As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect everyone around the globe, businesses small and large, are undoubtedly feeling the strain. Many businesses are pivoting their revenue strategy and initiating creative ways to connect with their community during this time.
As a small business owner, you might be feeling the heat right now, too. But let’s be real, you wouldn’t have started a business if you weren’t super creative and scrappy, right? Maybe you’re one of those people who is even more creative under pressure (just like the founders of Netflix and Airbnb, who launched during a recession).
As a business owner, there are a lot of steps you can take to support yourself during the pandemic, like setting up contactless delivery or moving your services online. But if you’re looking for even more creative ways to get ahead of the coronavirus and keep your business afloat, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 30 creative examples of how businesses are adapting their strategy amid social distancing measures:
Service-based businesses have had to find creative ways to interface with clients while keeping a distance due to social distancing rules in place. Below are some of our favorite business pivots.
Jen Atkin: How to cut your own hair at home
The growing trend of “pandemic bangs” has some hairstylists shaking in their books. Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin has responded by teaching the ultimate masterclass: how to cut your own hair. While it’s not a moneymaker on its own, Jen is smart to include the use of her hair-product, Ouai, in every tutorial, to ensure a steady stream of sales while consumers are stuck indoors.
Shoppers Drug Mart: Offering virtual health services
The Canadian pharmacy chain has partnered with Maple, a virtual healthcare company, to provide virtual visits with doctors for non-urgent inquiries, such as prescription refills or minor ailments. If you’re in the health industry, consider hosting virtual appointments for your clients.
Talkspace: COVID-19-related counseling
This online counseling service is now providing free Facebook support groups, free mental health resources, discounted subscriptions for everyone, free therapy for frontline workers, and even a 16-day program specific to the pandemic.
WHO: Launching an app
Yep, the World Health Organization itself has pivoted during this crisis. The WHO launched an official app to help prevent the spread of misinformation amid the coronavirus crisis. If you run a blog, an app might be a great next step to getting your information in the hands of your readers quickly.
Lyft: Re-deploying drivers to deliver groceries
Rideshare app, Lyft, is partnering with government agencies and non-profit organizations to have their drivers deliver groceries and meals to vulnerable community members. If you own a delivery-based business, consider ways you can broaden the use of your delivery services to help your community, or keep cash coming in.
UberEats: Waives delivery fees for local restaurants
Just like Lyft, UberEats is helping deliver groceries in select cities. But the mega delivery app is also helping out local restaurants by waiving the delivery fees for all independently-owned businesses (that’s about 100,000 restaurants). Waiving shipping and delivery fees is a great way for small businesses to keep consistent cash-flow at a time like this.
Sonic 102.9: Couchella
This Edmonton radio station repurposed live footage of popular bands performing their biggest hits and combined it all into a one-hour online music “festival” for their fans. With so much time at home, people are turning to unique sources of entertainment. How can you keep your audience engaged and entertained?
Health and wellness
Many services have turned to live-streams and online platforms to continue business growth. Here are some great examples.
United Boxing Club: Livestreamed boxing classes
Learn to box and stay in shape from home thanks to this boxing gym’s free, online fitness classes you can find on Youtube.
PurposeMed: Virtual health care clinic
Created and launched by doctors themselves, this Alberta-based virtual clinic allows patients to consult with a doctor via video. chat.
ClassPass: Live-streaming workouts for free
The popular fitness app, ClassPass, is live-streaming thousands of fitness classes for free online, so you can stay fit from home.
Holistic Connection: How to massage yourself
This Toronto-based massage therapist is sharing tips on his Instagram to help you massage yourself and protect your muscles while in isolation. Social media is a great way to share information online and keep your followers engaged.
SPINCO: Renting stationary bikes
Spin enthusiasts can continue to work out at home thanks to this spin studio. SPINCO is not only hosting live classes online, but also renting out stationary bikes for one month, so devoted fans can continue to work out from home. Could you pair your online wellness offering with a product that customers could rent or purchase?
Online education is nothing new, but with most classrooms closed more and more small businesses are turning to online platforms to host courses, workshops, and seminars.
Quiz Runners: How to host a remote trivia night
Teach what you do! Trivia writers, Quiz Runners, sell packs of trivia questions — and are now sharing how to host your own trivia nights online. We love the combination of a product offering paired with educational services.
University of Toronto: Online storytelling
The University of Toronto’s Innovation Hub is keeping students connected by hosting daily online storytelling sessions called “Stories from a Distance: Being Together While Apart”. We love this as a way to keep communities together, even while physically distanced. What are some ways you could encourage your communities to remotely come together during this time?
Brainstation: Offering even more online classes
Digital skills training center Brainstation, which normally offers both in-person and online classes, has added over 30 new online courses for students to learn from home.
Create & Cultivate: Online conference
There’s nothing stopping us from hosting large gatherings online! One of the biggest conferences for women in business is moving online. This one-day conference will feature workshops, panels, and conversations with some of the most well-known entrepreneurs out there — and for the first time, it’s all online.
