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How COVID-19 Felt for Our Small Business

Running a small business is hard even when there isn’t a global pandemic. I started this business with no prior industry experience and only one shirt idea. 

Small businesses become successful by doing a lot of things well - customer service, company culture, human resources, sales, financial planning, and managing growth, to name a few. Sometimes, even when you do a lot of those things really well, success isn’t guaranteed. 

I have lived in a constant state of fear over the last two months that even though we have done a lot of things well, the future for us is uncertain.  

And yes, I know I just used one of those overused cliches about COVID-19. But you know what? All the cliches about the current situation are true. There isn’t a better way to say it and that’s how people feel. That’s why we keep hearing them.

I have felt a lot of anxiety about being in this situation while knowing that my employees look to me for answers and reassurance. The truth is, I haven’t always felt confident I could provide them. 

In the beginning, I didn’t know what to do. One thing we have repeated and reminded ourselves throughout it all is that we’ll be smarter in a week. I’ve said it to myself on a daily basis - I’ll be smarter and better in a week. From the stay at home order to PPP to unemployment to existing quotes and orders, it applied to everything we were doing. While it has been true, there is still a nagging feeling that I don’t have enough information and that circumstances are changing too quickly to feel confident in my decisions. 

Providing a great place to work is something I was proud of and committed to creating. Layoffs are devastating. The only time I’ve cried more in a one week period was when my mother passed. Weeks later, I still feel bad about laying off 70% of my staff. I miss my employees and am conflicted about the ethical implications of my decisions, even though I was quick to hire back those that I could.

My employees’ response to being laid off and to being rehired gives me hope for the future. They comforted me when I had a hard time breaking the bad news and they have all been excited about coming back even if being on unemployment was a better deal for them currently. 

Unprecedented, uncertain, challenging, trying. Yeah, we’ve felt all of this recently. But we’re all in this together and we’ll get through it together.

John Amato launched Jupmode with a single shirt idea - the Jim Tressel Sweater Vest T-Shirt. He brings his dog Penny to work with him nearly every day, is an avid gardener and sourdough bread baker, and loves to spend his time outside of work with his family. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Elaine - May 19, 2020

I can relate to so much of this. Running a small hair salon and having to shut the doors and cut off the income to 6 other people. Feeling like I don’t have the exact answers or reassurance has been so difficult. I am so grateful that you created the the here for good campaign. Beyond taking care of your employees, you did a great job taking care of the community!
One step at a time, learning as we go.

LInda Aubry - May 19, 2020

You are an empathetic boss, John! Hang in there!🙏❤️

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