When COVID struck, the world changed. Suddenly, the way many sectors conducted business was infeasible. While this put a strain on everyone, from consumers to employees, business owners faced a tough blow with coronavirus. For entrepreneurs with startups like me, our entire business model would have to shift. Now in 2021, I have made that pivot. Although it has not been easy, the results have been worthwhile. However, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start in 2019, my first year of business.
On January 3, 2019, I launched a podcast called Rwebel Radio. Broken up into three unique segments, Rwebel Radio seeks to use Black art to guide discussions on Black culture. Reading this, you might be thinking, “If you had a podcast, which is already online, what pivot did you have to make?” I’m getting there. My business, Rwebel Media, is divided into three sections: a podcast, a magazine, and a publishing service. Although the podcast and magazine are digital, we sold physical copies of our novels at vending events around Chicago, where we were founded. These events ranged from the Bantu Fest to Boxville.
The Bantu Fest is an annual festival hosted by Bantu Entertainment that features a multitude of unique vendors and performers while Boxville is a weekly marketplace hosted in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. In 2019, events like these were our only source of income. With the podcast and magazine still getting off the ground, we had to find creative ways to bring in revenue.
At these events, I would promote my books while telling clients about the other services we offered. This side hustle was anything but lucrative, but it was a hustle. So, when 2020 rolled around and the world changed, we had to pivot.
Yet, this is easier said than done. Like many during the pandemic, my mental health took a sharp hit last year, which affected business. Our primary source of income was defeated, and we were the barely a year old. As I faced this existential crisis as an entrepreneur, I took some time off to reflect, reset, and reshape. It wasn’t until about June of last year that I felt fully ready to make the pivot, which brings me to today.
Pivoting Your Business in 2021
As we are in the midst of this pivot, we have reevaluated how we approach the ever-changing media landscape. With our podcast, this entails tackling tougher topics to engage listeners on a deeper level. This also includes uploading extended podcast episodes to Patreon. Since everything is virtual, we have found a way to make technology our friend.
With the publishing arm of the company, this includes utilizing social media tools like Facebook and Instagram Live to engage readers. Again, we are fraternizing with the technology that enables us to conduct business during these unprecedented times. Finally, I decided to produce digital and print copies of our magazine to accumulate revenue that way. Additionally, I have increased the frequency of publication as another revenue generating tactic.
Overall, our pivot has allowed us to change the way we do business without changing the why we do business. When I spoke to Dr. Boateng, she echoed this sentiment.
Dr. Akua Boateng is a licensed psychotherapist who owns Boateng Psychotherapy & Consultation headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. At her practice, where she is the lead and sole clinician, Boateng offers couples and individual therapy as well as consulting services to brands and businesses who want to incorporate more “emotionally aware practices, initiatives, and campaigns into the ethos of their brand,” she told me.
After spending time working in the mental health field, she sought to provide “more holistic care for individuals that are seeking to understand themselves better,” Boateng noted.
She added, “It really was about being able to curate an experience for people that goes beyond the traditional structure.”
Managing Behavioral Health and Your Business
During a pandemic, the traditional structure of behavioral health has transformed, which affects Boateng directly. Previously, Boateng only operated out of South Philadelphia. Yet, when her practice became one hundred percent remote, Boateng expanded to other areas of the U.S., where she would reach more young professionals of color, who are her primary demographic.
Boateng’s pivot was threefold: expanding her services, implementing telehealth into her practice, and expanding her knowledge of mental health in the public sector. To Boateng, this last arm of her pivot was the most significant. With therapy being inaccessible to some and the increased demand for services, Boateng partnered with brands like Drk Beauty Healing to address the equity piece when it comes to behavioral health.
Drk Beauty Healing offers free therapy services to women of color who would otherwise have limited access to those services. Boateng also partnered with the Boris L. Henson Foundation, which seeks to “eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community,” according to their website. Through this pro bono work, Boateng dedicates a portion of her business to Black women in need of therapy, but it is cost-prohibitive.
While Boateng made this pivot, it was not without challenges. As she works from home, Boateng said she was intentional about divvying work areas and personal areas in the house. She talked about the slight difficulty of finding a work-life balance in the beginning of the pandemic but eventually overcoming that. Boateng stated, “After establishing some good boundaries, it improved.”
Yet, Boateng added that she is still finding her balance while the world is changing. Like me, she found unique ways to change her what without altering her why. Like any major event, the pandemic has inspired both uncertainty and creativity, but entrepreneurs like Boateng are embracing both.
So, although 2020 was hard and unpredictable, 2021 seems to be the year of the pivot.
What other advice do you have for pivoting your business? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.