Flexibility, good communication and social responsibility are a few of the characteristics of a thriving business after the pandemic.
By using traits like empathy and creativity, many businesses found ways to adapt to their customers' needs the pandemic. — Getty Images/halbergman

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, countless small business owners have faced (and are still facing) the uncertainties that accompany a worldwide pandemic. While many businesses are struggling to navigate the ongoing effects on the economy and consumer market, some are actually thriving in this landscape.

Businesses thriving during the pandemic: What do they have in common?

Across industries, businesses had to make fast decisions about how to change their operations and accommodate new social-distancing guidelines.

Here are some traits shared by businesses that have thrived during COVID-19.

Flexibility

When the pandemic began, businesses that were able to roll with the changes were the most successful in keeping their doors open. Restaurants were able to provide contact-free pick up options, and grocery stores created more delivery and home-shopping options.

Many businesses have changed their staffing protocols by having employees work alternate shifts to reduce exposure. This forces flexibility from both employees and the employer. Additionally, setting a maximum number of people who can be in a business location at once requires planning and proper security protocols with additional employees.

Good communication

Being transparent with their consumer base and employees is crucial to business owners. Communicating proper hygiene habits, keeping up with contact tracing and heightening training protocols are a few ways successful businesses are able to communicate effectively with employees.

Additionally, letting customers know the changes in hours at brick-and-mortar stores or creating informational pamphlets on changes they’re going to enact within the business to help keep customers safe creates trust within the community.

[Read: 5 Restaurant Industry Pandemic Pivots]

Social responsibility

Social responsibility means acting in the best interest of society as a whole. Normally, social responsibility is associated with supporting charitable or environmental causes. During the current pandemic, this means catering to proper cleaning procedures and hygiene efforts and enforcing new protocols with consumers.

In states or cities with mask mandates, businesses may refuse to serve customers who aren’t wearing a mask, thereby keeping other shoppers or customers from possible exposure. Most have also made sure to adhere to CDC guidelines, including enforcing proper social distancing, frequent hand-washing and sanitizing stations throughout their businesses, to make customers feel more at ease while in their locations.

Every business needs to get creative and find new solutions to customer problems.

Resourcefulness

Businesses that were able to rely on multiple sources of income and critical items needed to keep their business running were able to thrive during the pandemic. Instead of panicking or making quick, short-term decisions that wouldn’t help the business in the long run, smart business owners looked at how to leverage their existing resources and adjust their capabilities in the current environment.

Creativity

Every business needs to get creative and find new solutions to customer problems. The pandemic has given innovative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs a chance to shine and flex those creative muscles. Businesses that thought outside the box and reimagined the way their business is run — such as those who brought in-person experiences online — were able to continue reaching and engaging customers in new ways.

[Read: How 5 Small Businesses Are Channeling Creativity During COVID-19]

Empathy

The pandemic has left most people grappling with the unknown in their daily lives. This can cause increased stress among consumers and employees who may be concerned about getting sick, losing their job or caring for sick family members. Understanding these issues and responding with empathy have helped business owners retain employees and customers alike throughout the pandemic.

Pivoting in the pandemic

If you’re a small business owner wondering how to leverage these traits and make a pivot, here are a few examples of businesses that adapted to meet consumers’ current needs during the pandemic:

  • Studio 539 Flowers struggled with its supply chain, since so many suppliers shut down or were interrupted due to reduced hours and labor. This flower shop exhibited resourcefulness by purchasing materials from local farms and creating additional jobs by growing its own flowers.
  • Talulah Jones, a lifestyle boutique, had to get creative in providing greater communication with its customers by bringing its shop online through social media channels and providing detailed instructions on how to order from its exclusively brick-and-mortar store. The business also limited the number of customers in its store, creating a drive-through option and making private appointments for customers to visit the shop.
  • Wick Therapy Candle lost business in the beginning of the pandemic because customers were unable to come in and smell its products in person. The company creatively pivoted by providing a quiz option online for customers to find their perfect scent and have it delivered to their doors.
  • The Upper Crust, a small business specializing in pies and other baked goods, pivoted by offering pick-up options and a carry-out window to cater to customers. The business kept up with communication by utilizing social media and direct email marketing, as well as creating signs that showed new options for buying its products.
  • Box ‘N Burn, a boxing and fitness gym, found its business in trouble during stay-at-home orders and social-distancing mandates. The business began offering classes outside to keep within social-distancing guidelines and offered online classes for people to join virtually.

For more tips on how to pivot your business and prepare for the post-pandemic world, watch this recap of our Big Week for Small Business Summit panel on Perfecting the Pivot.

[Read: 4 Smart Ways to Pivot Your Business Model Now]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published January 26, 2021