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How to Stay in Business During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Flexible strategies to help your business boom while customers are staying home

By Matt CatesPublished 4 years ago 4 min read

Around the world, businesses are dealing with a unique challenge - how to stay open when customers aren't coming in. Many of these businesses are struggling to make ends meet, laying off or firing workers, or looking down the barrel of bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, some companies are doing better than ever.

How is that possible? Why are some flourishing while other flounder? In part, it's because of the nature of the business itself. But it also has to do with how flexible those businesses are willing to be! In other words, how willing they are to adapt and overcome instead of throwing in the towel because they can't (or won't) change their model.

Business models that work during COVID-19

With everybody being told to stay home, services like Netflix are seeing a major spike in viewership. But most of us aren't operating global media streaming services, are we? Amazon is doing quite well, too, since more people are ordering goods instead of driving to stores.

Now that's an example you might be able to copy!

If you sell a physical product, are you able to deliver it directly to customers through the mail or a package delivery service?

If so, let those customers know. Get the word out through email, direct mailings, local advertisements, social media, and storefront signage. Don't sit and dwell on it, go do it!

If you sell a product that needs to be delivered the same day, contact a local delivery service to ask about their rates. And spend some time updating your website, if you have one. If you don't have a website listing your products, why not? Customers may not be able to visit your store in person, but that doesn't have to stop you from selling your products to them.

Many restaurant franchises have started putting their focus on take-out and delivery, but a few, like Subway and Panera Bread, are going a step further. They now sell other grocery items, besides just what's on their menu, to help rack up those small sales by making it convenient for customers to snag a few groceries while they're ordering their breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

You might not want to invest in more inventory right now, but if there is an opportunity to add extra items to what you normally sell, then brainstorm some options. Why not add some hand sanitizers or masks to your catalog, if you can find them?

What if you don't sell a physical product?

Many services can still be delivered from a distance! Increasingly, doctors are seeing patients via telehealth options. Many HR Block locations are taking drop-off taxes and communicating with customers over the phone. Meanwhile, almost all types of meetings are happening online, thanks for Zoom, Webex, and other online platforms. Can your service be offering online, too? If so, get the message out to your customers by any means necessary.

How about services that can't be performed from a distance? Is there any way to adapt so they can be?

This doesn't just apply to services going to customers, but also services provided by your workers to you as a business owner. Employers, of course, prefer workers be at their desks, but that isn't always cost effective or safe right now. Is there any way they can do their job remotely from home? Increasingly, the answer is becoming a "YES" because businesses can't afford to lose a valued employee, but also cannot run the risk of them getting infected by COVID-19 if they work in a high-traffic area.

If you operate a business and feel caught between a rock and a hard place, try to find a work-at-home solution for your employees. And get them involved in the process of generating ideas to offer your company's services to customers from afar. If you go out of business, your workers have to find new jobs. Nothing inspires creativity like getting to keep your job, so ask for their help to keep the ship afloat. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Stay flexible and don't give up!

There is no telling how long this virus plans to disrupt our routines. It continues to adapt and surprise us. We have to do the same, and not let a temporary setback destroy everything we've worked so hard to achieve.

"Flexibility is the key to Air Power."

During my years in the Air Force, I often heard the motto, "Flexibility is the key to Air Power." In fact, flexibility is the key to our economy's survival, too. Customers have to learn new ways to procure the products and services they want and need. Businesses must intersect with those customers where they can.

Here's another motto to consider--"Necessity is the mother of invention."

If you run a business, you're an entrepreneur. As such, it's up to you to get creative, to keep your head up and find innovative ways to stay open and stay profitable. This isn't the time for getting down and depressed; it's the time to tackle a massive new challenge that might redefine the way you do business for the next few months or even years. It might even alter things forever.

Whether that is good or bad largely depends on us.


About the Creator

Matt Cates

Freelance writer and owner of Cates Content and Copywriting; retired Air Force Veteran; former administrative assistant at Oregon State University; author of Haveck: The First Transhuman, the greatest sci-fi novel in the multiverse.

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