​small business and Social Distancing

We have seen plenty of local examples of businesses reacting and adapting to the COVID-19 shut down. With the latest announcement from Gov. Inslee that bars, restaurants, clubs, etc. all must adapt their business to delivery or "grab and go" or else close until the 31st (at a minimum). I think over the next few days, we'll see more and more examples of how resilient and  ​creative business owners are, but if you're needing a bit of inspiration, here is a list that our partners at Thrive ​put together.

​The Easy Business Modifications You Can Make Today to Continue Working (and Getting Paid)

Let’s start with the easy category… The types of services that don’t require any in person meetings.

Marketing Consultant
Growth Strategist
​Paid Advertising Consultant
Graphic Designer
Most types of coaching
Most types of consulting

You might have gone to your clients office to report on progress or discuss strategy, but these are meetings that can very easily be moved online.

And with a little bit of goodwill from your clients (which you will probably get now), services where traditionally people would expect an in-person meeting because of the personal nature of the service but that don’t actually require any physical contact, can also be moved online.

For example:

Nutrition Coaching
Most types of therapy
Bookkeeping & Accountancy services
(Interior) Architect
Math or Language Tutor

For any of these professions, it’s fairly easy to find online services already. Today, you can start leveraging the same technology these companies are using to run your business remotely.

Virtual 1-on-1 Client Meetings

Skype or Zoom are both good options for 1-on-1 client meetings. Make sure you use a good headset to get the best sound quality.

Virtual Group Client Meetings

Zoom allows for meetings with up to a 100 participants for a low monthly fee (less than $15).

This way you can simply invite all the clients through a Zoom link and do a voice only or a video call.

Skype also has a meeting feature that allows to invite people through a Skype link, unfortunately it was unclear how many people you could actually have on the call.

By now you might be thinking, that’s all good and well for those people who can work remotely but I’m a [insert your profession here], I can’t do that…

Well, it might take some creative thinking, but let’s give it a shot shall we?

Let’s Get Creative: Online Solutions for Offline Businesses

In order to adapt to the changing landscape you’ll need to get creative and take a good look at your business.

To find a way to add an online component to a traditionally offline business, we’ll explore the following questions:
  1. What part of your services could you offer online?
  2. What are the related skills you could use to create an online offer?
  3. What existing assets can you turn into an online offer?
  4. Would your audience be interested in learning from you?
Let’s have a look at examples of businesses that are already leveraging an online offer in their business model.

What part of your service could you offer online?

You might not be able to offer the exact same service as you do in person, online, but that doesn’t mean that none of it could be online…

Example 1: A Veterinarian (or a Dentist)

When you think of a veterinarian, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is NOT an online offer. You think about your sick dog that needs help and needs to be examined. While that is true in most cases, there is also an opportunity to offer an online veterinarian service.

Don’t believe me? Check out Petcoach.co, a company that offers pet owners to ask questions to a vet and to do an “in-depth online consulting” (including showing your pet through video) or JustAnswer that offers a similar service for dentists.

Example 2: A Fitness Coach

An offline offer for a fitness coach requires them to meet up with their clients in the local gym. But I’m sure their clients will want to keep working out even from home.

The Fitness coach can send them an adapted “workout from home” program to make sure they stay in shape and offer video coaching (live or through recorded videos) to follow-up with their clients.

Example 3: A Dance Teacher

When we think about dance classes, we think about going to the studio every Tuesday and Thursday evening… Why not switch those in person classes to online classes? You could use a streaming service such as Zoom that allows for up to 100 people to connect to the “studio” and continue offering the usual classes. Take a look at what Neou is doing with their live stream and on-demand classes.

What are related skills you could use to create an online offer?

For some businesses and services, none of the normal offer can be translated into an online proposal. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use your current skills to offer related services.

For this, think about everything you do in order to deliver your service to your customer today. Is there anything in the process you could offer as a stand-alone service?

Example 1: A Wedding Photographer

Now, times are grim for any group activity and unfortunately that includes celebrations such as weddings.

And let’s be honest, there is no real online alternative for wedding photos…

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use part of your skills to create an online offer. Think about photo editing, creating and selling Photoshop actions, …

Example 2: The Wine Shop Owner

With people not coming out of their houses to hang out in a wine cellar and buy bottles, the wine shop owner needs a different way to earn money.

He could create a “Home Wine Tasting” offer, email his best clients and offer to send them 6 bottles of wine. Then he can do a live stream tasting of the different bottles as he would do when people come to his shop. This is exactly what the Douro Boys are already putting in place.

What existing assets can you turn into an online offer?

Some services accumulate a lot of “collateral” while working and when super busy with clients there’s no time to do anything with those assets. Now is the time to dust off those relics.

Example 1: The Child Care Worker

Child care workers are used to occupying kids all day every day. This means they probably have a ton of games and activities stored in their head or in some kind of “internal” handbook.

Would you think this information is helpful for all the mums who now have to take care of their kids who can’t go to school? Of course it is!  They could package this up as a daily email, an ebook or even a consulting call with the mums.

Example 2: The Travel Photographer

While they can’t travel for the time being, it’s time to have a look at all those pictures they took that weren’t selected and ended up collecting virtual dust on the hard drive.

They can use these “old” photos to create collections and offer stock photo bundles.

Example 3: The Yoga Teacher

Does the teacher start and or end the classes with a meditation exercise? They could record it as an audio file and offer it to their clients!

Would your audience be interested in learning from you?

Have you been thinking about creating that online course? Now might be the right time to do it! Lots of people are looking to learn how to level up their skills.

If you can teach others something that’s valuable, today might be the day to do so.

Example 1: The Leadership Coach

Have they helped leaders manage a crisis? Now is the time to package that knowledge in an online course and help many more business owners!

Example 2: The Martial Arts Studio Owner

Your clients know and trust their teacher and they want to keep advancing in their practice. Now that the studio is empty, it’s the perfect time to record that online course!

Is it Time to Learn a New Skill?

​If you or a loved one finds yourself temporarily out of a job... Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill!

The truth is that it will be a hard time for many people and adaptation is the best way to navigate these uncertain times.

This might mean learning a completely new skill that fits the new economy.

Luckily the internet is without a doubt the best place to learn just about anything and a simple Google search will guide you in the right direction.

How Will You Adapt?

Looking at the examples above, you might notice an interesting thing… None of these offers have to disappear when social distancing gets lifted… These can become an additional revenue stream for your business.

The wine shop owner can continue with his home wine tasting webinars, the yoga teacher could decide to have some classes as streaming for people who live far away from the studio, the photographer could continue selling stock photo bundles, etc.

And that’s why I believe adapting is the right answer rather than simply reacting to the crisis.

This article was sourced from our partners a​t Thrive.