Pandemic business ideas have saved many homes and fed many families. Some even became successful home-based businesses.
2020 was the year that life as we knew it would be forever changed; schools closed, people lost their jobs, retrenchments were rife, people were forced to stay indoors, toilet paper was scarce. It was madness.
But, we still had to live. Many small businesses couldn’t stay afloat, and business models were forced to change. So how were people supposed to make money during lockdown?
Still confined to our homes, initially only allowed outside for essential items, and walking the dog during a small window in the early mornings, some people stepped up and grabbed this opportunity.
In 2020, people were launched into the online space. It was a long time coming and it was inevitable, but Covid-19 sped the process up. A lot. New businesses started to emerge, certain products were in high demand, and having an online store to help others proved beneficial.
As mortar businesses shut their doors and shops moved online, ‘To Let’ signs became prevalent. Tours continued, but virtually.
More courses, coaching, and workshops too place online; people were seeing the possibilities and had to adapt.
Some people rose up, built on their small business ideas, and took the first steps to starting, or adapting, or changing their business. Remote work was being done globally. Everyone understood it.
People who started a food business, especially with organic products, did well. Business trends changed and more home business ideas developed.
The best business ideas stood up and it wasn’t about selling more hand sanitizer or face masks.
These women below worked hard during lockdown to create a successful business, and because of this tenacity, they were able to make money during lockdown.
It is an amazing time we live in right now.
And if you are looking to get started with a side hustle or a new business for yourself, the most passive way is by starting your own blog.
Here are the stories of 15 women who stood up during these tough times, took their good idea, and became new business owners, often with their home business idea.
Owner: Debbie Winter
I had originally started Chicky Wonders in 2019 while living in Cape Town, South Africa.
I had set up my Etsy Store, website and social media channels. But orders were slow and shipping of products from South Africa took weeks and weeks to arrive at their final destination, and shipping was incredibly expensive.
However, we had planned to emigrate to the UK in early 2020 but there were constant delays due to the pandemic.
We eventually arrived and once settled I really focused on my social media and reaching out to my target audience.
The fantastic thing about my business is that women are always having babies, and every person, and pregnancy, and life, and baby is unique and has its own story.
Debbie’s Unique Selling Point
Because my mobiles are hand-crafted and individually personalized, this is not a stop-and-shop type of product. Now I am very proud to say that I have a 4-week waitlist and I believe that this is due to the fact that my marketing is now reaching the right target market.
Some of my customers have told me that they have been following me on social media, and then they see the mobile that they like, so I do think posting often helps too.
I have such a huge range of designs that people can view in my portfolio, so it does help people to choose.
I am reaching my target audience through all avenues: Instagram, my own website, as well as my Etsy shop.
The best of my business is the customer ideas and working out how to make the perfect mobile with their ideas and color schemes. And the absolute best, best part is the relationship that I build with my customers; I love their responses when they see the finished product. It usually makes me tear up as it’s written with such emotion. I love it! It makes me feel like I’m a part of their journey for a short while.
You can have a look at all of Debbie’s incredible mobiles on her Instagram page.
Powering Your Potential
Owner: Sonja Broschk
Location: South Africa
My company, Sonja Broschk: Coaching and Mediation Practice, and I offer the following services to my clients through my consulting business: coaching, specifically relationship coaching, but I also have the expertise to do life coaching. I feel that I offer a unique niche, as I have a strong psychological background, which I often use in conjunction with my NLP skills to work with my clients more effectively and efficiently.
My second field of expertise is that of mediation, and preparing Parenting Plans for mostly divorcing parents, but also unmarried couples.
In March 2020, it was gazetted by the South African government that any divorcing couples have to go through mediation first, before they go to the divorce courts – which frees up the overloaded divorce courts for only the most acrimonious of break-ups.
Ups & Downs
I am lucky to have a set client base, that continued to turn up for their session during lockdown, as I am able to work via online sessions. I worked online via Zoom and MS Teams most of the lockdown period, which served me well.
