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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 13 November 2020
  • Public Relations

5 Ways to Successfully Pivot Your Small Business

When safer-at-home orders were issued, Lady & Larder owners and sisters, Sarah Simms Hendrix and Boo Simms, were one of many food and event-based services forced to close their doors. For the next two days, every wedding, conference and party called to cancel their orders. The sisters had to quickly pivot their business model if they were going to stay afloat.

“Within a 72 hour period, we had an entirely different business model operating here at the shop,” Sarah said. Lady Bodega, the sisters’ storefront for Lady & Larder, became a hub for local farmers and small businesses hurting from the pandemic.

As part of our small business advice series, Sarah and Boo shared five ways they pivoted their small business:

Owners of Lady & Larder

1. Reach out to your community.

Sarah and Boo knew other small businesses in their community would be struggling and nervous just like they were, and so they reached out to their vendors and peers to simply ask, “How can we help?” The response was overwhelming. Lady & Larder began to stock produce and products from local farmers. The sisters also hosted pop-ups from small businesses at their storefront. Customers who wouldn’t usually patron Lady & Larder began showing up and shopping to support their community.

It was a win-win-win.

2. Stay cognizant of customer needs and feedback.

Previously a gourmet cheese board and catering business, Lady & Larder became a storefront offering curbside pick-up for a grab-and-go lunch menu, produce boxes, cheese counter and pantry staples. “We knew grocery stores were closing, and people needed basic stuff like flour, home essentials and toilet paper,” Boo said.

By listening to their customers' needs and concerns, the sisters were able to meet those needs and alleviate those concerns in a way that was authentic to their business.

3. Be okay with imperfect decisions.

The sisters of Lady & Larder knew they had to implement several changes within their business, including online ordering, curbside pick-up and having a goods-based shop rather than an events-based business. There was a lot to consider, but time was of the essence. Sarah and Boo decided it was best to just do things imperfectly and figure it out as they went. “I think it can be scary. We want things to be perfect and to roll out a perfect thing, but sometimes you just have to jump into the deep end,” Boo said.

Ultimately, their quick action helped local farmers and loyal customers both of whom were supportive of the decisions, no matter how imperfect.

Flowers and plants delivered to a farmers market

4. Use established platforms to communicate.

Social media is a great way to engage your customer base and get important information out, but some small businesses might not have the same following as yours does. For Sarah and Boo, that was the case. Several of the farmers they were helping didn’t have a strong social media audience, so the sisters took it upon themselves to amplify those farmers’ voices. Sarah and Boo shared the produce or products on their social media and tagged the farmers or smaller makers to get the word out, and the community was happy to rally around, buy from and support them.

“Sometimes you just need to be the voice,” Boo explained.

5. Just start. And be transparent about it.

The most important thing to do is – start. Sarah and Boo acted quickly and thoughtfully (although sometimes imperfectly), but were always transparent about their decisions. They say the community understood and were supportive because of that truthfulness. “When we can be vulnerable and explain that we’re learning too, and we’re trying our best to serve our customers… I think the community responds to that,” Boo said.

Sarah adds, “Our customers know we're fighting to be here every day as a consistent and safe source of food in the neighborhood. We feel there's a lot of trust there.”

It can be difficult to pivot your small business to meet the needs of your community, but the best thing you can do is start. “And don’t give up,” Sarah encourages. “The best advice there is, is don’t give up.”

For more small business advice, continue to check back and follow us on social media! Our series features insights from small business owners across the country.

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