How I Launched a Small Business in a Pandemic

Like most people, I had no idea that February 2020 was going to be the last “normal” month we had for a long time. I launched a marketing agency one week before the pandemic hit the US. Here are three things that helped me succeed.


Don’t underestimate the importance of the impression you make on the people around you. At the end of 2019 I was freelancing as a marketing consultant. I bid on a project that would have been so resource intensive I would have had to assemble a mini marketing agency. I didn’t get the gig, but in putting the proposal together, it occurred to me that I had relationships with enough creatives and marketers to get an agency off the ground. I did, and hired quite a few of them.

When it came to finding new clients, I owed everything to relationships. All sorts of people came out of the woodwork looking for marketing support: a friend who starred in my student films back in my college days and was now launching a canned cocktail brand, an executive from a tech startup that had once laid me off, a woman who had interviewed me for a marketing job seven years prior. I didn’t win all these accounts, but my first ten clients were people who already knew me or who had been referred by someone who knew me.


Business owners must be able to react quickly to unexpected circumstances and make firm decisions even amid great stress. Six months after launch, my business partner and I realized that we had different ideas for the future of the company. We parted ways and I incorporated Mustard & Moxie immediately after the first company was dissolved (yes, that means I launched two small businesses during the pandemic!) Because I had clients to serve, I didn’t have time to rest and readjust; I had to keep going.

What helped was that I had a deep understanding of what my priorities were. I had become a business owner because I wanted control over my work/life balance, and I wanted to make all the decisions surrounding my career. When things didn’t work out as I expected, I was able to make the choice that was right for me because I already knew what was most important.


Being a business owner is a constant process of self-discovery and risk tolerance. Knowing how much risk I could stomach – in other words, understanding how much short-term loss I was willing to accept to make long-term gains – made it a lot easier to keep going when things got tough.


Almost two years later, the pandemic isn’t over, but neither is my business. Having meaningful relationships, holding strong to my priorities, and accepting the uncertainty of the present while keeping an eye on the future have made the experience a rewarding one.

This article originally appeared in the Ivy Blum newsletter. Ivy Blum is a community that is passionate about creating leaders, especially women leaders, at every single level of an organization with the soft skills and mentoring support needed to level up in the world. They challenge the elite status and high cost of executive coaching by providing summarized, easy to absorb, curated information for career advancement and personal growth. Learn more here.