Air Date

August 12, 2020

Featured Guests

David Henry Doyle
Head of Government Affairs & Public Policy, EMEA, S&P Global

Ilan Jacobs
Director of Government Affairs and ESG Policy Specialist, Citi


Jeanette Mulvey
Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, CO—


Amid the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses have had to quickly pivot their operations to meet both health protocols and customers’ changing circumstances. In conversation with Jeanette Mulvey, executive director of content strategy for CO—, business leaders shared how small businesses can successfully shift their offerings based on consumer need.

Look for Natural Opportunities Within Your Customers’ Needs and Your Expertise

Tom Mueller, VP of client experience at ADP Small Business Services and owner of Broadway Baker, encouraged small businesses to find the intersection of what your customer wants and what your company is best at: “It’s looking for those natural opportunities to expand your sweet spot.”

“We’re hearing a lot of restaurants are now creating mini markets in their stores,” Mueller said. “So [with] the types of fresh ingredients that they’re using to make their meals, they’re actually now creating opportunities where people can come in as they’re doing a takeout order.”

Mueller also noted the importance of “knowing your customers and what’s going to make them feel comfortable purchasing.”

“As we were opening up our brick and mortar for our bakery, we quickly sensed that customers were hesitant to come into the store in the beginning,” he explained. “So we quickly put up an online menu that allowed them to place the order [and] pick their time. They could come in and grab and go.”

Netresh Rege, CEO of International Wheel and Tire, noted his company’s need to adapt after their manufacturing plants shut down and projects were canceled amid the pandemic.

“It was sort of an unsettling time for the business,” Rege admitted of the shutdowns. “We have a staff of about 25 to 30 engineers, we have machine builders. So we’re thinking [about] how to best utilize this resource.”

“We took that opportunity to pivot … to get into something related to automation that the market really needs everywhere: the shortage of PPE,” he explained. “We started building machines that can build masks at a very high volume.”

Small Businesses Have Strength in Adaptability and Expertise

While larger competitors may have more assets or brand recognition, small businesses have some key advantages in times like these.

“The biggest strength that we all have — and in my opinion, one of the most competitive advantages that we have — is our ability to be nimble, to be fast, to change and pivot quickly,” stressed Will Adams, VP and general manager of Small Business Services at Tarkenton Companies.

Adams recommended that small businesses use this period of uncertainty to position themselves as experts in their industry and share that expertise with others.

“Not that we have all of the answers … [but] you’re going to be marketing on your expertise of having some answers and some direction for people to move forward.”

From the Series

CO— Blueprint