2020 has been a rough year for small businesses. With a global pandemic and world-wide shutdowns of communities in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19, there has been an unsettling number of small businesses closing for good - businesses that weren't able to implement a pivot strategy successfully.
At the time of writing this, Canada is fully in the middle of the "second wave" and we are facing increasingly tightened recommendations from health authorities almost daily. While there haven't been wide-spread business closures recommended, the threat is looming and small business owners - the ones that have managed to survive so far - are scared.
They're scared that their livelihood is about to be taken away.
They're scared that people aren't buying.
They're scared that they won't be able to sell to those that are still buying.
They're scared that all their hard work will be for naught.
And they're afraid of these things because that's what they're seeing happen to others. Or they've seen a loss of sales revenue, or drop in exposure, or lack of response to their marketing efforts.
But fear makes us blind to possibilities - and even realities, if we let it.
While I understand the fear that people are experiencing, their actual experiences don't match the experiences my clients are having, where sales are up drastically, and they're not just surviving, but thriving.
Ever the data-loving geek that I am, I decided to take a deep dive into Retail Trends in Canada to see if what my clients are experiencing is a one-off thing, or if it's more wide-spread than that.
According to Statistics Canada, the retail industry is alive and well, and it's on track to finish out the year strongly, outside of the massive dip in April, of course, where 1/3 (33.6%) of all Canadian retailers were closed during the month.
"the average length of shutdown was eight business days. In the clothing and clothing accessories stores subsector, 70.1% of retailers were closed in April for an average of 20 days...most Canadian retailers did not offer in-store shopping in April"
With so many businesses closed, and many unprepared with alternative selling methods (like online sales) it's unsurprising that there was a massive dip in sales.
In response to the closures, many retailers quickly transitioned to incorporate and expand alternative selling methods, including online- and phone-sales and curbside pickup.
Those businesses that couldn't transition - or didn't - found themselves facing closures, and towards the end of April and into early May, we saw wide-spread permanent closures, including some big names that have seemingly been around forever.
And shoppers followed suit. They transitioned their buying habits from in-person retail to online purchases, and we saw a 120% increase in e-commerce sales, accounting for 9.5% of all retail sales - the highest it's ever been.
There are many factors that affected business closures, and for some industries, it's simply not possible to transition to an online model. (online haircut anyone?)
But for those industries where it is possible to offer online or alternative sales methods, their success comes down to one thing:
Willingness to change and adapt.
And perhaps a little bit of creativity and acceptance.
Even though none of us really like it, the reality is that the changes that have come about because of the pandemic aren't going away any time soon.
As businesses, we have to adapt, or we choose to die.
This becomes even more important as we enter into the second wave of restrictions and closures.
But transitioning doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming.
Below are a sampling of Pivot Strategy Success Stories that my clients have experienced. Give them a read. Perhaps you'll find some inspiration for your own Pivot Strategy.
Pivot Strategy Success Stories
How can automation restore your peace - and finances?
Business type: Spiritual Business Coach
Main Offering: in-person group training & retreats held world-wide.
Pandemic Challenge: World-wide travel bans and bans on group gatherings.
Pandemic Pivot: Transition live trainings to online courses, and travel retreats into virtual retreats.
Business health at time of implementation: Struggling, with minimal income.
Time to Implement: 4 weeks
Total Financial Investment: $1,400
ROI Rate: 1657%
Other Challenges: Budget constrictions. No email marketing. No list.
What made this easy: Willingness to take on some of the work in exchange for less financial investment. Well-established website.
How can ONE email change the future your business?
Business type: Retail Sales
Main Offering: High-end kitchen utensils sold exclusively at trade shows
Pandemic Challenge: Wide-spread bans on group gatherings; shut down of the trade show industry
Pandemic Pivot: Utilize their e-commerce website and promote online sales via email.
Business health at time of implementation: Failing and on the verge of closure. Zero income.
Time to Implement: 1 day
Total Financial Investment: $500
ROI Rate: 1547%
Other Challenges: Previous refusals to incorporate email into their strategy; unwillingness to utilize their e-commerce website; small, and cold list.
What made this easy: E-commerce website was already built and their email marketing platform was already set up.
How can automation revive your business health?
Business type: Retail Sales
Main Offering: Medical Devices for in-home use, sold exclusively via in-person seminars
Pandemic Challenge: Wide-spread bans on group gatherings.
Pandemic Pivot: Convert live seminar into a webinar, and promote registration via email.
Business health at time of implementation: Failing and on the verge of closure. Minimal income.
Time to Implement: 2 weeks
Total Financial Investment: $450
ROI Rate: 361% (est.)
Other Challenges: Reluctance to incorporate alternative strategies. Small, cold email list.
What made this easy: The availability of a previously recorded seminar; email marketing platform was well-established
Hi, I'm Trina...
I'm a marketing consultant that's been helping entrepreneurs and small businesses improve their marketing and increase their profit using proven strategies for over a decade.
What you've read here is only a sampling of the results I achieve for my clients.
If you're not seeing similar results - and want to (you really should want to) - I'd love to show you how I can help.