Take a walk outside and you’ll see that once-bustling establishments are now eerily quiet and abandoned. But, in the online world, some major discussions are taking place.
The challenges faced by workers around the world has become a new front in the war against COVID-19. While the date of when life will resume back to normal is still up in the air, most global companies have never dealt with this scale of disruption before.
We reached out to 59 business owners across countries and industries and asked them to share how the novel coronavirus has impacted their operations thus far and what they’re doing to help their workforce thrive during these uncertain times.
Here’s what they had to say:
Adjusting to Growing Demands with a Flexible Supply Chain
Andreas Velling, Mechanical Engineer at Fractory, United Kingdom
“We’ve seen more new customers pouring in because the usual supply chains in the manufacturing industry are largely broken. People are looking for alternative ways or getting their parts manufactured.
We fit in nicely because we have a large network of manufacturing partners. So even if there are companies in the network who cannot make anything at the moment, we are aware of the situation. Thus, we can still guarantee short lead times in the current circumstances.
People seeking new alternatives in a largely unchanged industry have pretty much given us a push because the old stances on ‘we need to know you to trust you’ have been swept aside. The main goal is to keep the production lines running and the clients happy, and our business has been one to help the engineers with that.”
Taking Operations Virtual
William Taylor, Career Development Manager at VelvetJobs, USA
“We are shifting our operations online and are training our employees on how to use remote work tech tools. Our colleagues who have used Slack and Zoom in the past are setting up tutorials on how to use these tools and what their functionality is like so that others can learn from them.
Plus, we are restructuring the organizational processes for how communication happens, how socialization happens, and how coordination happens. In a short time, it’s not possible to do everything. So we are focusing on one thing at a time.”
A New Way to Learn
Cindra McCoy, Founder of Guide Dots, LLC, USA
“Due to the virus, we are closed until further notice. We were lucky enough to already have been working on a one-of-a-kind art subscription box and online curriculum for children. While we have a website in place, we are working to send out kits immediately in response to the school closures and quarantines.
The most helpful thing has been the support of our local community, who have been customers of brick and mortar for years. Their shares, comments, and reviews have been integral in spreading the creativity. Creativity is contagious!”
Coping with Rising Demand and Uncertainty
Brandon Mathews, CEO of Stonestep AG, Switzerland
“Coronavirus has pushed demand through the roof but threatens to pull the rug out from under us on supply.
We integrate mobile operators and mobile wallets to sell insurance in tiny daily increments in places like Nepal and Myanmar. The world suddenly understands why insurance exists. Insurers want more data, but nonetheless are responsive.
We are working to roll out pure assistance bundled with telemedicine. Insurance claims payments are valuable, but so too is the expert advice that claims professionals provide during a crisis. We’re working hard to launch these right now.”
Helping a Remote Workforce Thrive Online
Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart HR, USA
“We’ve always been a remote, online company but the coronavirus has caused us to really lean in and educate newly remote companies on how to thrive online. We’ve offered free options on some of our courses that help employers build a coronavirus response plan and we’ve been mentoring our customers on how best to make the switch from LAN to Wifi.
It’s also been a great opportunity to serve our community by jumping on workforce podcasts and writing articles for industry newspapers. The exposure helps us build goodwill and open us to a larger customer base. I’m excited to see the results!”
Connecting Fans with their Teams
Shachar Shamir, VP of Marketing at Pico, Israel
“With entire seasons canceled, we have completely changed our messaging and outreach as the need for fan engagement and new content is greater than ever.
We know fans, sports teams, and sponsors have taken a huge hit and we wanted to help. We’re offering our service for free so that teams can stay connected with their fans during difficult times, help frustrated sponsors, while also being able to meet their business goals.”
Keeping Workforce Safe and Customers Happy
Javi Fondevila, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Holded, Spain
“We’ve gone 100% remote for a week now to protect our employees from any unnecessary risks.
The biggest change we’ve made to our business is the way in which we communicate with our customers. SMBs are worried about their businesses and the uncertain future — so that means that we have to keep them updated with live news on what grants are out there.
We’re taking more calls and offering customers upgrades. If someone needs extra seats for their team, that’s on us to help them out.
