As a business leader, it’s difficult to avoid getting caught up in the increasingly dire reports regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on businesses. While some businesses such as streaming services and teleconferencing platforms are thriving, others in the travel and in-person entertainment industries are feeling the pinch.
Businesses in every state are feeling effects. Millions of workers in America have filed for unemployment since mid-March, and weekly claims show no sign of slowing down soon as businesses deal with changes in supply and demand.
This information is important, of course. You’re operating in unprecedented times, and it’s critical to stay up-to-date on the state of the economy so you can make decisions about how to move your business forward. But it can be disheartening to take in only the tough news without anything to balance it out.
That’s why I’m thrilled to bring you some light in the darkness: stories of five businesses that have successfully altered course to help their clients, fill new needs, and thrive amid uncertainty. These companies have adapted to restrictions and changes necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. Learning from their experiences can help your business come out stronger than ever on the other side of this crisis.
1. CareSignal creates a new service line to provide COVID-19 education.
As organizations across the country began to cancel their 2020 events, team members at scalable remote patient monitoring platform CareSignal realized they wouldn’t be able to attend some of the events that helped fuel their business. But instead of throwing in the towel, they recognized that healthcare facilities faced significant strain and needed a solution.
In just one weekend, the team put together a new service line, COVID Companion, to fill that need. COVID Companion is a text-message based program that helps get location-based outbreak resources as well as CDC guidelines to communities and patients. CareSignal prepared the program to be implemented immediately — for free — at any health system or payer in the United States.
What can your business do to thrive? Assess your customers’ needs, shift your focus toward existing service lines that meet them, and establish new offerings to fill in any gaps.
2. Horderly goes digital to provide virtual services.
Social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions make it virtually impossible for the professional organizers at Horderly to make house calls. Co-owner Fillip Hord said the company lost hundreds of work hours in just a few days. But that doesn’t mean customers don’t need their services. For some, spending all day at home means spending a lot more time wishing a space were better organized.
So Horderly set out to make some changes. Their adjustments included introducing a virtual organizing service with multiple packages to help customers get organized, stay sane, and keep their homes clean.
What can your business do to thrive? Find ways to provide value to your customers through digital platforms when face-to-face meetings aren’t an option.
3. Weird Enough Productions gives customers something for free.
Weird Enough Productions brings empowering stories of diverse characters to schools through performances and comics. With schools closed, the company needed to get creative in order to connect students with their resources.
To help support the teachers suddenly forced to develop virtual lessons for their students to complete from home, Weird Enough Productions made its platform Get Media Lit and accompanying lessons free for educators. The organization also released every issue of one of its comics for free to give students access to its diverse stories.
What can your business do to thrive? Building some goodwill with your customers now can go a long way later. Find a way to give your customers a valuable resource or service for free and stay in touch about opportunities for them to purchase other services later.
4. Piroshky Piroshky expands delivery services and connects with customers.
Olga Sagan, owner of Pike Place Market bakery Piroshky Piroshky, has stepped up to help other business owners in the iconic Seattle market stay afloat. Her bakery already had a delivery service, so she expanded her website and delivery capabilities to include other businesses in the market.
The site started racking up visitors very quickly, and dozens of businesses are on the waiting list to snag a listing on the site. In the spirit of helping out her community, she’s not charging her fellow business owners for participation.
What can your business do to thrive? Get a little help from a friend and give a little help where you can. Collaborate with other small businesses — especially those with offerings that complement yours — to help boost sales for both of you.
5. Tultex redirects apparel production to create face masks.
Apparel brand Tultex has a history of adapting to nationwide needs. During World War II, the company produced garments for the U.S. military. And today, the company has pivoted its production strategy to supply up to 2 million washable face masks per week primarily to professionals in the healthcare industry. Some will even be available to consumers.
“When we heard the countless stories of healthcare professionals working with patients without masks or desperately trying to reuse them, we knew we had to step in and help,” said TSC Apparel CEO Dave Klotter. “Our social responsibility is to work to provide solutions and keep our TSC associates working.”
What can your business do to thrive? If you have the materials and capabilities to do so, design and produce products needed in today’s marketplace.
These businesses offer heartwarming examples of what a dedicated team can do in response to a crisis. Use their stories as inspiration for your company’s next steps. Remind yourself and your team that, with some determination and hard work, you can do great things even when you’re unsure what the future holds. Together, you can do more than survive the coming months. You can thrive.
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