New Beginnings: Entrepreneurial resilience amid global chaos

photo of woman writing on tablet computer while using laptop

By: Dalet Valles

Published by: The Point Magazine–Spring 2021, Volume 16

Stillness. Isolation. Boredom. At the start of the coronavirus lockdowns, dissatisfaction and dullness filled many people as a result of being stuck indoors. Times seemed to be at a standstill because of the dreariness of seclusion. While many people felt uneasy about the new reality that came with the pandemic, there were few who saw the free time from being locked inside their homes as a golden opportunity. The few who did use the time to their own convenience and began to profit from their skills. 

Nearly everyone was left blindsided when jobs and internships started to shut down, and it seemed as if doors were closing for new opportunities. 

New doors are opening up now that entrepreneurship is growing due to the economic situation that came with pandemics. According to SalesForce, millennials and Generation Z are more likely to start a small business compared to older generations. College students have taken this opportunity to become their own boss, including Biola students. They are taking their hobbies and talents to the next level and profiting from them. 

Opportunities and Obstacles

With more time on their hands, some students were astonished at their decision to open a business. After experiencing the life of a business owner, many students were stunned at how their decision benefited them. The new experience showed students that they could make money on their own terms, which was more than appreciated during the critical circumstances.

Freshman communication studies major Chloe Chow began her entrepreneurial journey by making scrunchies to fundraise money for a mission trip to Mexicali in 2018. Chow recently made the decision to turn her skill into a business, Chloe Crafted Co.  Chow had begun to fundraise for another mission trip last year, but due to the pandemic, it was cancelled. Fortunately, she stood firm and was able to turn the sudden crisis into a business. 

“I had already begun to make scrunchies again, and I thought I should start a shop to get them out to others. I thought starting to make more products and adding on stickers would be fun!”

Compared to other businesses which started during the pandemic, Chow’s came as a surprise. Her previous experience and love for arts led her to monetize her hobby. In the same manner, plenty of students are taking their love for something and turning it into a revenue. 

Chow said that the pandemic has allowed her to focus on her business. Since classes are online and a lot of time is spent alone, Chow suggests that now is the time to begin a business. 

However, the pandemic presented its challenges for countless businesses, making it difficult to advance. Now more than ever, small businesses are facing unforeseen obstacles. Owners must focus on the challenges that COVID-19 may present to them at any time, imposing them to adapt to these less than ideal circumstances. 

“I had set my opening date and was working on preparing my products and designs, but a month before opening, I had family members contract COVID,” Chow said. “Though I had tested negative, and my products were away from my family, having to quarantine away from my family slowed motivation and productivity.” 

Chow reacted how anyone would react when in this situation. The lack of contact and worry that comes with COVID-19 put life at a standstill, and running a business was the last thing on the list. Chow experienced these complications but was able to persevere through these difficult times. Once she was sure that her family was healthy and that the virus was no longer a risk for her, she reopened her shop. 

Throughout the pandemic, many businesses big and small halted their operations. It has been especially difficult for small businesses, but they continue to persevere.

New Source of Income

Due to the dangers of COVID-19, people were forced to find new ways to make an income. Jobs suddenly declined, some had financial needs, and others were more cautious and decided to work from the safety of their own home. 

In a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, it was discovered that more than one-third of people from ages 18-24 have a side hustle or business. Whether it is becoming a babysitter, survey taker, or blogger, side hustles have demonstrated to be a good way to remain occupied while making money.

“I wanted to pass time and get my own income, but I did not want to work outside my house because of COVID. I started learning how to make jewelry because I love jewelry,” said freshman Spanish and psychology major Ruby Rodriguez. 

When creating her business, Ruby Styles, Rodriguez kept the limits of the pandemic in mind. She took advantage of technology and ran her business from Instagram, allowing her to spend an abundant amount of time running her business. Although she focuses greatly on her business, she said that this will always be something on the side of her planned career.

“For me, I’m not going to make this my main path. It’s going to be something on the side that I enjoy. It brings an income, but it’s not the career path that God has for me,” she said. 

Rodriguez wanted to make money without compromising her set goals. Rodriguez, along with many of her other fellow students, found it beneficial to open a business while continuing their studies.

Expanding Businesses

For the small businesses that have their eyes set on expanding, the pandemic is one large obstacle. Due to restrictions, progress had been deterred, steering businesses away from desired goals and diminishing eagerness. Small business owners, including Chow and Rodriguez, are not alone. Attempts to expand in the thick of restrictions and COVID-19 complications impacted student business owners the most.

Wwanny, an Instagram clothing shop run by Weston Kleeman and junior business administration major Danny Sachoff, faced hardships similar to these. Kleeman and Sachoff had set their hopes on expanding. The only thing stopping them was the severity of the virus and its restrictions. The plan was to open an in-person pop-up shop, but the pandemic pushed it back. After waiting for various months, Wwanny set up a pop-up shop on Feb. 27, 2021. 

“We are super excited about the idea of being able to sell some clothes in person. We feel like there is a whole other experience of shopping in person that not many people have participated in recently,” Sachoff said. 

Sachoff and Kleeman are excited to finally provide the experience of shopping to their customers. This is a big step for a small business, especially after having to make coronavirus accommodations. 

“I would have loved to do this pop-up shop earlier, but due to restrictions in California, we felt like the earliest, most appropriate time was late February,” Sachoff said. 

Though Wwanny was created as a source of revenue, it turned out to be something larger than expected. Sachoff expressed his thoughts of expanding beyond what it is now, but he is uncertain of how that would look. However it may be, a step toward expanding during these difficult times is an accomplishment for any business. 

On the Rise

The amount of small businesses have skyrocketed during the pandemic and has shifted the way entrepreneurs perform and manage their business. The bizarre situations that arose with COVID-19, like the stay-at-home order, drove business owners to think outside the box and adapt. Those who are not a part of the business world have noticed the change — and have stepped up to support the resilient owners. 

Whether students rethink their career paths, or decide to maintain their business as an extra resource, small businesses have become a fountain of opportunities. Amid the chaotic reality that has presented to the entrepreneurs, they continue to defy the odds and stand firm.