Finally, I want to say that we’re changing the way we market our product. We’re an all-in-one solution. But for now, the main selling point is that everything is on the Cloud.”
Utilizing Online Communication Tools
Gregory Golinski, Head of Digital Marketing at YourParkingSpace, United Kingdom
“We went from 5% of our workforce working from home before the pandemic to 100% working from home.
Everybody adapted very quickly. We use Zoom, Slack, Whatsapp, email and phone calls to communicate, and so far everything is going well.
We know we can trust our employees to do their best in these tough times.”
Jeremy Schaller, Industry Analyst and PR Manager at Exit Technologies, USA
“We’ve lent much of our servers’ computing power to foldingathome.com to help scientists understand Covid-19 proteins.
On the marketing side, I’ve allocated more budget to the fewer shutdown areas. We’ve also enabled remote access to many of our machines in processing and management. Unfortunately on the logistics side of my company, the pandemic has slowed things down.”
Amping Up Sales and Marketing Efforts
Steve Levine, President, and CEO of AtmosAir Solutions, USA
“Coronavirus is impacting big and small companies from Wall Street to Main Street. We’re experiencing a sizable increase in calls, e-mails, interest, and new orders for our patented bipolar ionization indoor air quality technology. We’ve stepped up our sales and marketing force to meet this increased interest.
Our devices, which fit into HVAC systems, continually neutralize coronavirus in the air and on surfaces in office buildings, hospitals, colleges, and sports stadiums and arenas. While our technology is not THE answer to coronavirus, it is a solution for helping contain its spread. Thus, the new increased interest in our product and business.”
Strengthening Focus on Marketing
David Reischer, Attorney and CEO of ProBono.LegalAdvice.com, USA
“Our business strategy has transitioned from meeting our clients in the physical office to marketing our legal services online. Our marketing efforts and strategic objectives have flipped 180 degrees since the coronavirus now forces clients to obtain legal services online. We will continue to push our online legal product for the foreseeable future.”
Coping with Cancellations
Liam Smith, Owner of Liam Smith Photography, United Kingdom
“As a wedding photographer, times are tough. Clients are rescheduling until 2021, which means big financial losses.
The biggest change I’ve made is maximizing the time I spend in isolation and turning all of my blog posts into videos and podcasts. To generate revenue in the short term, I’m selling vouchers for future shoots.
The strategy is to think long term, so when it all calms down, my marketing will be on point and the business in a prime position to capitalize.”
Planning Ahead at Home and Abroad
Will Hatton, Founder of The Broke Backpacker, United Kingdom
“We’ve preempted the cancellations that we believed were incoming and emailed all our customers who had booked upcoming trips, especially to Europe and the USA. We offered to postpone the trips indefinitely and hold the funds in escrow. This helps avoid a high number of cancellations, and if/when the travel industry resumes normal business, they can rebook. If we didn’t do this, we would have had a high amount of cancellations and there is no sure-fire way to ensure they rebook with us, and not some other agency when travel has been given the all-clear again.”
Ensuring the Health and Safety of Workers
Mike Richards, Founder of The Golf Einstein, USA
“Despite already managing a remote team, I must admit that the coronavirus outbreak has led us to make a few adjustments to our business operations. For one, we’re more cautious with work hours and have taken no overtime hours ever since the outbreak. We’ve also implemented flexible work hours making it easier for our team members to relax and do work in their preferred time. Though these changes in time and hours have delayed content uploads, it’s a risk we’re willing to take for the sake of our health and wellbeing.”
Helping Other Companies Go Remote
Dustin Vann, Owner, and CEO of Trusy Social, USA
“Being a social agency we have had no problems in going fully remote with our staff. However, a lot of our clients don’t have much experience in having remote staff.
But most people, even the digitally-adverse, will have WhatsApp on their phone. Getting companies to set up a departmental team and HR groups on their phone will allow all employees to keep communication consistent and relevant about both work and the coronavirus situation.”
Positive Impact on Storage Industry
Carmelo Mannino, CEO, and Founder of STOW IT, USA
“I think our business has been a bit unique in the wake of the coronavirus in that it has helped us.
