This week’s post was written by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting, social media consultant and facilitator of the monthly Roundtable for the Alexandria SBDC.
As the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, started to circulate around the United States, Alexandria, Virginia small businesses began being impacted around March 14th when the City of Alexandria declared a local emergency. It wouldn’t be until a day after that a Virginia man passed because of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, and more followed. Things have certainly changed since those earlier days of the pandemic, and the situation continues to be dynamic.
This sounds bleak, and there are plenty of heightened emotions regarding the loss of lives, loss of normalcy, business losses, and more. But, with great adversity comes the greater resilience of Small Business in Alexandria. On November 17, 2020, Alexandria Small Business Development Center convened its last Business Development Roundtable of the year, which it resumed virtually for Alexandria business owners to connect and share lessons learned throughout this challenging year.
During the Roundtable, it was heartening to hear stories of small business owners making strategic, flexible choices about their businesses—pivoting your small business models and product/service delivery methods, modifying working arrangements for business continuity and staff safety, and new promotional tactics.
Diane Greenbaum was recently in the news about her pivot strategy success. And, she joined the Roundtable to provide some of her advice, having survived and thrived amidst this crisis. Greenbaum opened Kidcreate Studio in Old Town Alexandria on March 14, 2020, just two days before Alexandria City Public Schools would close their doors for the shutdown to stem the tide of the first coronavirus wave. She recounted how she made some smart decisions to change products and services (with Do-at-Home Art Kits, virtual classes and birthday parties), pricing, and working through human resources issues to help parents and children throughout Alexandria and the surrounding area.
Other attendees noted that they needed to redefine their target audience, add new products and services to their overall package, and consider how to launch their digital experience (website, mobile, eCommerce, and other online presence components) in the coming year. Notably, Carolyn Alexander, owner of MomEase, has launched a virtual Ask the Experts program for expectant mothers. Bridget Gaddis, retail architect and owner of Gaddis Architect, is considering her overall search engine optimization strategy on her website and blog to attract new retail clients.
While the overall sentiment of the Roundtable participants was that 2020 was a tough year, there was a collective interest to get things back to normal and improve everyone’s businesses in 2021.
Alexandria SBDC resumes its Roundtable program (on the third Tuesdays of the month at noon) in January 2021, and we are available for business counseling virtually for Alexandria City small businesses. In the meantime, you can check out more pivoting strategies small business owners are trying in The New York Times ongoing COVID-19 business series, Small Business: Owning the Future.