Small Business News & Events October 2020
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Sue Smith, SCORE Mentor, Gaylord
How many times have you heard that we will experience a “new normal” once this pandemic has passed? It is not the first time we have heard such forecasts – a “new normal” description often follows a crisis and encourages or necessitates changes in the way we live and do business post crisis. In our case, some changes are likely to be entirely health related, but others undoubtedly will be regulatory in an attempt to avoid the very difficult social and economic effects of the pandemic.

How will our entrepreneurs plan and change their business plans for that yet undefined “new normal?” I certainly don’t want to represent that I can predict the “new normal.” I do want to share with you some conversations I have experienced with business owners, employees and members of the public/consumers. These may not be widespread views but I suspect they are not uncommon and are worthy of consideration as we consider business plans going forward.

I was talking to an acquaintance at the beginning of the pandemic. She was working from home and local schools were closed. While certainly not dismissive of the severe effect of the pandemic, she told me that she and her daughter actually appreciated the time that the pandemic had given them to be together.

In another instance, I was talking to a small business owner whose café was operating successfully within new restrictions.  He indicated that the business was easier to run under these circumstances because many of the challenges like finding and managing employees was significantly reduced. He didn’t seem to mind he and his spouse were working more hours – they were less difficult hours. His thought was “maybe this is enough.”

In a conversation with business owners, they told me that they had made a business decision to close an additional day per week. And the reason may surprise you but is consistent with the two circumstances above. Once they were in a position to have to close their businesses during the executive orders, that prolonged period of time gave them and their employees the opportunity to re-visit priorities and being with family was important. I have also heard remarks like it is good to have more time to actually provide more service to and appreciate my customers because my work isn’t so harried.

The thought is that this pandemic has forced us to remain less mobile thus having a particular effect on not just our economic but on our inter-personal perspectives as well. These few circumstances have a common theme – they are all related to “quality of life.”  As we move forward, we might take a moment to check to see how we are thinking and anticipating the effects of this “new normal” on all our lives and in our businesses.

To keep your business thriving during COVID-19, you may need to adjust your marketing techniques. If you’re like many business owners out there, the coronavirus pandemic has rocked your world.

According to a SHRM study, 62% of small businesses say they have experienced a decrease in revenue since the start of Covid-19. To deal with this change in cash flow, you may find yourself having to change up other processes for the time being, such as your marketing strategies.

Marketing During Covid-19: 5 Tips
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of consumers and businesses alike. And, with this major change and a “new normal” comes a new way to market to customers.

To pivot your marketing amidst the coronavirus and help keep your business thriving during trying times, use these five Covid-19 marketing tips.

1. Reassure Your Customers
Your customers are your business’s #1 fans. Without them, you wouldn’t be the successful business you are today. In a time with so much uncertainty, you need to reassure your customers that you’re there for them and that your business isn’t going anywhere.

So, how do you tie in reassuring your customers into your marketing tactics? So happy you asked! To inform your customers about how you’re responding to the coronavirus and let them know you’re there for them when they need you, you can:
·        Send out email updates
·        Post regularly on social media
·        Add information in customer accounts (e.g., on the dashboard)

Reassuring your customers that everything is going to be OK is a must during this pandemic. Trust me when I say this: your customers will appreciate the updates and your sensitivity toward the situation.

When reassuring your customers, keep a calm tone with a positive message and relevant language. And, remember to include how they can contact you if they have any questions.

2. Get Creative
This coronavirus age is not the time to fall back on your old marketing strategies. It’s a time to take risks and be creative with your marketing tactics.
When it comes to marketing your business during coronavirus, the more creative you are, the better. Having a unique way to market your products or services makes you stand out from your competition. Not to mention, spicing up your marketing can help draw in new customers and keep business booming during the coronavirus.

So, you may be asking yourself, how can I take my marketing up a level while dealing with the coronavirus? For starters, you can promote unique offerings, like DIY kits and care packages, to get customers flying through your doors. You can also offer virtual options to customers, like online classes, meetings, and showcases.