We have seen our customers tell us that they need to stay additional months or new customers calling because they are not going to be traveling this summer and need storage. We have many customers that store RVs and boats.
These individuals are not going to be traveling or having many lake days for the foreseeable future. This means they need storage or they need to extend the storage they currently have with us. As a company, we have gone fully remote and we have stopped all in-person meetings and traveling.”
Pandemic Reveals Benefits of Diversifying Income
Rubeena Ianigro, Owner of The Gray Muse, USA
“Our shop just reached its one year mark. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it delayed my restock and new release by more than a month, which impacted my revenue.
I’ve been meaning to coach and teach people about building their brands on Instagram as a result of my own success. I launched my coaching services last month, I started teaching webinars on Zoom, and finished my first eBook. What this crisis reminded me is that most successful people have multiple sources of income.”
Prioritizing Safety of a New Workforce
Rima Shah, Executive at Technostacks, India
“Businesses have gone more virtual focusing on remote working. Tools like
TeamViewe, Zoom, Basecamp, and Slack are the work defense for better productivity amid health safety. Work must go on but ensure security protection, prefer email encryption and avoid shared computers. Avoid leaving laptops, mobile in places accessible to others.
Businesses should balance the health of the organization as well as ensure efficient work front activities by providing work from home, sick leaves, and motivating them on an online platform like https://wooboard.com/ for a healthy culture.
For self-defense, practice social distancing, emphasize cleanliness and sanitization, divide family and work time, and avoid panic.”
Offering Free Services to Offset Hit to Hospitality Industry
Beth Lawrence, Owner of Beth Lawrence Meetings & Events, USA
“I’ve changed my event planning business to offer virtual consulting for those who would like to move their meeting(s) and event(s) online, free, virtual co-working hours while we are self-quarantining, and virtual personal branding services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and those starting out in the workforce.
I’ve changed my business with co-founder Nicole Morgenstern to offer free, virtual consultations for restaurant owners this week and next, and discounted marketing services for the rest of the year for those who wish to sign up for our annual membership. The hospitality world is taking a harder hit than many other industries, so we want to do our part to give back.”
Spike in Support Calls with Increase in Remote Work
Sanjeeth Kumar, CMO of Exotel, India
“In the last few weeks, we’ve seen increasing interest from customers inquiring about our remote call center products. As more companies are moving their operations remotely, there’s a major struggle when it comes to managing support calls.
In most cases, companies have an on-prem setup which can’t be handled remotely. To make the most out of this situation we’re running different campaigns to promote our virtual call center product.”
Making Offline Activities Translate Online
Lisa Natcharian, Founder of The Storyteller’s Cottage, USA
“We normally offer in-person literary-themed events, escape rooms, and classes. We’ve closed and are designing new online activities, including virtual storytelling on Facebook Live, virtual book clubs on Goodreads, virtual writing classes via Zoom, virtual crafting classes via YouTube, and online workshops on designing your own escape rooms at home.
We’re also strengthening our online community by increasing our interactive social media posts, and offering free live performances on social media, including a meditative harp concert and a magician telling uplifting stories while performing tricks.”
Encouraging Shoppers to Buy Online Instead
Jeff Moriarty, Owner of Moriart’s Gem Art, USA
“Being a small jewelry business on main street, with all the businesses shutting down, foot traffic has dropped by 75%. We have begun pushing people locally to buy online through our ecommerce website. We are advertising more through emails and SMS, which is helping too. We don’t expect to be back at 100%, but if more people continue to buy online and get items shipped to them, we should be able to weather the storm.”
Empowering Businesses to Better Communicate with their Remote Workforce
Pat Scheckel, VP of Product Management and Marketing at Singlewire Software, USA
“As a software company that offers mass notification solutions, we have noticed many companies coming to us realizing they have no way to reach their employees when they work remotely. This has led us to put more emphasis on the mobile capabilities of our mass notification software so companies can deliver consistent messages via SMS text, email, and desktop notifications to their employees while they work remotely. We’ve developed new online marketing programs to let companies and other organizations know they can get up and running quickly using our product so they can maintain communication with their workforce.”
