Reimagining Your Venture with the CO.STARTERS Canvas
“Not ideal” would be an understatement for these times. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re probably pretty scared right now, and understandably.
Sometimes it’s better to state the obvious: people aren’t going out as much, and in most places, they aren’t going out at all. That means fewer customers for your business, which means you make a much smaller profit. Many entrepreneurs are worried they won’t turn a profit at all.
The CO.STARTERS team wants you, your business, and your community to thrive. During this crisis, we’re focusing on providing small business owners and community builders alike with tools and resources we believe in. If you want your business to stay afloat, you’ll take as much help as you can get.
As we search everything out there to bring you the best resources available, we keep coming back to what we believe is the most useful tool for an entrepreneur who wants their business to survive—our very own CO.STARTERS Canvas.
This isn’t just shameless self-promotion. While the Canvas is most often used for people who want to turn an idea into a business, we believe this simple tool can help any business owner who is stuck—we even use it to examine our own business! The Canvas expresses the deepest elements of our company philosophy: anyone can start a business (or survive a disaster) with the right community support and a grasp of the basics. We truly believe this map will guide you through this time of uncertainty.
Why does it work?
The Canvas pushes you to think holistically about your business—it puts your entire business model into a visible format.
Many entrepreneurs are stuck right now because they only see how their businesses are being impacted by COVID-19. But think back to the Canvas. How is your customer’s life being impacted? How is your customer profile changing? How is their problem changing? How will that affect your solution, message, and distribution?
The Canvas expresses the deepest elements of our company philosophy: anyone can start a business (or survive a disaster) with the right community support and a grasp of the basics. We truly believe this map will guide you through this time of uncertainty.
Adapting your business isn’t so much about changing with circumstances as much as it’s about changing with people—namely, your customers. Many employees are now stuck at home with their children. Others are working essential jobs (fulfillment warehouse workers, healthcare professionals, grocery store cashiers, police officers, etc.). They’re likely exhausted at the end of the work day with no desire to cook for themselves or their kids. Some of them want to take extra care for their spouses during this chaotic time and demonstrate their gratitude.
Once you figure out how your customers’ problems are changing, you need to find ways to shift your solution (product/service) to meet those changing needs.
To this end, lots of restaurants are offering more extensive takeout and delivery options. Several bars have acquired licenses to sell spirits and pre-mixed cocktails at retail price. Hair care professionals are selling their products online accompanied by tutorials on how to properly use them. Some coffee shops are temporarily converting into grocery stores. Family pizza-assembly and cookie-decorating kits for delivery are now in vogue. Artists are creating gifts you can give as “thank yous” to your overworked loved ones.
When you conduct your marketing, keep your customers’ changing problems in mind. You aren’t marketing to the same customer you were three weeks ago. Speak directly to your customer about how your revised product or service can solve their new problem.
It isn’t only your solution, benefit, and message that will need to change. Many businesses will need to shift their method of distribution. This will generally mean going online and limiting distribution to delivery. Even if your business doesn’t yet have an online shopping/ordering platform, there’s no need to panic. This organization is offering free or cheap assistance in going digital.
In closing, it is truly possible for you and your business to come out of this crisis intact. But it will require creativity, perseverance, and an openness to adaption. When you’re unsure of how to adapt, go back to the Canvas. Talk yourself through the basics. Don’t be down on yourself—negativity will only stifle creativity.
We are actively curating resources and will be updating them daily in our Recovery Guide. But this is the most important place to start.
Download our free Canvas here and watch this animation that explains how to use it most effectively.
Reimagine small business support.
CO.STARTERS exists to make it easier for communities to better support their entrepreneurs. We are here to help leaders find practical ways to support their starters and continue your work.