Part of our You Belong in Business podcast

Photo of Rachel Hunter and Mark West.

Back to business growth: From panic to pivot

May 6, 2021

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Florist Rachel Hunter watched most of her revenue get swept off the 2020 calendar as weddings were canceled or pushed back to the next year.

Like so many small business owners, she faced a tricky decision: What was her best possible path to navigate the pandemic economy and return to growth?

Hunter, who owns and operates A Florae in Longmont, Colorado, joined the pod to talk with host Kyle Munson and Mark West, national vice president of business solutions for Principal®, about how and why she leaned into the challenge and what that has meant for her business.

Hear Hunter’s story in her own words in this episode of “You Belong in Business.” You can also read more about her journey.

The challenge: How does a business owner engineer a smart pivot from crisis back to growth?

Listen to the full episode or skip ahead for highlights based on these timecodes:

Why did Hunter launch a business in the first place?

“Once I started, I never looked back, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she says after 11 years as a business owner.

Before the pandemic, did she ever feel like she had ‘made it’ in business?

Sort of, in 2019, when she finally bought her first walk-in flower cooler.

What one word would West use to sum up 2020 for business owners?

“Uncertainty,” he says—bonus points to him for not swearing. Listen to hear his explanation (which goes beyond the obvious).

How did Hunter feel when the pandemic first hit?

Shock set in the second week of April 2020 as she eyed mass wedding and event cancellations through the summer—80% of her business wiped out.

What was Hunter’s initial pandemic pivot?

She embraced and expanded her retail.

“The hope was that it was going to bring in enough to cover the costs,” she says. “Whenever you put your heart, time, and focus into something, it inevitably has the chance to grow, right? I used to do that only on the event side, so that is why that was 90% of our business prior to 2020.”

How does a business owner keep calm in a crisis?

Business owners should remember, West says, they “didn’t get where they’re at by not taking risks and believing in themselves.”

How Hunter made the bet to triple the size of her business.

She didn’t have a lot of liquidity, but she leveraged a $25,000 loan and bet that her events revenue would return in 2021.

“I had to look at the store needing to cover all those costs if those events didn’t come in,” she says.

What did she feel like the night before reopening a much larger A Florae?

A little stunned, with $102 left to her name.

“I’m sitting in a chair with a glass of white wine just blank staring at the wall,” she says.

Remember these 5 guiding factors for your business pivot.

  1. Don’t panic. Remember your resilience.
  2. Lean on the expertise of trusted specialists (CPA, financial professional, etc.).
  3. Listen to your customers.
  4. Don’t give up what makes your business unique. Stay true to your core.
  5. Make a firm decision, commit to a timeline, and pour all your resources into the pivot.

What's next?

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