From the COVID-19 pandemic to global uprisings, we’re living through historical events. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus has changed our lives forever. As a result, scores of small business owners have had to look for ways to navigate in unpredictable times.
The best entrepreneurs, however, always figure out a way to succeed despite obstacles that are thrown their way. They’re problem-solvers, quick on their feet and forward-thinking.
Case in point: Lia Key of Valencia Key, KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson of Mented Cosmetics and Robyn Zimmer of Embrace the Difference — 2019 winners of QVC and HSN’s The Big Find, a search to discover entrepreneurs with the next big brand or unique product. Those chosen are invited to join the HSN and QVC family and share their stories with an audience of millions on the major shopping destinations.
Once again this year, QVC and HSN have brought back The Big Find for a new class of entrepreneurs. Submissions for beauty, fashion, accessories, jewelry, home décor, home innovation, electronics and culinary are open from until Wednesday, Aug. 19. Apply here now! Selected candidates will be invited to pitch their products virtually in September via video conference to a panel of judges.
In addition to providing the winning entrepreneurs with a platform, QVC and HSN offers mentorship, as they know all too well, even in the best of times, running a business has its ups and downs. And when something unprecedented like a pandemic happens, having support can make a world of difference.
As the aforementioned 2019 Big Find winners will tell you, you don’t have to let challenges define you or your business. Recently, Yahoo Life spoke to these entrepreneurs who each shared one piece of advice on how business owners can not only survive, but thrive during challenging times.
KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson, Mented Cosmetics
Lean on your network for support
KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson know firsthand the importance of having a support network in life and business. The two co-founded one of the fastest growing makeup companies, Mented Cosmetics, which is known for their beautiful range of products designed with people of color in mind, including their popular lineup of nude lipsticks for Black women.
Together, they’ve taken the brand to great heights — winning The Big Find competition in 2019, for example. And through the pandemic, they’ve continued to lean on each other for support, as well as their network of advisors and fellow entrepreneurs to glean ways on how to manage the business and any emotions that come up during these difficult times.
“Being able to lean on [Amanda] as a friend and not just as a business partner has been really helpful. Because this is a very emotional [and] weird time, and if all we thought about during this time was business, I think it would be really untenable. Thank God, we can start off all of our conversations with just checking in with one another. That to me keeps me motivated because I know the person I'm in this with is a person,” Miller says.
“In the midst of COVID-19, you can definitely feel like everything is just happening to you. So it's really great to get perspective [from your peers] to understand how you can better thrive in the environment we're in, by just asking the questions and understanding how other people are navigating it, if other people are up or down or how they're solving interesting issues that are coming up,” says Johnson.
Robyn Zimmer, Embrace the Difference
Identify what makes you unique
As the world was brought to a standstill due to COVID-19, Robyn Zimmer found herself having to put the brakes on her business, Embrace the Difference — a jewelry company on a mission to inspire people to accept and embrace their differences.
Zimmer encourages entrepreneurs to do the same when it comes to their businesses. “Small businesses need to identify what it is that makes them unique and relevant during times of crisis,” she explains.
For Embrace the Difference, that’s supporting people in need and spreading positivity through the power of jewelry. Since returning, Embrace the Difference has been doubling down on their message of kindness and acceptance.
In light of pandemic and racial unrest in the country, “each piece of Embrace the Difference meaningful jewelry or apparel is accompanied by a donation card which the purchaser redeems to the charity they choose from the list of partnering organizations,” Zimmer says.
She adds: “Embrace the Difference is just coming back and focusing on the message for which, Embrace The Difference has never been more relevant than right now. We are all connected, no matter what differences we have. Be kind, accept and give back.”
Lia Key, Valencia Key
Foster connections with your customers
Lia Key, the founder of jewelry company Valencia Key that’s known for sparking joy and happiness, has overcome many challenges in life — each one teaching important lessons, as fuel in life and business. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different.
Despite all of the changes and disruptions, the health crisis has caused, Key has remained laser focused on her purpose and the mission of the brand. “[I’ve learned the importance] of being 100 percent human-centric, pouring love and joy through my company,” she says.
In turn, she’s received that love back tenfold from her customers, who send encouraging emails sharing how much Valencia Key has impacted their lives. “Receiving beautiful emails from my jewelry customers (I call them ‘My Loves’) telling me how my jewelry creates connection and spreads love and joy, and how the Valencia Key symbols uplift them, gets me through these rough times,” says Key.
As such, Key’s big piece of advice to fellow entrepreneurs facing challenges, is to focus on purpose and fostering connections with your customer – they will appreciate it and push you to stay the course. “Knowing my life's purpose really touches hearts keeps me motivated to keep persevering,” she says.
This article was paid for by QVC and created by Yahoo Life's custom content team. The Yahoo Life editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.