Only six short months ago, we launched Gift Better Co. with the intention of making the corporate gift industry more meaningful. We knew that getting started with our business would be a challenge. We dove in head first with an understanding that entrepreneurship is a journey and we were ready to whether whatever storms came our way. And the storms came. As a matter of fact, we’re in one right now. As we try to navigate what gifting looks like in a world plagued by COVID-19, we’ve taken a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned in our first six months in business. 

Community is everything 

Community has been invaluable to us since starting our business. We’ve been able to connect with vendors, business leaders, and customers through both digital and local communities. Community resources like Invest Ottawa’s workshops have helped us clarify our business goals and tighten our strategies, and have introduced us to an entrepreneurial community that has given us many opportunities and knowledge.

Managing expectations is key 

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of your first launch or your first sale. Having a positive outlook and being driven by ambitious goals is important for keeping motivation high when business slows, but it’s also important to keep things realistic. We’ve learned that keeping sustainability in mind, whether it comes to setting quarterly targets or making promises to our customers, is crucial. We want our business to last, and that means making choices that we’ll be able to stick with in the long term. 

Keep raising your hand  

Continuously putting our name in the ring, even if we felt we weren’t sure we were ready for the opportunity, has paid off for our business in big ways. Pitching large orders, applying for startup programs, and even reaching out to prominent business leaders for help has proven very successful for us so far. As a result, we’ve been able to meet amazing mentors, secure lucrative partnerships, and gain acceptance into Startup Garage, a startup incubator run by UOttawa. 

Be strategic… 

Despite our understanding that starting a business would be inherently chaotic, we were very careful to go into it with an idea of our core values, who we wanted to serve, and why our business was best suited to serve them. Starting the business with a baseline strategy has helped prevent us from spreading ourselves too thin or losing focus on our mission. 

...But always be ready to pivot

If the last two months have taught us anything, it’s that business, like life, is unpredictable. We’re thankful that we’ve been able to adapt to these changes by pivoting our strategic focus, and will continue to remain agile as we navigate uncharted territory. 

Starting a business has been equal parts stressful and invigorating, but we wouldn't trade any of our experiences for the world. We'd like to say a huge thank you to the suppliers, mentors, and customers who got us to the six-month mark. We can't wait to see what the next six months bring!

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