What We Learned From the Pandemic as a Small Business

There’s no doubt that this pandemic has been challenging for everyone, and especially small businesses. Connect To The Core was one of countless small businesses that experienced the economic impact of covid 19 first-hand. 

As a communication coaching firm whose primary business model was in-person communication coaching workshops and business strategy we knew we had to pivot when the pandemic came to fruition back in March 2020. 

It was up to us to find new ways to continue “business as usual” while experiencing the mental and economic toll of the pandemic. 

Our resilience as a team and network of incredible clients were the main things that were able to get us through one of the toughest years we’ve had since the 2008 economic recession. We could never express our gratitude enough for a team that was able to come together and push through despite the many challenges.

The question was never, “Can our company survive this?” but rather, “What steps are we going to take to get us back on our feet?”.

From day one, we knew that giving up wasn’t an option. We had come so far with our clients in their results, their sales, messaging, and confidence. And we understood that in order to continue providing our services, we had to go totally virtual.

One of the main problems? Our clients were also experiencing the financial toll of the pandemic, meaning that communication coaching was no longer an option for many of them. 

With all of that in mind, there were three key steps that we took, both within our team and broader network to make our communication coaching and consulting services more accessible in the digital space, and ultimately, come out on the other side as a small business.

1.  We heightened our communication and team check-ins

The first step we took was increasing our internal communication. The Connect To The Core team has been a “virtual operation” for the last ten years, so we’d already laid the groundwork for operating seamlessly without physically being together every day. This was certainly a bonus as we didn’t have to deal with the logistics of moving people from working at an office to working at home. I understand this can be difficult at best, and we still had challenges. After all, good times hide a multitude of sins. As much as we communicated in the past, it became increasingly important to increase that frequency during the first few months of the pandemic.

From a mental health standpoint, nothing could have prepared any of us for the rollercoaster of covid 19. But the vaccine on the horizon provides some hope that the way we’re operating currently won’t be forever. And, our business model has shifted and we will now always include virtual offerings, pandemic or not.

One day, we’ll be able to meet again as a team, sharing inspiration, ideas, and laughs. Until then, we’ll continue to communicate consistently with each other, through email, phone calls, and Zoom meetings. We aren’t out of the woods yet, and we’re hopeful for what the future holds.

2. Authentic connections became our greatest asset

The second step in our triage and recovery was authentic networking. Connect To The Core has always been somewhat of a “word of mouth” business. We have always relied primarily on our connections, our amazing clients’ referrals, and the incredible network that we have built over many years, spanning a variety of industries. 

When the pandemic came to a head back in March of 2020, we had to slow down our services in a number of areas. The in-person Encore Workshops that we had lined up for the year had to be either cancelled or postponed since gatherings and travel were no longer an option.

Everything was up in the air, and yet one thing remained true: we knew that our company and clients would get through it together. 

We continued to check-in with the amazing individuals we worked with, past and present. Not in a way to “drive more business”, but simply from a human connection standpoint. We wanted to know how they were doing and what areas they might need support in. 

We reached out to people we hadn’t spoken to in a while and built those relationships back up. Although our company had financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, it was through networking and genuine connection that we were able to bounce back stronger and more resilient than ever.

3. We found an alternate way to deliver our coaching and services

Offering our coaching, workshops, and business strategy sessions online was something that had been in the works for a while. The pandemic nudged us gently (okay, hit us like a truck) to become virtual for our workshops and clients, while still delivering the same exceptional results. 

It wasn’t an easy decision to move the majority of our services online, yet we knew it was a necessary step.

Our coaches spent weeks re-working and strategizing the new Encore Communication Coaching itinerary. In the past, our signature workshop was held in-person over two days. Encore is now completely virtual on Zoom, and is held over three weeks with a time commitment of four hours per week. 

Like you would with any “new” course, we had to take it for a test run with a group of real participants. And it worked.

Our clients received the same amazing coaching, meaningful interactions, and results that we’d seen at our past in-person Encores all in the comfort of their homes.

We’ve learned a lot over the past year about online coaching services, and we’re continuing to learn more every single day. Our team is constantly coming up with new ideas on how to deliver the best possible quality of coaching and strategy to our clients, all while being completely virtual.

As a small business, we experienced the impact of covid 19 first-hand. We got knocked down multiple times financially and emotionally. Our hearts go out to any and all businesses that have suffered over the last year, and especially to those that needed to shut their doors as a result.

2020 presented challenges to so many of us in one way or another. We’re grateful to all of our clients, our followers who liked or commented on our social media posts, subscribed to our email list, and beyond. It means more to us than we could ever express.

If you need support implementing any or all of these steps in your own business subscribe to our Youtube channel, or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, or simply give us a call.

And if you’re looking to take your communication to the next level in 2021 from the comfort of your home, be sure to check out the details for our next Virtual Encore Communication workshop!

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