Due to the need for guidance and support throughout lockdown there was a need for my services, thus I did get busy at times. However, I did, unfortunately, lose some clients as some preferred face-to-face contact. But I had adapted my business and was working with my target client so I was able to make money during lockdown.
I am at the stage where I am getting more and more clients via word of mouth, but it is time for me to step up my marketing and to look at revamping my
website as I have made some changes to my company and these need to reflect in my online presence. Thus, the time for change is now!
This Healthy Kitchen
Owner: Rosa Tamm
Blog: This Healthy Kitchen
I’m Rosa, the creator, recipe developer, and photographer of This Healthy Kitchen. My blog focuses primarily on nutritious plant-based recipes, with occasional cheat days included.
During 2020, my business was been a blessing to keep income flowing through, despite many closures around the world. Thanks to income from advertising, my business has been able to stay afloat so I was able to continue to make money during lockdown.
In fact, with many people at home, cooking more family meals, and just having more time, there was a noticeable boost in traffic to several of my recipes.
Baking recipes and comfort food recipes like my chocolate chip banana bread and broccoli potato soup were among some of the highest traffic posts during the last few months. Makes sense right? Feel-good food, to feel good during a difficult time.
Read her yummy blog for more details.
Kim Baker Beauty
Owner: Kim Gomez
Website: Kim Baker Beauty
As an esthetician, makeup artist, and preschool teacher, everything going on certainly brought up fear around making enough money to contribute to my family. And then I received a text that changed my life:
“I’d like to sponsor your registration to become a Beautycounter consultant.”
I signed up and started selling quickly. It was easy for me. Soon after starting, I noticed how many consultants in my circle weren’t using Instagram to leverage sales, something I had practiced and learned over the past 5 years for my makeup business.
I started coaching for free to see if it was something I could do and then I slowly increased my pricing and welcomed more people into my container. My clients were seeing results and I loved helping them (and… I had found another way to make money during lockdown).
I called it Beauty My Gram. I even wrote up a digital workbook too! Then I thought, “How could I serve more people and provide a bigger transformation.” And thus. my group program was born. I have made more money in my business in the last 8 weeks than I have in 6 months.
Our baby was due mid-July (2020), and instead of taking unpaid maternity leave, I took a leap and left my teaching job\ after 9 years! I feel empowered and aligned like this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I offer 1:1 coaching, group coaching, Canva classes, remote makeup lessons, and free non-toxic skincare and makeup recommendations.
Contact Kim for any tips or if you are interested in finding out more about becoming an amazing beauty consultant.
Zaffy’s Stoneworld Crafts
Location: South Africa
My business manufactures white cement stones for the home and garden. Each product is hand-made and hand-painted with an inspirational verse or words. These lovingly crafted stones are ideal for landscaping, gardening, or they make lovely gifts.
During lockdown, I decided to concentrate more on marketing and getting my products known, and to do this I decided to use platforms more like Facebook, Gumtree, and other local sites.
As my business was new at the time (in 2020) I created an order/ pay option for later delivery or pickup. The need for my products did lessen during lockdown as it’s not considered an essential service.
I reached most of my clients through Facebook marketing and via word-of-mouth referrals from my existing client base. I did have to reinvent a portion of my business and took on additional bespoke craft projects for clients.
Adele’s Retail Clothing
Owner: Adele Stockhoff
Location: South Africa
Facebook: Adele’s Retail Clothing
I sell pre-loved clothing in excellent condition. In level 5 of lockdown my business did take a knock but I kept on advertising on my Facebook Page and still shared it with all the advertising pages. I didn’t need to have a physical location as people were naturally turning online, looking for things to do, games to play, items to buy.
Some people still bought items via EFT and just asked me to keep them until I could courier when the restrictions lifted, or they could come and fetch it.
However, once winter clothing was deemed essential, I could not keep up with the orders coming through from my Facebook page and they could just collect their orders from my shop!
My shop is based at my home and at the moment my customers still like coming to my shop as some people do not want to go to a crowded mall. I have a fitting room and if something does not fit, it gets washed and sanitized again.