Whatever creative route you decide to take, have fun with it. Have a brainstorming session to think about what you can do to attract customers and make them want to spend their hard-earned cash during these trying times.

3. Kick Things Up On Social
Even before the coronavirus started, social media was king. As of 2019, a whopping 79% of Americans have social media profiles. And, that number continues to grow as more people go virtual during the pandemic.

To market your company in the middle of coronavirus, take your strategies to social. The truth is, this coronavirus age is prime time to promote your business offerings online. To market your business on social, be active, and present. You can:
·        Start or join conversations
·        Utilize sponsored posts or paid advertisements
·        Post more frequently
·        Have an online contest (e.g., share for a chance to win X)
·        Keep your customers in the loop with store updates
·        Promote special or limited-time offerings

Social media is a great way for you to create buzz about your business. Not to mention, it’s a relatively inexpensive option to promote your business and spread the word about your offerings online. So, what are you waiting for?

4. Build Relationships Virtually
Building relationships is one of those things that can be easier said than done, especially when you’re trying to build them online versus in-person. But if you want to market your business in the midst of coronavirus, you have to embrace building and strengthening relationships with your customers online.

To strengthen relationships with your customers, put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to see and hear from a business? How would you feel if you saw one of your business’s marketing communications?

Keep open, honest, and considerate communication going. If you currently don’t have a regular cadence of communication with your customers, now’s the time to start (think email marketing campaigns).

When communicating and connecting with customers during the coronavirus, be empathic, genuine, and thoughtful. The more you connect with your customers and get a feel for who they are, the better you can market to them in the future.

5. Improve Your Online Presence
With the coronavirus in full swing and more and more people hopping on the online bandwagon, there’s no better time to work on your business’s online presence. Having a strong online presence can help you build your brand and gain credibility to attract new customers. Plus, it makes your business more readily accessible to customers so they can find out more information about what your business has to offer.

According to one source, internet hits have surged between 50% and 70% due to the coronavirus. With so many people spending their free time online, why not take advantage of it? To give your business’s online presence a nice boost, you can:
·        Optimize your business website for mobile
·        Create valuable content
·        Do some SEO research
·        Incorporate keywords on your website pages
·        Engage in online communities and forums
·        Improve user experience

Again, there’s no better time than now to boost your online presence. And remember, even if you already have a top-notch online presence, there’s always room for improvement. So, get out there and give your business the online boost it deserves!

Why Is It Important To Market During Covid-19?
Pandemic or not, marketing to your customers is always an important aspect of running your business. But, how can continuing and improving your marketing efforts during Covid-19 benefit your business. Well, it can help you:
·        Get ahead of your competitors
·        Learn more about your target audience
·        Build on your business relationships
·        Set yourself up for success post-coronavirus

Now is not the time to put the brakes on your marketing efforts. It’s your opportunity to be more strategic than ever, put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and better market to your customers.

Mike Kappel
Founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC.

Over the next 3 months, NCMC CCE is partnering with the University of Utah to offer over 100 diverse, online classes taught by qualified instructors from across the country.

Classes include:
  • Embrace Aging in an Uncertain Time
  • The Brain, Emotional Style, Meditation and Well Being
  • History of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression
  • Live Free of Clutter and Get Organized at Last!
Click here for a full list of classes and to register.
Due to COVID-19 our annual State of the Community program will be presented virtually. This program will be recorded and available to watch at your convenience. Included in the program will be presentations from 4 speakers (The State of North Central Michigan College, The State of the Cheboygan Main Street/ DDA, The State of the Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce and the State of the County of Cheboygan) and once again, a digital State of the Community report booklet will be available which will consist of brief "State of" reports from Economic, Governmental, Educational, Environmental and Non-profit Organizations. Watch for details at

The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA), in conjunction with MSU Extension, have announced the new President of the NLEA. David Emmel of Harbor Springs will step into that role next month succeeding Andy Hayes who will retire at the end of the year. Emmel will be just the fourth NLEA president in the organization’s 36-year history.

