Priscilla Sauceda shares how she’s leading 64 employees through COVID-19.
By Priscilla Sauceda, Photo by Annie Ray
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my six years as an entrepreneur, it’s owning your own business requires being comfortable with a certain level of risk. There is no playbook; every business is different and each contains a unique set of risks.
I’d love to sit here and tell you that I’m a natural-born entrepreneur, but that isn’t true. In 2014, my husband, Jay B, convinced me to leave my “secure” corporate job. He wanted us to go all-in on our side business, Texas Humor, an e-commerce store based around a large social-media audience.
Ultimately, I decided to take on that risk and bet on ourselves. I was confident in our ability to work together to conquer challenges and hopefully build a business that we could be proud of along the way. For the most part, we’ve succeeded.
For the past several weeks though, our lives have been consumed by COVID-19 and what seems like an endless barrage of decisions based on calculated risk. Every moment has been focused on how to successfully steer our business and 64 employees through this pandemic.
For me, part of managing that risk has meant a shift to working from home. My days are a whirlwind of attending Zoom meetings, writing COVID-19 policies and managing team morale. Intermixed in all of this are my daughter’s preschool Zoom meetings, meal prep, laundry and playtime. Needless to say, I’ve relied on more screen time than I’m proud to admit.
When our kids go to sleep, Jay B and I pour a drink and crack open our laptops. At night, we’ve worked to reduce our company’s financial risk by securing funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. We’ve immersed ourselves in the details of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, making sure we understand our responsibilities as business owners under this new law. Overall, we ask ourselves, are we doing enough to protect the health of our people and the viability of our company?
Throughout the past few months, I’ve struggled to process mixed feelings. There’s gratitude for the health of my family; relief that the impact to our business has been manageable; guilt in knowing that countless others can’t say the same; and doubt as I question if we are making the right choices through it all.
The mental load of all of this takes its toll. Some days are better than others. On the hard days, I think my daughter’s repeat renditions of “Let It Go” are the universe telling me not to stress over what I can’t control.
In a world where so much is out of my hands, I’m grateful to be a business owner and at least have a choice in something, a choice in how our company responds to this virus.
We’ve chosen to partner with a nonprofit to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge to front-line workers in our community. We’ve chosen to pivot our retail store, replacing humorous t-shirts with cloth masks. We’ve chosen to redesign how our fulfillment team operates, disrupting our standard processes in an effort to keep our fulfillment team safe while we remain open.
As a business we continue to adapt to COVID-19 and make choices based on calculated risks. In a way, it’s not so different from how all of us are personally tackling COVID-19. In a search for our new normal, we’re all looking at the information available to us and making a calculated risk that feels right for ourselves and our families. Maybe COVID-19 will help us realize there’s a little entrepreneurial spirit in all of us.