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Learn from 8 Businesses that are Thriving during the Recession

Image courtesy of Pixabay

One in five small businesses has been forced to permanently close their doors this year because they were unable to adapt and evolve their businesses in response to the pandemic and the recession. 

But, some businesses have found ways to thrive in the midst of the disruption. And, their actions can serve as lessons to light the way forward for those that are still lost.

If your business isn’t thriving, learn from 8 businesses that are successfully growing their businesses during the recession.

Add a new product or product line

When you started your business, you probably focused your business plan on a specific market where you have substantial industry expertise. And that might have worked for some time.

But, the pandemic and the current economic downturn has presented new challenges and is forcing you to rethink your original plan.

For many companies, like GIR, the best solution is to add a new product line focusing on a different application of their core technologies or products.

GIR, (which stands for “Get It Right”) makes high-quality silicone cookware. But, when Covid-19 struck, it realized that it was uniquely positioned to help.

GIR could create vital protective equipment for the public using the very same silicone material and manufacturing structure that was already the core of their business. So, GIR developed an easy-to-clean, reusable silicone mask with companion filters.

When GIR launched its masks and filters it was rapidly swamped with orders – because the masks and filters filled a real, timely need.  

Since then, the team at GIR hasn’t rested on its laurels. They’ve listened to their customers and continued to innovate.

GIR’s recognition of what customers wanted led it to update its mask and filter designs to create a better product. And, GIR has even launched an additional product – a mask carrying case to keep masks sanitary when customers carry them out in the world.

If you see an opportunity to expand your business by launching a new product, follow GIR’s lead:

  • Develop a product that solves a relevant problem
  • Choose a product that aligns with your business model and current operational capabilities
  • Let customer feedback guide you to making it the best product that it can be
  • Look for related product opportunities that complement your new product

Is there a new product that you can launch to better serve your customers (and increase revenue) at this time?

Go virtual

The pandemic has disrupted the arts, entertainment, and retail industries in a major way.

But, many businesses in these sectors have embraced remote technology to provide a viable and profitable path forward.  Here are a few examples to inspire you.

Gaelynn Lea

Violinist and disability rights advocate Gaelynn Lea was forced to cancel her tour due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, she launched a series of virtual “Quarantine Concerts” held every Sunday afternoon. Lea collects tips via Paypal, Venmo, and CashApp from viewers who want (and can afford) to support her in exchange for the live entertainment.

If you’re a performer – or manage performers – consider holding virtual shows to maintain a stream of income until regular performances can continue.

Sky Candy

Sky Candy is an aerial gymnastics studio in Austin, Texas.

Prior to the pandemic, Sky Candy held group and private classes in aerial arts such as trapeze, silks, lyra, and aerial hammock.

When it became clear that group classes couldn’t be held safely in the studio, Sky Candy switched it up. The studio wisely offered virtual training and conditioning classes to keep their students in shape for when regular classes could resume.

Sky Candy continues to hold classes, host events, and perform shows online, even though the studio has now reopened in a limited capacity.

It proudly and prominently displays its visual identity, including its name and logo, on those online events to be sure that clients and prospective clients know which studio is offering the virtual events.

Can you offer virtual events to boost income and keep your audience engaged?

Change your target audience

Businesses tend to take it for granted that they know who their audience is.

But, an economic recession is not the time to take anything for granted.

When the pandemic struck, Joyride Coffee ran an OCS (office coffee service) selling high-quality wholesale coffee directly to offices. 

But when businesses began to shutter, Joyride’s founder David Belanich realized that he’d need to reconsider their business model.

This led to a profitable shift to a new audience. Industry publication Vending Market Watch reports:

Joyride introduced a direct-to-consumer channel, enabling coffee drinkers to have Joyride products — including freshly roasted coffees, finely sourced teas and cafe-quality cold brew — shipped directly to their homes. Joyride also launched a new product, Joyride Boxed Cold Brew.

Ask yourself, is there another audience you can serve? And, if so, how? 

If you do pivot to a new audience, remember to create new brand messaging to help your audience understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

And, consider rebranding if your visual assets like product packaging, product name, or other visual elements of your brand don’t fit well with your new audience. 

Although visual assets could work with different audiences, you should make sure that your existing assets are appropriate for your new audience. That’s not always the case. 

Adapt your operations

Normal consumer behavior patterns have changed.

Many people are uncomfortable (or unwilling) to eat indoors in restaurants.

And, people are shopping online more frequently than ever before.

When shoppers enter stores, they want to get in and out more quickly than usual to minimize the risk of viral exposure.

Smart businesses are paying attention to these trends. And, they’re adapting their operations to support consumer preferences accordingly.

Coach, trainer, and executive consultant Giora Morein reports that Whole Foods, along with Kroger, turned some stores into distribution centers and temporary warehouses and fulfilment centers. 

Adapting their operations has allowed these grocery superbrands to meet their customer’s needs more effectively. And, it’s powerful to deliver uninterrupted service at a time when so many businesses are failing to live up to customers’ expectations.

Are there ways that you can adapt your business’s operations to service customers more effectively?

Embrace changing more than one thing

Don’t assume that making a single change is going to be enough to propel your business to success.

For some businesses, adding a new product, adjusting operations, or reaching out to a new audience may be enough.

But, for many, it won’t be. And, that’s not a cause for alarm.

Make the changes that are appropriate to your unique situation. 

Here are two businesses that have made comprehensive changes in order to adapt and thrive.

The Cheese Shop

The Cheese Shop, a seller of gourmet cheeses, implemented a multi-faceted adaptation to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • It expanded its store offerings beyond cheese to include a wider range of groceries, prepared sandwiches, and meals.
  • It’s using its social media accounts to engage customers with videos of tasty foods and daily specials.
  • Curbside pick-up and shipping services are now available for those who are unable or uncomfortable to come into the shop.
  • The Cheese Shop is now offering “Victory Cheese” boxes to help support the American artisan cheese industry.

If you do something similar, you may need to rethink your overall brand and whether it confuses customers and prospects. 

If your brand is confusing, careful branding or rebranding can help you tell a better story about the range of products you carry and about your business.

Revolutionary Concord

The gift shop Revolutionary Concord, like many businesses, had to close their doors to the public during early pandemic lock-downs.  In order to keep her store afloat, owner Marie introduced the following changes:

  • “Virtual shopping” via Facebook live, walking customers through the items in stock so that customers could place orders via phone.
  • A “no-touch” pick-up service and delivery.
  • When the store reopened, Marie instituted…
    • an 8 customer maximum,
    • a new sanitation regime,
    • and private shopping hours available by appointment from 8:30 am – 10 am.

Changing course is not a weakness. 

Take a cue from these businesses. Adapt your business in smart ways now and you’ll live to do business (and adapt again) another day.

About the author


Katie Lundin

Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business, and design on crowdspring's award-winning small business blog.