COVID-19 is indiscriminate in its damage — to both our public health and our economy, no person or business is immune to its debilitating effects. Yet, much like a phoenix rising from the ashes, SOME small businesses have held their own, or even prospered during the current economic crisis. How? Consider the story of a New York City hotelier with an interesting take on how small businesses have responded to the challenges of 2020-2021. In his view, you do not get through a crisis by being stronger, you get through it by being different. He adapted his business model to meet the new needs of his clients. With New York City restaurants and attractions suddenly largely unavailable, he, “…transform(ed) the hotel into a fantastical place completely removed from the grim reality outside.” He made his hotel the destination rather than just a stop on the itinerary. And his hotel did not shutter.
There is reason to hope that normal life and business practices will resume with the vaccine roll out in progress. Yet does anyone imagine that we will simply pick up where we left off in early 2020? It is more likely that those who have successfully navigated small business challenges through the pandemic will again need to adapt in the aftermath of COVID-19. Unknown circumstances post-COVID promise to be just as impactful and risky to our businesses as was the onset of the disease. Having made all the adaptations required for our employees and ourselves to work safely and effectively, when do we return to our old business models? Or do we ever? As we contemplate these questions for ourselves, all of our partners, competitors, associates, and clients will be thinking them through as well. There will be new opportunities as well as risks, and those of us with our eyes open and who are prepared to be different – again – will thrive.