The idea of purpose is central to every small business owner’s dream — to forge their own path and build something from the ground up. Many of the Thumbtack pros we interviewed shared how they extended this sense of purpose to include giving back and helping those in the community who needed the most support.
To close out this year’s Small Business Week, here are three inspiring stories of small business owners who found meaning and spread positivity during this unprecedented year.
Bringing families together for a cause
When photographer An LeFevre lost all of her bookings due to COVID, she volunteered her time and talent photographing families during quarantine to support the nationwide nonprofit, The Front Steps Project. Being her own boss meant she had the freedom to decide how she would spend her time — and she chose to give back.
Along with more than 300 photographers across the country, she helped raise over three million dollars to benefit local hospitals, animal shelters and food pantries, as well as services for children, homeless and the elderly. One of her photos was even selected for The Front Steps Project book coming out in November 2020, which will highlight quarantine stories of families across the nation.
“It felt really good to give back to my community and make a difference.”
Helping others find ways to cope
Taking every opportunity to find the good in any situation is something Emily Baraff strives for every day. When shelter in place went into effect and the gym closed where she was a personal trainer, her first thought was: how can I help someone come out of this crazy time and say “Look how I’ve grown!”
New to the Portland area, Emily cultivated relationships with local personal trainers to help her figure out how to move her business online. Once she did, her business actually grew. Rather than having to work around gym hours, she could create a better life balance for herself as well as offer more flexibility to clients who were juggling homeschooling and working from home.
“I forced myself to find the good and figure out how to help someone come out of this crazy time in a healthy way.”
Taking time to explore a new direction
As a high-end, in-demand bartender, Roger Perry’s entire business depended on people being able to gather — be it a small birthday party or a big corporate event. So when all his bookings were cancelled, he experimented with hosting virtual events for private and corporate clients. While it was fun, he felt like it wasn’t the right fit for his skills.
Instead, he took the time in quarantine to reflect and do some inner work. The unexpected pause in business as usual actually gave him the space to lay the groundwork to create an immersive art studio. His vision is an expansion of his bartending business, bringing people together in a collective experience.
“The gift of the pandemic is that I could work remotely, build this idea from anywhere.”
Offering support when we all needed it the most
The dedication of small business owners represents the best in all of us. During a time of great uncertainty, they showed up for their communities, offering support and ideas for how to make things better. They took the time to explore new directions and find meaningful ways to connect with us. In supporting small businesses, we serve to strengthen our communities for this generation and those to come.