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Pivoting in the time of Corona

Five steps to small business survival through the pandemic and beyond


If I had a nickel for every time I hear the word unprecedented... And if I had a dime for every time I hear the word pivot...Every marketing advice column is saying "Pivot now!" But what does it actually mean for a small business to pivot in unprecedented times? Be nimble? Of course. Get saavy? For sure. Reinvent? Maybe!

To me, a true pivot is not only a change in business strategy; It requires adapting a whole new mindset and attitude. This list will help small businesses survive, which is really the keyword these days, isn't it?

1. It's time to think differently.

It's natural to be nervous, skeptical, even self-doubt, during these challenging times. But rather than focusing on the risks, consider the opportunities. Think: What can I offer to cheer and help my customers and community? Everyone is on edge and fatigued... doing too much, while also doing too little. Everyone is seeking a solution. The ideas will start to flow. Jot down every new idea. Be bold. Do not let operational challenges cloud a brainstorm. You'll work through those later. This is a rare chance: normally, you have to compete for customers' attention. Right now, your customers are needing, wanting, craving something from you!

2. It's time to measure differently.

Under normal circumstances, you'll want to measure this year's success against last year's to make sure your business is growing. Not anymore. 2019's "killing it!" (client's term) is not 2020's "killing it!". Comparing this year to previous years will only hold you back from embracing the opportunity in front of you, and that is the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives now.

3. It's time to plan differently.

Under normal circumstances, I encourage clients to commit to a few tactics (or products) and get excellent at it. Own it. Now though, is the time to try all the good ideas and see what sticks. New product? Yes please! New service? Double yeah! We don't know what the new normal will be, or when that will be. Anything that you try now will lead to lessons that'll prove valuable for the months ahead. Customers are extremely forgiving right now; there's truly no better time to embrace innovation.

Test. Learn. Adjust. Repeat.

Not to mention any money you can make now will help to offset the reduced income you will likely be facing this overall year.

4. It's time to be online.

There is honestly no good reason for any business to not have an online presence in 2020, but this is definitely the year you don't want to be without a website. At the very least, every business should have a website for three simple purposes: for branding, to be found geographically (very important for search engines), and so customers can contact you (hours of operation, email address and phone number). This year, you'll want a robust website that can handle e-commerce: gift cards, online purchases or online orders. No shop is too quaint for e-commerce! That is a matter of branding.

Before you auto-default to Squarespace to build your website yourself, know that there are many other options out there. Some are designed for e-commerce, while others are designed for hospitality. It's important to choose the right tool to fit your current needs, but also to grow with your 3-5 year plan. And if your website is 5+ years old, it's time for a refresh.

5. It's time to believe in marketing.

Posting to Instagram and Facebook is not marketing. When you post to your social media channels, you're only broadcasting to people who already know and like your brand. Preaching to the converted, as the saying goes. And because of the algorithms, your organic content is only being shown to approximately 3% of your followers. Marketing is about expanding your reach so that new people discover your brand. No matter what the circumstance, you always want to be increasing your customer base. This is more important now than ever before.

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About half of small-business owners say they cannot survive for more than two months under current business conditions, according to the Washington Post.

The key to winning is speed. The faster you can adapt, the higher your chances of survival.

If you need help with any of the above, please don't hesitate to contact me. We all have a responsibility to not only stay healthy, but also to keep this economy going. Your success is everyone's success, and I'm happy to help!