How to Pivot Your Business to Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic

Small businesses have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic and have had to pivot to survive. Here are four ideas to help your business survive the pandemic.


Air Date: May 6, 2020

Moderator: Jeanette Mulvey, Editor-in-Chief at CO—, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Chris Herron, Co-Founder and CEO, Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Ramon Ray, Founder, SmartHustle.com, Bridget Weston, Acting CEO, SCORE

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of small businesses have been struggling to stay afloat. Stay-at-home orders, mandatory shutdowns and fear of getting sick have been keeping people inside, and businesses have been suffering the consequences. Some have adapted to these challenges while others continue to be hamstrung by them.

Recently, CO— spoke with a panel of experts to learn what they've done to keep their businesses alive during this time. They shared ways they’ve continued to engage customers and employees — and how other companies can pivot their business strategy.

Companies Should Pivot Their Product Line to the Times

At the beginning of 2020, Chris Herron, co-founder and CEO of Creature Comforts Brewing Co., sat down with his team to discuss the year ahead. One of their ideas was to create hand sanitizer for their taproom so visiting guests felt sanitary in their environment. While the company never predicted a pandemic when creating their hand sanitizer, it turned out that doing so helped them drive business and even increased their other sales.

“We've seen an increase when we have hand sanitizer available,” said Herron. “We actually get an 8% lift on our beer sales to go.”

The hand sanitizer led to an increase in overall sales and opened them up to new customers, allowing them to meet the needs of every nonprofit that reached out to them and keep all of their employees at 100% pay. Additionally, they also created a drive-through for picking up beer, which has further increased sales.

“We brainstormed all the possible scenarios that could play out … [and] the tools and materials that we have that are maybe something that we could leverage for the community or for our own business,” he said.

Businesses Must Communicate With Consumers as Much as Possible

Many businesses are vying for attention right now, and some have found it hard to connect with their customers. However, during times like these, it’s crucial to check in with your audience and continue marketing your brand. To do this, Bridget Weston, acting CEO of SCORE, advocates that businesses need to get their message across through multiple platforms, including media and community engagement.

“Look at your community partners,” she said. “Tell the local city or county that you are open for business, ask them to spotlight you in a newsletter, try to do your own PR and get the word out … You are the best spokesperson for your business.”

Herron added that your messaging should not only tell your customers that you're open but also explain how your business strategy is adapting to the coronavirus.

“People want to know not just that you're open, but that you've thought about the process and that you've come up with something that is … touchless and contactless,” he said.

Physical Businesses Need to Make a Full Shift Online

By now, most businesses have embraced the digital transformation. Still, some are struggling to adapt to this more digital business world.

Ramon Ray, founder of SmartHustle.com, said there is no excuse for a business not to be digital. If you invest the proper time, you can build e-commerce yourself or you can hire a professional developer.

“There's a number of tools that retail shops, restaurants and others can string together … or [hire] the experts who can do it,” he said.

Employers Should Check in on Their Workers and Keep Them Engaged Throughout the Pandemic

With the pandemic still going strong, many people are struggling to stay positive and engaged — especially while working. That’s why it’s important for employers to check in with their employees and keep them motivated.

Herron shared that his company has more frequent and shorter meetings to make sure their employees feel heard, while Weston stated that she keeps her employees engaged through activities such as scavenger hunts.

“It's important to have fun, because when you shake things up at work and then clear the mind, people are able to come with ideas and are reinvigorated and recommitted to the purpose of the work,” Weston said.