How pivoting saved this business during the pandemic
I had just spent the majority of my annual marketing budget during January and February for some of the brands I manage at my franchise growth consulting firm. After spending the last couple of years growing my business and adding clients to my roster, I was planning on really making 2020 my year.
By early March, things were moving smoothly and I even had a few agreements from several large brands, until COVID-19 hit. In the span of 24 hours, I lost 80 percent of my clients, even deals that were previously signed told me that they had to stop paying. Given the loss of clients and the marketing budget spend, cash was at an all-time low and I was wondering where to turn. I had employees that relied on me and I couldn’t even stomach the idea of having to let people go, so I started researching options the government was providing. I applied for the SBA Disaster Relief Loan which promised a $10,000 grant within 72 hours, but it never came. I applied for PPP funding within hours of the application opening up, but help never arrived. So I decided to do what I know best: work to find solutions and push forward.
As entrepreneurs and business owners, we thrive off of finding ways to solve problems and continue operating. With my business and many friends with businesses teetering on the edge of failure I knew I had to do something to get people back to work and back to work safely. I began researching diseases like COVID-19 to learn how they spread.
I looked into treatments that could effectively kill and stop the spread of the virus, as well as ways to let people know that spaces were safe from the virus. Then, with what little money I had left, I bought some equipment and cleaning products to experiment with and got to work. After developing a cleaning concept that worked, I approached several businesses along the Wasatch Front to see if they would be interested in my services and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Within a week of researching, I had launched a website for my new business and had developed a company to help sanitize businesses and continue to keep them safe once people returned. I called it: Safe From Spread. The response was so positive that I was actually able to keep employees on staff and continue to service clients. Today, Safe From Spread is helping protect businesses in six states across the country, and recently signed its first handful of franchisees. We recently secured an agreement with NBCUniversal to keep upcoming PGA Tour and other sporting events Safe From Spread. We are committed to protecting business owners, employees, and customers from COVID-19 and helping people move forward and continue to grow. I have included some insight that has helped me learn how to adpat and pivot during this crazy time, below.
It has become apparent now more than ever before, that being able to pivot in the time of crisis is absolutely crucial for survival. My original business manages franchise firms, so I’ve had experience learning about a wide variety of industries over the course of my career. Having that knowledge in being able to adjust my thinking to see things from a different perspective helped open my eyes to different paths that I could take to move forward.
This journey was not easy. There were lots of nights where I was awake running through different scenarios and ways that this could go. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we want to do the right thing for our employees and we do everything we can to protect them and keep them safe. Keep that in mind as you look for solutions to reach your goal. If you’re like me and trying to balance business ventures, look at the situation from all perspectives and talk to the different stakeholders.
For example, if you’re a retail store owner, what are you hearing from customers about returning to shop in their store? Are they nervous about COVID-19? Are they nervous about being around other people while shopping? Don’t just focus on customers either. Your employees are the most vital stakeholders in your company. Are they nervous to come to work? What ideas do they have to help streamline their responsibilities? By asking these questions, you’re letting your employees know they are important and you are allowing them to play an important role in the direction of the company.
Use your strengths
As entrepreneurs, we have all developed business plans and know how to run businesses, so use that knowledge to help get you through a time of crisis. Specifically, build on your strengths. Maybe you excel at developing marketing strategies. Use that skill to build a strategy that can help garner attention about your business still providing products or services to your community. If you’re a strong networker, develop partnerships with other local organizations or businesses to raise awareness about your companies still being open. Your strengths helped you open a business in the first place, trust them, and continue to utilize them to help you move forward.
When things go south, it’s so easy to stop and get emotional about the things we can’t control, but you have to keep moving. Your solution is not going to be perfect and it may not even be good. You have to keep pushing forward. That is what will distinguish a brand during a crisis. While everyone else waited, you took action.