Overcoming Uncertainty - 3 Tips for Entrepreneurial Resilience during Covid-19

In early 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic began, entire economies were shut down and businesses were left reeling. Unfortunately, uncertainty still prevails as entrepreneurs look towards 2022 and the need to build resilient companies becomes even more pronounced.

Paula La Touche-Kellar and Krystal Boyea are two Caribbean entrepreneurs meeting the challenge to stay resilient in ever-changing circumstances. Paula is the lead real estate broker and owner of Century 21 in Grenada, an award-winning real estate agency that specialises in sales, rentals, valuations and property management. Barbados-based Krystal is an advocate for persons with Diabetes, having lived with Type 1 Diabetes herself for over two decades. She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Living Collection - the Caribbean’s first medical jewellery and accessories company.

These women are finding ways to succeed rather than succumb. They share their tips to improve business resilience by leveraging technology, building systems and learning from networks and mentors.

Leveraging Technology:
Although the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of businesses, this movement was well underway before the pandemic’s arrival. Indeed, the 21st century has been designated the Information Age where information communication technologies (ICTs) are radically changing how businesses operate.

Technology’s potential to elevate business operations greatly appealed to Paula when she launched Century 21 Grenada seven years ago. She shares “I am a forward thinker…an innovator and I believe in technology.” As such, she saw technology as integral to engaging clients, increasing efficiency, reducing costs and even minimising her carbon footprint. This wisdom proved invaluable as the pandemic spread. Already in the process of upgrading the company’s ICT systems, Paula fast-tracked the effort. Implementation timelines were revised, employees were trained and procedures were developed. For her foresight, Paula set up Century 21 Grenada to function remotely long before public health directives instructed the wider business community to do so.

Similarly for Krystal, technology was central to her vision for The Living Collection’s success. Before start-up, she knew she wanted to have great e-commerce capabilities. She conducted extensive research into online payments, logistics and shipping systems and digital marketing. Due to limited funding, she trained herself to build her website and manage her social media. “It was difficult...but it was definitely beneficial,” she admits. Upon launch, The Living Collection had an inbuilt ability to accept online debit and credit card payments and to ship regionally and beyond. When Covid-19 restrictions required businesses to close physically, The Living Collection seamlessly continued to operate virtually.

For both women, technology was critical to stay ahead of change.

Building Systems:
Building systems is another key mechanism to bolster a company’s resilience. Limited resources compel an entrepreneur to adopt multiple roles during start-up. However, as the business grows, this dynamic is no longer sustainable for both the entrepreneur and the business. To improve resilience, systems should be implemented to ensure consistency, on-board new employees and improve performance. For example, when Century 21 Grenada expanded, Paula relied on systems to guarantee that her new agents provided excellent service to clients. Moreover, Krystal notes that female entrepreneurs are often stretched thin multi-tasking both professionally and personally. By developing systems, responsibilities can be delegated to capable employees, freeing the entrepreneur to focus on successfully leading the business.

Learning from Networks and Mentors:
Relationships with networks and mentors go a long way in helping an entrepreneur to enhance sustainability and resilience. They provide advice and assistance when an entrepreneur tries to navigate a new challenge. Paula confides “that you are not alone, but you often feel alone” leading a business. During these moments, having a mentor proves to be an invaluable font of guidance and constructive feedback. She is proud to have a mentor who has walked the entrepreneurial path before her and has been able to help her traverse the highs and lows of running a business.

For Krystal, networks have had a transformational influence on her life, eventually leading her to become an entrepreneur. When she was first diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, her personal network of family and friends supported her as she learned to manage her illness. Through volunteering in advocacy networks for persons with Diabetes, she discovered her confidence to achieve irrespective of her disease. “I have climbed the highest mountain and started my own business and it all comes from being in networks,” she reflects. Today, she also networks with fellow business owners, leaning on and giving support as they grow together.

Understanding what it takes to be resilient, it is no coincidence that Krystal and Paula have also volunteered to be Ambassadors for the Republic Bank Entrepreneurs Business Builder (EBB) programme. Created for women entrepreneurs especially, the programme’s inception is timely given the current economic challenges. The EBB is well positioned to help female business owners build stronger companies by:

  • Training participants to leverage technology in all aspects of business;
  • Supporting the development of effective strategies, tactics and business systems; and
  • Expanding networks among participating entrepreneurs, subject matter experts and successful business owners.

Krystal foresees the programme as a priceless opportunity to network with other women in business. She envisions that “these women can be future partners, customers and suppliers” for participating entrepreneurs. For Paula, the programme is a progressive step to the bank investing in the success of businesses beyond financing. She notes that, through the EBB, Republic Bank is actively partnering with women entrepreneurs by giving them the tools to stay resilient in these challenging times and to succeed.

Go to top