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Advice From Entrepreneurs Who Pivoted During the Pandemic

Advice From Entrepreneurs Who Pivoted During the Pandemic

Perhaps the most unforeseen event in our lifetime, the COVID-19 pandemic, not only ravaged hospitals and closed borders, but was also tremendously tricky to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

200,000 businesses have lost income since 2019 — and the end is not yet in sight. While it is an uphill battle, some entrepreneurs would pivot and creatively reshape their business to succeed regardless of circumstance. It also taught us lessons we must remember for future adversities.

Create a grand marketing plan.

An initial step for any entrepreneur or business owner to jumpstart their earnings is to create a stellar marketing plan. Getting the word out about your business will help drive consumers to your product.

Jayson Waller, Founder and CEO of POWERHOME Solar, has leveraged new marketing channels since the pandemic’s onset. Pre-pandemic, he would physically travel, relying on in-person marketing to help promote their services.

However, COVID’s disruption to in-person anything has allowed him creatively tell the brand story in other ways, like new forms of social media (TikTok, for example) or even by leveraging mature platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Waller believes that working in new spaces inevitably jumpstarts unforeseen opportunities. Due to this, POWERHOME Solar was able to deploy more strategically into new markets and scale more efficiently.

Sue Phillips, a female entrepreneur who founded Scenterprises, Inc. and The Scentarium, New York’s newest custom perfumer, discovered developing a social media campaign with promotional offers that helped her business through COVID. These businesses were organically growing pre-pandemic due to her TriBeCa store opening and word of mouth of her famous customers —  including Jamie Foxx, Katie Holmes, and Laurence Fishburne.

When the world locked down, Phillips was forced to shut her physical locations and figure out how to maneuver from in-stores to online, especially when her business had tremendous foot traction. She quickly pivoted to Zoom events, and today the team meets with people from all over the world to help them understand the power of perfume and educate them about fragrance. Tapping into social media has been able to help her bring business back on top and in front of potential consumers.

[Related: Infuse Creativity Into Your Culture and Boost Performance]

Build trust with your consumer.

Consumer trust is more important than ever. Especially with so much still unknown, business owners need to be savvy and ensure their consumers are top priorities. This happens partly by following the CDC guidelines to ensure your product and business align with what your consumers want and what works.

Sean Cronin and Elena Sokina of NYLO Fitness are two fitness instructors who had to find ways to train their clients in a healthy environment and have built that trust enough to open up their own space. understand that their consumers were looking for a healthy space to work out following CDC guidelines. “Building trust in the face of uncertainty,” said Cronin. “COVID was and is scary to people, and clients were afraid to return to training.”

Pre-NYLO launch, the two were working out with their clients in outdoor spaces, private sessions, and sanitizing their equipment more frequently than pre-pandemic. “Clients trusted that we would bring the same thoroughness to our COVID protocols that we brought to their movement and nutrition practices,” said Cronin.

Caitlin Meister, the founder of The Greer Meister Group, a private tutoring and educational consulting practice, attributes her pandemic success to listening to her client’s needs. “Their needs had likely changed since before the pandemic began,” she said. “ Are you selling them what they need now, or are you selling them what they used to need before the pandemic or what you think they need without actually talking with them?”

As an educator and parent, Meister soon realized how hard it was for young learners to have that learning community ripped away from them. She saw an opportunity for her company to uniquely provide and help parents trying to make sense of this new world of remote learning. They launched a series of small-group drop-in classes that were flexible to families ranging from all ages, topics, and even times that made sense for them.

[Related: Working Moms: How to Turn Your Know-How Into a Side Hustle]

Invest in yourself and your people.

It’s essential to make sure that you’re putting energy into making yourself happy. Your employees who are standing by you — putting their needs before your clients will help them produce better results for your clients. When you are satisfied with yourself and the work you’ve been doing, and your employees feel accomplished and respected, it will show through in your products and businesses — therefore, putting your best foot forward.

Waller believes in investing in making employees better. “By taking the time to hear about their challenges, along with the successes they’ve had during the pandemic, you can build a stronger team that can chart the best path forward,” he said. When business owners can communicate and have an open dialogue of respect with their employees, a conducive working environment is established, naturally pushing employees to do better.

Cronin agrees that self-improvement is the best investment. It improves everything — from business endeavors to the quality of your dinner conversation. Physical, mental, and emotional development make our lives more enjoyable.

And perhaps no industry felt the pandemic consequences quite like travel. With borders, hotels, and flights shuttering overnight, being safely engaged with audiences became imperative. That’s what Harsh Patil, CEO of xplor.earth, did to creatively stay connected to his consumers and keep his international connections afloat.

“We hosted a rum cocktail demonstration live from Cartagena, a virtual wine tasting with a famed sommelier in NYC,” said Patil. “With creative juices flowing, we launched what would be the first of its kind — a series of virtual but live safari sessions with Masai tribespeople in Kenya. For all of these events, we raised charitable contributions from attendees with all proceeds going directly to the guides, their families, and the Masai women.”

As we emerge from the pandemic, to not only survive but conquer both this and future curveballs, we as leaders must first and foremost take care of our teams.

[Related: How Travel Professionals Can Find Success in the Post-Pandemic Boom]

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Olivia Liveng (nee Balsinger) is an experienced storytelling coach, brand strategist, entertainment producer, and Liveng Public Relations CEO, an agency amplifying hospitality, tourism, and female voices. She's also an award-winning travel journalist, with bylines in Fodors, Forbes, New York Post, and Business Insider, and LA Style. Find her on Instagram at @livliveng.

Carly Orris is a freelance writer and publicist based in New York. Her writing focuses on female empowerment, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle. Find her on Instagram at @carlyorris.


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