Amid the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, there have also been moments of brightness. Citizens making music together from their balconies in Italy. People braving the supermarket to buy staples for elderly neighbors. Athletes donating money to hourly workers and staff whose jobs are in limbo.
Among the bright spots are the inspiring ways small businesses are getting creative to keep offering their goods and services. Restaurants offering curbside pickup, fitness centers hosting virtual workout classes, and local retailers delivering purchases. Here are a few more ideas for small businesses looking for alternative sales avenues.
1. Reinvent your business
If you’re a craft brewery like Sydney’s One Drop, you probably never thought you’d be in the hand sanitiser business. And yet, that’s what dozens of breweries like One Drop are doing. It’s a great lesson in creative thinking when facing business constraints.
Look around your space and reimagine what it could be. Maybe you can turn your kitchen into a community kitchen and focus on food delivery to the elderly. Or turn your restaurant into some other kind of food business, like Attica Melbourne turned into a bakery virtually overnight, or do grocery baskets. Or perhaps you can clear a space to sew masks for healthcare workers. Some of these efforts might go unpaid, but doing good work builds a positive reputation. And it’s possible some of the people you help now become your best customers later.
If you’re at a loss for ideas, reach out to the people who know your business best. You can still meet an employee over a video conference for a coffee and a brainstorm, even if you can’t meet in person.
2. Connect with clients virtually
Service-based businesses, in particular, may find it challenging to stay open while social distancing. But take a cue from the healthcare field: It’s been adapting a digital model for years. Telehealth connects patients with healthcare professionals by holding video consultations and monitoring well-being remotely. Telehealth services include mental health services, occupational therapy, and medical consultations.
When in doubt, think like a doctor. What services could you offer via video chat, livestream, or phone? There are plenty of ways businesses can adapt their services to virtual offerings.
3. Consider (or reconsider) e-commerce
Maybe you’ve tried selling inventory online, or perhaps the thought of opening an online store is new. Don’t think about selling your products online as a way out of financial hardship right now. Think of online sales as a chance to build out an additional revenue stream that will serve your business for years to come. Check out these tips for online businesses and how to use social media like Pinterest.
4. Host your own planning retreat
Not everyone can keep their doors wide open during coronavirus.
If your business can’t keep its doors open, use this time to think about how to grow and pivot your business. Many business owners wish they had time to think about marketing or evolve their business plan. But normally, they’re too busy to do so. Now is your chance to make plans for the coming year.
5. Take some inspiration from others
Business owners across the country, and around the world, are experiencing the same challenges. The good news is a lot of them are sharing whatever secrets they find for moving forward during this time. Keep communication channels open and use social media to see how others are responding. You might even participate in online forums to find more options, then adapt your business as you can.
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