Tackling COVID-19 as a Small Business

During these crazy times, it’s understandable to have anxiety around keeping your small business up and running. We here at Avant8, want to help diminish that anxiety so that during this time you feel prepared for anything and can continue running your successful business.

Working From Home (WFH)

  • While working from home is not an option for everyone, there are still many companies that can. This can be a difficult adjustment for those who have never worked from home and are used to a certain routine. Keep in mind that this is an adjustment for all of your team. If you work for a small business that has been given the task to work remotely, here are a few tips to help you through this uncertain time.
  • The Technology Front - So, you are able to work from home? It’s likely that you have a technology-based position. You are definitely one of the lucky ones. In order to work properly and efficiently, tech needs to be at the forefront.
    • Make sure you have all the physical technology in order. If you have a work laptop, make sure you’ve brought it home! This also includes bringing a keyboard, mouse, or any other accessories that will make your job easier from home.
    • Software is another important one. Depending on what your job is, software could be make or break. Make sure you have access to what you need to be successful.
    • Internet access! Generally, our day-to-day lives depend on some type of internet access. During this time of uncertainty, most internet providers are committed to keep you up and running.
  • Home place turned workplace - The place you once called a sanctuary is now a place you have to call a workplace. There will likely be distractions of all types and the adjustment period may never end. Do you have kids? A spouse? These things are generally not at your place of work. How do you metaphorically separate your home from work?
    • A workspace is of the highest importance. Find a room, corner, or area that you can turn into your home office. Finding a space of your own will assist you in being a successful employee from home.
    • What about those kids you love so much? It’s likely they have begun a “summer” mind set. With school closures, their online classes are different, and their time is spent differently. Everything is just different. If you have young kids, entertainment and educational activities could be of assistance.
    • Do you have a quarantine partner? Lucky you! Or maybe unlucky. It’s likely that you will both get on each other’s nerves once … or twice. A schedule could assist with this. Keeping a somewhat normal schedule during your work week may assist you and your quarantine partner. Stay in different rooms when you would be at work, eat lunch separately, and “come home” at the same time you would during a normal workday.
  • You, you, you - You are not going to work the same at home as you do in the field. The world is uncertain and working from home can cause some discomfort. It’s okay. Communication with your managers and co-workers is key to getting a small business through a time like this.
    • Manage your expectations for yourself and what you are really able to do while working from home. Speak with your managers to see what is absolutely necessary and what may be able to sit on the backburner.
    • We all have weaknesses. Know yours! For example, some people can work through anything. In college, this writer would watch movies while writing lengthy reports on feminist theory. But there are people that need peace and quiet while working. If you have a weakness, do your best to keep it at a distance to assist the business you work for.
    • Stay connected! This is important during social distancing. Keeping connected with co-workers and managers through webcam conferencing may be helpful. Here at Avant8, we use Slack and Uberconference to keep connected for work-related purposes as well as nonwork-related purposes.

Supporting Local Businesses

You may be thinking, “that’s great and all, but what about those who can’t work from home?” There are millions of people that have lost their jobs because they are not able to work from home. The number of people that have applied for unemployment rises every day in the U.S.
Through this tragic time, there are ways to help those around you keep their small businesses alive.

Supporting local businesses is a huge way to assist these people. Most local businesses have been forced to close to assist in stopping the spread of the COVID-19. But, not all of these businesses are closed-closed. Local and global eateries are still open for business, but, in a different way. No-contact deliver is available at some places as well as drive-thru options. This is a great way to continue supporting small businesses through this tough time as well as providing a consistency with your regular life. Go pick up dinner for a date night or have a pizza party with your family!

There are also local retail stores that are hurting as well. There may be some that have opted to be an online retailer for the time being. Purchasing something online could contribute to their business. Calling and purchasing a gift card may also assist your favorite clothing, beauty, or any other type of shop in getting through this tough time. Donating to any other type of small business is sure to help them keep up their hard work to keep employees and their business intact. Support local businesses and they may support your small business as well. We need to stick together!

But wait, there is more

Here are some more points to consider for your small business during the pandemic.

