This interview is part of a series chatting with local business owners, artists, organizers and people in our community who are learning to adapt during COVID-19.
Jenny Chandler – Simple Desk
Describe your business.
Simple Desk is a small business support company working to eliminate entrepreneurial overwhelm by providing cost-effective outsourcing solutions. Our services range from bookkeeping and administration to customer support and marketing plans that can be performed both on and off site.
What does working from home/your workplace look like for you right
We are very fortunate to have just moved into a new office on Division Street in Trenton and have been in the process of upgrading the space to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for our staff and clients. On a standard day, the Simple Desk staff works in the office and connects with our clients via Zoom meetings or phone calls.
We also have a few clients that require bookkeeping services on site during the week. Due to the nature of our business being digital, we are also fortunate that we can perform a lot of the tasks our clients trust us with safely and securely from our home offices if need be.
How have you adapted your operations during the pandemic?
The pandemic has certainly tested our resilience and creativity since things began in March. At the time of the first shut-down, we were operating out of a room we were renting within another place of business. We had to make the difficult decision to give up the office space, everyone started working from home, and visits to our clients’ storefronts came to an end. Our team would meet once a week via Zoom to discuss how the previous week went, as well as goals for the upcoming week.
At the beginning of the shut-down, we had many clients concerned about how their businesses would survive. Our focus immediately turned to how we could help them pivot their businesses. Our clientele cover a wide array of service industries, so we really had to get creative when and where we could. We also had to adjust marketing efforts for our clients in a way that was sensitive to what was going on in the community and the world. At the time it was just Theresa — my head of marketing — and me putting everything we had into helping our clients stay afloat.
We have always used networking as a way to connect with our clients and community. Since it was no longer safe to meet in groups, we used email marketing to maintain our connections and to become a resource of information for the small business owners who followed us. All of our content became purely educational in an effort to help shift how small business owners were thinking when it came to pivoting their own business. Rapidly and with ease, we shifted our focus from getting clients to helping businesses in the area survive by providing our expertise and knowledge.
Simple Desk also launched the Simple Desk Business Academy, an affordable online educational resource for small business owners wanting to expand their own knowledge and skills. We focus on teaching business owners about the parts of their business they may struggle with: marketing, bookkeeping, design, etc., and made it easy for them to learn! Continuing with the trend of educating small business owners, we have also started doing webinars online.
How have you been supported by the community/your clients?
Our clients and the community have been amazing during these difficult times.
Despite the challenges presented to us, Simple Desk was able to retain 98% of our
clients during the pandemic and we feel that we have developed stronger bonds
with our clients because of this. Our clients put their trust and faith in us that we
would help them see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are so grateful for that.
Throughout the shut down, our clients and community members continued to
positively spread the word about our business. We have been cheered on for every step we have taken.
What is something good that has come from this difficult situation?
There are a few good things that have come from the pandemic that I am really
grateful for. I have been able to build a solid team of professionals that I know will stick with me and work through whatever obstacles come our way. Our connection with our clients has been the most touching and humbling part of this entire experience. We really do have the best clients!
Lastly, Simple Desk has grown from being an outsourcing business to being an
educational resource. We have been able to expand the skills and knowledge of
many business owners in our area.
What advice do you have for other business owners at this time?
Things right now are challenging, but I encourage small business owners, sole
proprietors, entrepreneurs and side hustlers to not let the fear of the unknown hold you back. Don’t stick your head in the sand, but stay present and just take the leap! Sometimes it seems as if it’s easier to admit defeat than it is to change and grow, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you want your business to succeed during both the good and bad times, you have to accept that things are going to challenge you or make you feel uncomfortable. It’s a normal part of running a business, and you have to get yourself in the mindset that in order to be successful, you need to meet every challenge head-on.
With the world becoming more digitized every day, there are opportunities out there for you to pivot your business online or to take your business in a different direction than you ever thought possible! If you’re not sure how, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are resources out there like our team at Simple Desk that are committed to seeing you succeed.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s never too late to learn new skills to help your business succeed! When Simple
Desk launched last January, it was just me running the business. While I had a
lifetime’s worth of experience in bookkeeping, customer support and administration, I had a lot to learn about marketing. Through online resources I was able to expand my own skills and grow my business quickly. While I now have incredible team members who handle various aspects of the business, educating myself at every opportunity has really empowered me as a small business owner.
You don’t have to be a pro at every facet of your business, but understanding what makes it tick will help grow your confidence and help with the overwhelming feeling that sometimes comes with running a business. This is a big reason why we launched the Simple Desk Business Academy, to help small business owners learn new skills with ease! Set some time aside each week or month to learn something new… you won’t regret it!
Stay tuned as we share more local folks who are Makin’ It Work.