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One word we've heard a lot over the past three weeks is PIVOT! The world has changed, businesses have changed, and now more than ever we need to come together as a community, combine our resources, and starting planning the best path forward. Which is why we're hosting our first ever digital summit! ✨The Money Moves Summit ✨ May 2, 2020 — will be a jam-packed day of digital 💻 conversations, panels🎤, workshops🗒️, and mentor sessions with the best in the biz (swipe right to see!). This stay-at-home 🛋️digital summit for small biz owners , entrepreneurs and creators will be all about building 🏢, growing 🌱 and pivoting 🌀 in the new normal. Oh, and did we mention all ticket sales will be going toward a $10,000 business grant 💰 for a female small biz owner impacted by COVID-19? Three female founders will be selected to pitch their small business in front of major judges for the chance to win! Are you ready to make your move? #CCMoneyMovesSummit 🎟️🎟️
Coding Dojo: Web development for small businesses
This coding academy is leveraging its network of 4,500 coders to support small businesses struggling amid the pandemic with free web development services. We love the idea of small businesses empowering other small businesses with education!
Euclid Farms: Virtual plant workshops
Around the world, home gardening sales have skyrocketed. This local farmer and florist is taking advantage of the trend by teaching people how to plant seeds or arrange the perfect bouquet via a virtual workshop. What other trends in consumer behavior are on the rise that you could cater to with your business idea?
Food and beverage
Many foods and beverage businesses have found impressive ways to keep sales flowing during social distancing. Some have come up with very creative solutions including meal kits, and other DIY products. Below are a few examples.
58 Gin: Making hand sanitizer
This London, UK distillery, along with many others around the world, has dedicated its production facility towards creating mass volumes of hand sanitizer to help out during the pandemic. We know that sin-businesses are pretty recession-proof, but this is taking it to another level!
Tampered Press: Delivering coffee beans + treats
This local coffee shop is committed to staying afloat by implementing strict rules for takeout operations. Uniquely, they’ve also begun hand-delivering coffee beans, cookies, and treats to loyal customers in their neighborhood. While delivery coffee isn’t exactly a mainstream practice, going above and beyond like this will keep your customers engaged and your brand top of mind. If your packaging is well-branded, you’ll get the added bonus of bored customers snapping pictures of your product around the house.
Buca: DIY pie night
This popular Toronto-based Italian restaurant has pivoted by selling DIY pizza, pasta, and nodini kits. It’s a perfect way to recreate the restaurant experience at home.
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Our Cook At Home Fresh pasta and sauce kits are ready for home delivery and pick up! Choose any 1ltr sauce and match with your favourite sauce and eat at home just like you would in the restaurant only not in the restaurant 🙏🏽🍽🇮🇹 Pre order available buca.ca all week 4-9pm until Sunday! ❤️❤️❤️WE LOVE YOU TORONTO!!
Earls Restaurant: Cook-from-home kits & groceries
This popular restaurant chain has adapted to the limitations of Coronoavirus by using its online platform to sell groceries, cook-from-home kits, booze, and even toilet paper.
Le Dolci: Online baking classes
This bakery and baking school is selling DIY cookie decorating kits online. They are also offering free online classes through Instagram.
Sala Modern Thai Kitchen & Bar: DIY Thai meal kits
This Thai restaurant is selling pre-packaged and portioned meal kits. These kits come with a link to video instructions to follow and make your own pad-see-ew. Another great example of a product paired with some educational video material to keep consumers engaged.
Shake Shack: Takeout and delivery
Like many restaurants remaining open while on lockdown, Shake Shack transitioned its offerings to takeout or delivery. No in-house dining, for now.
Product-driven, retail-based businesses have been forced to produce alternative products to meet the rising demand for personal protective equipment globally. From fashionable masks to ventilators, here’s how a few businesses have adjusted their strategies during COVID-19.
H&M: Producing PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
H&M is tapping into its vast supply chain network to produce the materials needed for essential PPE for healthcare workers.
Hanes: Making face masks
The business pivot towards making masks is growing. Everyone’s favorite underwear brand is now manufacturing cotton face masks. Hanes is producing up to 6 million masks per week and demand continues.
Good American: Making (fashionable) face masks
Khloe Kardashian’s denim brand is pivoting to make face masks for just $5 each. Good America is committed to donating one per purchase to those in need. Demand for fashionable face-masks is on the rise, and will likely stick around when this is all over. If your small business is in the textile or garment-making industry, you could see a spike in revenue if you start selling face masks.
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THANK YOU! ❤️ We’re so overwhelmed by the love and support you’ve shared in keeping our community safe and we are working to replenish our masks as quickly as possible. We are restocking our masks tonight, and will continue to do so weekly! Remember, for every mask purchased, we will be donating one to a local business in need
Giorgio Armani: Single-use overalls
Even Armani is in on the fight against COVID-19. The fashion brand is using its factories to produce one-time use overalls for healthcare professionals.
Ford Motor Company: Producing medical equipment
An impressive business pivot, the famous car manufacturer has teamed up with 3M and GE Healthcare to create air-purifying respirators, ventilators, and more than 100,000 3D printed face shields per week for those in need.
There’s no doubt that independent and locally-owned businesses will feel the impact of the Coronavirus.
If you own a small business, these ideas above will hopefully spark some inspiration for you to keep business afloat. And if you’re just thinking of starting a business or looking for some other ways to make money right now, don’t be discouraged. Remember that there is a ton of demand for new services, you just have to think outside the box.