For the majority of us, in Canada and the United States at least, it’s now been over a month since we experienced a huge upheaval in our day to day lives due to COVID-19 and social distancing. Our personal and our professional lives were changed significantly and suddenly; we had to learn how to survive. We figured out what immediate steps to take next in order to keep going, in some cases to quite literally keep our business’ doors open and keep food on our family table. While in many ways we’ve already begun to adapt over the last month (we’ll call this Stage 1: Surviving) that does not mean that the hard work is over.

Now is the time as entrepreneurs to enter Stage Two: Adjusting to the short term reality. There is opportunity to be found in this crisis for those who are open to it. However, not every business has the ability to adapt to remote work and shift to serving customers digitally without some major changes taking place. That’s where pivoting your business comes into play, so that you can find those opportunities that reflect the new ways in which your customers are looking to be served.

Last week on our Online Group Peer Resource call we heard from Ryan Kononoff, Founder & CEO of Clearbridge. Ryan shared with us three inspiring stories from his podcast, Entrepreneurs vs. Coronavirus, of small business owners who have made the moves to pivot their businesses, allowing them to stay operational, at least for the time being.

  • Jordan is in the entertainment industry and has lost a lot. He’s been forced to lay off his entire staff and find ways to pay the bills, including rent and debt obligations. He went from 50 phone calls a day to 0 in a week. But Jordan saw an amazing opportunity to work on his own business. He’s keeping busy creating content, updating his marketing strategies, and making use of government funding and borrowing opportunities. In the long term, Jordan is going to be back in the thick of things with a solid plan and the campaigns ready to back him up, provide value to his customers and prospects and bring in more revenue.
  • Parker runs an online learning management business, and was arguably well positioned to take his operations fully digital. So where’s the need to pivot for Parker’s business, in a time when entire organizations are transitioning to online learning? Well, customers don’t have the budget they once did, so Parker is working to make changes to his product offerings to better match the economy and allow his business to really thrive.
  • Heather’s story is one of survival. As a healthcare professional with numerous small neurological rehabilitation clinics, she was forced to pivot in a way that was unheard of for her industry. Finding the services that could be provided virtually was key to opening up her “new location” which is a digital clinic. Her digital clinic allowed her to regain 5% of the huge amount of revenue she had lost by closing her physical locations. 5% doesn’t seem like much, but combined with an aggressive borrowing and acquisition strategy it’s allowing her to survive today so she can thrive tomorrow.

These three stories Ryan shared are all true stories from real people going through real struggles. The common factor between them? Being positive and open to opportunities instead of allowing themselves to get bogged down by the immense amount of negativity that’s surrounding each of us right now. Find the space your business can pivot to by adjusting your services, your pricing, and continuing to find ways to add value to your customers in the midst of their new normal. If your business offers products and services with high ticket prices, think about if you’re able to chunk those out into smaller offerings with more palatable prices given your customers’ current budgets. And don’t forget about your own expenses vs investments. Rethink things like catered lunches, excessive deliveries, home gardening services, and the like. Supporting small local businesses is one thing, breaking your bank to keep them in business while you suffer is another. Invest in the areas that will give you a return and allow you and your business to enter what we’ll call Stage 3: Adjusting to a longer term reality. More on Stage 3 in the coming weeks!

To sum up, Ryan shared a great quote with us from Simon Sinek: “Are you playing a finite or an infinite game?” I encourage you to think about that with every dollar that leaves your bank account, and every strategic move that you make. Make decisions that allow you to survive today, and thrive tomorrow, because like it or not, we’re all in this for the long haul.
To hear more detail from Ryan’s three stories, and to listen in on some great discussion surrounding pivoting our businesses to serve the current economy, please register for the Online Group Peer Resource Centre. Registration grants you instant access to the meeting replays and any resources that were shared during our sessions.