Local entrepreneurs talk about surviving a pandemic, and thriving

Business waiver debate

The Coronavirus pandemic currently raging across the US, and the world, has affected everyone. Schools have closed. Thousands infected with the virus are either riding their illness out at home or laying in hospitals critically ill. Death rates are climbing.

Most of us are confined to our homes Under Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay at home order. We are stressing, worrying. Those working at life-sustaining businesses still open worry about being exposed to the virus in spite of the best social distancing practices.

The lucky ones are working, remotely, from home. Others exist on unemployment. Everyone hopes their resources will hold out until its all over.

Businesses have shut down, churches have changed the way they carry out their missions. In many places it seems almost like our world has come to a standstill. We go out only for groceries, or have them delivered.

Most understand the need for the extreme measures taken to slow the spread of the disease we are now calling COVID-19. But we are suffering. Our economy is suffering. Businesses shuttered under government orders are suffering.

None more than small businesses, especially those who depend on heavy foot traffic into their physical establishments to survive and thrive.

Webinar offers survival strategy

Two local entrepreneurs specializing in the digital business world have some suggestions on steps businesses can take to survive.

Nathan Neil of Chambersburg and Crystal Groves of Gettysburg have put together a podcast, or webinar, to help small businesses navigate both the pandemic and the new world they feel is coming when the crisis is over.

The podcast provides not only survival techniques for today, but a view of how businesses can thrive when the pandemic is over.

Our world is rapidly changing how we work, do business and even spend our leisure time, they agree.

In the free webinar, titled Emerge – Business Planning And Marketing Strategy Lessons From COVID-19, Neil and Groves suggest ways a business owner can take their business to the next level and even plan for future events that could hinder normal operations.

They talk about everything from marketing planning to eCommerce conversions to keeping a business running remotely during a crisis.

They are both seeing a surge in the eCommerce side of their clients businesses.

The importance of an online presence

Many area businesses already had a strong online presence, like Boswell’s Pipes in Chambersburg. The specialty pipe and tobacco store closed under Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency order to shutter all non-life-sustaining businesses.

“They are doing a huge amount of eCommerce right now,” Neil said. ”They did before too, but now they are seeing a strong increase.”

Sniders Elevator provides feed and grains to local farmers. They had a website before the pandemic crisis but have beefed it up in recent weeks. While they have stayed open as an essential business, they now offer their customers the ability to order online and pick the order up at the store.

It works much like a service that has become popular the last few years at larger grocery stores. Order online, get curbside delivery to your car when you arrive to pick the order up.

“If you visit our new website you will find an option to pay online and pickup feed at our dock,” Sniders recently advertised.

The health industry is also seeing an upsurge in the use of eCommerce techniques. WellSpan Health just announced it is moving to virtual office calls during the pandemic crisis.

Many school districts are rushing to set up online classes, or at least educational enrichment projects for children, posted to their school’s individual website. Chambersburg Area School District started their enrichment program this week.

Franklin County’s three colleges were a step ahead of the game since they already were offering remote learning opportunities.

The free webinar, geared toward small businesses, touches on many aspects of coping with the present reality while planning for a vastly different future.

About Neil and Groves

Nathan Neil is the owner of LaunchUX, LLC and Technology Director of Solinkit, LLC.  He is a published author, inventor, researcher and entrepreneur; a Shippensburg University graduate from the John L. Grove College of Business with honors from Order of Omega.  Neil has a strong web and security background. He was recognized in 2016 by Central Penn Business Journal with a Forty Under Forty award.

Crystal Groves is an award-winning developer. She has been involved in the website process since the first sites started being developed in the early 90′s. Groves is CEO & Founder of Misfit Interactive, located in Gettysburg. She is also a serial entrepreneur, musician and blogger.  


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