Putting Technology to the Test
Tracey Welson-Rossman, CMO of Chariot Solutions, USA
“Amid concerns for the COVID-19 virus, Chariot Solutions moved our annual conference, Philly Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise (ETE), The Mid-Atlantic’s Premier Developer’s Conference live-online for 2020. As a conference for technologists, moving the event to the digital world is a natural evolution and our team is excited to put tech to the test. We hope to set an example for other events in the area, and beyond, as precautions are taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. By using HeySummit and Zoom Webinar to facilitate the virtual live Helping Businesses Stay Connected
Brian Buck, CEO of Scotwork North America, USA
“If you are not equipped to negotiate in a virtual world, the impact on your bottom line will reach beyond today’s crisis.
Scotwork has launched a virtual negotiation-skills course. Scotwork helps clients gain valuable deals, resolve conflicts faster, and create a dealmaking culture that produces results. Now, they are helping them do all of that remotely.
While the class is virtual, the advice is real. Their negotiators will help your team learn critical dealmaking skills from their remote workspace, anywhere in the world. Participants are live and connected in an engaging online environment. All they need is a connected device.”
Delivering Quality Work Remotely
Leonard Ang, CMO of Unify Cosmos, USA
“Our employees are our top priority. Therefore, in this time of crisis, we made sure to keep our employees safe and secure by allowing them to work remotely. They have been given the opportunity to stay safe in their homes while still providing the same quality output they would in a regular office setup. We have established video conferences to get regular updates on their tasks and through this, we could also quickly clarify any questions should they arise.”
Increased Demand for Satellite Imagery
Dexter Jagula, COO of SkyWatch, USA
“With the new travel restrictions put in place, we expect to see an increase in demand for satellite imagery by companies looking to keep an eye on their assets. This is a true-and-tested technology and it has been used for years in the natural resource, insurance, and oil and gas sectors. But, we are now seeing demand from new industries every day.”
Providing Clients with Additional Reassurance
Hurriya Burney, VP of Commercial Financial Services at RBC, Canada
“My team deals with business clients and has a high degree of contact with people on a day-to-day basis. We have all moved to work from home and are using web conferencing tools to communicate with one another and with our clients. I am doing near-daily calls with my team to keep them updated on the coronavirus, recent developments, and our bank’s support. As we deal with clients that serve the public, many of them have shut down, putting their loan payments in jeopardy. Therefore, our client contact these days largely involves reassuring clients and implementing a new treatment plan where we let them skip their loan payments for several months.”
Creating their own Wellness and Productivity Standards
Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, USA
“Our company has 525 employees working across 14 sites. Those sites are manufacturing facilities and product distribution centers. While some work can be done remotely, for us to operate a meaningful percentage of our team must be onsite.
I have been inspired to see the collective work of our employees in recent days as they develop and implement localized ways to stay clean, stay spaced, and stay strong. Each site team is developing its own systems to fit its own unique circumstance united by a shared set of values. Command and control bureaucracy is too slow, too generalized, and too limiting. Local leadership is faster, form fit, and dynamic in ways that cannot be pushed down from the top.”
A Lull in Sales Means More Opportunity for Improvement
MarkWebster, Co-Founder of Authority Hacker, USA
“We are a small, remote, online marketing team. While this does put us in a prime position to tackle world events right now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to be complacent.
As we know, this will be a slow period of sales, and we’ve made the decision to move all of our resources into making improvements across businesses that don’t fall under the scope of our sales activity. This means things like archiving old data, tidying up our databases, upskilling employees, and generally focusing on auxiliary business improvements.
In hard times like this, it’s important to keep your eyes focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, and use this time as a period of reflection for your business!”
Earning Customers’ Trust During a Time of Panic
Nick Flint, Owner, and CEO of Pure Cut Supplements, USA
“As sales slow down for ecommerce owners, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. I’ve slowed the work for my freelancers and trimmed off extra expenses for my website (such as some apps that aren’t as important).
