I Started A Business During a Pandemic

Photo by: @marissajhnsn

Hi, I’m Dalia! I’m a wife to an insanely supportive husband and mom to a sweet 7 year old boy and six weeks ago I started my own business. Yes you read that right. I launched a business smack dab in the middle of a pandemic while simultaneously homeschooling my 1st grader and trying to hold onto a sliver of sanity. In a Covid-free world I probably would not have started a business until I had more money stashed away and an iron clad business plan written, but I more than likely would have made an excuse not to take the leap even still.

Like many before me, I was thrust into greatness.

Let’s rewind to February 2020 when I was offered a position that was going to take me one step closer to my dream job. It was a position with a really cool firm and an owner that mirrored my own female empowered sentiments – not to mention plenty of diversity within the company. I gave the company I was working for a long six week notice to help train a new person before my very pregnant boss went on maternity leave. The interview process for the other firm had been lengthy and began in November of last year so with every passing day I grew more and more excited for my new adventure to start. Then three weeks into my six week notice COVID reared its ugly head. Like many people worldwide, our firm began working from home and I trained my replacement remotely. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I would still have a job waiting for me once my time was up.

I eventually received the long anticipated email informing me that there was no longer a position available for me due to the current circumstances. Like most Americans, I was devastated. I took a day to cry and wallow and then I put on my big girl pants and asked my employer for an extension on my notice and they graciously obliged. I emailed my would-have-been-employer and let them know that I understood and would be on standby, if and when, they needed me. I then sat my husband down and told him that after a lot of prayer I had decided that I was going to start the business I had been ruminating on for over a year. He gave me his full support. I don’t take this privilege lightly. Many people have lost their jobs without the support of a spouse and without an alternative plan in place and I’m so grateful to have the loving support that I do.

Before launching, I almost let my fear of failure take over and I toyed with the idea of just focusing on my family and not taking the leap. So I decided to try my hand at stay at home motherhood because I owed it to myself to at least explore it. The week after my employment ended I spent every waking moment with my son going on walks and bike rides and swimming and, while it was wonderful, I knew I had to get going on my project or I would always regret not trying.

It was a good reminder that we are all meant to tread different paths in life.

Photo by: @marissajhnsn

On Friday May 1st, 2020 I soft launched Design Assisted, a project management company for Interior Designers. I started by sending 5 emails out to vendors that I had great relationships with and within 30 minutes I received my first inquiry. On Monday, May 6th I officially launched my website on social media and received immediate inquiries thanks to the help of my friends and family. Here we are six weeks later and my business is growing faster than I could’ve ever imagined. If I had let my fear prevail I might not have started for a few more years. I probably would have continued to work to make someone else’s dream a reality because it was the safe option. Heck, I’m still scared I’m going to fail, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and so far it’s working out! I don’t have all the answers and I’m still finding my footing, but I’ll let you in on the steps that helped me make my dream a reality.

1.) Leverage Your Contacts

I was having a conversation with Maria the other day about the relationships that we keep and if we are using them to our advantage. I know that sounds bad, but hear me out. I’m the reliable friend and colleague who will bend over backwards (within reason) to help. Gretchen Rubin would call me an “Obliger” and she’s not wrong. I take pride in my dependability and it brings me joy to help others, hence the reason I launched a business to help other people in business. Do you have a friend like that? Call them. They want to help you and you may even be able to help them in return. I’ve made many friendships with representatives of textile companies in my career, so when I set out on my own I notified them first and the outpouring of support was astonishing. With that said, make sure you’re always offering to help your people in return. In my line of work, I am able to help my professional contacts by introducing their products to designers that may not be clients of theirs yet. It’s a win win for all of us.

2.) Ask for Help

I know that not all of us are fortunate to have supportive spouses or you may not even have a partner around to depend on, but try to enlist help from a relative near or far to keep the kiddos entertained while you devise a plan. My son is high risk so we have not been able to see any of our family members during quarantine. He is also super chatty so he loves Facetiming his grandparents and talking their ears off and it gives me time to get some uninterrupted work done. My husband, as supportive as he is, is very limited as to what he can help with during the week as he is the primary breadwinner in our household and puts a lot of effort and focus into his work. So instead, he cooks dinner many nights during the week and he does the dishes, and has always been on top of bed time duties. This gives me some time in the evening to catch up on the things that I couldn’t during the day.

3.) Find Motivation and Inspiration

For a lot of us social media can be a major comparison trap, but lately I’ve been using Instagram for motivation. I try to find like minded women in business to learn from and even emulate like the women who will be writing for this Motherhood Series. I don’t have a lot of time to physically read most days so I am an audiobook phanatic. Self help books get a bad rep, but I live by “The Five Second Rule” by Mel Robbins, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist and “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. Sometimes hearing someone else say you can do it is all the motivation you need.

4.) Believe in Yourself

You are capable of more than you give yourself credit for. Whether you have given birth, or endured a grueling adoption process, or are recently divorced or married; you have already accomplished incredible feats and your story is a special one. I had to believe that I was capable in order to take the first step to changing my life forever. Give yourself a chance to do the same.

Photo by @marissajhnsn

You can find me in the following places:

Instagram: @dalias_soul and @designassisted

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/daliasoles

Website: www.designassistedco.com

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