Make your startup thrive during a pandemic!

There’s no doubt that small businesses will be the hardest hit from the current COVID-19 pandemic. The bigger businesses have a better chance of surviving; however, small businesses tend to live only with a few months of cash flow (at most), so when something as significant as this hits, it can be devastating not only for the small business owner but also for the employees they support. So, how can small businesses survive the turbulent times coming ahead in 2020? There’s no easy answer; however, here are a few points to start implementing and planning at least for the next three months.

Quick aside: not all the points will be applicable to your business but some will. And if your business is online, there are some cues to take from this too to get you thinking outside the box during this uncertain time.


Section 1: Cost Reductions


Physical Space

1. Ask your landlord for rent concessions until things stabilize

If you have a physical address where you pay rent, chances are it’s a considerable chunk of your budget. Figure out a win-win situation with your landlord. If you know your business will be back to normal in a few months, you could try asking for deferred payments with interest, for example. Whatever you choose to do, it doesn’t hurt to try and negotiate.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s that simple.


2. Budget a 40% revenue reduction and the costs necessary to be able to stay profitable or break-even

For many businesses, a 40-percent reduction is probably wishful thinking. But I think that’s the point of this exercise. You should figure out ways to make it so your revenues are *only* down by 40 percent.

Be optimistic and do everything in your power to reach your goals.

3. Looks at your subscriptions to see if you can downgrade to more basic plans

Most businesses have more subscriptions than they realize. Look at your accounting to see where your money goes when it comes to subscriptions and see if you can downgrade some of them.

4.Pause or suspend accounts for the interim until you need them again

Some providers will allow you to pause a subscription for a few months.

If a subscription is irrelevant for you at this time, ask to pause it for a few months.


5.Reduce any advertising that’s not 30 days ROI

For most offline businesses, that probably means to stop advertising entirely for now. But I think his point here is to try to figure out ad campaigns that can yield returns within a 30-day timeframe. The trick is to ask yourself:

Is there anything I can sell quickly and profit from?

Section 2: Generate Revenues


Go virtual with your expertise and network

6. Create a daily hangout where your customers can meet virtually

Use ZoomGoogle HangoutDiscord or something else to organize meetups with your customers so they can stay in touch.

Give them value by sharing your expertise and answering questions during these meetups.

Share your expertise

7.Write about it

Blogging has never been easier thanks to websites like There, you can share your expertise, and the more engagement you get from your posts, the more money you make.

If you can create great content, you can make serious money on Medium.

8.Host webinars

Share your expertise at large by hosting a webinar (online seminar). You can choose one from this list or use Zoom. You can even stream from Youtube directly.

9.Do DIY online workshops

Two nice platforms for that are Hopin (beta) and RemoteHQ. Some of your customers or potential customers might be interested in learning some techniques from you.

Online workshops are a great way to share your expertise and even make money.

10.Vlog about it

Youtube is more popular than ever. You can record videos or stream live to share your expertise with your audience. If you become big enough, you can make money through ads and sponsorships.

Most importantly, you build trust with your customers.


11.Pre-sell gift cards to existing customers

If you’re strapped for cash and customers will need your help in the future, pre-sell your products and services.

If they don’t buy because of the tough time, offer an irresistible offer (discount, added value, coaching, etc).

Get moving

12.Deliver your products to your customers instead of them coming to you

If you’re making products and selling at your local store, you can start delivering the products yourself. The restaurant business across the world is surviving on food delivery right now, and so can other products businesses.

You can use services likes IntiGo Logistics which as an example of a thriving startup during this crisis, Aramex or any delivery company.


13.Look for things to buy or sell on Jumia or Facebook based on your existing inventory

If you’re in the products business, try to sell as much as you can online. If you’re in the service business, try to sell any equipment you don’t really need anymore.

Evaluate what you have that you can currently live without and try to recoup some money.


14.Make other products you can deliver to your customers

Are there new products you can build that are more relevant to the current situation, even if they might not be 100 percent relevant to your business? Create them and deliver them to your customers.

Think value, not profits.

15.Create activities to sell that people can do at home

Your customers likely have more time on their hands. Help them get craftier by recording (text, audio or video) activities they can do at home.

Offer free and paid versions.

16.Create a network of like-minded people in your field

Networks are a lot more powerful than a lot of people realize. Surround yourself with people who can exchange ideas and collaborate.

Create a group that meets regularly (online of course) and make it exclusive (as applicable).

Section 3: Goodwill Activities

In your neighborhood

17.Encourage your customers to stay at home

Social distancing is VERY important (#Ched_Darek).

Help encourage people who are coming to your store by putting up a sign to tell them about your new home delivery service (see above).

Public services

18.Provide your services to the hospitals (as applicable)

This is likely not applicable to many businesses, but if you bake sweets for exemple, giving it away to health care workers is one of the best gestures you can do.

Find clever ways to reward those who are fighting for the good of others.

19.Reach out to the volunteer for where they need help

Like the above, if there’s anything you can provide the volunteers (like the Tunisian red crescent), now’s a great time to do it.

Don’t limit yourself to what your business actually does. Provide your personal help.


20.Reach out to your providers and other partners to see where you can help

Because business is slower for you right now, it doesn’t mean it’s the same for your providers and other partners.

Reach out and offer your help and see what happens.

There’s no denying that pandemics are bad for businesses. The key to survival — and even thriving — is to brainstorm creative ideas and take action on them.

Take this list and apply what works for in your context. Brainstorm other ideas you can apply for your business and take action. And above all, remain calm. You can do this!

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