I remember the very moment as if it was yesterday. New Year’s Eve 2019, a magical moment. After two years of all-nighters full of research, legal documents and development, I was sitting on my couch in my living room.
I just came back from putting my little daughter to bed and my husband was waiting for me with a glass of champagne to celebrate 2020. We have been planning the launch of DUŠA & KAMEN down to every detail and were very confident that 15th of February we will be going live, selling our products.
Fast forward 3 months – 1st of March 2020, me sitting on the exact same couch, crying my eyes out. What has happened? Well, the world is in the middle of the worst pandemic we have experienced since the Spanish flu. All my launch plans are scattered in pieces.
The product couldn’t be bottled because the suppliers were only working part-time and need to bottle disinfectant with maximum priority. The legal processes came to a hold because government agencies are not processing these non-priority files now. Our packaging was waiting for us at borders within the EU because the EU customs processes and the Schengen Convention are at an absolute freeze to fight the spread of COVID-19.
I thought to myself: “This is it. We are never going to launch our products in 2020. We will be running out of money before the first product is even packaged.”
Fast forward 5 months into the future. 31st of August 2020, we have been live since July and have sold more bundles of our new skincare line than I could have imagined. Our customers are leaving top reviews every day and even during an ongoing global pandemic we were able not only to get everything done but also excel at customer service and selling luxury skincare products all over the world.
This was no easy task and I was about to throw everything under the bus every other day. I fought the battles and I won, I made it.
There are five key lessons that I learned launching my company in these crazy times and these will help me to grow my company and maybe will help you, too.
Plan ahead – what is the worst-case scenario?
I know, I know, nobody could have predicted what was happening in 2020 and most businesses and startups have been hit hard by all the issues and problems that this pandemic has caused. However, one of the biggest learnings for myself was that I did not even have a worst-case scenario. I was so pumped up with positive feelings and my can-do-attitude that I made a crucial mistake. I was not looking at my plan and asking myself: “What could go wrong”. I think that most businesses and startups operate that way and that is something we must change in the future.
My advice, we cannot predict what exactly will be happing, but I am pretty sure something will go wrong along the way – so plan for it.
Control your bottom line
This might be a no-brainer for most of you, but I have neglected it for my entire startup process, so I need to mention it. Manage your costs. It is crucial to look at your monthly expenses and write down all your overhead. And then try to reduce it. I was astonished when I found out what I was spending exactly, and I was able to reduce it by 50%.
My advice is to check your costs monthly and eliminate everything that is not currently needed.
Be careful when adding dependencies to your production process
That is a big one, also it is hard work to do it. Before COVID-19 it was quite easy to log into some portals searching for suppliers all over the world and adding them your supply chain. Every supplier and every new country you add to your supply chain adds dependencies to your production process.
So, my advice here is wherever you want to start your business, it is always a good idea to work with local businesses because complex supply chains and production processes can really harm you when something goes wrong – like a global pandemic.
Manage your mindset and yourself
This might have been the biggest challenge for me. When my initial plan failed I was devasted. I had a task list with a couple of hundred items and a lot of priority 1 issues. I also had to take care of my daughter because our kindergartens have been closed.
I thought about cutting my loses multiple times this year and getting back to my old job. Some days I was not even able to write a single e-mail before 9pm because it was just a crazy situation to be in.
To overcome this I started to work on my mindset and started to do meditation daily. I was able to control my fears and focus on the happy moments even in the worst of times. That really helped me get going again and work through that pile of issues to get everything ready for my launch in July.
So, my advice here is that there will be issues along the way that is something that every founder will tell you but the way you cope with those issues will determine if you are successful or not. There are some tools like meditation or mentoring that will help you to work on your mindset and you should if you want to be successful even if the whole world seems to be against you.
When Hana’s friends and family started to see the change in her skin most of her friends started to ask for their own little toners and oils. Every night for more than six months she started crafting new formulas and was tweaking the existing ones multiple times until DUŠA & KAMEN was created.