How to Turn Challenging Times into OpportunitiesPat Fontana
Many small business owners are struggling with what to do to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is, it is possible to turn challenging times into opportunities that will enable the business to continue operating and to succeed. The shift may require a change in the direction of the business or other creative moves, but small businesses can thrive in difficult times.
Pivot the Business Model
With the COVID-19 restrictions in place, particularly early in the crisis, brick and mortar businesses found that they had to significantly shift their business model and turn to providing services or products virtually. Businesses that depended on foot traffic began selling online. Restaurants that were primarily known for their dine-in environment shifted to providing takeout orders.
A pivot is not necessarily an entirely new direction. It may only require a small shift in the types of services or products you offer or in your delivery method. It may mean that you promote your business in a different way, perhaps even to a different target market. The key is to be flexible and realistic.
Solve a New Problem
How do you know where to pivot and how to shift directions so that you can turn challenging times into opportunities? Examine your client base carefully. What are their current needs? Your customers have changed their priorities a bit now as well, so you have an opportunity to meet them in their new space.
Ask yourself – and your clients – what do people need most right now? Can your business adjust so that you are able to fill that need? Some big companies are shifting gears considerably to fill the new needs of their customers. For example, cosmetics manufacturer LVMH, which owns luxury perfume and makeup brands, switched to making hand sanitizer, leveraging their expertise and production capabilities. Large clothing manufacturers such as Gap, Nike, Zara, and Brooks Brothers, are using their factories to make masks, gowns, and scrubs.
As a small business owner, you have even more flexibility to adjust the services or products you deliver to be able to solve the new problems that have arisen with the pandemic. Other business owners as well as individuals are facing new challenges themselves. Determine how you can help them in a way that will enable your business to survive and even to succeed.
One of the most important aspects of being able to turn challenging times into opportunities for your small business is to continue to communicate with customers and anyone who might be a target customer for your pivoted business. Just as the business world has shifted virtually, so should your communications strategies. You want your customers to know that you have not gone dark, that you are still a successful business and will continue to be there for them.
Emails, blog posts, newsletters (sent virtually), and social media posts are all effective ways to reach out to your target market to let them know you are still in business and, in fact, that you have new offerings or a new way to provide your offerings. It will be even more effective to provide information and guidance in these communications pieces, so they are not purely sales pitches. Show empathy for your customers’ situations and share ways in which you have pivoted your business to meet their new needs.
You can continue networking throughout the pandemic, it will just look a little different. Most networking groups have adjusted to virtual meetings via video chats. You can also use the technology for one-on-one meetings with clients, to conduct business or just to keep in touch. If you would have asked a new contact to meet for coffee previously, invite them to a virtual coffee. Stay in touch and talk about the ways you have found to turn challenging times into opportunities.
Plan and Remain Flexible
Create a plan for your business pivot that will sustain you beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Most refer to the environment we are in now as the “new normal” and it may very well remain the normal for some time. Remain flexible, though, testing new services and products or new delivery methods to determine which makes the most sense for your customers and for the continued success of your business.
CLEAR VIEW BUSINESS SOLUTIONS HELP SMALL BUSINESSES DURING COVID-19
At Clear View, we help you plan for success. We work with entrepreneurs, independent consultants, and solo-preneurs to help you become more profitable, even during challenging times. Learn more about how we can help you and your business by contacting Clear View Business Solutions to speak to our team about our services. Give us a call at (520) 544-0177.