I’m using this downtime to generate as much content as possible. I’ll be making videos highlighting my upcoming product launches, writing articles for our blog, and posting at-home workouts for social media. The goal is to interact with my customers/followers as much as possible so that when operations return to normal, I’ll have earned their trust and converted followers into loyal customers.”
Giving Customers a No-Contact Option
Bryan Clayton, Co-Founder of GreenPal, USA
“Embracing social distancing due to the coronavirus has changed up processes for how our vendor partners interact with their clients.
We now have instituted a contactless procedure for when a homeowner hires a lawn care professional to mow their yard.
Previously, they were required to do a walk-through with the client to go over what’s included in the service and manage expectations. But now, homeowners can choose to have a contactless option to where they can hire a lawn mowing service to come and cut the grass without having to speak with them or meet with them face-to-face.
Technology will find ways to help limit the spread of coronavirus even when it comes to grass cutting.”
Offering Mental Health Counseling Service While Keeping Clients Engaged
Jeanne Hurlbert, President of Hurlbert Consulting, USA
“I ensure business’ profitability by showing them what their customers want and how well they’re giving customers what they want. However, because I served as a Professor of Sociology for 25 years and conducted research documenting how social networks provide social support in disasters, we’re now using that unique expertise to help businesses keep their staff and clients engaged and build new strategic alliances.
We’re also working to provide the tele-mental health counseling services that allow employees to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression during this challenging time.”
Making the Most Out of Online Events
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, USA
“The biggest change for me and my clients from the virus is the shutdown of all networking events, travel, and conferences. Spring is typically a very busy time with many events, trade shows, business meetings on the road, etc. And now, everyone is staying put and meeting virtually instead. I have had more Zoom and Skype calls in the past 10 days than the prior 6 months! This is a great time to build your small business through online marketing and social media. Social media and technology are 24/7 so it is easy to get sucked into it, but you do not have to let it run your life!
My advice is to pick a few things you enjoy doing and do them really well. You cannot be everywhere all the time so choose high-impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths. For example, content marketing and thought leadership are great ways to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile, and attract more clients/customers. Activities like writing articles, hosting webinars and podcasts, and building your following on social media all contribute to increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community.”
Creating Timely Resources for Small Businesses
Joy Gendusa, Founder, and CEO of PostcardMania, USA
“Our priority is keeping employees safe and ensuring they feel safe while continuing to maintain a high level of service for our clients, who are all small business owners and going through a tough time themselves right now in light of COVID-19. In addition to making remote work a possibility for many staff members, we’ve added extra cleaning around our facility and the addition of hand sanitizer stations. To help our small business clients, we’ve focused all content creation on our new small-business focused COVID-19 resource, which many SMBs have personally told me helped get their mind around the issue.”
Cultivating Empathy During Crisis
Taylor Cimala, Principal and Strategic Director of Digital Third Coast, USA
“As a digital marketing agency, we’re used to having flexibility in location, but we’ve never had to close our office completely for an extended period of time. Communication is the biggest change – many more intentional touchpoints with the team, and more mindfulness with management and what everyone is going through individually at home. From a service perspective, we are developing a new offering geared towards smaller, localized businesses to meet the demands of companies re-entering the marketplace after having to cut back.”
Adapting Business Practices Immediately
Daniel Feiman, Managing Director at Build It Backwards, USA
“We had to shift our business almost immediately upon realizing that the coronavirus would curtail our ability to travel or deliver face-to-face consulting and training. I set up both WebEx and Zoom accounts to facilitate virtual training and consulting. Then, I reviewed our main offerings to adapt them to the small screen to make it easier for participants to not only view them but actively interact. In the two weeks since we transitioned to online, primarily the response has been really good and replaced a portion of what had been scheduled prior to the pandemic.
We have gone completely online with both our consulting and training services. We have stuck to our core competencies (not time to get out of our lane) while migrating our content to better fit online presentation in relatively short sessions.”
Creating Online Resources Quickly to Offset Revenue Loss
Krista Neher, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, USA
“Our company does digital marketing training, and a huge part of our business is training workshops. To compensate, we quickly brainstormed and launched three new virtual training products. For example, we are offering a private LinkedIn audit and action plan, we are participating in a virtual event, and are conducting private digital marketing audits. Our goal is to replace the revenue loss within one month, and we’ve already had sales in all three products. Quickly pivoting has been the key to success.”
