It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since COVID-19 dealt a devastating blow to the small business community. As we now approach the end of the worst of it, I hope my story can serve to educate fellow entrepreneurs on ways to keep their business thriving online as we return to normal.

I founded JJ Caprices seven years ago to offer unique handmade women’s jewelry and accessories curated during my travels around the world. I like to bring each piece to life by sharing its story: where it is from, the backstory of the artisan who made it, and the traditional technique used to craft it into an extraordinary piece of wearable art.

Courtesy of JJ Caprices via Facebook

Before the pandemic, I generated 40-50 percent of my sales from in-person events held locally and around the country. But when COVID hit, that was no longer possible…and the shift that’s happened since will forever change how businesses like mine operate.

At first I felt lost, but I knew I had to break through the uncertainty. The first two weeks in quarantine, I utilized Facebook Lives every day to connect with my customers and let them know we were all in this together. I set up Facebook Shops on my business page and as a result, garnered more sales and increased online traffic. It took time and commitment. But by using these digital tools, my business prevailed through its toughest year yet.

Most your favorite businesses are still here – you might just have to click a mouse instead of walk through the door. I also write to my fellow business owners who continue to struggle as the pandemic drags on. Don’t give up. The tools you need — especially digital tools — to find new customers are right there at your fingertips. Learning digital skills to boost your business can help you today and it can help you thrive long term.