we’d be able to keep up with it,” Erica recalled. “But thanks to tools like Google Analytics, we were able to learn a lot about what our customers were looking for and how we could best serve them and engage with them.”
MedHaul had already implemented strict sanitation protocols long before the pandemic, so the company was able to spring into action and give underserved communities the transportation they needed.