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There were a lot of financial promises made at the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, including stimulus packages, support for small businesses, pandemic relief, food programs, temporary rent relief, and so much more. I hadn’t seen any of this promised financial assistance until this week, when Facebook approved my small business grant of $2500. I probably won’t see it for another few weeks, but I’m grateful to know help is coming. Many people all over the world can’t say the same.

Working and living in NYC was not easy during the months of April, May, and June. So many people suffered physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially financially. One of our two major streams of income vanished into thin air. My husband and I own a HVAC company. We provide air conditioning, heating, and ventilation services to NYC restaurants. They were completely shut down. Clients who owed us money requested extensions and we granted them because of the pandemic. We realized that we were all struggling together.

NEW YORK - APRIL 22, 2020: The ‘Fearless Girl’ statue by Kristen Visbal in front of the New York Stock Exchange wearing a surgical face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic By Jennifer M. Mason

Six weeks in, I became nervous. We are a family of six and there was no temporary rent relief or help with monthly household expenses available to us. Three of our children were distance learning from home and groceries were hard to come by initially. When the supermarket shelves were stocked again, nothing was on sale. Our grocery costs that usually amounted to roughly $250/week had gone up to $400/week when shopping at local supermarkets. Food prices remain ridiculously high. We also had to pay out of pocket for virtual doctor appointments because we couldn’t get in contact with our insurance company. I’m still paying for health insurance.

Now that the worst is behind us (temporarily, at the very least), I count my blessings. This pandemic is huge. It’s something I’ve never seen in my lifetime. Thankfully, I had a safety net that was established 12 years ago and because of it, we didn’t financially struggle during this unprecedented time.

Can I share with you how I created it? It’s something important for you to consider.

In 2008, the economy was in a downturn and my employers were in constant meetings about the continual drop in sales. I started a side hustle because I had a baby on the way and needed a backup plan. I utilized my experience in graphics, design, and marketing to offer website designs to friends and their business associates. We all chased our entrepreneurial dreams without any startup money. All we had was our skills, experience, and talent. I remembered very little about HTML from college, so Barnes & Noble was my best friend. I did extensive research and learned so much about CSS, online marketing, and WordPress blogs.

In 2009, with another baby on the way and my employer downsizing, I started a blog to put what I was learning about online marketing into practice. I became an avid social media user, a SEO superstar, and I networked with people online to learn what they needed. I discovered all the ways bloggers could make money and I tried these tactics myself. I succeeded very quickly because of my past work experience.

By 2010, the US economy had been in dire straits for almost three years. My husband and I were both laid off. My side hustle kept us fed and provided diapers and baby formula for our babies. It kept the lights and internet on. It didn’t quite pay the rent and we were always behind, but we had a great landlady who worked with us. With my husband’s skills as an HVAC technician, we didn’t expect him to be out of work for long, so we both decided that I should work the side hustle as a full-time business so I could also care for our small children and be there for our tweens while I helped him build his HVAC business. I started offering design and marketing services to other bloggers and then eventually to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It’s 10 years later and the economy is in the dumps again due to the COVID19 pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, because his clients are in the service industry, my husband couldn’t work. I could and I continue to do so. Work has not slowed down for me at all.

Who knew in 2008 when I feared for my job, starting this little side business would save us in 2020? I did look for other work all those years ago, but trying to find employment in a slow economy while pregnant meant my options were limited. I stayed with my corporate job as long as I could before being laid off because I was afraid to let go of the paycheck. The moment I decided to not return to the workforce and to turn my side hustle into my actual businesses, I secured our future and created a safety net for this current pandemic.

The world is changing and the future is uncertain, but we know what we know. We know what we’re good at. We know what we enjoy doing. We can use this knowledge, our experience, and our talents, to generate additional income and start a business. If you’ve ever considered starting your own business or creating a side hustle to have another income stream, don’t let fear hold you back. Get a side hustle plan in place and work the plan. To get you started here are some free resources:

20 Businesses You Can Start From Home

15 Specialized Virtual Assistant Businesses You Can Start From Home

Tips On Getting Started As A Freelance Writer

Tips On Getting Started As A Ghostwriter

You can also sign up here to receive new free resources by email as they’re published.

Author

After an early morning of meditation and 2 cups of hazelnut coffee, I spend my day shuttling my kids in, around, and through our New York apartment while helping women build their online empires. I have worked with everyone from entrepreneurs interested in revamping their online presence to small businesses that want to grow beyond their local pond. Most evenings, I’m burning dinner in hopes that hubby will show mercy on our four kids and cook an edible meal. I work from home. It gives me freedom and room to grow.

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