Check out Adele’s Facebook page for more details.
Curious Baby Cards
Owner: Lizzy Greenberg
Website: Curious Baby Cards
Curious Baby Activity Cards™ is a set of developmentally appropriate playtime activities to help new moms, dads, and grandparents spend quality time with their baby. I created this product to be a helpful guide on what to do, why, and how to spend quality educational time with infants during the first year together.
In 2020, I brought my second child into the world right as the first lockdown of COVID-19 began. While adjusting to life with a newborn, I really worked diligently to finish the activity cards because they were needed now more than ever. Being able to do this from home, also ensured that the overhead costs were low.
To complete the product development during lockdown, I worked with my team of advisors including pediatric physicians, child psychologists, and children’s curriculum designers to ensure that the content met all of the guidelines for developmental milestones and that the research was heavily reviewed.
Learning and Marketing
Adapting to this remote working style, my team and I collaborated on all of the reviews and edits virtually. Launching a product during a pandemic has also been quite different. To market the product, I have leveraged social media, blogs, and influencers, and other news media to help share my story and get in front of prospective customers.
In a pre-COVID world I would be knocking on the doors of baby stores to introduce my product and build a retail presence; but with COVID-19, communication and sales are much safer to do online.
Contact Lizzy or purchase her incredible cards from Amazon directly.
Essentially Empowered Oils
Owner: Chelsea Arvanitis
Location: South Africa
Essentially Empowered Oils South Africa was born one morning in March 2019 in Plettenberg Bay. For the last few years, I have developed a love and passion for teaching on the safe and effective use of Essential Oils. I have a toddler who has been an ‘oily baby’ since the day he was born and has yet to see a doctor or take any medication. I swear by the oils and that is where my accessories business comes in!
So I am an advocate for doTERRA and that is why I started to create the accessories, which are created and made by me and have nothing to do with the oil company.
I hand-make many of the products and I also have help bringing our beautiful essential oils purses to life by a wonderful group of women in the township. They are part of a co-op called Women on the Move and I am so grateful for their abilities (as I am terrible at sewing).
The other products we make involve the community in some way or form and that makes me really happy! I also make and create some beautiful roller blends to use to support you in so many ways.
My accessories business has been able to continue sales during lockdown but postage was a problem for a while. I was not able to create more purses or ceramic work as everything was shut down but at least now we can start to create new products and create work for the ladies!
As far as my oil teaching business goes, Corona really messed up the whole “in-person classes” vibe BUT thank goodness for Zoom and Facebook. I was able to continue to connect and do classes and webinars with people all over the world!!!
The oil business that I advocate for had their best month in South Africa in May and had already broken that ceiling by about 25% by the 18th June…so during lockdown and these crazy times, people want health and wellness and are looking for a beautiful and natural alternative!
I do receive commissions as an advocate. The oil teaching is me or other advocates (my oily mentors are in the UK) but are not by doTERRA. We use our own experiences and expertise, and of course the science behind the oils.
The Sugar Chilli
Owner: Jayshree Pillay
Location: South Africa
Facebook: The Sugar Chilli
In March 2019, I made the bold decision to follow my passion of opening up my own business, so with the support of my amazing husband, I took the leap. The first 7 months were all about the education. I was given the opportunity of doing an internship at a friend’s business where I quickly became involved in all aspects of running a commercial kitchen with three retail stores. This definitely was out of my comfort zone and tested my character and every part of me.
In September 2019, I registered a company and slowly started preparing for my opening. At the end of November, I left to start my entrepreneurship journey on a full-time basis. It was a struggle in every sense of the word. Trying to earn money with little to no money is definitely not easy.
I decided to move to an online platform and created The Sugar Chilli which told my food journey and culminated my love of good food. However, making enough money to survive was just not happening, I had to think creatively so that I could make money during lockdown. So in January, I started Cape’s Shopaholic, again using an online platform, I followed my trade instinct and bought and sold items. This was deemed a lot more successful but then COVID hit.