Finding Creative Solutions to Meet Customer Needs
Chris Rojas, Owner of Gallery Carpet Care, USA
“As a family-owned carpet cleaning company, we are heavily feeling the effects of COVID-19. We are trying to combat the crisis by getting creative with the services that we offer in order to meet the needs of the community. We have begun scheduling appointments for home sanitizing services. This involves spraying hospital-grade disinfectants on any surface that the customer would like sanitized. We have performed this surface on beds, children’s toys, sofas, and more.
Our hope is that by expanding our services, we can help out our community, and make up for lost business from our other services.”
Delivering Real-Time Tracking Capabilities to Impacted Industries
Jett McCandless, CEO, and Founder of project44, USA
“At project44, we’re providing free real-time tracking to non-profits, NGOs, and humanitarian organizations that are responding to the coronavirus outbreak. With the extreme strain being put on everything from supply chains to hospital infrastructure to financial markets, this effort aims to improve planning and deliver the much-needed supplies and safety products as quickly as possible. During a public health emergency, it’s critical for impacted individuals to get the resources they need when they need them, and we hope that by offering our services we are able to ease some of the uncertainty.”
Cutting Costs and Improving Marketing Reach
Mark Evans, CEO of Summer Camp Hub, USA
“I run a consulting business for summer camps. We help them meet government safety standards and market to customers. Most of the time we travel from camp to camp working with them side by side. To adjust to the current pandemic, instead of traveling, we are only offering consultations by video conferencing. This has actually worked out really well for us to the point where it might be permanent. Not only are we able to serve more customers, but we also save a ton of money and time since we don’t have to travel.”
Using Downtime to Re-Evaluate Procedures
Michael McCready, Founder, and Attorney of McCready Law, USA
“We closed all physical offices. The entire staff is working remotely. We notified over 200 active clients via text regarding the status of the office and their case. Each case manager has a script of talking points for our clients who are concerned about how this will impact their case. We will be taking the general slow down to re-examine procedures and forms so we come out of this even stronger than before.”
Fostering Strong Connections Between Team Members
Makenzie Rath, President of Talent Plus, Inc. USA
“We hold a daily stand up meeting. A different colleague leads a value and discussion follows. Colleagues celebrate Plays of the Day (those who’ve gone above and beyond), work anniversaries and birthdays, followed by announcements. We began this years ago to embed our values and support our recognition culture. An initial outcome? We don’t have employee manuals. In the wake of the pandemic, colleagues are working home and we are on virtual Formation via Microsoft Teams. People are using their laptop cameras and chat functionality to comment. It’s been highly participatory and gives everyone a time to connect.”
Easing the Stress of Clients During Uncertain Times
Heather A. O’Connor, Attorney, and Founder of O’Connor Family Law, USA
“There is a lot of fear within the public, so I’ve directed our firm that when talking to clients and potential clients, they must be clear that, although there are a lot of unknowns within the court process at this time, we will figure it all out so they don’t have to worry. The ability to hear a calming message that provides them with security within the current abounding fear and chaos is exactly what our clients need right now.”
Maintaining Relationship Building
Joseph Giranda, Director of Commercial Relations at CFR Rinkens, USA
“The coronavirus has caused disruption in our industry in a number of ways. First, vessel schedules are fluctuating. Second, we are experiencing a shortage of 45-foot containers, many of which come from China. Lastly, we were planning to attend The Premier Conference for International Container Shipping, which was supposed to occur March 1st – 4th. However, in light of growing concerns around the coronavirus, the conference was canceled.
Certain procedures have been implemented at our office. Human Resources is closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All surfaces, door handles, and equipment are now disinfected at the end of each working day.
We have also provided the option for employees to work remotely, along with providing lunches so that employees that do come in don’t have to leave our offices for their meals. We have locations worldwide and a challenge that we have worked to overcome is how to arrange for travels in a safe manner and cutting back on any travels that can be postponed.”
