• Amanda Bolvito

Your Business Should Have Changed Before Covid-19.

You are a small business owner. Many of you with children home from school trying to figure out how you will make payroll while refereeing a WWE fight over who will get that last frozen mozzarella stick from lunch. Well, you're not alone. While I write this, I have a toddler, pantless, screaming, "into the unknoooooooown," while my fourth grader is begging me to help her with her math, my fifth grader doing TicTok dances instead of his ELA assignment, and half a dozen new requests for quotes...all before noon. Oh, did I mention my diabetic and kidney transplant mother? Her 42 daily pills can't wait, so add that into the equation. Hold on another second, lets also calculate the immigration process of my husband from a Visa status to Green Card status and all the dollar bags and extreme anxiety of the unknown into that equation, too!

We are all dealing with this situation the best we can, even with the media in the background telling us we are all doomed on repeat. We WILL get through this devastation, and we will do so together. My contribution will be more than ordering take-out from local restaurants and cautioning my neighbors to stay at least 6-feet away, it will be this article--taking time away from my children, my business, and my personal life to put my experience in words.

Evaluate your business. Was it ready for something like this to happen? If you are a restaurant owner, did you have delivery available for your customers? If you are a gym owner, did you have online training in place for distant coaching? If you are a realtor, did you have virtual tours available for your clients? If you are a retail store, can your customers purchase on your website? If you are any other type of business, have you imagined your business without human interaction? What would it look like? How would you survive? But don't just limit this idea to our current isolation, rather imagine how much revenue you have missed out on by not including distant clients.

This is exactly the topic I brought up about 2 months ago in my business networking meeting with Business Connects of Edison. My topic was "put yourself out of business before somebody else does." I had the idea after watching a video by Gary Vaynerchuk about how Netflix killed Blockbuster. It's true! We fall into a routine thinking that our business practices are perfect, which they may be for the moment, but not forever. All of us work so hard for what we have and sometimes it is simply the relief we feel after hitting a certain point in our business that we flat-line.

To give a perfect example, I was handwriting all of my paperwork my first year in business, then I realized I couldn't do that anymore. Mid-year, I started using QuickBooks. Then it was clear to me that I needed a system that could create quotes, invoices, and a schedule was that tailored for my trade. I found Jobber. After that, another wave of knowledge fell over me. I needed automatic payments, a credit card option, and a client portal--all of which Jobber was able to offer. I was ahead of my competition in normal times and ahead of times before a virus changed all of our lives. Before this whole pandemic broke, customers (or potential customers) could request work online and we didn't have to have any interaction throughout the whole process, even though meeting our customers was our preference.

So this is the question I pose to you: what have you done this past week, month, year, or even decade to stay relevant? Times are changing, pandemic or not. Our businesses need to constantly evolve and produce a new product (or new way of delivering our product or service) that the next hasn't thought of yet. As I was scrolling through Facebook, an ad for Fabletics came up on my feed. I'm a mom of three, my body will never be like that mannequin in the department store. You know what caught my eye? The fact that they had real women models for each size. I could shop knowing what their product would look like on my body type without stepping out of the comfort zone of my living room. Does your boutique offer that for your clothing? If not, I know what you are thinking--THAT COSTS MONEY!!!!! I know, but look at where you are now! Isn't this costing money?

Think about the future of your business and forget about this current disaster. Think about what life may be like in your business in five years and how that demographic could change your everyday procedures--then make those changes NOW! Create security for yourself and your employees for years to come by always thinking that the person next to you is going to produce a product or service better than yours. I get it--I've received more email notifications these past few weeks stating "you've avoided an overdraft fee" more times than I've changed the toilet paper in our single bathroom home with five adults and three children! After the mortgage payment, medicare bill, utilities, payroll taxes, insurance, prescriptions, doctor bills, property taxes, and over two dozen other bills we pay per month, I am the first one to admit there isn't much money for new investments; however, I find the money to fund the future. The only thing worse than eating 29 cent noodles today is not being able to afford those same 29 cent noodles tomorrow--I've been there, and trust me, you don't want to be there.

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