These are unique and unprecedented times for businesses, as business big and small everywhere are impacted by the coronavirus. COVID-19 crisis. I’ve worked over the many years with thousands of businesses, many of them small businesses. I am inspired by the way that many of my small business clients and friends have been adapting rapidly within the last couple of weeks to implement new ways of service and new tools.

I wanted to share some examples that might inspire you if you’re confronting the challenges for your business and thinking about how to adapt. For example, a small business that I know and love very well is my wife’s restaurant called Lazy Mike’s delicatessen. As with restaurants all over the country, have had to adapt with protocols and shift to takeout only, to limit the number of customers coming in the restaurant, to clean at extensive intervals, to place signs and markings around to ensure that people are distancing themselves.That’s an easy example that you’ve probably seen yourself if you’ve been past or picked up takeout at a restaurant.

A client and friend of mine, Tori, is a real estate agent and she was telling me about how her showings have essentially gone from big catered in-person affairs where people would walk up, pass through, drive up, no appointment needed – an ‘open house.’ Now, these almost exclusively done virtually and sometimes by appointment. By appointment so that they can space them out in time and clean, and they’re using new virtual tools to provide virtual walk-throughs and video tours of the property.

My gym trainer, and client, Kavon, at Functional Fitness VA, has transitioned to offering classes online. They had to figure this out within a matter of days; they had never done online classes to my knowledge before. And not only are they now hosting live classes online via Zoom – sometimes with larger attendance than their in person classes would have – but they’re also posting videos daily with short workout tips that anybody can implement and that don’t require any fancy or sophisticated or heavy kind of gym equipment.

Another client of mine is a professional comedian. Her big show that was in production and planning, it’s called Social Media Meltdowns. (Trademark pending, of course!). Comedy, of course, is traditionally done in a club with an audience with that live laughter and reaction. Comedians are having to adapt just like musicians and other entertainers and performers. So Social Media Meltdowns now a YouTube video production quickly adapted, getting views, and still very funny.

Lawyerist is a community of online attorneys. They had a conference scheduled in person for a few weeks ago, right as this pandemic began to hit and shut things down. They pivoted very quickly and in a matter of days went from canceling travel and arrangements for the conference to moving the conference online and providing new timely topics and content delivered online and they did a great job.

OnYourMarq, is a running enthusiast apparel and brand client, small business. They did a great thing. They’re having a virtual fundraiser to run on your treadmill or in your neighborhood, run a 5K and help raise funds for important charities and causes to help fight COVID-19 and the coronavirus. So a great way to pivot, bring their community and fans together and make a virtual event given the limitations of what everybody’s facing.

Musician clients of mine, The Grandsons, I’ve seen their members have been giving concerts online. One of them even did a “tour” at an assisted living facility as we was on an iPad, being wheeled through the halls.

Another client of mine in Washington DC is called Masseria, a Michelin star restaurant, and they’ve been doing takeout delivered for the first time now. And believe it or not, the chef who is a world renowned chef or a Michelin star has been delivering takeout himself. So that’s an incredible adaptation, again, brought about by unusual, challenging circumstances.

Several clients have adapted to making masks, like VIE13 and Aloha Glamour. They are inspiring and helping people.

Seeing the way that these small businesses are adapting and not only trying to provide for their business, for their employees, for their clients and customers, and make the best out of what’s going on, has been uplifting and inspiring.These are examples of businesses that finding opportunities to be creative, to create new content, or find new ways of delivering. We will eventually revert to the old ways of work and then we’ll have the new ways on top of the old ones; perhaps that is one silver lining in the long term for all of this.

I encourage you to think creatively about how can you adapt your business in these times to provide for your clients and your customers, which is the essence of service and the one of the keys to managing a brand in a crisis.

If you have any questions about this, I’m more than open to talk about it. Of course, my core experience is in trademarks, but I’m adapting too. I may not be an expert on these business changes and pivots, but I’ve been inspired by watching what all of my clients are doing and I’ve learned a lot from these and other examples.

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