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Janelle Walcott

WE PEOPLE

Pivoting during a Pandemic
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The world around us has changed into something unrecognizable during this global pandemic. Entire industries have shrunk and the job market has constricted to the point where many are jobless and pondering their next move. And yet, some Bajans have found a way to pivot and reposition themselves for success.

Janelle R. Walcott is the chief engineer of an ecosystem of businesses spanning event planning, retail, wellness products and services. Janelle notes that varied life experiences prepared her for an event such as COVID-19, which allowed her to diversify her ventures. Janelle was able to offer Bajans Connect some insight into crushing the mental roadblocks that hinder many from starting a business.

Obstacle 1:  “I don’t have anything to offer.”

Think again! Do an inventory of your skills, assets and resources. When COVID-19 hit, sending Barbadians into lockdown, Janelle lamented that she was not a health care or essential worker. “I felt helpless and wondered what I had to offer.” When some restrictions were lifted, a couple of friends asked her to buy their groceries and she was pleasantly surprised when they paid for the service. This is where the idea of taking orders and delivering fruit and vegetables was then born.

Janelle says: “I realized that everything I did before including sales and marketing led me to where I am and is taking me to where I am going.”

Obstacle 2: “I don’t know what services or products to offer or how much to charge.”

Listen to your customers! Janelle offers courier and errand services for busy professionals who can’t leave their home during a remote workday. At the heart of business is being able to listen to and understand people and meet their needs well past regular offerings.

When pricing products and services, Janelle suggests being confident of the value provided and doing research. “The goal is always to touch people in a positive way, while ensuring acceptable profits,” Janelle advises

"Everything I did before including sales and marketing led me to where I am and is taking me to where I am going."

Obstacle 3: “How am I to know where to start?”

Start with yourself, friends and family and see what nagging issues you can solve. Janelle’s eczema and frustration with the available products led to her creating her natural body butters and the pandemic allowed her time to perfect her blends.

 

“I’ve been mixing things up since I was a child, pressing hibiscus petals to make perfume. Once I decided on skincare, I tried different formulas on myself and then offered them to help others.”

She adds: “first encourage friends and family to patronize your business and tell others about it. My mother is now one of my biggest supporters.”

Obstacle 4: “Many people are doing the same thing.”

Think about what niche you can add value in and set yourself apart. Janelle notes there will always be competition, but do not allow that to cripple you. “You don’t have to control the whole market, I would rather have 10 happy and consistent customers than 100 one-off buyers,” Janelle notes. She focuses on building relationships with solid, repeat clients. “People will tell you what they want and need and once you get them to open up and share at the core level, you’ll see how you can serve them.”

Bajan Body Butter

Summers Rise Collection body butter

"“Don’t try to fit where it’s not a fit for you”"

Obstacle 5: “I don’t have any money to start.”

See where you can cut expenses. If you are working, use a portion of the full-time or part-time salary to buy stock or materials for your side hustle. You might have to do this for a few months before launching, but use that time to work on the business and research the market. Also, build relationships with suppliers and ask them to consider consignment or part payments over an agreed time. Janelle adds, “Diversify, so you have multiple streams of income.”

Obstacle 6: “I don’t know where to go to get help.”

Research your industry to understand the risks, reach out to business support organizations, like BIDC, find mentors and connect with other entrepreneurs.

 

Janelle advises entrepreneurs to find life balance and says she tries to avoid fatigue and overwork by designating rest days, making time for exercise, tending to her kitchen garden, eating well, and having a supportive network of people to cheerlead her.

“When things change, you change and see where you fit. Don’t try to fit where it’s not a fit for you. That’ll only make you stressed out and unhappy. What helped me is this: I remembered that somebody still needed something I had to offer. Don’t discount yourself.” Wise words from a multifaceted business owner.

For Janelle’s products and services, you can message her or visit her Instagram page

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