Making Strides in Being Proactive
Marty Puranik, President, and CEO of Atlantic.Net, USA
“Our core focus is to ensure business continuity for all of our clients. With this in mind, we will continue to staff our facilities 24/7. We are training our staff and ensuring that they are able to continue to operate from a remote location. We will mandate some staff to be on-site and we are in the process of reviewing our standard operating procedures under these extraordinary circumstances.
We have always adapted to changing business and economic environments over the past 25 years that we have been in business and we will continue to do so. Staffing is one of the key areas we are focusing on.
We also are ensuring we have ample equipment available for future expansion and up-keep. So we are adding a few more vendors to our pool. We are also looking to add more compliance certifications due to the growth in our healthcare business. Our challenges are far less than a traditional retail operator, but we are making every effort to be proactive and that’s the key right now.”
Prioritizing the Health of Staff Members
Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager at iHeartRaves, USA
“We are in a very challenging position because we sell fashion items for music festivals. These events are being canceled or postponed all around the country and even throughout the world as the coronavirus spreads. We have been preparing for a potential recession for multiple years now, but we did not plan for a health crisis on top of a financial crisis. We do appreciate festival promoters being proactive by canceling or postponing until more information about the virus is uncovered.
We are making decisions day-by-day and sticking to our core values of being transparent and prioritizing our team member’s health over everything else. We have moved over to a work-from-home policy and we have set up work-from-home guidelines to be as productive as possible.
Our team appreciates the transparency and precautions we are taking. We would rather have lower productivity from transitioning to work-from-home vs. accelerating the spread of the virus.”
Business as Usual
Dmytro Okunyev, Founder of Chanty, USA
We’ve already worked remotely in some capacity, so the biggest change we’ve made is that we’ve forced everyone to work from their homes. Staying at home is strongly encouraged and all of our meetings are done through audio and video calls nowadays. Since we offer a product for remote teams (team chat app for communication and collaboration), we are about to offer a special promotion for all teams that have been affected by the virus and are making the transition to remote work.
Testing the Waters with Virtual Training Sessions
Cindy Kelly, Owner of Regis Regal German Shepherds, USA
“We’ve taken steps to try and continue training dogs by offering a virtual dog training service. When we sell a puppy, we include comprehensive training. So, we needed to have a solution in place for those owners that will require training during the lockdown.
Clients can book an hour session with me and I’ll provide one-to-one advice through a Skype, Whatsapp, or Facebook video call. During the training session, I’ll be seeing how the dog responds with their owner and give them advice on what to do as well as give them their own bespoke training sessions.”
Shifting Tutoring Sessions from In-Person to Online
Mark Hughes, CEO of Tutorful, United Kingdom
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the majority of our business came from connecting students and tutors for face-to-face lessons. However, in the coming months, very few people will be looking for in-person tutoring. Therefore, we’ll be initiating some changes to our product and our marketing that will shift Tutorful from being in-person first to online first.
We have a fully-integrated online classroom that allows tutors to conduct lessons remotely from their own home, and we will heavily encourage our tutors and students to use it! In this way, lessons can continue with minimal disruption.”
Finding Creative Ways to Engage Clients
Becky Robinson, Founder, and CEO of Weaving Influence, USA
“As the founder and owner of a small business, it’s been necessary for us to creatively find new ways to engage our client base and future clients. This week, we launched a free webinar series called The Daily Connection: A Leadership Learning Series. Our goal is that members of our virtual community will join us—as well as our highly engaging and thoughtful business authors and thought leaders—for 30-minutes each day in an effort to eliminate feelings of isolation and will instead walk away feeling more connected and potentially more prepared for dealing with a crisis in life and business.”
Finding Hope in Social Media and Traditional Marketing
Paul Allen, Co-Owner of Hope Springs Distillery, USA
“A few years ago, my wife and I decided to start up a craft distillery. We were actually about two years ahead of average when the coronavirus crisis showed up. We made a quick assessment of the reactions of our competitors, and as usual for us, we went in a different direction. Instead of pushing harder to sell what we already have, we’ve gone into an intense new product development mode, creating new items rarely seen from a craft producer. We’re using social media and local newspapers and magazines to avoid personal space issues. So far so good!”
