23 Small Business Owners Share What’s Working and What’s Not During The Coronavirus Crisis

This article is part of Raydiant’s Coronavirus Small Business Resource Center which aims to provide actionable insights, ideas, and resources to business owners struggling due to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

We’ve collaborated with different executives, business owners, and thought leaders to crowdsource insights and expertise that will ensure this content is as actionable, timely, and helpful as possible.

If you are a business owner looking for a specific question to be answered or if you an expert and would like to have your insights included, please email Emilia@Raydiant.com

What changes have you made that are working?

Calloway Cook, President of Illuminate Labs

"We’ve been testing a lot of different paid ad software small-scale during this time, and we’ve identified some strategies that should work at scale when this economic recession/depression ends."

Luka Arezina, Co-Founder of Dataprot

"I have moved completely to remote work. Luckily most of our job is done online, so we were able to adapt fairly quickly." 

However, I had to introduce new tools for tracking people’s productivity online such as Hubstaff.
Also, we have increased our Slack communication to ensure that everybody’s doing their work on time.

Faizi Kamil, Co-Owner, Challenge coins 4 U, an Odyssey marketing group company

"The one thing that has helped us boost business is to implement email marketing campaigns to engage with customers."

I would recommend this step because major businesses are also doing so, and are able to then redirect customers to their websites.

De-De Mulligan, President & Chief Content Strategist, Mulligan Management Group, LLC

"I’m checking in with my clients frequently and seeing where they are."

If they are struggling, I’m suspending their account, no strings attached. I’m laying off my employee at the end of the month, and we will go on a month-by-month basis. I’ve cut out all unnecessary expenses.

Nick Flint, Owner and CEO, Pure cut supplements

"I’ve expanded my product offerings on my website."

Instead of just selling supplements, I’ve partnered with a resistance band company to sell those on my site as well.

I’m working on doing the same with some various healthy snack brands.

Ted Kaplun, founding partner of Kaplunmarx

"The changes that we have made that are working for our business have been to leverage online communication with staff and clients."

We have been able to use tools such as Slack, Facetime, and email to keep everyone informed.

Open lines of communication have allowed us to continue to operate our business seamlessly as everyone has been working from home.

Patrick West, founder of Be the machine

"The biggest and toughest move was an immediate cut of payroll."

Letting staffers go was a necessity. Remaining staffers had salaries massively reduced. Ditched the office despite being cheap and convenient. Told all vendors payments were delayed 90 days.

Kevin Miller, founder and CEO of The Word Counter

"Since we are working remotely, all meetings are being handled via Zoom, which is a video conferencing tool."

We are holding one-on-one meetings with each employee to determine how management can help each person on an individual basis.

Danny Sims, Managing Director of DJS Research LTD.

"As a market research company, we do a lot of face-to-face interviewing. We’ve been able to transition many projects to online methodologies, or to using a telephone-based approach. We’re lucky in that we retained a large call centre when others were sub-contracting their telephone work or moving away from the methodology all together. So far, clients have been positive about the move as it allows us to keep going without impacting their internal timelines."

Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager, Moriarty's Gem Art

"Our company has a brick and mortar store and an online ecommerce website."

The big thing we did was to send out emails, sms and postcards to our current customer base communicating the ability to purchase online.

We also provided a discount, free shipping and free extended returns. This has generated some good sales in just the last week.

Desmond Lim, CEO of Workstream

"One big change that we have made is to offer our sourcing and hiring software for free to all hospitals, healthcare companies, clinics, coronavirus screening, and testing stations and companies for the next three months, so that they can hire quickly and efficiently. If this, in turn, helps to contain the epidemic, it will also help us, as well as other businesses to get back on track, while also exposing us to a new audience of potential clients. We’re primarily concerned with helping to defuse this virus in whatever way we can."

Jo Trizila, founder and CEO of Trizcom Public Relations

"We simply turned to our plan and implemented it without skipping a beat. Our team began working from home Friday, March 13. On March 12 we packed up our desktop computers, multiple monitors and even office chairs. Some took home small tables. We transferred the telephone to a google voice number and assigned that number to one staff member’s cell phone. We made sure our Go To Meeting was up as well as Zoom conferencing. We have relied heavily on our instant messaging. Not much has changed since the transition. We still meet regularly and our partners are always able to reach us. We increased our Google AdWords and email campaigns. We recognize that there are many companies who will be slashing budgets and PR will be a line item that gets cuts. However, we also recognize that there are a lot of companies who have never used PR and we need to make sure that they can find us."

