If necessity is the mother of invention, then this pandemic might become the grandmother of the business landscape for years to come. As the pandemic and its resulting disruptions wreak havoc on the economy, businesses have closed down, 30 million Americans are now out of work because of mass layoffs, and the government on both the federal and local level is scrambling to staunch the bleeding with stimulus packages and relief for citizens.
Sink or Swim
While business has always been a volatile, sink-or-swim environment, companies are now trying to stay afloat in the middle of a storm. As of early May, the Washington Post reported that 100,000 businesses in the U.S. had closed down. A study of small businesses during the pandemic found that your typical small business that has expenses of over $10,000 a month has only enough cash reserves to cover two weeks’ worth of operational costs. With projections of this crisis lasting 18 to 24 months, these small businesses are facing the prospect of closure.
The crisis has underscored the need to be flexible and adaptable to the situation. Here are some adaptations from some small companies all over the world that have made some changes necessary to survive, if not thrive:
Box Mind: Fitness Anywhere
London-based Box Mind began as a successful business that specialized in bringing fitness classes to offices, event venues, and hotels. Now, it offers online fitness classes in response to people’s need to stay fit even while sheltering in place and serving businesses by positioning their brand as a way to keep employees healthy and motivated while they work from home.
Joan Fabrics: Crafting for Safety
Joann Fabrics sells fabric and craft supplies in Ohio. Despite the growing demand from parents who are trying to keep their kids busy and crafters stuck at home, many similar businesses have closed down. To pivot around these customer needs, Joann Fabrics adapted by instituting a curbside pickup program and doing craft projects out of face masks for families.
The Barn: Community, Coffee, and Charity
To show solidarity with the healthcare frontliners during the outbreak, The Barn, a coffee roastery in Berlin, gave customers the opportunity to order coffee for hospitals in the area, adding a community-building aspect to their business. They’ve also made subscription services and bundles of beans for coffee enthusiasts so that they can brew their own coffee from home.
Honey Brook Organic Farm: Health at your Doorstep
With social distancing measures making farmer’s markets impossible, New Jersey-based Honey Brook Organic Farm switched to an online market and home delivery model to send organic fresh vegetables, eggs and meat to their customers.
The pattern here is easy to see. It’s all about being able to adapt. The businesses that have been able to adapt show:
- An online component that allows c
- ustomers to find, interact, and purchase from them online
- Remote, delivery, or pickup services that bring your business to the customer
- Understanding the rapidly changing needs of your customers and pivoting your operations around that, even if it means dramatically changing your core concept.
There are technological solutions for these—tech companies have been advocating online solutions for years. From shifting your business to an eCommerce model to realign your product lines to improving your marketing, sales, and support operations online with tools such as productivity monitoring apps and social media recruitment management software, there is an opportunity now not just for survival but also growth.