What will you remember when you look back on 2020? In a year full of challenges and struggles, there is still joy to be found amid COVID-19. The pandemic inspired acts of kindness, built morale, and allowed us to make new connections. We are all in this together — and these are the joyful moments 2020 gave small business owners.
1. Kind Tweets
“I am a freelance writer and the owner of my blog. For me, the most joyful experience is receiving words of encouragement from my readers on Twitter.
I don’t personally know them, but they send me sweet direct messages telling me that they enjoy reading my content and encouraging me to keep on going.” — Bella Wanana, Owner, Bella Wanana
2. Entertaining Kids
“As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March this year, we saw that many of our readers were forced into homeschooling kids at short notice and no time to prepare. Our mission is to inspire kids (and adults!) to learn and develop lifelong interest in STEM through fun and play.
We set about creating epic lists of STEM-themed boredom busters and at-home science experiments to help parents across the globe who were stuck at home with bored kids, wondering how to keep them entertained and engage them in learning activities. We were overwhelmed with joy at the positive responses we received from readers, and all the schools, libraries and organizations who shared our STEM activities with their audiences. It filled us with hope and happiness to see that, even in the most challenging of times, parents and children across the world could have fun and learn STEM at home!” — Mark Coster, Owner, STEM Toy Expert
3. Appreciation Notes
“One amazing thing that happened this year came from my employees. They initiated daily appreciation notes and started sending each other messages of support and encouragement regularly. This was particularly important because COVID-19 created a lot of pressure and people were really on the edge.
At first, I thought this wouldn’t last too long, but everybody loved it. It has become our daily habit. People are creative and send all kinds of notes and virtual gifts to each other. This has boosted our morale and helped us get through a challenging period.” — Malte Scholz, CEO and Co-Founder, Airfocus
4. Hiring My Son
“I am the inventor of the Rinseroo brand, an eCommerce business that launched just over a year ago. We were one of the lucky ones to have a business that thrived during this past year. However, what made it extra special is that I was able to hire my son straight out of college to work for me.
He has a degree in Risk Management and was forced to shift his career goals during COVID-19. Now, six months in, he is my eCommerce manager. He is learning a lot, building his resume, and hanging with mom. I feel blessed to have him by my side as we try to build this into something big!” — Lisa Lane, President, Lane Innovations and Rinseroo
5. Starting a Reading Group
“One joyful thing about this year was the decision to start a monthly reading group together in addition to our usual team meetings.
We had read books together before, but they weren’t as substantial or challenging as what we started reading this year. I think we started to dig deeper and were more intentional. Our reading discussions have focused on populations who are often underserved or marginalized, even in the mental health community: people of color, people with disabilities, and people with stigmatized diagnoses.
Having the opportunity to have fun together and to continue to celebrate one another, even from a distance, brought us joy.” — Saba Harouni Lurie, LMFT, ATR-BC, Owner and Founder, Take Root Therapy
6. Customer Thank Yous
“A couple of months ago we received a wonderful letter from one of our customers who thanked us for our product and sent some encouraging words.
She said that she didn’t know how to contribute in this situation, so she figured people must be exhausted and scared and she wanted to be the source of support. We weren’t the only ones to receive her letter, but it was such a nice gesture. Plus, the letter was handwritten and mailed to our address. This note was very random and unexpected, but it meant a great deal to everybody.” — Stefan Chekanov, CEO, Brosix
7. Opening a Storefront
“At Whom Home, we have all been working tirelessly to keep the business alive and retain all of the existing employees. What we are most joyful about is that we have been able to retain all of our employees. They are very happy and grateful to keep working through these tough times. We are in a fortunate position of having a warehouse located in Mexico, which has allowed us to continue operations throughout almost the whole time of the pandemic. I am satisfied with our efforts and accomplishments throughout these turbulent times.
