Pivoting my small business during a global pandemic

Posted On 11/17/2020 by St. Pete Chamber Member

When the pandemic hit I was frozen in fear. As a small business owner, I was afraid I could lose everything. I had a decision to make; Sink or swim?  As a Life Coach, I felt that this was a pivotal moment for me. Instead of reacting, It was time to pause and really think “how can I be a success in the face of a global disaster?” I decided that taking this perspective was my only choice. I also knew that I could never lose “everything” and that having faith is what got me to start this business in the first place. I would work as hard as I could and if the business closed, then I would be ok. I always was.

Once this decision was made it became exciting. I started by changing into a CBD Delivery store. I enjoyed seeing where my customers lived and became extremely grateful for every single order. My pivot was to always treat each transaction with gratitude and always do whatever it takes to get the customers what they need and to think out of the box. Now that we are open we will pivot to continue to market ourselves as CBD Delivery as well as Brick and Mortar. This will make it more convenient for older or busy customers.

When we realized that most of our transactions were on the phone, we had to work on our phone skills. Taking a deep breath and smiling before we picked up the phone. Having empathy for whatever they were going through and taking the time to ask how they were doing. Also calling on customers who have ordered in the past to see if they were ok. Now that we are open we have pivoted to calling and checking in on our customers. They loved the personal touch and many of them placed orders. We will continue to treat customers on the phone just like they were in the store.

We realized that this is the first time that all small businesses were in the exact same boat. We stopped by as many of them as we could and collected coupons and offers and put collections of them in our customers bags with each purchase. Once we opened we created a community table for customers to support local business. This pivot was something I always wanted to do, but did not take the time out from my store operations. We have made many new relationships and have nurtured old ones. We now collaborate with each other in many ways such as give-a-ways, small events that we have created ourselves and supporting grand-openings. We will pivot to be involved in like-minded businesses from now on and will make this a priority in our day-to day. Especially in St. Pete, community is KEY. It has been a wonderful experience getting to know each other and we have so many more to meet and work with. We look forward to working and playing with more and more of St. Pete’s Small Businesses!

I have also become way more involved in all things St Pete by becoming a Chamber Ambassador, a Bike Friendly Business, The Rotary Club, My Neighborhood Association, St. Pete Paws and becoming certified through Heathier St Pete and becoming a Pet friendly Business.  The way to show the city you love it is to become involved!  I am looking forward to the meetings being in person and being able to make new friends and meet new neighbors and continue this pivot from now on.

Taking care of number one is the most important pivot of all. Being a small business owner takes a lot of time, and sometimes toll on a person. It can be a 24-hour commitment and it’s important to be healthy and happy to be a good leader. I have taken a pledge to put my health and well-being as my number one priority. Committing to eating well, exercising daily, meditating, walking in nature and doing small stay-cation a month just to get the feeling of being away and to allow my brain to turn off from work. Also, being single was starting to get lonely, and I went to Pet Pal and adopted the cutest little companion ever!  Dipper keeps me in a good mood all day long and has really made an impact on my mental health. I will continue to do get-a-ways and retreats and take time to be in nature every day.

All-in-all Business is not back to where it was, but I enjoy writing my success story. What we do right now is so important as it’s part of our global and personal history in the making. I want to remember it as a time where I was the VICTOR. A time when we worked together, in faith, love, respect and integrity. The big pivot is to SHINE now more than ever and be a beacon of light to whomever needs a light in the dark.


—by Michele Tolan, Your CBD Store St. Pete