“The only way to survive was to pivot,” he said via email. “I realized this was the time to try something audacious.” Within a few weeks of the pandemic shutdowns, Keith Wallace, founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, was facing possible bankruptcy. Unable to open the doors of his business’s in-person-only classrooms, Wallace had to cancel wine classes for thousands of people. Wallace repurposed his office into a recording studio, turned the main classroom into a video studio and taught himself how to produce and edit videos. By September 2020, the school launched its first online-only Level One Sommelier Course, an eight-week program.
The pandemic forced businesses to find new ways to serve their customers — and quickly, says Meghan Cruz, director of grassroots advocacy at the National Retail Federation. CREATIVE BUSINESS MODELS
Now, that small-business owners have built out new infrastructure, like curbside pickup and e-commerce operations, they can continue using the hybrid business models they adopted during the pandemic, she says. Here are four ways small businesses adapted in response to the pandemic that may have long-lasting effects on future operations, according to industry experts and business owners themselves.
INVESTMENT IN DIGITAL TOOLS Prior to the pandemic, many small-business owners used technology as a secondary approach to business, according to Hall — but that shifted in 2020. “This change is forever,” he said.
Now, he is working on launching three additional online programs nationally within the next year. By December, Wallace was able to recoup about 30% of the business’s income through the online programs.
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