It’s not breaking news anymore – the world is changing. The pandemic is just one example of the challenges of our current times. We’re facing issues of a deteriorating environment, growing political divides, rapid technology changes, and social movements of the likes we haven’t seen in decades. 

But as business owners, we all know the old cliche is true – the only constant in this world is change, and we must learn to adapt.

And as a green business owner you know that having sustainable initiatives is one of the best ways to future proof your business. Especially as a small business owner, you likely are already struggling to stay relevant.

It’s wild how many amazing success stories you can find when you just look, and a few really stood out to me as indicative of where the market is heading post-COVID-19.

So let’s break down some things small business owners can learn from some of the green businesses who pivoted like a boss to innovate for the “new normal.”

1. Listen to what your customers are saying through paying

We often are wondering what’s in our customer’s head – well it’s quite obvious now. They’re thinking about COVID-19. And as a result of that, they’re attitudes and buying habits have changed. Depending on your niche, you may have noticed a specific drop or increase in demand for your offering. 

The first step in pivoting is knowing how the pandemic has affected your customers and your business.

What is doing well and what isn’t? What topics are trending? What posts are doing well? What are their new pain points and how can your current offering solve that? 

A great place to start is our analysis on the changing buying habits of green consumers when the pandemic started. 

Once you understand your new audience, you can start to strategize. 

For example, there have been many instances of alcohol companies using their existing infrastructure to start selling hand sanitizer in response to the growing consumer demand.

New York City-based technology and lifestyle company, Air Co. launched a carbon-negative vodka last year. In response to consumer demand, they are using the same approach to produce a sustainable-made hand sanitizer.

Courtesy of Air Company

And hopefully one that doesn’t smell like cheap tequila.

In addition, media company Girlboss responded to their audience needs by launching the  “The Girlboss Guide to Now,” a daily newsletter packed full of resources and actionable tips for subscribers who are struggling about finding or losing their job

2. If you aren’t meeting your customers at their doorstep, you’re too far away

It’s not a revelation that online businesses have had significant advantages during the pandemic because of the risk mitigation and overall convenience. And it wouldn’t be surprising at all to find out this will be a permanent change in consumer behavior moving forward.

Boosting your online presence, or creating one is essential.

Homegrown, a restaurant and prepared meals company focused on healthy, sustainable food, is the perfect example of pivoting online in a way that already utilizes existing infrastructure.

Homegrown was on the track for continued expansion when the virus hit. CEO Brad Gillis was forced to reduce his workforce by almost 70 percent and was lucky to receive three daily orders.

Courtesy of Homegrown Goods

So Gillis took the only option he saw moving forward – invest into online.

Using his existing supply connections and delivery fleet, he ventured into the grocery delivery space, launching Homegrown Goods. They are now building a reliable base of repeat customers in several Seattle neighborhoods. 

“We need to start thinking about meeting our customers where they’re at, and not expecting that they’ll come to you.” said Gillis.

Geek Wire

3. The Small Business Advantage

The majority of small businesses (57%) report they are optimistic or extremely optimistic about the future of their businesses despite the COVID-19 crisis, according to a recent survey.

This positive outlook is remarkable when you consider that almost 60% of all businesses have permanently closed due to COVID.

But people are starting to care more about shopping small and local.

“This pandemic moment is supercharging society’s shop local mindset and highlighting the critical importance of small businesses in our economic makeup,”  Matt Rosetti, co-owner of Brooklyn Running, told Retail Wire.

So take advantage of the empowered consumers, using the “IStandWithSmall” hashtags because you are likely more at the forefront of the customer’s mind as their shopping mentalities have shifted.

Don’t forget after you pivot, prepare to pivot again

The pandemic isn’t going to be the last thing to throw a wrench in our business plans. Once you pivot, you must prepare to pivot again.

But I firmly believe that as a sustainable business, no matter what size, you are going to be ahead of the curve in doing so. 

We are always thinking about the future and how we can adapt to save it.

 And in addition, the other aspects of sustainability such as diversity and inclusion will bring more value than ever as people of all backgrounds are proved to make a more favorable environment for innovation. 

So prepare to change, and adapt, and innovate because the only thing that’s certain is that change will keep coming throughout the pandemic and beyond.

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