So March saw me buying in excess and depleting all my profits to ensure I had enough stock to sell during the lockdown.
The Learning Curve
March 2020 was a good month as sales were very good. Using the same strategy of buying and selling online is what I tried in April. This was definitely not successful at all. I tweaked my strategy to trade online and have collections after lockdown. So my clients paid a deposit to secure the item however with the extensions this then proved to be unfavorable. The lockdown helped me regroup and refocus and create a new strategy where I now source items from different suppliers.
I have a courier company that I worked exclusively with and this has changed my business, my reach, and my outlook. I am now able to trade throughout South Africa. I have networked more online which has given me more exposure so my hard work is not in vain.
Two things have kept me going – working on having a positive attitude and being grateful for the small things as well as pure persistence. My family has been my backbone during this time and I will be forever grateful for them.
With low cost business ideas, little money is needed to get started and these are often done in the online space
Owner: Shelene Ludick
Location: South Africa
Facebook: Launch Into Social Media
26 March 2020 was the date that all South Africans will remember forever. It’s the day lockdown started and a new era came about how we as South Africans live in the world around us! This is also the season where my businesses bloomed and I actually signed up clients rather than receiving cancellations.
Now how is that possible you might ask, and the simple answer to that is; I am a virtual assistant. South Africa’s business force moved into the virtual era at the flip of a switch, which contributed greatly to the growth of my business.
Lockdown created a sense of awareness amongst companies allowing their employees to work from home, broadening the scope of doing business, and the thought of having a virtual assistant did not seem daunting at all.
The services that I offer consist mainly of administrative tasks, social media management, and bookkeeping/ financial services assistance to my clients, which definitely helped me to make money during lockdown.
Clients started reaching out to me to assist with various tasks, from administrative duties to social media management to ensure they keep in contact with their clients during lockdown.
Feel free to pop on to my Facebook page and find out how hiring a virtual assistant can contribute to your business.
Owner: Kristie McCauley
Blog: Girl Mom Chaos
In my own journey to find a skincare regimen, I found and fell in love with Beautycounter products and this is how I was able to make money during lockdown.
The company’s mission is to create more regulation in the beauty industry.
I love the products so much that I became a consultant during COVID. This was a fantastic business choice because everyone was still highly focused on self-care + looking great so they could feel great during the pandemic.
I lead with content and education on social media, and I write articles rather than trying to make a cold sale. I share a lot of information on beauty industry regulation, harmful ingredients in beauty, makeup and skincare products.
Since Beautycounter advocates for more beauty regulation. I also share the story of my own skincare journey because women relate to it. My site is beautycounter.com/kristiemccauley but I share a lot of information on my blog girlmomchaos.com, too.
Journals to Freedom Printables
Owner: Jen Slezia
Website: Journals to Freedom
One of the ways I have learned to make money during lockdown is by promoting my printable Gardening Binder.
Top hint, so take note: This is a really fantastic example of a pandemic-started e-commerce business which already has an online portal and being online is one of the best ways to promote digital products.
I utilized my email list, blog posts, Pinterest, and other social media platforms to talk about getting your home garden quite simply organized and you can do this by starting with my Gardening Binder.
I think there was a bigger than usual interest in home gardening during the spring and summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 quarantine. More than ever, families, and especially moms and young kids, have been looking for fun and educational ways to spend time together that don’t involve staring at the TV all day during this stay-at-home time. Creating printables has been fun, and the way that I was able to make money during lockdown.
This has certainly been my experience!
Owner: Seimani Naidu (together with her dad)
Location: South Africa
Facebook: Preggsson’s Spices
I co-own Preggsson’s Spices with my dad; he takes care of our Durban branch and I manage our Johannesburg branch.
We make our own homemade Kashmiri Masala, which comes in three delicious flavours: Not so Hot, Lekker & Hot and Monster-in-Law. We are extremely proud of our products as they do not have added preservatives or colourants.
