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Ways that businesses are adapting and surviving in the age of the coronavirus.

Look at any city or town across the country and you’ll see businesses that have shuttered their doors right next to others that appear to be flourishing. I believe the coronavirus pandemic has changed our business/marketing landscape dramatically. Company budgets are on hold. Events have been called off. Consumers are behaving very differently than they did before the pandemic hit.

So how are businesses surviving? Here are a few examples.

The ability to pivot

Small businesses are pivoting their operations to do a myriad of things. According to an INC Magazine survey of 226 company owners and executives, 28% said they already have pivoted operations to endure the pandemic. Companies are being creative during this time to stay afloat.

In March, the owners of AK Wet Works in Seabrook, Texas decided to pivot. This company normally rents equipment to sandblast grime off industrial tanks and pipelines. But as the oil and gas industry shut down, they saw a different way to stay operational. AK Wet Works re-engineered their blasters to produce a cold vapor fog that can sterilize 20,000 square feet per hour. They also adjusted their business model and now send teams to do the disinfecting instead of just renting the equipment. Now their clients include grocery stores, medical facilities, police stations, and fire companies. Sales for the past three months are up 79% over last year, with 80% coming from disinfecting.

Vodka start-up Air Co wanted to help its home base in New York City battle the pandemic. The company takes carbon dioxide produced by local factories, combines it with water, and uses solar energy to create ethanol. It stopped making vodka to focus on making hand sanitizer, which the company said it will donate, based on advice from local government officials.

Seattle based personal photo booth and custom events services company The Snapbar pivoted their whole business when they realized that live events would be on hold for the near future. They created a whole new arm of their company in March called, “Keep Your City Smiling,” which sells gift boxes packed with goods from local businesses like candles, artwork and coffee. The business assembles city specific boxes for areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. After 2 months, Keep Your City Smiling sold a little less than $350,000 worth of boxes.

Going digital-first

Going digital first isn’t something new, but today more than ever, it’s very important and may be the future key for businesses to continue growing.

People are no longer just popping into stores whenever they need something. Instead, they are going online. That automatically puts businesses that sell online ahead of the competition.

Some brands are even kicking it up a notch by creating a whole online event experience. Luxury beverage giants like Carlsberg and Rémy Martin are collaborating with e-commerce companies to create on-line clubbing. Theaters (like Lancaster’s Prima) are creating live and recorded content that customers can then stream into their homes. And numerous sit-down restaurants who never considered take-out before are now almost exclusively doing online sales and have partnered with food delivery services like Grubhub.

Increased demand for direct-to-consumer brands

Over the past few years there has been an explosion of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Cutting out the middleman (like department stores) has helped businesses adapt by offering consumers more competitive prices. And it’s this power to adapt that has DTC businesses thriving in the current economic situation.

While some businesses are struggling to manage complex supply chains, many DTC brands have quickly modified theirs to continue running smoothly by offering locally sourced products. For example, one British florist, Bloom & Wild, has changed to sourcing only flowers grown in the UK rather than importing flowers from Europe.

DTC brands will continue grow in popularity as more and more people start to shop exclusively online. And this may force retailers with extensive supply chains to review and refine their business models in order to compete.

New ways of working

Many employees are working from home right now and that has given us the opportunity to reevaluate how we work.

The current conditions have shown us that full days in the office along with that hour commute to and from work are not as essential as we once thought. Today in Manhattan, after stay-at-home orders have long been lifted, less than 20% of the city’s office workers have returned to the office.

Moreover, it’s not just employees realizing this. Agile businesses are also realizing the benefits of a workforce that can work anywhere at any time.

As offices are starting to open again, businesses and employees both will reassess how they work. From a hiring standpoint, flexible working will become a crucial factor in recruitment and retaining top talent. From a revenue perspective, a flexible working culture means less office space and more money saved.

Preparing for the future

Now is the time for businesses to review how they have adapted to the current conditions – and which of these adaptations they want to build upon into the future.

COVID-19 may not have changed things forever, but it has forced businesses to rethink their business models and strategies. Given how competitive the landscape will be when we emerge from this pandemic, effective long-term strategies will be fundamental to your business success.