Additionally, we have opened a storefront in the Century City Mall in Los Angeles, which has been the second most joyful experience this year.” — Jonathan Bass, CEO and Founder, Whom Home
8. Rally for Equality
“During the BLM protests, we gave our employees the opportunity to leave work early to protest if they would like. We also left our lobby open after working hours and stocked it with protective equipment, water, and a small quantity of milk. My goal has always been to help those who are standing up against injustice, but I would never force my employees to take any action they’re uncomfortable with.
Many of our employees really showed up for local protests, though. Not only did they take time off to attend, but they also rallied around people who were being targeted by police and helped resupply our little office stock so that it could be used by the community for almost a full week. I am extremely proud of them. It was absolutely a moment of joy for me knowing we’d done a large amount of good collectively.” — Dan Bailey, President, WikiLawn
9. Team Trust
“I own a brick-and-mortar business offering musical instruments. When the pandemic started, I had to stop my business operation. It affected the six individuals I am employing. I didn’t want to make cuts as I knew how much everyone needs their jobs and I told them about it.
While I provided some financial aid to them during the first few months of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to continue it. That is where I received a message from my eldest employee. Here is the exact message he sent:
‘What you have given is enough. Allowing us to keep our job is enough. It helps us survive this pandemic. You did great as an employer. Thank you.’
This brought me to tears. I know that I am doing what I need to do as an employer but never have I imagined how much it means to them. It really warms my heart.
As of now, I still employ each of them and we are planning to expand our business to eCommerce to gain more profit. I know that my team trusts me. I’ll do everything that I can to keep this family together.” — James Bullard, Founder, Sound Fro
10. Positive Feedback
“This year has been a rollercoaster like no other, complete with deep valleys in March through June. Now, very high arches from Q3 going into the end of this year.
As cheesy as it may sound, the constant positive feedback that I have received through my website’s comments sections has helped me through those lowest of lows that 2020 brought. With the continuous feedback that the million-plus monthly readers of my recipes provide, that encouragement made 2020 much more emotionally manageable.” — Jessica Randhawa, Owner and Head Chef, The Forked Spoon
11. Support Chats
“When the initial stay-at-home order was put in place in March, I decided to host what I called Monday morning Coffee, Clarity & Community calls. These provide a sense of structure, support, and productivity for women while we are all out of sorts. As the weeks went by, I brought more of my coaching and life and leadership topics to the discussion, recognizing that life is about more than productivity.
I remember the first morning I went out on a limb and facilitated a journaling prompt about what you will want to tell your future grandchildren someday when they ask you about how you survived the 2020 pandemic. Much to my delight, the group was open to the reflection and discussion.
I have now hosted 31 weeks of Monday morning Coffee, Clarity & Community. We have shared tears, laughter, and connection. This has been a total win-win as all of us look forward to this connection each Monday. It has also enabled me to grow my business and my confidence that people find value in what I have to offer. This has truly been a silver lining of 2020 for me.” — Jen Spainhour, Founder and CEO, Position For Success
12. Time Off
“This year was particularly challenging, but our managers really did their best to support us every step of the way.
One day we got a note from the management that we will have two days off each month to get some rest and relax a bit from all the stress. I cannot describe how much this means to me. I often get overwhelmed with the workload and the external pressure COVID-19 has created.
Having a couple of days off means the world to me. It also shows how much management cares about each employee. This was an instant boost to our morale and additional motivation to do our best at work.” — Mikkel Andreassen, Customer Experience Manager, Dixa
13. Donating to Frontline Workers
“One of the good things about starting a business during this time is that I was able to launch by giving back. I wanted to support as much as I could. Fueling the healthcare and frontline heroes with food was doing my part.
I committed to donating 1000 of Oat Bites to the frontline and healthcare heroes at New York Hospitals. We also launched a “purchase a bag as donation” – option on my website, and ultimately donated an additional 350 Oat Bites. I donated to White Plains Hospital and NYU here in the city. This is joy I’ve experienced as a small business this year.” — Kara Freedman, CEO and Founder, Baked by Nature
14. Contributing a Scholarship
“This summer, we were able to contribute a scholarship to a student going to optometry school.
