- Brian Taylor's pet grooming and boarding business was devastated by the Covid-19 shutdown, but his decision to pivot to a mobile service model has been a hit.
- Now the Harlem, New York-based entrepreneur is taking the idea national, and social media master Gary Vaynerchuk offered him advice on how to get the word out and get return on investment from social media advertising.
Brian Taylor is your quintessential small business owner. He started Harlem Doggie Day Spa, a pet grooming and boarding business, 10 years ago in Harlem, New York. Like many small business owners, Taylor says he lost about 80% of his business when he had to temporarily close his storefront in early March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But that didn't stop Taylor.
Shortly thereafter, he bought a van and began offering mobile dog grooming services, which allowed him to account for some of the revenue lost from closing Harlem Doggie Day Spa's main location. When Taylor had to furlough a number of staffers, he then applied for and received a $4,000 loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, which has provided more than $520 billion in loans that have been approved and distributed to over 4.8 million businesses since the program's rollout in April.
Now Taylor has plans to take his grooming business on the road and service more customers in need around the country. It's a pandemic-inspired pivot that caught the attention of serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.
"The speed and pivot was remarkable, and I'm so proud of you for that," Vaynerchuk told Taylor on Thursday night's "Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow Your Future – A CNBC & Acorns Town Hall Special" that aired on CNBC. Vaynerchuk advised that Taylor lean in to advertising on three social media platforms — Nextdoor, Facebook and Instagram — targeting people in the areas he plans to travel and service.
"So many restaurants and small businesses watching right now completely underestimate the power of a $100 [ad] spend on these platforms, but it is game-changing," Vaynerchuk said. "Social media [has] grossly underpriced attention, and the people who are the best practitioners, with little money, get huge ROI (return on investment)."
Vaynerchuk went on to describe the town hall segment on CNBC as a "meta moment" for Taylor, encouraging Americans watching to screenshot the appearance and tweet it so that Taylor could monetize the interaction in advertisements on social media. "The serendipity of life took over for you," Vaynerchuk told Taylor.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, approximately 41% of businesses reported that they were temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, some economists project that more than 100,000 small businesses have shut permanently since shelter-in-place orders began to take effect around the country in early March. But Vaynerchuk believes that for business owners like Taylor, this is about resetting and being patient.
"Hard work is about to get very popular again," Vaynerchuk said. "I never tell someone how to dictate what they want to do in life, but I always remind people: You're not going to help anybody if you're out of business."
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.
Watch the full "Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow Your Future – A CNBC & Acorns Town Hall Special" here.