Creating a Process of Efficiency
Laura Spawn, Co-Founder and CEO of Virtual Vocations, CEO
“Although my business was already 100% remote, team members have still been affected by COVID-19 through school closures, grocery store shortages, and the constant media coverage, which can cause a lot of distractions throughout the day. Checking in with my team, offering additional flexibility around their work hours, and making sure tasks are prioritized so the most important work gets done first has helped with keeping operations running smoothly.”
Escaping Boredom with Virtual Escape Rooms
Kristina Malmstrom, Head of Operations at Trap Door Escape, USA
“We’ve chosen to revamp and re-launch our streaming service, Trap Door Escape Stream, which allows you to play an escape room from anywhere! At $10 per game, an actor takes you on an interactive virtual tour of our escape room, relying on you to solve all of the puzzles via a live video stream and a chatroom.”
Allowing Patrons to Receive Nutritious Meals On-the-Go
Dawn Kelly, CEO of The Nourish Spot, USA
“Since we are based in New York City, and have been mandated by NYC Small Business Services to only provide delivery or carry out services, we are keeping our door locked and providing curbside service to patrons and food delivery drivers.”
Altering Shipping and Fulfillment Processes
Keeon Yazdani, Chief Marketing Officer of WE R CBD, USA
“Our company, WE R CBD, has shifted all of our focus on fulfilling online retail orders due to the coronavirus. Our online retail orders are shipped out of a fulfillment center, while our B2B orders are packaged and shipped out of our warehouse by our employees. Due to the coronavirus, we have shut down business operations in our warehouse and will no longer be focusing on B2B sales until the coronavirus passes. Our B2B sales currently make up 40% of our business.”
Shifting Supply Sources
Bill Joseph, CEO of Frontier Blades , USA
“Under normal working conditions, we source our merchandise from Chinese manufacturers to fulfill our domestic orders. However, due to the growing threat pertaining to COVID-19, we have stockpiled our best selling merchandise within local storage units. Additionally, although the global supply chain is still operational, we have shifted our supply source to domestic U.S. manufacturers to decrease the risk of spreading the virus via our merchandise. Lastly, we have increased our product prices to account for the increased cost of goods from local manufacturers and limited quantities.”
Helping Organizations Mitigate Risk and Stay Engaged
Riley Moore, CEO of DirectSuggest, USA
“Our suggestion box application is being used throughout the world to assist organizations in managing, adapting, and mitigating issues surrounding The coronavirus. Thousands of employees are staying engaged and making innovative suggestions to do what’s necessary to prevent the virus from harming their daily operations. DirectSuggest is normally no more than $0.50 per-employee per-month, but we are currently offering a free 90-day promotional offer to assist in spreading the level of impact we can make on businesses throughout the world.”
Postponing Hearings Until Further Notice
Matthew Lott, Attorney, and Founder of Lott Law Firm, USA
“Our staff is working remotely, but we need to have at least one person here to deal with mail, filings, and walk-ins, so that job falls to the attorney/owner. Courthouses are limiting people coming in, so hearings and trials are being postponed indefinitely. However, our judges are trying to get on the phone and work out issues over the phone. No new business line, but talking with my bankruptcy attorney friends about whether business is picking up. Most people are in shock at the rapidity of everything. So once the shock wears Off, then we have to be there to work out the problems.”
Minimal Change Compared to Others
Jon Brodsky, US CEO of Finder, USA
“Currently all Finder employees are working remotely which has resulted in greater use of video tools like Zoom. Thankfully this transition wasn’t too drastic since, as a global company, the use of Zoom and Slack for communication is nothing new to us.”
From stock market declines, to supply chain backups, and event cancellations, businesses of all stripes have taken a hit from this sharp and sudden economic downturn.
While global companies are being confronted with a host of tough questions about how to navigate this crisis moving forward, many are stepping up to the plate, reassessing their costs, and ensuring their employees make a smooth transition to remote work.
Over the course of several interviews, most of the business owners we spoke to are using this time to challenge themselves and turn these unfortunate circumstances into a new opportunity for online growth.