Businesses that survive for generations share a common trait: When the business climate becomes dire, their leaders don’t just “ride it out.” They take proactive steps to adapt their business practices to the new economic or market realities, sometimes uncovering new opportunities along the way.


We asked business owners what they’re doing to survive and strengthen their business in today’s challenging climate. Here’s how they responded:


Staying close to customers and vendors

I am picking up the phone and continuing to talk with my clients and vendors. We are having open discussions on what they need right now so that I can continue to be a valuable resource to them. We are in uncharted waters here, so multiple minds working the problem are better than one! 

—Pamela Durkin, founder, Pamela Durkin Designs, Naples, Florida


Creating new revenue streams

One thing I am doing at my online marketing company is creating new revenue streams to compensate for ones that are lower during this climate. For example, one revenue stream I’m branching into is creating several of my own e-commerce stores to market and start to grow in traffic and revenue, Getting new streams going is often the hardest and most uncertain part, which is why I am creating several at once to test and see which are the most profitable and then to focus on the best as they start to grow.

Stacy Caprio, founder, Accelerated Growth Marketing, Chicago


Trimming costs to maintain workers

In times of crisis, economic downturns and corporate year-end fiscal budget freezes, our boutique B2B consulting firm puts people over profitability. We immediately cut out all unnecessary expenses (such as team building events and catered lunches) and we redistribute the work amongst our staff of mostly contractors to keep them engaged for as long as possible without disruption. This could include a minor reduction in hours, but we try to keep that to a minimum. To that end, we are willing to risk thin to no margins on our work for as long as we can to ensure that our staff is able to work. We also take this time to focus inward on some of the internal projects that we’ve been wanting to do but routinely put aside for client work. This keeps our staff engaged.

Julie Chadbourne, founder and lead partner, CSquared, Nashville, Tennessee


Redirecting marketing efforts

Our paid ad spend has seen reduced ROI due to the turbulence in the economy recently, so we’ve focused more on other ways to grow our business. This has included growing our social media presence and finalizing some brand assets we were working on.

—Calloway Cook, president, Illuminate Labs, Northampton, Massachusetts 


Going virtual

Given the COVID-19 coronavirus situation and the reluctance of people to meet in person, we have made our law firm completely virtual. We offer free phone consultations and schedule video conferencing in lieu of having in-office meetings. Since many people are confined to their homes during this time period and social media usage will most likely spike, we have expanded our social media marketing plan. We have also become more active on our individual and firm-wide social media accounts so we can interact with and further reach our target audience. 

Annette Kabia, managing partner, Kabia & Santos LLP, Hoboken, New Jersey


Investing in content marketing

We are a printing company that specializes in presentation folders. Our product is used primarily for face-to-face interactions such as trade shows, conferences or conventions—most of which have been canceled recently. Realistically, we can’t stay profitable during this time, but we’re investing in our messaging, our content and website, so we’re better positioned for success once things turn around.

Vladimir Gendelman, founder and CEO, Company Folders, Pontiac, Michigan



What are you doing to adapt or innovate your business in the current environment? Share your perspective in the comments section below.

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