The COVID-19 pandemic has stirred up the business world like no other in recent times. It has disrupted business as usual and even caused some businesses to come to a complete halt. Some business owners, rather than ceasing all operations, have chosen to pivot their business in a new direction. And these pivots have been creative and innovative. At the end of the day, they have been fascinating to watch as business owners choose resilience over defeat.
A large but not completely uncharted pivot was for food establishments to switch to take out and delivery options. Changing over to these operations did require some creativity as many establishments developed family meals and had to enlist staff that was able to deliver food across town rather than across the dining room. Hair salons transitioned by mixing color treatments and delivering them to clients who want to do their own hair. They have also uploaded instructional videos to help their clients with simple haircuts or root treatments until they can get back in the salon.
Other notable pivots:
- Retail shops have offered video shopping--literally getting on a video call and walking around the shop for the customer to browse.
- Fitness instructors are offering video playtime with kids to burn off their energy.
- Cleaning companies are offering disinfecting/sanitation services to commercial buildings.
- Bars are offering virtual happy hours and game nights
- Hotels offering their rooms for daily office rentals while the WHOLE family is at home
- Fitness centers renting out equipment such as weights
Still other businesses were able to make pivots that will change their business for the future. For example, now that you are online, you can take clients from anywhere in the world! Even when you go back to delivering services in person, you can continue to offer online services beyond your geographic scope. Small businesses have expanded their website and delivery capabilities. Shara Tathan of Simplistic Home, a small boutique, started grouping products together and posting them on Instagram with a price. People purchase by commenting. It turns out they are grouping products because that is how their customers typically buy in the shop. They put together products to make a gift set for someone in their life. Now, because of COVID, customers are asking the shop to do it for them. “We’ve become like a flower shop, where you order a bouquet, type in a note, and the shop puts it together and delivers it to the recipient directly,” said owner Shara Tatham. Customers have been asking them to write the note and ship the gift directly to the recipient. Tatham said, “I love providing joy to somebody. Doing this for our customers--handwriting notes and putting a gift set together--makes me feel joy too.”
Some businesses have begun targeting a different type of client. Maybe now is the time to consider corporate, government agencies, or small businesses as a new type of client. Adjust your services to meet their needs and go forward. Stability can come in contracts with larger companies with more cash and stability. I have heard of small businesses shifting their focus to government and military contracts during this time.
Now is certainly the time to utilize the Internet. Spend writing an ebook that teaches your services. Create an online class or webinar. Offer a COVID-specific product (think face masks or HR services). Gift cards. Tatham said, “This has been a goal for about a year, to get more active on social media. COVID-19 has forced me to focus on my website and social media.” She has been taking lots of webinars, learning about how to merge platforms, etc. “It has been growing my brain, too,” she said.
A key thing to remember is that you do not have to pivot alone. Partnerships can help you get it done faster as we discussed in our blog on partnerships a couple of weeks ago. Partner with another business and offer a new service together. Partnerships can happen in other ways too. Many of our clients view their Freedom Maker as a partner. A virtual assistant can help get a lot of the work done to make a pivot happen quickly. Many hands make light work!
COVID-19 has forced some business owners to step out of the box. They have asked themselves: How could people use my services now? Think of ways you have interacted with clients in the past and find ways to take that online. While we are all hoping to get back to normal sooner than later, these opportunities to pivot can be long lasting. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Let your creative juices loose!