Hamish Mackenzie, founder and Lead Consultant of Hamish Mackenzie Consulting

"The changes I have made that are working include reorienting my business towards online delivery of my services and developing new offerings that are convenient for executives to consume from a home office."

I have also massively ramped up my communication with people. The extra hours I save by not commuting or travelling gives me more time to connect with customers and colleagues. So paradoxically, isolation actually helps deepen relationships.

Celeste Huffman, Marketing Team, Rogers and Hollands

"One of the successful changes we made was communicating to our customer base that while our brick and mortar stores were closing, our online ecommerce website was still available to purchase."

Since then, we have had to shut down our distribution center, but up to that point, it was working very well to increase online sales.

Andrew Taylor, founder and Director of Net Lawman

"By focusing on outsourcing my marketing, I am able to cash in on skills that I couldn’t acquire personally, giving me time to focus on what it is I do."

By using freelancers and remote workers, everyone wins as they get paid well for their time and I don’t need to have staff on the payroll which can drain my resources at times when they are not needed.

Sasha Berson, Vice President of Solutions, Comrade Web Agency

"Ask customers how they are coping with the situation and find ways to help." 

 This will build a tighter connection and they will not jump ship because a competitor offers them a lower price for a similar service (price cuts become nearly-inevitable in recessions).

Cindy Kelly, Owner of Regis Regal German Shepherds

"We’ve begun offering a virtual dog training session so dog owners can book in a 45 min training session with myself whereby I can video call with the customer and see how their dog is behaving as well as giving them one-on-one advice."

Our training is normally done on site at our premises in Spring Grove, Illinois, and as we’re advised to self-isolate I needed a way to continue to offer this particular service.

What changes have you made that did not work?

Danny Sims, Managing Director of DJS Research LTD.

"I think initially we tried to centralise a lot of decision making to provide one ‘all round overview’ but this resulted in a lot of communications all being fed in to myself, which can be overwhelming."

My advice to other Owners is to delegate specific aspects of your role more than ever. In a crisis the temptation can be to take back responsibility but we need to be leaders in this kind of situation, and that means empowering others even more.

Jeff Moriarty, Marketing Manager, Moriarty's Gem Art

"Our first strategy was to tell people that we could do the curbside pick up for our items."

 I believe this works for restaurants, but for material items, it didn’t convert into one sale for us.

Calloway Cook, President of Illuminate Labs

"Generic paid ad campaigns on Facebook Ads and Google Ads."

 It’s not a time to be advertising to people who are coming in contact with your business for the first time. You want to reach people further along the sales funnel.

Arden McLaughlin, owner of Definita

"I set up Crisis Communication online classes that did not get much traction."

What I’m seeing is people don’t want training right now. They want solutions. So, I’m creating free tipsheets that lend themselves to training and building out smaller online strategy classes.

Eric Young, founder and CEO, Mountaineer Brand

"Getting new people to our website."

 We’ve found that focusing on current/past customers and those who have already visited our website is working better than trying to attract new visitors.

Celeste Huffman, Marketing Team, Rogers and Hollands

"Sending out emails talking about sanitation and cleaning of the stores didn’t have a big impact."

While this was good to communicate, it didn’t look like it made any impact on foot traffic into our stores.

Andrew Jacobs, Hudson Envelope, Jam Paper & Envelope

"We assumed that by reducing the number of employees present at any time, everyone would follow the social distancing guidelines."

 We have found this is not the case, and that we have to enforce it ourselves. 

Ted Kaplun, founding partner of Kaplunmarx

"To date, there truly has not been an exact change that we have implemented failing, however, what we once thought that the Coronavirus would pass in a short period of time has been altered."

We have originally planned for a relatively short work-from-home period, but have quickly realized that this will last some time.

Being able to come to grips with that fact has been important and allowed us to shift our focus to making this a productive period of time regardless of our constraints.

Saurabh Jindal, owner of Talk Travel

"Selling on Amazon and other eCommerce websites." 

Most people are supporting their local business communities and hence got little traction on eCommerce websites.

Katie Woodland, MSC, BA, MBPSS, SNHS, Maverick Psychologist, Business Coach, TedX speaker, & best selling author  

"Keeping to my regular working hours/routine. Since the lockdown, the internet seems to slow down massively from 2 pm. Leaving it near impossible to continue to upload/publish content in the afternoon when my clients are online."

In order to ensure content goes out as planned, all publishing/uploading is now happening overnight. All calls have been moved to the morning and the afternoon is reserved for offline work.

Cori Gray, founder of The Mod Cabin

"Initially, we thought influencer marketing would be effective, but it hasn’t been during this time."