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As the world continues to adjust to the uncertainty of COVID-19, small businesses are adapting to the changing climate. We’ve seen restaurants transition into to-go or curbside pick-up, gyms hosting virtual classes, and a surge of digital products and services on eCommerce websites. Small businesses are pivoting their business models and strategies with creative solutions to keep them up and running.

Here are examples of how small businesses are continuing to adapt to COVID-19.

How Can Your Nonprofit Adapt in Uncertain Times?

Nonprofits have the challenge of adapting to an uncertain set of circumstances as the economy is changing. Nonprofits rely on donors, fundraising, and state support in order to sustain their organization and it’s employees. Rebecca Teaff is the owner and founder of Redstart Creative, a branding and digital marketing company that supports brands for small businesses and nonprofits. She shared a few ways her company is helping nonprofits overcome the challenges of managing virtual events, donations, and client communication.

Remember the 4 C’s

  • Cultivate relationships.
  • Communicate clearly.
  • Convert events.
  • Continue to ask for donations.

Cultivate Relationships

Your supporters want to hear from you. Don’t go radio silent.

  • Continue the conversation inside and outside of your organization.
  • Continue board meetings.
  • Hold staff meetings to keep them in the loop.
  • Send messages to volunteers and donors either via email or social.
  • Call major donors and sponsors.
  • Create a plan for consistent outreach over the next few months.

Convert Events

We are living in a digital world for an unknown period of time. That means you can pivot, use your creativity and move events to a virtual platform. Events are used to fundraise, raise awareness, build culture and team camaraderie.

  • Leverage the technology available to hold a virtual event – Zoom, Go to Meeting, Google Hangout, or any other high-end production tool. 
  • Hold a “non-event” event like a Virtual 5K, Summertime Soiree, Cutest Pet Contest, Fanciest Family, etc. 
  • Integrate social media into your virtual events.
  • Create an event hashtag and encourage posting. This will raise awareness and increase engagement on social media.

Continue to ask for donations

The show must go on and nonprofit services are still needed. Individuals right now are looking to feel inspired and step up to help. 

You should create a campaign with a clear message. Detail how your services support your community. Suggest a small amount to go to a monthly giving campaign.


  • Why are your services needed now?
  • How have you been affected by closures?

*While this won’t open the floodgates to large donations it gives you a chance to develop a relationship with a donor over time.

How to Adapt Your Business in the Food and Beverage Industry

Within the food and beverage industry, there have been several ways businesses are adapting to people staying at home. Grubhub deliveries, to-go orders, and drive-thru windows have become a mainstay of how the food and beverage industry services their customers. For restaurants that also serve beverages, you want to establish creative methods and strategies that can help increase your sales.

One of the commonly missed social practices of restaurant life is attending a happy hour. People are not able to attend in-person happy hours at this time due to the shelter-in-place mandates, but this doesn’t mean you can’t host a virtual happy hour event from your location. You want to continue to stay connected to your customers while providing them with your specialized goods and services.

For example, Happied is an app created by April Johnson that connects users to the best happy hours in the D.C. area. Once quarantine went into effect, April started connecting with local bars in their area to set up virtual happy hours. Users have the ability to pay a fee to attend a social gathering of people on a virtual platform like Eventbrite. A person signs up, purchases the ingredients, and logins to connect with a bartender that walks them through making a drink. This also provides them with the unique opportunity to connect with people online as they are enjoying a drink from the comforts of their home.

Here are a few ideas that you can use to connect with your customers while they are at home:

  • Package to-go meal kits for people to experience your offerings at home.
  • Try virtual happy hours or social events that get people to interact and have a shared experience.
  • Offer delivery through Grubhub, Doordash, or Uber Eats.
  • Keep your customers informed on any new offerings and your hours of operation.
  • Announce your events on your social accounts.

How to Transition Your Products and Services Online

For businesses that center around contact or in-person interactions, it’s important that you start transitioning your products and services online. With the majority of people currently at home, it impacts how you conduct your business. If you are a small business that relies on direct contact with your customers or clients, here are a few ways to adapt your business model.

  • Look for ways to network and partner with local organizations.
  • Continue to engage with the community and clientele you have already established.
  • Find new ways to move your goods and services into a virtual world.
  • Get creative and think of ways to accomplish your goals and provide your services.

Our customer Art Ortiz, owner of DogFit Dallas specializes in training, walking, boarding, and daycare for dogs. Since he had to eliminate his 1-1 or in-home dog training, he’s moved to virtual consultations via Google Hangouts or Skype. He also reduced the price of his hourly rate since he couldn’t provide hands-on training. In addition to adjusting his prices, he offered refunds to customers who had been impacted by the pandemic and rescheduled appointments for customers who did not require refunds.

Art also harnessed the power of social media by spreading positive and uplifting messages and reminding people that how they are managing themselves in a crisis will have a direct effect on their dogs. He has also been fostering a dog from his local shelter in order to help create change since many shelters are in need of assistance due to reduced staff in their facilities.

The Impact on Photography and Events

As events have been canceled and groups of 10 people or more are prohibited, we’re seeing more states across the nation under a shelter-in-place ordinance. Businesses like event venues, florists, caterers, photographers, and more have been impacted because their business is contingent on interaction. During this time it’s important to find ways to stretch your creativity and focus on your business goals.

Our customer Amber Knowles, who is a wedding photographer and owner of The Amber Studio has expanded her services and changed her business initiatives since she can’t have any interaction with her clients. As a photographer with hundreds of pictures, she has been reviewing which photos can be used as stock photography to sell on sites like Unsplash or Getty Images. Her product offerings have expanded to include photography albums and wall art which give customers a new way to preserve their memories. She has also continued to build brand awareness and relationships with current and potential clients by creating a newsletter that highlights her additional services.

Finding inspiration can seem challenging, but we’re seeing creatives promote their products and services to new audiences on a variety of platforms. Artists are live-streaming concerts for free on their social media, museums and zoos are offering virtual tours of their facilities, and grocery stores are selling prepared meals in order to safely serve customers. All businesses are adjusting to different models and strategies that are resourceful while keeping them connected to their customers.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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