Advice for Small-Business Owners From Your Peers

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It’s tough to know what to do these days, so we surveyed small-business owners for advice.

In this article, I’m going to share the advice your small-business owner peers have for how to adapt in these unprecedented circumstances. From yoga studios to health and beauty business owners, these leaders shared what’s top of mind, what’s getting prioritized, and what advice they have for other small businesses.

While extreme disruption and decimated revenue have hit most all small businesses, these leaders shared a generally forward-looking and optimistic attitude. In fact, keeping a positive attitude was the second most common type of advice they have to share.

Recently we published our report on how small businesses have been impacted by this pandemic and offered insights on the trends reported. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

Your peers advise to focus on innovation and going digital

Overall, responses were inspiring and showed the true grit and strength small-business owners are known for. In order to keep this article from becoming the next neverending story, I’m going to focus on the top 2 themes of advice shared: making business model changes and staying positive. (I’ll recommend additional reading at the end.)

peer advice for small-business owners

Prioritize business model changes

The largest portion of these small-business owners share that innovation is the best advice they have for their peers. Thinking of a new product or service to offer online and restructuring the pricing model or simply offering discounts are two common business model changes leaders say they are focusing on.

Virtual consultations or classes, as well as subscriptions or memberships for access to online materials, topped the list of actions small businesses are taking to increase revenue while social distancing. Below are the stories of three small-business leaders adapting their business model in real life.

More than just poses

Jenay Aiksnoras Lake Tahoe Yoga

Jenay Aiksnoras, director of Lake Tahoe Yoga

Jenay Aiksnoras, director of Lake Tahoe Yoga shares, “No business can survive if it remains stagnant. Keep creating, keep trying new things, keep putting yourself out there. You never know what successes will result.”

Jenay already had a diversified business model, with classes, instructor training, merchandise, and retreats. This pandemic has pushed her to innovate and she’s certainly taking her own advice. Jenay is starting a Youtube channel with videos for clients to follow along from home. She’s investing in video editing to be able to improve the quality of the videos and is considering creating a membership model as a new ongoing revenue stream.

The time and effort she’s putting into this new revenue stream will likely continue to serve her after social distancing restrictions are lifted. Her client base can now be global and the return on investment from this digital revenue stream will likely prove quite positive as our society continues to make changes in how we want to consume content and learn new things.

Customer-centric product sourcing and marketing

Daria Kurnygina Galiver Ltd CultureMix

Daria Kurnygina, owner of Galiver Limited and CultureMix

Daria Kurnygina, owner of Galiver Limited and CultureMix, knows the value of keeping her retail customers informed about dispatch dates, product descriptions, and other updates as this pandemic affects her businesses.

“As long as the customers [have the information] upfront and as long as I sympathize with them during customer support chats it all will be fine.”

From identifying opportunities to managing sourcing and manufacturing to the marketing and fulfillment of orders, Daria is always innovating and adapting to fulfill unmet retail demands. But, while she runs a digital business and isn’t forced to shut down a physical store, meeting the needs of her customers during this crisis isn’t easy. “I had to manually update hundreds of listings 3 times,” she admitted. “And it looks like I may need to do it again.”

But that’s the entrepreneurial spirit of small-business owners in real talk. Daria’s ever-evolving business model and ability to make operational pivots as needed position her businesses to do well during and after this pandemic.

Artistic digital transformation

Can you even imagine piano lessons that don’t involve an instructor hovering over you, swatting your hand every time you mess up? A digital business model probably isn’t the first thing a music teacher thinks of when designing their business plan. But Linda Wehrli is doing just that.

Linda Wehrli Pastimes for a Lifetime

Linda Wehrli, founder of Pastimes for a Lifetime, Inc.

Linda Wehrli, founder of Pastimes for a Lifetime, Inc., is a passionate and innovative piano and art teacher in Southern California. She also runs a full retail shop of art and music supplies. With social distancing guidelines she’s had to adapt her business model to accommodate.

Linda now offers art and piano lessons via video classes. Her piano students set up their camera so she can see their hands and feet while they practice. And art students can use their webcams to share their work and get feedback. While audio cuts can be stressful and some people just aren’t interested in online classes, Linda continues to drive her business forward.

Positive messages from small-business owners to you

We’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the extraordinary lengths small-business owners are going to adapt and stay afloat in these unprecedented circumstances. But no amount of quick decision-making and business model pivots would even be possible if not paired with a positive and hopeful attitude.

Continue to find a path forward, find a reason to smile today, and enjoy these messages from your peers.

  • “Do your best to move forward with as much as possible and worry about what you can control.” – Brian Lolmaugh, president at Modern Contractors, Inc.
  • “Everyone is in the same boat so don’t feel like everyone is going to judge you if your business is hurting. People are so willing to help out right now so don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help.” – Sarah Beth Perry, CEO of With the Band
  • “Be genuine and don’t go overboard with a sales pitch right now. There will be time for that when this is done.” – Ryan Gardner, creative services director at Visual People Design
  • “Don’t be hard on yourself. We never could have planned for this.” – Terrence Bowser, owner of Bodylinez LLC
  • “Don’t give up! Something out there has to come about to help us through this. We will rise from the ashes!” – Brittani Dean, salon owner/hairstylist at Betty Bangs Hair Parlour

Recommended reading for advice on customer connections, finances, and marketing

1. Keep Your Customers With a Killer Social Media Live Video Strategy

A staggering 82% of consumers prefer live video over other types of social marketing posts.

With that in mind, let’s answer two key questions: Why use live video, and how do you make a social media live video?

2. A Guide to Establishing a Winning Video Marketing Strategy

To reach and retain your customers, you need a video marketing strategy that will break through the growing noise floor and resonate with your buyers. Design your videos with a strategic buyer journey touchpoint in mind.

3. Technology for Small Businesses: What Your Peers Are Using

This report provides an in-depth look at the current SMB technology landscape. Use these results to identify which software you should invest in now, and which technologies you should keep your eye on.

4. What Is the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, and How Do I Apply for It?

This article will help you, small-business owners and managers, learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program and take full advantage of the benefits available to you.

Navigate the uncertainty

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Small Business Owner COVID-19 Survey, April 2020

Capterra conducted this survey in April 2020 of 82 small business leaders to learn about the business model changes they’ve made and gather advice they have for other small business owners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey was emailed to small business leaders who had left a minimum of two software reviews on Capterra’s site within the past year and agreed to have their information shared.

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About the Author

Olivia Montgomery

Olivia Montgomery

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Olivia Montgomery is a senior content analyst researching technology and project management trends for Capterra. Olivia pulls from her experience as an IT PMO leader for a publicly held enterprise, along with 10 years' experience writing about technology. She earned an M.A. in English from the University of Nevada.

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