Thrive During COVID? 7 Lessons From These KC Entrepreneurs Will Show You How

The Kansas City area is known for its supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem – and with good reason. Experienced executives and diverse Resource Partners alike are happy to help small business owners get where they want to go. And that support has never been so important, especially during COVID-19, which has only strengthened our resolve.

Here are the stories of seven entrepreneurs who’ve planned, pivoted and prospered in the past year. You’ll find guidance for ventures at all stages – and Resource Partners who can help make growth happen for you, too.

Iveth Jalinksy Green Resources Consulting

1. Find partners to address changing needs.

Iveth Jalinsky | Green Resources Consulting

Cleveland, Missouri

Green Resources Consulting focused for years on utilizing bamboo. Owner Iveth Jalinsky and her team discovered the renewable resource could be used in protective masks—and then COVID-19 hit. GRC quickly partnered with groups like the Missouri Department of Economic Development to revamp its factory to meet the demand for masks. It wasn’t what Iveth had planned, but the need and the opportunity made the pivot necessary.

Find out how research and manufacturing made GRC’s pivot possible.

Lee Zuvanich (left) and Lauren Lawrence (right) of Stenovate

photo by Tommy Felts / Startland News

2. Be the entrepreneur you wish to find.

Lauren Lawrence | Stenovate

Kansas City, Missouri

Lauren Lawrence loves being a court reporter. The only downside? A lack of tools designed for the unique needs of court reporters who freelance. But necessity is the mother of invention. So, Lauren created Stenovate, a platform to share files, track projects and more. She didn’t know what she was getting into, but groups like Digital Sandbox KC and the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC were there to help.

Check out how fixing her own problem led Lauren to startup success.

More tips below …

Chris Goode, owner of Ruby Jean's Juicery

3. Get a new perspective.

Chris Goode | Ruby Jean’s Juicery

Kansas City, Missouri

Ruby Jean’s Juicery had to close during the pandemic. Then, only one of its locations was able to reopen with limited hours. Owner Chris Goode ended up working the front counter himself for two and a half months. The experience helped him understand some things first hand – and know how he needed to pivot. Chris got creative and let go of his fear of the worst-case scenario.

Discover how entrepreneurs elevated each other and helped a community promoting social change at the same time.

Will Brown of Will Brown Interiors, a small business based in Kansas City

4. Redefine your offerings and your value.

Will Brown | Will Brown Interiors

Kansas City, Missouri

Interior designer Will Brown worked with a coach at the Missouri Small Business Development Center at UMKC to fine tune how he could offer services online. But he also reconsidered how his services fit into the world. By putting himself in the shoes of the client, Will realized that interior design could make people feel safe during a time of upheaval. This changed how he saw and presented his services. It also differentiated his offerings from the rest of the market.

See how feng shui and a powerful pivot helped Will shift his business and flourish online.

Celeste Aguirre of Relief Muscle Manipulation

5. Trust yourself.

Celeste Aguirre | Relief Muscle Manipulation

Kansas City, Missouri

Massage therapist Celeste Aguirre freaked out when the pandemic closed the doors of her massage business just days after it opened. But she had confidence that her loan would cover her bills. And she reminded herself that everyone was in the same boat. When in doubt, Celeste turned to her support system to remind her that she was financially savvy and her business would thrive.

Learn more about how a little faith and a lot of planning kept Celeste’s new business going.

Sam Yates and Chris Meier of Yup Yup Design

6. Take the time to streamline your vision.

Chris Meier and Sam Yates | Yup Yup Design

Kansas City, Missouri

Chris Meier and Sam Yates of Yup Yup Design didn’t feel pressure to take on work during the early days of the pandemic. So, they used the time to develop their business plan – and take advantage of the Missouri SBDC and UMKC’s ELEVATIONLAB New Venture class. The class empowered the two to map out diverse revenue streams and plot the goals that will drive their business.

Discover how this duo used downtime to plan refine their business plan and put it into action.

Alesha Bowman of unLESHed+ in Kansas City, Missouri

7. Build your audience.

Alesha Bowman | UnLESHed+

Kansas City, Missouri

UnLESHed+ plus-size resale wasn’t able to open its new shop due to the pandemic. But owner Alesha Bowman engaged with her audience in authentic ways. In addition to virtual dance classes and sales on social media, she also collected donations to support protesters and local causes. When her store could finally open, it was packed with customers and supporters stopping by to say thank you.

Learn more about how community building helped Alesha build her business.

Bonus: Ask for help.

There are people and programs poised to help you on your entrepreneurial journey. Not sure where to start? Or not sure what’s next? KCSourceLink has you covered. Browse hundreds of helpful Resource Partners listed in our Resource Navigator.

And if you don’t even know what you don’t know, we’ve got your back. Our Network Navigators can create an individualized Personal Action Plan chock full of next steps, useful contacts and more. Oh, and it’s all free … as in no money … as in a no-cost way to give your venture the nudge it needs. Get info and get ready to thrive!

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