Navigating the pandemic hasn’t been easy for business owners. Serial entrepreneur Bobbi Brown is no exception.
The beauty icon, who sold her eponymous cosmetics company to Estée Lauder in 1995, is now founder and CEO of Beauty Evolution, a lifestyle and content company.
“Parts have definitely been frustrating,” Brown said of the pandemic. That includes things such as being physically separated from her team.
“Mostly, I’ve been focusing on the positive — the power of Zoom calls, virtual [public relations] opportunities, Instagram Lives, and having the time and space to connect with people I would’ve never met,” she said.
The self-made millionaire certainly isn’t a stranger to embracing change. She walked away from Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in late 2016, after building the company from scratch in 1991 and staying through about two decades of Estée Lauder’s ownership.
Brown decided to return to her entrepreneurial roots and start Beauty Evolution, LLC and Evolution 18, a collection of supplements designed to address skin, nails and hair issues. She also has an accompanying editorial site, justBOBBI, and has become a certified health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
In times of change, it’s important to try to adapt to keep your business afloat, said Brown, now 63.
Many haven’t been able to survive. About 60% of businesses that closed during the pandemic won’t be reopening, according to Yelp’s Economic Impact Report, released in mid-September.
“Sometimes it’s important to press the reset button — look at what’s working and what’s not, and make changes,” said Brown, who will be participating in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and CNBC + Acorns Invest in You’s “Rebuilding Better: A Virtual Town Hall for America’s Small & New Business Owners” on Wednesday.
That means thinking outside the box and looking at all the avenues that people are using right now, she added.
“Can you shift your business online? Can you use social media? What can you do from the comfort of your home?” Brown said. “Stay resilient by challenging yourself to innovate.”
For instance, she’s seen chefs creating at-home meal services, and hairdressers offering do-it-yourself hair color.
‘Never give up’
Women, however, may be facing some unique challenges, since they were already fighting an uphill battle before the crisis hit.
For example, all-women founding teams raised only 2.2% of all venture capital funding in 2017, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s Capital Access Lab. Men were 60% more likely to secure funding than women pitching the same business, it found.
With many parents now working from home and juggling home life, it’s women who are bearing the brunt of the workload.
Since the crisis began, 63% of working mothers said they were primarily responsible for childcare during the spring shutdown, compared to 43% of working fathers, according to a recent survey from FlexJobs. Additionally, 80% of working moms primarily handled their children’s online learning responsibilities, compared to 31% of working fathers, the career website found.
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Brown encouraged women to never give up.
“Remember that women are the ultimate multitaskers and we are capable of anything — don’t let anyone make you feel less than that.”
It’s also key that entrepreneurs continue to build relationships, even though Covid-19 has impacted in-person networking events.
Those relationships will give you support, camaraderie and help you feel like part of a community, said Brown, who has written several best-selling books, including her latest, “Beauty From the Inside Out.”
“There’s nothing like getting advice from people who have experienced what you’re going through,” she said.
Her advice: Reach out to people through social media, especially LinkedIn and Instagram. In fact, Brown has taken on several mentees during the pandemic through Instagram.
“You never know who will answer you,” Brown said.
REGISTER: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and CNBC + Acorns Invest in You’s “Rebuilding Better: A Virtual Town Hall for America’s Small & New Business Owners” will take place Wednesday, September 30 at 1pm ET. To register, click here. Please note that registration is limited.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.
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