Business Pivoting to Profit in COVID-19

Dr. Birton Cowden
Dr. Birton Cowden

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 11, 2020) — Covid-19 has brought hard times to the world, with hundreds of businesses closing their doors. With no proven vaccine in sight and early indicators of more infection waves, even more companies are expected to permanently close. In an attempt to curb this trend, we have sought out those business owners around the country that have been able to make key adjustments to their business model to continuously weather the storm or even increase revenue. In this post, we will present 3 very different businesses that have re-evaluated how they may take existing resources or those that they have access to and repurpose them to create new value. We will have more posts as we accumulate examples in an effort to help business owners see the possibilities of how they might be able to alter their business to not only survive, but thrive in highly uncertain times.

Our first example is a furniture nonprofit out of Massachusetts. With most of their business consisting of a storefront, their first natural move was to put their inventory online. Because they get their inventory via donations, the nonprofit created new processes to make sure the inventory was safe from the virus. Inventory was quarantined for three days before cleaning. Following that process, the inventory is photographed, given a QR-code label, and put into a virtual inventory along with descriptions and dimensions. With all of this, the nonprofit was able to safely take more donations and make it easier to sell its inventory. Additionally, without the traditional showroom, the show room is now a storage room where they've gained about 25% more "space" without paying more rent.

Pandemic PivotThe second example is a microbrewery in Illinois. Without having any distribution, all its revenue was beer served at the brewery. When they were not able to open their doors, they scrambled to how to get their product to local customers. Knowing the challenge, they stopped production of beer and looked at their stock of other liqueurs their bar offered. While they had an existing bourbon club, they moved it online for virtual tastings. Because most people were stuck at home, they had over 80 people join their first virtual tasting. They have been able to keep this momentum going and found that they will continue virtual tastings, as people like that they don't have to drive after. They have also capitalized this following to setup a bourbon yard sale by utilizing their outside space.  

 Our final example comes from a smoothie and juice bar in Massachusetts. Where the owners used their “creative juices” to find a way to keep serving their customers. They started with a post on their social media and asked, “Would you like us to offer a bag of produce? House made granola? And some house made meals”? That post brought over 100 people who replied to the request. They decided to partner with multiple farmers markets and began creating $40 produce baskets filled with vegetable, fruits, and dry goods. They started with 12 baskets per day for pick up to learn the logistics and flow of the new rules, then expanded to delivery and weekly themed baskets for the customers. They were able to increase revenue throughout the stay at home orders and keep customers engaged and happy.

These are a few businesses owners that were able to beat the odds and survive the battle of COVID-19 by proactively innovating their business model to fit within the realities of the market. Each business owner saw the long-term implications of the virus and made adjustments. If you haven't done so yet, it is not too late. We will continue to provide more stories of how other businesses have reactivated their entrepreneurial spirit to make strategic changes.

-Dr. Birton Cowden & Marcel Harley