It’s insane how quickly we’ve all adjusted to the new COVID-19 norm that has us staying home, wearing masks in public, and, for those folks who formerly worked in offices, working remotely. There’s no telling how long this new way of living will go on, but there’s one thing that keeps me up at night: how this will impact small businesses long-term.
It’s scary. You might, like me, have applied for the PPP loan only to find out they’re now out of funds to help struggling business owners during COVID-19. You might be panicked about trying to keep employees on payroll. You might want to curl up in a ball and wait for it all to be over.
Forgive me for quoting a very happy but forgetful fish from the Disney movie Finding Nemo. As Dory would tell you: just keep swimming.
We can’t control whatever has happened nor what is going to happen. Sure, we can rail against the injustices that we’re suffering…but what does that get us? I try to imagine myself as a leaf in a stream and just go with the flow. Let whatever’s going to happen, happen, and try to accept it with grace.
Accepting Doesn’t Mean Being Passive
Now, you can go with the flow without giving all your power away. The key right now is to observe how your business, your customers, your marketing have changed and adapt as necessary. If you own a restaurant, you can’t serve diners in-house. So you pump up your takeout and delivery options. You work with all the local delivery services, even if they take a cut of profits. You encourage customers to buy gift cards for later.
But what else can you do? Maybe you launch a Facebook Live series with your chef showing how to cook some of your famous recipes. Maybe you create cook-at-home meal deals. My point here is that now is not the time to curl up in a ball. Now, more than ever, you need to keep forging ahead with your marketing.
The Lesson? Plan Ahead Next Time
In the recession of 2008, I was caught unawares. Business had been good, so I hadn’t put a lot of effort into attracting new clients. Then everything crumbled. I struggled to find clients who could afford to pay me for my marketing services, who understood the importance of continuing to market their businesses.
Since then, I’ve been diligent about continually getting my brand out there and looking for new work. Create habits now so that if, Goddess forbid, something of this magnitude happens again down the line, you won’t be as unprepared.
I found this blog post I wrote during the last recession, and am pleased to see that the advice then rings just as true now:
Market in the moment. Adapt to whatever’s coming. Listen to your customer.
Let’s learn from the past as we navigate the effects of COVID-19 so that we can all come out of this together. And yes, let’s just keep swimming.