Doing Business Amid the Coronavirus: Some Entrepreneurs Find Silver Lining
Janet Blaser - Mexico News Daily
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August 6, 2020

Jim Gallas of Sayulita conducts a yoga class via Zoom

The governor says close. The president says stay open. Local authorities say open, but with restrictions. Then they say you should close again.

In the meantime, customers are coming and you and your employees are desperate for income. What’s a business owner to do?

This is the scenario not just in Mexico, but in countries around the globe. It’s a challenge like no other, with no clear path forward. The Mexican government estimates millions of businesses will close, and the economic shocks are already reverberating through communities of every size.

Some business owners have found a silver lining in the midst of all this. Unexpectedly, they’ve discovered or been thrust into new business models they’d never imagined before the Coronavirus turned the world upside-down.

Jim Gallas has worked in the healing arts for 30 years, as a yoga and Qi gong teacher and massage therapist. For two decades he’s been splitting his time evenly between Sayulita, Nayarit, and Santa Cruz, California, a lifestyle that affords him “the best of both worlds.” This year, though, everything changed with the arrival of the pandemic.

“By the middle of March, all my work in Sayulita was gone,” he recalled. “Many people left early. Initially we continued classes outside. People had to disinfect their hands, wear masks, be six feet apart. Then it became apparent it was better not to come out.”

Things changed when a student who was tech savvy said he should be online. Within a week of her saying that, Gallas was set up on Zoom.

“I would never have thought of that,” said Gallas. “I’m not oriented that way.”

“There’s a learning curve in teaching to a screen and not seeing my students,” said Gallas, who mutes and turns off participants’ video during class. “I’m used to having hands-on, to be able to look out and see something that needs adjusting.”

People can email questions or ask after class, when he turns the video and sound back on. His students are all around the world, from British Columbia, Canada, to New Zealand. Some had taken his classes in Sayulita or California and others heard of them through mutual friends. Zoom has expanded his ability to offer classes anywhere, to anyone, easily and effectively, he said. And he’s also free to travel, as he can set up his laptop and hold a class anywhere there’s a good WiFi signal. It’s an unexpected bonus to what he’d thought was an untenable situation.

“That’s been a very valuable part of this, to be able to offer a place for people to meet in this way and to see each other, in what I call their Hollywood Square,” said Gallas. “A couple in Florida said this is the best thing they do all week. People absolutely feel like they’re doing something good for themselves.”

Pankaj (Paco) Shingadia was making and selling authentic Indian food at five busy outdoor farmers’ markets in the Puerto Vallarta area each week. His Bites of India was popular and successful, and customers loved his butter chicken, spicy chutneys and naan flatbreads. Although the markets were all seasonal (November to April) he and wife Griselda were happy to have the summers off to relax, do a little catering, visit family or travel.

Unaware of the extent of what was happening with the pandemic in China and Europe, they were taken by surprise as suddenly and without warning the Jalisco and Nayarit state governments shut down all outdoor markets.

Read the rest at Mexico News Daily.

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