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How to Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic as a Small Business

Julia Shem
Mar 15 · 5 min read

Many of us rely on our sales each month, and social distancing is already impacting our businesses (and income) in a big way. Stores are temporarily closing their doors, bookings are getting canceled, people are self-quarantining at home. This feels scary and uncertain, but this new reality forces us to adapt and make a change.

Shift your focus

This is the time to finally finish that online course, re-think your marketing strategy and brainstorm new ideas. If you don’t feel like working on your business right now, it’s okay too. There is a lot going on, give yourself time to process. Spend some time nurturing yourself, take a long bath, pick up that book that has been sitting on your shelves for a while or get lost in an art form. You have the time now. Create a sanctuary within your environment and structure time each day to dive into something you’re passionate about.

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Start a gratitude journal. Despite the external chaos, your inner peace is in your control. Take a deep breath and say thank you for something in this current moment. Notice what is bringing you small (or big) moments of joy throughout the day? Lighting a candle, exercising, face-timing a friend. Tune in to moments you’re feeling joy and create more moments like that for yourself, as often as possible.

When you’re ready to use this time to work on your business, start with making a few changes.

Change your messaging

Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

Things in the world are heavy and uncertain right now. Remember that many of your customers are also feeling their own stress and anxiety. If you’re sending out marketing emails, change your messaging — acknowledge what’s going on with the world right now, spread digital acts of kindness and let your customers know that we’re in this together. Sales might be slower right now, but letting your customers know you care will strengthen your relationship with them.

Understand your finances

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

Take a look at your business revenue and your personal expenses and reserves. Take a deep breath, this is the time to be smart, not panic.

  • Evaluate your monthly expenses (I use Mint.com) and see where you can reduce your spending. Asses your income streams and anticipated revenue for the next 3–6 months. What projects can be postponed? What software, subscriptions, supplies you can curb? Do you have savings to lean on?
  • Look for ways to make a side-income, think about picking up freelance work on Upwork, Fiverr or through your local communities.
  • The federal government just approved $50 billion in small business loans. Here’s the information on that.

Think about the ways to incentivize your customers. What can you do to prepare your business for a crisis?

Adapt to this change

The best way to help yourself and your business is to help others. How can you continue serving your clients? This requires a different type of creating and connecting.

If you own a storefront — encourage your customers to support you and shop online. Offer gift cards for future purchases, give greater discounts or find creative ways to support your customers like offering a kit of your products as a Care Package.

Image from https://www.mooreaseal.com/products/care-package-for-calm

This may be the time to start taking your business online. If you’re teaching private lessons — use Calendly to help your clients schedule a virtual session with you and Zoom for video-conferencing. If you thought that your business could never be remote, this is the time to experiment. You might be surprised!

If you’re a photographer — encourage people to reschedule to a later date, offer greater discounts for weekdays.

Photo by Aleksi Tappura on Unsplash

While the global economy is being shaken by the spread of coronavirus, it might be a good idea to start learning about the stock market and looking to buy great stocks at their now-lowered prices.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Use this time to work on your business

Update your website, design new products, take photos, play creatively, connect with your client more, re-think your branding or marketing strategy. All the things that you‘ve been putting off, use this time to prep for when the things get back to normal.

Put the processes in place so that someone else could take over the operations in case you are sick. This is a good time to stress-test and make your business crisis-proof.


And remember that this is temporary. We’re all feeling the uncertainty, but we have each other. Share what’s working. Shift that energy towards helping other entrepreneurs. If we come together as a community we will thrive. We’re all in this together.

Share how you are adapting your business in the comments below 👇

Julia Shem

Written by

Entrepreneur and Business Strategist. I help people achieve more by doing less.

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