Stay-at-home orders may have us all dreaming for adventure, but remember, your business is not quarantined. Many small business owners have begun to think outside the box on how to provide for their customers without crossing social-distancing lines. This pivoting has enabled them to bring in some income during this time, allowing them to survive.
To help you pivot, we’ve compiled a list of ideas and examples of other businesses.
Offer Curbside Pickup or Delivery
Whether you are a local restaurant or a small craft store, you can offer curbside pickup or even delivery. One person in Sydney, Australia closed his juice store, sold his car, bought a van and is now delivering boxes of fresh fruits and veggies. In Colorado Springs, Mountain Shadows Restaurant began offering curbside pickup. Later, they expanded to being on GrubHub and DoorDash for delivery. And Kitsch Boutique in Ghent, Virginia, known for handmade and vintage gifts from over 100 artists, ramped up their offering of DIY craft kits to be shipped out or delivered.
We aren’t suggesting that you give stuff out for free all the time, but think about your community instead. Is there a way that you can see your business helping out somewhere? We are all in this together and many of your customers know that. If you are a restaurant, consider asking for donations to deliver hot meals to healthcare workers (like many NYC restaurants are doing) and first responders or those in need. Not only does giving back to your community make you feel good, but it also brings your community together. It’s also a smart business model. Customers these days like to see that companies are socially involved, whether it’s by donating to a good cause or volunteering. Once you are fully back on your feet after this pandemic, consider keeping charitable works as part of your business model, if it isn’t part of it already.
There are several options for a variety of businesses to take things online.
Online Classes, Workshops and Consultations
Take your workshops or classes online. You can use Facebook Live, webinars and virtual conference tools like Zoom. For example, interior decorator, Barbara Aylesworth, in Vancouver has taken her consultations and project management virtual. She has even done design challenges on her Instagram, inviting people to send in their pictures of their designs as a fun way to engage the community during this hard time. It’s also a great marketing strategy to boot--getting traction now will have customers flocking to you later.
Online Networking for Investment Capital
You can also network online instead of in-person. CEO of Thinker-Tinker, Inc., Yuting Su, was counting on networking with investors at SXSW. So instead, she launched an online equity fundraiser with Netcapital to engage with investors.
Don’t have an online store yet? Now is the time to build one! Barb Skupien, owner of Embellish, a jewelry store in Asheville, North Carolina is now building a website where customers can purchase items online. With sites like Wix and WordPress or even tools from GoDaddy combined with the power ecommerce platforms like Shopify, it’s easy to create your own online store.
From Sales to Development
If you are unable to find creative ways to sell your goods, consider pivoting to development. Perhaps you have some items further down your list that you know have the time to address. This downtime is a great time to tackle those projects. Keko Box, a reusable dishware-as-a-service to food businesses has had all their locations and programs closed and orders canceled. Instead, a small team is now focusing on improving their products and services so they are even better when their customers are ready to get back to business.
With a little ingenuity, you can pivot your business model to keep bringing in income, improving your products or services or even improving customer relations through charitable works and online engagement. Much of these ideas may even help you grow your customer base. You just have to start thinking outside of the box!
Take Your Next Step:
1. List out two things you can do today to innovate your business model.
2. List out two things you can do in the next month to innovate your business. List out what tools or resources you need on your team to make sure you can execute these ideas.