Ways to pivot your business during times of changeApr 09, 2020
It’s been over three weeks since many small businesses were forced to close their doors due to COVID-19. Those three weeks felt like three years, amiright?!
You may be settling into the “new normal” or perhaps you’re still reeling from the constant change, overcoming the hurdles that each new day brings. It’s been inspiring to watch how some local businesses are finding creative ways to pivot their business or bridge the physical world with the online world.
Many client services or agency-type businesses now need to operate virtually. For example, real estate is currently deemed an essential service, but it’s far from business as usual. With people’s safety being the top priority, real estate agents have to evolve pretty much every process and marketing strategy they used pre-pandemic.
Fortunately, my husband and I were able to close the sale of our rental property last week. Trust me, selling a property during a pandemic was a roller coaster ride! Our Realtor, Sheldon Casavant, guided us through the process, which seemed to be changing day-by-day. All of our meetings were online because face-to-face discussions aren’t an option. We signed all of our documents with digital signatures and even did a “drive-by” signing at our lawyer’s office—we literally signed all of our legal documents through our car window.
“Since homes are viewed as people’s safest space,” said Sheldon, “the Alberta Real Estate Association has mandated that open houses are currently not allowed. I’ve had to get creative with showing homes—relying on photos, videos, virtual tours, 3D tours, real-time virtual showings, and floor plans—to market active listings.”
Right now, people are buying homes because they have to, not necessarily because they want to. “One of my clients recently traveled home from the U.S. and was required to self-quarantine when she returned. She needed to view properties, so I did a live showing for her on FaceTime," Sheldon recalled.
Not only are realtors finding creative ways to use technology, but so are photographers. It’s interesting to see how shifts in one industry creates opportunities for others. Case in point: Sheldon’s real estate photographer, Shawn Hof, is now offering videography to his clients—a new service that’s high in demand.
Some businesses are used to offering their services online, but are facing different challenges. Empowerfit’s owner, Christy Amason, has been providing fitness and wellness services online for five years, so this pivot wasn’t as much of a challenge for her and her coaching team as it could have been. “The biggest concern was being able to bring ‘live’ coaching to our community,” said Christy, “and offer the right type of inspirational content (like classes and seminars) to motivate and entice them to join our Virtual Studio.”
Christy opened a bricks & mortar fitness studio in Sherwood Park in February 2019, which became a second home for many of Empowerfit’s members. “One of our challenges is altering public perception that virtual fitness or classes aren’t as good or don’t have the longevity that in-person does,” said Christy. “It’s important for us to keep things fresh and bring new challenges and topics that keep engagement up and a sense of community high.”
Empowerfit uses technology such as Zoom, Facebook and Instagram to run daily live classes, nutrition coaching and even TeleHealth physiotherapy sessions while its physical doors are closed.
Another in-person business that has evolved to an online format is Chu the Producer’s DJ service. Bars and clubs are closed, which means that not only are servers and bartenders out of work, but so are the people who keep the vibe bumpin’. “I was working behind the scenes developing the technical skills and business knowledge to launch my DJ service,” said Chu. “But just as I was ready to start hitting clubs and events, the pandemic hit and shut down all of my potential clients.”
“I decided to take my service online completely for the interim and entertain the masses via Facebook Live sessions,” said Chu. “I’ve started a weekly Saturday Night – Live DJ Mix at 10pm MT on my Facebook page and it’s really taking off. I was surprised when the Montell Jordan tuned in during my first set!”
Last weekend, Chu the Producer teamed up with Queen of Hearts—a Sherwood Park-based partnership that promotes local events and businesses—to host a one-hour family-friendly dance party. Families tuned in on Facebook Live to listen to upbeat music and leave their worries behind while they partied together.
From real estate to fitness to DJ services, there are so many unique ways that businesses can evolve to an online format.
Here are a few more creative ideas I’ve seen:
- online events or webinars
- online courses
- group coaching (an efficient way to scale a 1:1 consulting or coaching biz)
- online retreats or conferences
- affiliate sales
- commission sales
There's such a huge demand for online business now, that I’m receiving messages daily from people asking for help to create their own flexible virtual business but don’t know where to start. Or they’re a current business owner who is looking for a way to bring their business online by tapping into the skills, passions and knowledge they already have.
Many people have lost their job or have shortage of work and want to add another revenue stream to support their family. I want to help as many people as I can, which is why I’m launching a FREE 4-week “How to Start an Online Business” Workshop Series that guides you step-by-step to develop and launch an online business.
I believe that now, more than ever, is a great time to share the brilliant gifts that you have to offer. Be like Sheldon, Christy and Chu.
Don't stop selling. Don't stop creating. Don't stop dreaming.
Keep shining bright!
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