It’s been a catastrophic period for many small businesses that rely on in-person activities to thrive. From restaurants to gift shops to cleaning services, businesses have had to completely upend their normal strategies to figure out how to survive.

The main takeaway from all of them is flexibility. Things are not business as usual, and everyone is getting creative to make things work. Here are some creative strategies that resourceful small businesses are trying during social distancing.


Your existing clients may of not been able to make use of your products or services for example Salons, Barbers and Nail services have really been hit hard due to their social communication type of services.

Similarly, many local distilleries have shifted to making hand sanitisers. Some local businesses, are giving it away for free, which serves as a great marketing strategy to increase loyalty down the road. Others are selling hand sanitisers in order to keep their business operating during the crisis. It’s going so well that they’re actually selling out.


Many dine-in restaurants and bars are offering online ordering using Deliveroo or UberEats. But other brick-and-mortar businesses need something more personal.

When your business model involves people coming in to browse or interact with you, you need to figure out how to make that happen virtually.

Necker’s Toyland, a toy store in the U.S that’s been in business since 1948, also had to get creative. They’re offering a FaceTime browsing option, virtually walking kids around the store, so they can pick out something that’ll keep them busy during quarantine. Then they’re offering kerbside pickup or delivery to nearby towns.

By offering your services online, you retain existing customers during social distancing, while also potentially opening your market to people outside of your geographic area.


Some struggling businesses are partnering with other, less-affected businesses. Metro Bis has been selling prepared meals at a local food store to make up for the lack of business in-house. This partnership gives them a way to safely serve their customers.

At the same time, some struggling businesses are teaming up with each other. City Home, a home decor and design business has partnered with a local florist to offer an incentive to customers.

The home decor customers will receive a surprise bouquet from local florist with their delivery. For City Home, the promotion serves as an incentive to purchase. But the Florist benefits, too: it’s a new marketing channel, targeting customers who have a vested interest in home decor and would be likely to purchase flowers to brighten a room.


Your customers may not be buying from you right now, but you’ll need them more than ever once things settle down and they can come back to you. That’s why it’s so important to stay connected through online. Here are a few ways to make that happen.

1. Send an email
Email your customers to let them know how they can get your product or service during this time. Are you doing local pickup? Offering virtual consults?

2. Update your website
Of course, an email will only reach the people whose contact info you have. For everyone else, you need to update your website. Check out Lavish for their unique creative designs and effective online marketing strategies.

Don’t have a website? Create a Facebook page to get some visibility and give people insight into what you’re up to. FGX shows exactly the engagements required even with a small audience.

They need to know what you are—or aren’t—offering. If you’re still operating in some way, make that clear front and centre on your homepage, so you don’t miss out on potential business. If you’re completely out of commission, let people know why: by showing that you’re prioritising the safety of your employees and community, people might be more likely to support you when things settle down.

3. Ask for ideas

No one knows better what your customers want than your customers themselves. Everyone is dealing with social distancing differently, so it can benefit you to just ask—what do folks want from your business right now?

Letting your customers guide your crisis strategy ensures that you’re providing products and services people want. Plus, it allows you to continue to market and connect with your customers even when they’re not coming into your store.


While business is slow, you can use the time to figure out what you can streamline for when your business is back in action.

Businesses that aren’t automated I would highly advise getting started as it will save you time and money. 

If you’re not sure where to start, there are a few kinds of tasks that are ripe for automation:

  • Tasks you have to do frequently or on a schedule
  • Tasks that involve moving information between apps
  • Boring tasks that don’t require higher-order thinking
  • Tasks that take you away from what you really want to be doing
  • Automating your processes will help you now if you’re short-staffed, but it’ll also pay dividends in the long run.

Also invest now for future gains is through your content marketing. Creating high quality content is something you can do by yourself, on your own schedule. You can send it to your email list and post it on social, keeping your customers engaged during social distancing.

Corrie Beth Hogg, an author and master maker, got creative with her content marketing. She created a free colouring page that people could print out and colour during quarantine.

This is a challenging time for small businesses, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Try some of the strategies above, and don’t forget that there are ways to succeed. 

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