Emmel brings to the job an impressive body of work in economic development, health care administration, non-profit management, and experience as an entrepreneur. Most recently he has been the Regional Director and Senior Business Consultant for the Small Business Development Center of Northeast Michigan. He also served as Adjunct Faculty at Northwood University in Midland developing curriculum and teaching entrepreneurial strategy and business modeling among other areas of study.

Emmel is expected to begin work at the NLEA on October 1 giving him some time to work with the current president, Hayes, who has been with the organization for 15-years.

Join us for this great Zoom event.
Save the Date – Connecting Women in Business October 27 Event

Our speaker is local entrepreneur Julie Moskal, the owner of The Purple Beet. She has a passion for creating healthy and delicious food that your entire family will enjoy.

The idea of The Purple Beet came to Julie because she wanted a quick meal option that contained whole foods. The business was born in the Spring of 2017 and she immediately began creating smoothies to share with family and friends. Now, her frozen smoothie packs are available in stores throughout northern MI and she has a robust monthly shipment following.

The virtual event will be 11:30am -12:30pm. Cost will be $20 for Connecting Women in Business members and $25 for all others. Your registration will include one free frozen smoothie pack which can be picked up at Parkside Deli. Registration at by October 10.

The Chamber staff is busy putting the finishing touches on new virtual programming. Though the latest Executive Order allows in-person events, the chamber programming will remain virtual for the remainder of 2020.

Expect to see a morning coffee connection, speed networking, after hours events and more. We are currently finding the best platform to use to provide you with a great networking experience. 

Michigan Celebrates Small Business Call for Nominations Opens October 5!

Michigan Celebrates Small Business recognizes small businesses in all industries whose growth supports Michigan’s economy. Together with our founders, we established a variety of awards to honor the many different ways that small businesses demonstrate excellence across the state.

Our 2021 nomination season will be open on Monday, October 5. We have a few different award categories. We invite you to familiarize yourself with them while you think of some small businesses to nominate for the upcoming award season. You can return to this page to access the nomination system on October 5.
Business Planning Help During Stay-at-Home Isolation?
SCORE Startup Roadmap Can Help

Starting a business can be challenging in any environment. Toss in a pandemic with mandatory quarantine and it gets almost overwhelming. Even though you cannot meet face-to-face with SCORE mentors at the moment, SCORE has a series of webinars that will get you off to a great start on your own.This self-guided series will walk you through starting up a business from evaluating your business concept to various funding sources…Read More.
October 8, 2020, 1:00pm EDT
Learn formats and strategies for tackling an infographic’s writing and development so that your customers can move forward with a purchase. Read more

October 14, 2020, 1:00pm EDT
This lively discussion will delve into the available training and resources for women business owners and entrepreneurs in rural America. Read more

October 15, 2020, 1:00pm EDT
Identify the crucial factors lenders are evaluating now, and steps you can take to position your business for financing in the coming months and years. Read more

October 20, 2020, 1:00pm EDT
Actionable strategies to increase sales and influence customers by improving online reviews. Read more

October 22, 2020, 1:00pm EDT
Creative ideas for navigating through peak season and improving consumer experience to make it a prosperous peak season for your E-commerce business. Read more

October 29, 2020, 1:00pm EDT
Access to capital continues to be one of the major factors blocking the progress and growth of Hispanic business owners. Read more
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Small businesses need your help! Become a volunteer with SCORE Tip of the Mitt Chapter and help build the Northern Michigan business community. If you enjoy engaging with others and sharing your experience and expertise, please contact us!
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SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. We have been doing this for more than 50 years.

Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, and thanks to our network of 10,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our services at no charge or at a very low cost. Learn more about SCORE.

If you'd like to talk to a local Northern Michigan mentor, call 231-347-4150 (Petoskey Chamber), 989-731-0287 (Otsego Economic Alliance), or 906-643-7515 (Mackinac Economic Alliance) and leave a message. Someone will return your call.
Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
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