Deb and Sperry at My Puffin

Lessons Learned While Starting a Business During the Pandemic

By: Deborah Brooks

The pandemic has forced change. From buying pets, to baking sour dough bread. But I didn’t do any of those things. I already own two dogs and quite frankly couldn’t be bothered to bake my own bread. But I did do something crazy--I started a business with my very good friend Sperry. Why you ask would I do such a thing? Why take the risk? Why add more stress to a household where we were already juggling online schooling and work-from-home orders? These are all good questions but the alure to build something from scratch was too strong. I was itching for another entrepreneurial venture and to be honest the timing seemed right.

This is how I saw the world:

  • Lack of physical activities: With all sports and play groups cancelled, parents are looking for an at-home physical outlet for their kids.
  • Too much screen time: The pandemic is increasing the amount of screen time and most parents welcome an activity that doesn’t involve a screen and keeps their kids engaged.
  • Focus on the home: Many parents realize that it is time to invest in home improvement. Who wouldn’t want a piece of furniture that looks attractive, increases physical activity and improves kids’ imaginations?

My Puffin was the answer. It was exactly the opportunity I was looking for. Not only was it a hot market but I could dip into one of my core values: helping parents raise healthy and happy kids.

Related: How To Build Resilience in Kids

 So how did it turn out? These are the lessons learned while launching My Puffin:  

  1. It’s never a perfect time

You’ve probably heard people say it's never a perfect time to have children. Same goes with launching a business. There are always risks and reasons why not to do it. Ours was an economy that was stretched due to the pandemic and growing concerns with decreased disposable income across all demographics. My advice to those wanting to start a business is do your research, talk to people, and then do more research. I also recommend the book Traction by Gino Wickman as a good reference for finding and deciding if your product is a fit for the market.

  1. Work with someone you trust and can be honest with

Do you like the people you work with? You have to respect them at the very least. My co-founder Sperry and I are very good friends. We have known and respected each other for 16 years. We met at a mom’s group--shout out to Metro Mothers Network. My biggest lesson in my years of entrepreneurship is to learn that constructive criticism and praise are equally important. You need both to be successful.

  1. Celebrate every small victory

That brings me to my third lesson and that is to celebrate and recognize every small victory. Whether it is a new shipping process or a customer in a new region, we celebrate all progress. We love our customers and we are having fun building My Puffin.  

  1. Bring in experts when needed

Let’s be honest, we never know enough. We are constantly learning as we go. From SEO to inventory control—it’s a learning process and everything takes time. Despite our extensive marketing experience, we decided to bring in a digital marketing team for our Canadian launch. Thank you Schmooz Media! And this is something we will continue to do—strategically bring in experts to help us move quickly.

Follow along on our journey to build My Puffin. We will keep posting about what we learn and more importantly how we are helping parents raise healthy and happy kids. To read more about Sperry and I visit this page

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