  • Plan for the long term. There is no way of knowing the length of our current situation. Planning for it may assist in stress management.
  • Communicate with your customers. This is key to keeping your small business alive. Be transparent with your customers on what you are able to do and what you are not. This also applies to your employees.
  • Upskill your staff. Keeping your staff motivated and engaged may be difficult during this time. Perhaps teaching a webcam class on a new skill could assist in engaging staff and motivate them.
  • Feedback is important during this time as well. The type of feedback you provide is important. It’s likely that most of your staff has never worked from home and needs a different type of feedback than in the office. Ask your staff for feedback on the type of feedback that would be most helpful to them.

Government Resources

There are other resources that have been put into place to assist small businesses, specifically. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has put together a list of resources that could potentially help you and your small business. This list includes directions and information on Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance, SBA Debt Relief, SBA Express Bridge Loans, Guidance for Businesses and Employers, SBA Products and Resources, Government Contracting and local assistance. There are acts in place to help small businesses and there are people out there that want to help. Don’t give up on your business!

Now what?

This is an uncertain time for everyone and everyone’s small businesses. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help your small business succeed, or at least keep your head above water during this time. The most important thing is to stick together and help each other as much as we can.


iHob: International House of Bad Marketing Decisions??

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you know that the American icon of the International House of Pancakes has changed its name…and therefore its catchy acronym. IHOP is now IHOb, the International House of Burgers. The internet went wild. Which is just what the breakfast (now, burger) chain wanted.

They started their marketing tactic by announcing the ‘p’ in IHOP would be flipped into a ‘b’ and asking their followers to guess what the ‘b’ could stand for. 30k people responded and the brand left people hanging for a few days before the big reveal.

The change from pancakes to burgers created a buzz of both positive and negative reactions.

Initial reactions around our own office were along the lines of the tweet below. IHOb stood for the International House of Bad Marketing Decisions. Many of our employees still think that. But researching into the brand’s reasoning may help the haters realize that the idea isn’t as bad as they think.

IHOb is circulating a storm of media, both positive and negative. But here’s the thing, it got people talking. How often were crowds mentioning IHOP before? It’s all they can talk about now. Even other brands are jumping on the virality of the pancake house’s big announcement. Burger joints like White Castle, Whataburger, Burger King, and Wendy’s all attached themselves to the marketing hit from IHOP.

Here’s our two favorite IHOb memes:

IHOP has had burgers on the menu since they opened in the 1950s, but how many people actually knew about them or actually ordered these burgers? According to AdWeek, “IHOP accomplished exactly what they were after: drawing attention to an increasingly popular non-breakfast item that’s always been on their menu.” The new “steakburgers” are the centerpiece to this marketing ploy, and the brand wants to emphasize people to come and try them during lunch and dinner, when less customers enter the store.

The burger business is growing. At least by 3 percent a year, and ‘burgers’ have a high clout score…a much higher score than pancakes. IHOP jumped on the trend not only to increase it’s own social media engagement, but to sell more of its lesser popular menu item.

According to an article by CNBC “the name change isn’t permanent. The same day the meaning behind the “b” was revealed, the chain restaurant announced in a press release that the move was “just for the time being.” The marketing strategy will promote the seven new burgers that the restaurant is adding to its menu.”

This name-changing marketing tactic is no new strategy. Pizza Hut once changed its name to Pasta Hut in 2008 to promote their new kinds of pasta.

Stephen Anderson of the Maxim Group claimed that despite its mixed reviews from audiences, the pasta sales at Pizza Hut increased by 1.5 percent.

If nothing else, IHOPs popularity and mentions have skyrocketed since the announcement on June 11th. But will it translate to sales is the big question. Only time will tell.

What do you think about IHOPs temporary name change??

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you know that the American icon of the International House of Pancakes has changed its name…and therefore its catchy acronym. IHOP is now IHOb, the International House of Burgers. The internet went wild. Which is just what the breakfast (now, burger) chain wanted.

They started their marketing tactic by announcing the ‘p’ in IHOP would be flipped into a ‘b’ and asking their followers to guess what the ‘b’ could stand for. 30k people responded and the brand left people hanging for a few days before the big reveal.