Adaptation, determination, luck: How four small businesses are surviving the pandemic

By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

LOS ANGELES — In this pandemic time, running a small business has been a make-it-up-as-they-go-along trial without an end.

The novel coronavirus forced strategic business pivots and the immediate invention of new ways to make money when much of the economy shut down in March.

Work was done in backyards, cramped lofts, even cars. Good lighting, plentiful space and ergonomically correct surroundings became a vague memory. Colleagues had to search for new stores of patience amid child tantrums and barking dogs.

Restaurants, bars and retail operations have been hardest hit since March, according to user data compiled by Yelp Inc., the San Francisco-based review site. Service providers have proved resilient, whether professional such as accountants and lawyers, or general, including plumbers and towing companies, Yelp said.

More than half of small businesses could be in danger of failing if coronavirus-related operating restrictions continue and more government aid isn't forthcoming, accord to the National Assn. of Independent Business, an advocacy group.

Many firms will keep their doors open because of adaptation, determination and a certain amount of luck. Others face permanent closure because something came up short: money, time, maybe the will to keep going.


Here are some of their stories:


As at so many other companies, big and small, Belva Anakwenze, 43, and her four employees have kept Abacus Financial Business Management going from hastily assembled home office spaces at kitchen tables, bedroom nightstands, back porches and the like.

Anakwenze, Abacus' principal and business manager, has taken appropriately distanced client meetings in the driveway, and so far none of the neighbors in her gated community have complained. Sometimes, it's in the backyard, as she adjusts to schedules of husband and sons.


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