How to Pivot Your Small Business During a Crisis
The last week has been very challenging for many small business owners. In the matter of a few days, our existence and income have been drastically altered. No matter how prepared you were as a business owner, it was impossible to predict this crisis, let alone have a plan in place to pivot your company. Many proprietors are left wondering how they can continue under our new reality.
Besides abrupt changes to living our everyday lives, many of our customers are feeling added stress, anxiety, and worry too. As a small business, it’s hard to imagine it is a good time to continue operations. Yet, our business survival will depend on it. We must pivot our business plans quickly, find opportunities to keep revenue, and take action.
As you reassess your next steps, please don’t just shut down and wait it out. Besides the somber warnings that this crisis may be with us for some time, it is also essential to stay relevant to your customers. You don’t want to lose your best clients to your competition because you shut down entirely, and they did not.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is to keep working. For some, it can be a smooth transition to move meetings, services, and appointments to a digital format. Others will have to be more creative. Here are some out-of-the-box suggestions to consider.
Products Become Your Service
If the circumstances forced your spa or salon to reschedule appointments, think about focusing your efforts on products. Many of your loyal customers may already buy products from you and will be willing to stock up to help you through the next few weeks. Use your website and social media to sell online and ship to customers or sell gift cards for future services.
If you are an events photographer, reach out to past clients and offer print specials from past events or sell gift cards for future sessions. You may also have a personal collection of creative and artistic photos that would make ideal wall art. With so many people at home right now, it may be a great way to offer something to spruce up the house.
Provide a Delightful Distraction
Physical fitness provides stress relief for a lot of people. For many in the fitness industry whose business relies on classes and one on one interactions, the sudden shift in format is daunting. But it is also an opportunity. Free classes online are a great way to get exposure to new prospects, but you can also provide revenue-generating memberships to a closed Facebook group. Or make a “no equipment necessary” work out series to download for a fee. Experiment with group class offerings on Facebook Live.
As an entrepreneur and expert in your field, think about sharing your skills with others through how-to videos. Videos are a great way to entertain and connect with clients who are looking to fill free time, stay connected, and ward off boredom and the blues.
Help Your Clients Stay Connected
With most people focused on essentials and toilet paper right now, it can be challenging to find a sales angle for boutiques, gift shops, and florists. Why not provide an online shopping experience by moving your most popular merchandise to your website, Facebook, or Instagram page.
With event cancellations, people have extra time on their hands. An online shopping experience is a relaxing and comforting ritual for many. Facebook Live can offer a unique experience for shoppers to browse boutique clothes, gifts, home goods, and more while interacting with brands digitally.
Offer care packages. Many people are feeling isolated and vulnerable right now, especially those with family members at high risk. Prepare merchandise packages that offer comfort. Scented candles, home goods, chocolate, and flowers can be a welcome surprise and provide beauty and support. It’s a great way to lift spirits and keep revenue flowing.
Exceptional Customer Service
All businesses can go the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service, especially in a time of need. Can your company deliver to a customer’s doorstep? Provide online or phone support instead of an in-person visit? Can you offer a portion of your services for free or at a reduced rate for a time? Generally speaking, it does not cost anything to the company to give an amazing experience but it will have a positive impact on clients and inspire loyalty now and in the future.
While our revenue goals for the week, month, and possibly the year, have been drastically altered, it is critical for small businesses everywhere to get creative with their offerings. Creativity and exceptional customer service may be the keys we all need to see ourselves, employees, and our businesses through the coming weeks and months.