By June Mathews, Executive Director, Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce
TRUSSVILLE — In a few short weeks, our entire existence has changed as we’ve set aside nearly everything else in our lives to focus on not just maintaining our health but doing our part to stop the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
We wash our hands more in one day than we used to in a week. We’ve learned what “social distancing” means, whether we meticulously observe it or not. Those of us deemed “non-essential” stay home from work, often turning sofas or kitchen tables into makeshift offices. And we spend way too much time staring in fascinated horror at TV screens and personal devices, watching live updates of the pandemic numbers rising, even as the stock market drops like a rock.
Locally, we’ve seen business after business forced to alter procedures according to current standards or close their doors for the duration as they envision lost revenue and dreams going up in smoke. The economic shutdown we’re experiencing is unprecedented, and business owners are at a near loss for coping with the fallout.
But for all the negatives, this stepping away from business-as-usual has at least one positive. It’s a huge opportunity to regroup.
Talk about a blessing in disguise, right? But it’s true. Trussville businesses, individually and as a community, have tremendous potential for rebounding quickly and becoming better than ever. With some thought and planning, our reputation as the leading hub of commerce in northeast Jefferson County can only grow.
The following are some things that business owners can do in the meantime to improve their chances of making a strong comeback.
Rethink your strategy. For better or worse, this could be a new beginning. So take a look at where your business was before the pandemic hit. What could you be doing differently? What should you continue to do the same? Though too many changes can be off-putting to consumers, the right changes, even small ones, can work wonders.
In short, figure out where you are as a company and where you want to go. Then chart a course that will get you there.
Readjust your view. Doing business is going to be different in the future because most people (i.e., customers) will come out of this crisis with different priorities and perspectives. Leading a sheltered life for weeks on end will clarify their views on what’s important and what’s not, which will likely affect their consumer mentality.
After ordering takeout online and attending meetings via Zoom or other conferencing apps on a regular basis, the average person will also be more conscious of – and knowledgeable about – the digital world. Thus, a review of how you currently use technology in your business might be in order. How can you use it in the future to better serve your customers?
Redirect your energies. The word “redirect” means “to change the course or direction of,” and for all its limitations, sheltering in place allows that. In fact, this downtime can be a boon for business owners willing to do their stay-at-home work.
Redirecting could be as simple as getting something on the calendar – a goal, a meeting, a deadline – anything that might prompt you to move forward. This would also be a good time to spruce up your website, pick up the phone and call customers you haven’t spoken with in a while, participate in a webinar, or do some research on what your target customers need and want. So turn off the constant stream of news and act.
While we have no set pattern or formula for rejuvenating an entire business community after a shutdown of the size and scope we’re experiencing, if we, as individuals, do our part, the rest will happen.
But as we await the flattening of the curve and the lifting of restrictions, there’s one overriding thought to keep in mind: This current crisis is temporary. This, too, as the saying goes, shall pass, and we’ll be better for it. Stronger. More aware of our values. More confident of our capacity to survive and, indeed, thrive under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Meanwhile, our greatest source of hope is to look ahead and begin now preparing for better days.
Though the office is closed, your Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce staff remains available to serve our members and community. Reach us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.