One thing is clear in this crisis, remaining the same isn’t an option.

The cloud of COVID-19 looms over all of us, and as entrepreneurs, we don’t have the luxury of “waiting it out” — and let’s face it, we didn’t become entrepreneurs because we ever sit back and wait for the storms to pass. For those of us entrepreneurs who have successfully launched and managed a lucrative small business, we are facing our own set of challenges in these times of a global pandemic: the rapid loss of clients we built our foundation upon, the leaner staff to push out new content, and a smaller budget than larger companies to invest in reinventing ourselves in the looming economic uncertainty ahead. Despite these challenges, in just a few weeks of a state lockdown, it has become clear that what small businesses need now more than ever is that entrepreneurial spirit that will allow them to look the storm directly in the eye and run as fast as possible towards it. 

“Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.”

– Ayn Rand

While much is unclear in this time, one thing is clear: remaining the same isn’t an option. If the average small business wants to survive, they must grow and change— and do so fast! Here are three ways to start doing just that: 

Listen to the market

There are a lot of needs to fill right now with not enough resources to fill them. If you are to develop products or services that can turn your audiences’ pain into gain, you must first listen to what they need right NOW. Social media is a critical tool to this process of truly developing empathy for your clients. It’s worth allocating a good chunk of your day every day right now to reading what your audience is posting — their needs, questions, and comments. Mining for what your audience is struggling with most will lead you to your sweet spot. You should also reach out and ask your audience directly what they need most. You can leverage Instagram Direct Messages or story polls and questions, Google form surveys to your newsletter list, or pick up the phone and call them directly to ask “Hey, what do you need right now?”. When you get your answers and start testing content, watch your analytics and engagement, and respond accordingly. 

What’s your value NOW? 

It’s an odd question that you likely never thought you would ask yourself, but now is the time to ask “what is the best way to position myself in a crisis like this?” You should start by questioning the value-add you bring to your audience because it is guaranteed to have shifted. You may also need to think beyond your audience — maybe the value you bring is actually to a new or expanded audience, under the current set of circumstances. For example, in education, the audience has expanded beyond teachers and now includes parents new to homeschooling. In a similar vein, in the world of nutrition, people are facing shortages at the grocery store, closed gyms, but also, more time than ever to cook and invest in their health. This once may have been an individual job, now it’s including the entire family. Adding value that can reach both your ideal client, their family, and their current situation, is important to keep your current audience engaged.

Stay ahead of the curve

Things are happening fast right now and you need to stay at the forefront to show that you are a leader in your industry. Put in the extra time to get some fresh and relevant offerings to market — whether it be a new website page, blogs for your own site or for external partners, a revised social media strategy, e-guide downloads, resource curation to share with your audience, or a special edition newsletter. By creating this content NOW, you will be the one that others are referencing in a few weeks, which will help you rebuild your company quicker. The content doesn’t have to be perfect, just quickly brand your ideas and get them out there to test. Remember that once you start creating, you have to be consistent. Your audience needs your support during this challenging time. Lean on automated emails, a social media scheduler, and frequent outreach to ensure they are taken care of.

You are not alone in these challenging times. Dig deep into your businesses’ core on how you can reinvent and keep going. What strategy above can you tackle today to reposition yourself?

Lauren Papanos

Lauren Papanos, MS, RD, CSSD, is a nationally certified, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Owner of Functional Fueling Nutrition. She specializes in a food-as-medicine approach to exercise nutrition, autoimmune conditions, digestion, and women’s health. She has worked with several high profile clients and businesses to provide individual nutrition counseling, group education, speaking, and media representation. To learn more or work with her, you can visit www.functionalfueling.com or follow her on social @functionalfuelingRD.

Jenny Pieratt

Jenny Pieratt, Phd is author of award-nominated “Keep it Real with PBL”, Speaker and President and Founder of CraftED Curriculum-an education company that provides products and services to schools looking to implement Project Based Learning. Dr. Pieratt’s work has an international reach and is well-respected in her field and community; to learn more about her and read recent news stories about her work you can visit https://craftedcurriculum.com/project-based-learning-experts/ and follow her on social media @crafted_jennypieratt.
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