Hi friends! Is it safe to come out yet? What a couple of months. Like many of you, my income, family’s health, and life have been turned upside down from the pandemic. Running a business requires hard decisions when something unexpected strikes like it did in March. My massage business had to close its doors with very little notice (on my birthday, may I add.) I came home to be a teacher to my 4 confused kids. There were definitely a couple weeks where I was trying to figure out how I went from a well-oiled machine, strong female business leader role… to “what do I do now???”
But after dwelling a little while on that bleak outlook, I started to notice the ways small businesses were using creativity to pull through this pandemic. It inspired me to think about my business goals differently, and now I am convinced that a business can come out of this time stronger than before. Since we aren’t exactly out of the woods, I’m hoping I can share some ideas to boost your business now. Yes, now.
I realized that a downturn like this is what separates those with a deeply ingrained abundance mindset from the fair-weather positives. Mindset is so important all the time, but if it only works when things are sunny….well, what’s the point? I’m not trying to blow sunshine up your ass, and I do not want to downplay the ways that isolation can be a constant trigger for those battling addiction and depression. For some, keeping a roof over your head and fighting for your health and mental well-being has sapped all your energy. These past couple months have sucked in a lot of ways.
But for those who are throwing up their hands because things don’t look the same as last year, or there are obstacles to the business model you put together in January… listen up, cupcake. I’ve seen so many examples of businesses pivoting to pull ahead. And the silver lining for your business is that acting now can really set you apart because your competitors are feeling that same hesitation or even pulling back!
Communication during Covid
A lot of us struggle with promoting our business when others are going through a crisis. You are afraid of sounding sales-y and insensitive by approaching your clients during this time. I have talked to so many business owners who feel pushy trying to make money while people are out of work. What about the people relying on you for a paycheck? A stronger business can only help them.
Also needs to be said: You provide a valuable product or service to your customers. That hasn’t changed. Yes, your message may need to be tweaked, and you may not be sure what to say. That’s ok too. The important thing is that you show up. Remind them you are human, and you are present. Keep up your marketing emails.
Can you offer them something online for free? Maybe if you run a gym, you share a short workout video. Maybe you just offer a laugh or a kind word. If you can maintain the attention and goodwill of your customers during this time, it will translate to sales when they are ready to return to life as normal.
,,,,“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
So many business owners want to bury their heads and wait it out. Don’t put an automated message on your machine and hide. If clients reach out, be available. This extra personalization says, I’m still here. I appreciate you as well as your business, even if things are different right now. Personal connection is so important to building trust when so many are questioning what is safe.
Small business advantage
You’ve heard the many success stories during the pandemic for big businesses that were already in place to support anything and everything for playing and working-from-home (hello, Zoom and Netflix). Some manufacturers were able to pivot from whatever product they made to PPE production, distilleries went from beer to hand sanitizer.
“That’s great, Hell Yes Coaching, but I don’t have a factory at my disposal.”
Here’s the thing, a small business is the perfect environment for new revenue streams because you call the shots! You have a great opportunity to adapt the way you do things without having to fight the red tape that bogs down a bigger company. You can implement changes faster, and you can try something different if you don’t like the result.
You may have to think outside your core business, and this is ok. In fact, right now, it is expected and celebrated. You can decide tomorrow that you’re selling a new product, and no one will bat an eye or think you are doing something weird. A coffee shop near me is now the go-to place to buy masks. My massage parlor was able to open its doors by delivering pain-relief CBD cream to customers. Since shipping from other places was slow, and we are a local, trusted company, we had a great response.
New markets have opened up, especially for products that can be enjoyed in the comfort of home. Fine restaurants have become masters at take out tasting menus and cocktails-to-go. They are selling online cooking lessons.
People hesitate to go to the gym? Embrace it! Offer an online session or rent and deliver small equipment to their homes. Dance and music instructors are teaching online.
The opportunity is to do what you do differently, or find a needed service or product and shift to it…even if it doesn’t necessarily tie into your long-term business goals. It can still tie you to your community. It shows you are still here, and supporting your clients anyway you can.
I love this ,,article that talks about a bakery that already had a delivery service but offered to collaborate with other stores that didn’t offer delivery. By adding other companies to their website, they helped neighboring businesses, brought additional value to their customers, and tapped into a new client base. Amazing.
Embracing the new normal
Another benefit right now is that people have a heightened awareness of small businesses. They know small shops have been hit the hardest these past few weeks, and people want to support you right now so their communities will maintain the local flavor that businesses like yours add. I’m sure you have ordered take out from your favorite restaurant if you were able during quarantine. We don’t want McDonald’s to be the only choice when this is all over! People feel the same way about whatever it is you offer.
I know we’re all eager to get to the other side of this. You know becoming a small business owner requires creativity and resilience. That’s how you built your business in the first place, and now is the time to tap into it again. This is a chance to connect with your customers on a new level as you reach out to check on them and look for ways to serve them. Who knows, you may find a new revenue stream that you decide to keep for the long game. So let’s do this.