… when your family depends on it? So many people have lost businesses or jobs in 2020 and have been living a nightmare. Are you one of them? If you’ve been looking for how to make money during the coronavirus pandemic, you will love this true-life story of a family who found a way to pivot in 2020.
Tamara Fomina shares some of her highs and lows, her struggles and triumphs in this relatable guest post. Most importantly, she shares how, when the chips were down, her family came together to learn how to create something entirely new.
From Oil Service Company CEO to E-Commerce Shop Owner in COVID
Guest Post by Tamara Fomina of Bestwonderstore
I’m a CEO in a small oil and gas service company. Sounds great, doesn’t it? I would say, yes it was, before the COVID-19 crisis, but not anymore.
The pandemic turned the world upside down making a huge number of people struggle to survive and find ways to support the basic lifestyle, not talking about more than that.
For over 8 years we successfully developed our small company until the sudden breakthrough of the epidemic, when our contracts, even with O&G production companies were dwindling, because of cost-cutting and reduction of job orders. It didn’t look like a temporary difficulty, but a total disaster.
Brainstorming Ideas for Survival
I still remember the moment when I was sitting at home, looking at my two kids and thinking where we would be after some time when our savings would come to an end and we would have to decide what to do and where to go.
Thus, I had to find an alternative to our current oil & gas business to let my kids continue their education and have better hopes for the future.
We – my two kids, my husband, my mother-in-law and I – held a family meeting at our round table brainstorming ideas that might help us to create a survival plan.
We all decided to try e-commerce business, to establish our online drop-shipping store.
Pivoting to E-Commerce
The first step was to choose the products to focus on. Jewellery, home appliances, clothes, sports items, skincare products?
The choices are limitless and it’s so hard to pick up the right one.
What we didn’t want to become for sure is another mass-market store, but to introduce something very special, yet useful.
My husband and I were making a categorized table of products on a huge board that we stole from our kids when my attention got attracted to the tea set for 6 persons that I brought from Russia.
I literally carried a huge box in my hands travelling to the place we live, crossing several borders and transiting three countries. That was one of a kind trip, but the set was absolutely amazing and it is still my favourite one.
Here we go – we would focus on suppliers of exclusive tableware, glassware and many other essential high-quality products.
Having chosen the right category, we found suppliers and signed exclusive contracts with them. It may look like a hard task to do, but in fact, all are right now looking for new opportunities and ways to grow.
Building a WooCommerce Store
Then, I studied how to build a WooCommerce store from scratch using the WordPress platform. That was a completely new experience for me. I had to switch from being a CEO with two Master’s Degrees to a student again and it was so exciting.
I started with a couple of inexpensive online courses and it took around 8 months to develop our website to the publishing stage, to understand all small details about how everything works, set up flawless order delivery procedures, quality control, and many other things that for sure were a key to a successful e-commerce business.
Finally, we were ready to introduce our shop to Google and we did.
Tough Lessons in SEO
I personally expected orders to fall on the first days after our shop went live because it was quite colourful and contained a lot of beautiful pictures and great descriptions of our unique products.
In fact, we overestimated our expectations and during the first few weeks, we couldn’t even find our shop on google. We spent so much time and effort to end up with such a fiasco.
It was an absolute breakdown and a mental crush for us. We did not realize that Google took some significant time to process our store because it has more than 1000 similar products.
In fact, it took us 4 months more to understand how Google ranked such online stores. Every day we watched tons of videos, read a lot of articles, and finally learned the core of SEO.
First Sales On Our Online Store
The first product was ordered after 5 months from the time we set our store online. It was an enormous achievement for our small but hardworking team, and we had a family celebration at our house.
The next few days brought us another 4 orders from around the world and with the time passing by the number of purchases increased gradually. And they were not small items, but full sets of unique art pieces starting from hand-crafted cognac glasses and ending with the porcelain tea sets from the state major manufacturer.
These days we are selling around 135 products every month but understand that we are still at the beginning of our journey.
We must learn much more to make our small enterprise even more successful but at the same time, there is a strong understanding that e-commerce is not a new idea but a big future and an affordable business model for small teams or even families as an alternative solution for an official office job.
Now we have a small team who process orders, fill new products, and do SEO.
Our Future Plans with Our Online Store
In 2021 we set a goal to reach 250 product sales per month.
Finally, it was an amazing experience and what makes the process even more exciting is that all the members of our family participate eagerly in the development of our first project of this kind.
My eldest daughter, for example, having excellent writing and digital skills, helps a lot with products descriptions and images editing, while my little one is happy to choose pictures and approve some of the products.
In fact, the project initiated over a year ago helped us to stay optimistic in these hard times and united us even more as a family.