What we can learn from these 5 small businesses thriving through COVID-19

These five businesses have been thriving through COVID-19 and we can all learn important lessons from them during this time. They reexamined their strategies, got creative, and made tough decisions on how to adapt and sustain long-term growth for their businesses. 

Here are five key tips we can learn from these small business owners that can impact our own strategies going forward into the future:


1. Focus on your best asset: your team

“At Bluedog, we steadfastly focused on our talented team as we transitioned to home-based work environments. We recognized that in order to continue our commitment to exceeding client expectations, the company moved with urgency to respond to rapidly evolving conditions with humanity and flexibility. We offered:

  • Expanded Town Hall conversations 
  • A stipend for home office furnishings 
  • Company-funded food and beverage
  • Professional support to navigate dynamic parenting needs 
  • At-home wellness programs and on-going educational support. We encourage employees to take sabbaticals and explore their passions.”

– Michelle Hayward, Founder and CEO, Bluedog Design

2. Challenge your assumptions to formulate a new perspective

“A phoenix rises from the ashes. The decline in business caused by COVID-19 has allowed us the opportunity to challenge our assumptions and move forward with a new and different perspective. Our efforts during this time have included examining our product mix to focus on high margin goods, implementing a new inventory system, continuing to sell aging units, and putting in place physical systems and technologies that will ensure a successful Q4 and Holiday Season.” 

– Alexander Lans, Founder and CEO, FOAL LLC

3. Find solutions to a problem that assists others

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has confirmed a valuable lesson. Even though you may not be doing what you have trained for or what you have dreamed of, this truth remains. If you can find a solution to a problem, you will always have a customer that needs you. And beyond that, you will experience the deep satisfaction that comes from using your abilities to assist others.”.

– Lynda Dorman, co-owner and CEOOrange Wall Enterprises and Carolyn Howell, co-owner and President, Orange Wall Enterprises

4. Develop a new revenue stream

“We are an education business for children with retail outlets. With the difficult retail environment, we have had to quickly develop a new revenue stream for online education. Because of our international presence, we were able to track the business effects of COVID-19 early in January and February, faster than our competitors. By the time the pandemic hit the U.S., we were ready to go with online offerings.

“For small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) looking to get into the online marketplace, it is very important to have a dynamic, technical staff that understands how to implement, market and capitalize in the online world.”

– Danny Park, CEO and co-founder of RoboTHINK LLC 

5. Create a new niche

“We recognized early on that our business, custom uniforms for the hospitality industry, was going to be leveled by COVID-19. We started developing a cloth mask style in late March, and by mid-April felt we had a style that could be a market leader. Thanks to the quick development and deployment of our cotton face masks, we’ve been able to weather this storm quite well, while working to keep the rest of our business above water.”

– Jim Snediker, co-founder and CEO, Stock Manufacturing Co.

Check out OpenWeStand‘s Resources page for more articles, advice, and strategies small businesses can use to get through these tough times.

By Laurel Delaney | August 20, 2020

Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com, creator of the Global Small Business Blog, Director of the Global Small Business Forum, President of Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global, and author of the best-selling, “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably (2nd edition, 2016). You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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