In addition, I also produce my own traditional homemade Indian pickles which do not contain any preservatives either, and they are available in 14 different varieties.
I was supplying six retailers but in 2020 I was only able to supply two retailers due to the pandemic so it did get a bit difficult at times to make money during lockdown, but you have to persevere.
The Refillery operated via online and had two shops open, and Durban Seafoods was also an Essential Business service and had two stores open. Thankfully, I managed to obtain an Essential Goods Certificate and could continue working, so I did indeed make money during lockdown.
Jou Ma Se Juice
Owner: Amanda Linde and Karin Hattingh
Location: South Africa
Website: Jou Ma Se Juice
Two moms on a mission.
And 6 months later, our children are happy, healthy, and asking for our nutrient-packed cold-pressed juices. They have no sugar or preservatives added. COVID-19 has reiterated to us that you and your family’s health and immunity are vitally important. Converting to a healthy family lifestyle starts with you, the mom!
As small business owners, we learned valuable lessons during the lockdown period – after all, we still had to make money during lockdown. Seeing that our entire business model was built on farmers’ markets, school events and basically having interaction with people, we had to follow a completely different path.
Online shopping has become the new normal, which took away from our mission and authenticity of the brand, but luckily we could still make use of technology by doing online consultations with new customers and suppliers.
Learning of new distribution methods and also finding better ways to do things. Sometimes less is more. During this period we could network with other small business owners and some great referral and co-selling opportunities arose.
Word-of-mouth has also been a great marketing tool and we are so grateful for our friends and families who keep on supporting and sharing our vision. In the end, the pandemic assisted us to think out of the box, of new ways to do business, and to collaborate with like-minded people and brands.
The key lesson we learned is to remind yourself daily of why you started your business and what your life purpose is. If you are passionate and believe in your brand and your purpose, nothing can stop you. Not even a lockdown: you can still make money!
Simply Styled Art
Owner: Brandi Stimpson
Location: United States
Website: SimplyStyledArt Etsy Store
I started my business making boho home decor in 2019 and learned all I could about the Etsy platform. It was a very slow start but everything turned around in 2020. I had a better handle on SEO and started to build a following on Instagram and Etsy, and by doing these every day tasks I was able to make money during lockdown.
I believe with so many staying at home and shops closing, the online sales blew up. I also believe more people see the benefits of supporting and shopping small handcrafted businesses. They like getting and gifting items not everyone has.
It’s a ton of work but so very rewarding when I get tagged or an amazing review or message how someone styled my items so perfectly. I love sending my items as gifts that brighten someone’s day or a piece that’s the perfect match to a boho nursery.
Each month I learn and create more and recently started selling on Faire to brick and mortar shops all over the US and Canada. It’s so fun to work with business owners and other entrepreneurs. The community I’m building is supportive and so encouraging. They love unique one-of-a-kind pieces like I do to make their home tell their story.
It’s been a huge learning curve but I’m so excited to continue on this journey. You are never too old to learn something new!
Follow Brandi on Instagram or check out her Etsy shop for some beautiful creations.
Owner: Bu’s Organic Kale
Location: South Africa
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or you can check out her Facebook page too
As Covid 19 stroke, and closed down my preschool @ Mercytots preschool on Facebook, I quickly ventured into growing kale. Kale is a quick money maker because it is easy to grow and tend to. I grow it at Cosmo City where my creche is located. I sell it to vendors who then resell. I also go and stand at the robots and sell to passersby, and I deliver to places like Cresta, Parkhurst, Linden, Cosmo city, and surrounding areas in Johannesburg.
I am definitely going to work on it and make it my core business.
Other business opportunities that did well were:
- Digital marketing agency
- App developer
- Professional cleaning services
- YouTube Channel
- Videography for businesses
- Graphic Designers
- Corporate e-learning and training
- Dropshipping business
If you have an idea, don’t let anything stop you. Enhance your social media presence to create awareness, consider the remote services and ecommerce platforms available and join Facebook Groups to talk to others who don’t mind sharing information to help you get going!