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Nebraska SBDC Blog

Optimism During Business Disruption & 3 Tactics To Apply Now

Posted by Craig Boesch on Mar 26, 2020 01:47:36 PM

Craig Boesch

As I write this, economic uncertainty is a growing consideration as significant stock market volatility flares, and a global viral 

SBDC-COVID19-Optimismpandemic is forcing us to consider dramatic alterations to our current lifestyle standards. It remains to be seen how this will affect all businesses, small or large.

I find I’m optimistic; curious, and as always, a little nostalgic. With this latest disruption, new challenges will certainly arise. I feel confident, those challenges, will spawn adaptations. We will again, overcome, and carry on. Unforeseen results can arise from crisis, transitions are pushed beyond consideration, as they become necessity. Those positioned to help, will be very busy, and, may gain in the process, as will others that pivot to join in. For the adept, and nimble; new challenges can represent opportunity. Other’s will carry on stalwartly, as it’s what we know, and do.

Disruption, as a term, has always been part of the business landscape. A new way of doing things, all be it, typically somewhat gradual in implementation. Natural disruption, (and the unwelcome element of destruction), cause the most abrupt, and significant change.

The effect of change, gradual, or abrupt, on small business can be significant. Examples are easy to reflect upon. In my lifetime, the retail scene has evolved dramatically, the once bustling heart of small communities: Main Street, has been slowly set adrift with the arrival of Big Box, and now, Big Logistic. Compound this with the rise of e-commerce, more consumers turn to the internet to buy. As this new method of sales develops, small business owners need to embrace these changes and adapt to the demands. By doing so, they have the capacity to thrive.

Governor Pete Ricketts recently posted on how businesses can be flexible during this time:

1. Offer drive-up service to customers:
  • Restaurants and bars have moved to takeout, curbside pickup, or drive-thru service.
  • Traditional sit-down restaurants are adding phone lines to handle calls for delivery/pickup orders.
  • Local retailers are posting items for sale online, and then readying orders for curbside pickup.
  • Veterinary clinics have begun to offer stay-in-car services. They will come get the pet from a vehicle, take the pet inside for a checkup, and then deliver the pet back to the vehicle after the exam.
  • Photography stores are offering online sales and giving customers the option to pick up curbside.
2. Deliver to customers:
  • Traditional sit-down restaurant establishments and bars are delivering orders.
  • Consider how you can deliver your product to your customer. Even cigar lounges are delivering cigars to customers.
  • Fitness centers are offering virtual classes. YMCA has classes available on a YouTube channel. Other gyms are offering free classes on demand.
  • Gyms are sending instructors to provide in-home classes to groups of 10 or less.
3. Modify normal day-to-day operations
  • Businesses are meeting virtually via teleconference or videoconference.
  • Food processing plants are taking temperatures of all workers at the door to ensure the health of their teammates at the worksite.
  • Large stores have marked off where customers should stand while waiting to checkout. This helps to maintain the recommended social distance between customers.
  • Medical clinics are having patients check in from the parking lot and wait in their vehicles for their appointment. This prevents patients from being bunched together in a waiting room.
  • Fitness centers are spreading out their equipment to allow up to 10 customers to work out at once.
  • Manufacturers are rearranging workspaces to space out their teammates during the pandemic.
  • Restaurants are offering gift cards with more value than the purchase price, while specifying that the cards must be used at a later date. For instance, they’re selling $75 gift cards for only $50, provided that the cards are used after June 1, 2020. This is helping their cash flow during the pandemic.

Through it all, small business has thrived, in some capacity. It’s certainly true, that not all have survived, and it’s easier to point out what’s not there any longer, than to mentally catalogue what is. Particularly when we may not recognize each as the store fronts as they once were; yet, the business is there. Many small businesses now serve a much larger geographic than they once did, and, may provide products or service that locals don’t immediately consume. 99.1% of the total number of businesses in Nebraska, are considered small businesses; employing just under half of all those working in business in our state.

One of the best things Nebraska small business owner can do is connect with the Nebraska Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Since1977, NBDC has been offering business consulting. We have over 40 years of experience serving Nebraska's small business owners. NBDC offers free, confidential consulting for start-ups and small businesses no matter where you are in your business journey. Need additional resources? Check our our Business Resiliency Resources page.