$500 may not seem like a lot, especially in the grand scheme of medical school, but we were still proud to support those going into the healthcare field, especially in the middle of a pandemic.” — Kristine Thorndyke, Founder, Test Prep Nerds
15. Supporting BLM Movement
“Despite this year being particularly difficult in the education field, our tutors have inspired us in many ways as we came together as a community. Our swift transition away from in-person to fully remote/online sessions wouldn’t have been possible without our tutors jumping on board with tips and advice as quickly as they did. Our tutors share words of encouragement and uplifting guidance during our monthly Zoom check-in calls.
We also released a firm statement of support with Black Lives Matter and joined with our employees through a new charitable donation-matching program. Our business wouldn’t be what it is without our tutors! Many of our joyful experiences this year have come directly from our employees.” — Arash Fayz, Co-Founder and Executive Director, LA Tutors 123
16. Relaunching Our Website
“With the pandemic forcing our business to rely fully on eCommerce, we decided to completely rehaul and redesign our website. Admittedly, the website we had at the time looked pretty crummy. One of the happiest moments of our year was when our employees gathered around for the unveiling of our new company website.
It was incredible to compare the before and after of our company website. We were all excited at what new opportunities this could bring to our business. With 2021 on its way, we’ve developed an entirely new approach to our lead generation and eCommerce strategies that revolves around our new site. We’re super excited to see how things will go.” — McLean Mills, Co-founder, Resume Writing Services
17. Supportive Employees
“As a businesswoman, I can say that the most joyful experience we have with the company during this pandemic was when we all got together and promised that we will never let go.
There was a time that I told them that we are going to make some adjustments and lessen the number of staff so we can catch up with the finances. Everyone was eager to continue on even with a little deduction for their salary. I felt so blessed to have such supportive and understanding employees that are ready to help in any situation we are in. We are so lucky that we are all in this together and we can continuously give content to our readers.” — April Maccario, Founder, Ask April
18. Personalized Gifts
“Our small team consists of six members. We are very close and dedicated to each other and the company. Although we work remotely, we make an effort to show that we appreciate each other’s work.
One of the most memorable moments of the year happened around the first months that the pandemic affected our country. Then, I started to notice that a few of my employees were going through a trying time, where we had to move a few deadlines to make everything fit into their new schedule. I started messaging them to see if they were doing alright. What can I do to perk everybody up? I didn’t know what exactly I could do. Then, one morning, a package fell onto the doormat with only my first name handwritten on it. As I opened the package, one member of the team had created individual little boxes with personalized gifts and treats! They all included a written postcard that said ‘Hang in there! You’re doing an amazing job.’
It was absolutely breathtaking and definitely a beautiful moment of 2020.” — David McHugh, CEO and Founder, My Mixify
19. Weekly Team Huddle
“At my startup Bleat, we decided to have a weekly huddle of 10 minutes. During this huddle, everyone shares how they created a great customer experience that week.
This joyful activity kept employees consistent and motivated for better customer service. They also came up with new ideas to compete with other team members in the race of providing a great customer experience. We still do this activity every week and it has generated great results!” — Mysty Langford, Founder, Bleat
20. Raising Mental Health Awareness
“I’m encouraged that many business leaders have started looking into the mental health and wellness of their teams in 2020. As a coaching startup, we produce a lot of blog content with advice about how to make the work environment a comfortable and safe place to be in. We cover topics like how to communicate with each other more effectively and how to build psychological safety in the workplace.
This year, we saw a massive surge in traffic to our blog posts relating to positive workplace culture. And this tells me that team leaders are noticing the importance of creating an environment for their members to grow and thrive. I feel optimistic about the future and hope that more businesses will continue to build up the people in their business.” — Michelle Duval, Founder and CEO, Fingerprint for Success
What joyful moments did your business experience in 2020? Will you start 2021 off with a new startup? Incorporate or form an LLC with MyCorporation.com today!