Reopening Your Small Business & The Next Normal

Reopening Your Small Business & The Next Normal

A template to strategize, plan, and prepare your small business for life with COVID-19


While so many of our small and main street businesses have been hurt by this pandemic, it has been heartening to see many of them find ways to adapt and innovate during a time of so much upheaval and when many consumers likely assumed a “stay at home” order meant large retailers and  online marketplaces were their only options.

I had this experience myself leading up to my son’s 6th birthday a few weeks into quarantine. Having planned to buy him a new bike, my wife and I started to worry thinking that the local retailers we normally would have shopped with would be closed and, instead, would have to turn to ordering online from a big box store or Amazon leaving us with a product we may not be enthused about and at the mercy of shipping delays caused by the pandemic. I started to get sick at the thought of having to show my son a printed-out picture of his new bike that had not yet arrived.

Fortunately, before panic buying online, I regained my senses and checked out the Retail & Goods blog post our Chamber team had compiled to capture all of the Chamber member businesses who were still operating and offering curbside and pick up service (we also posted hugely helpful blogs for restaurant takeout and arts and entertainment). Sure enough, our friends at Goodale’s Bike Shop were open and offering online ordering with a full listing of their inventory on their website and easy curbside pickup. In a few minutes I was able to jump on a call with a staff member to answer a few questions about the models I was considering, confirm the ordering process, and ensure it would be ready for me to pick up in time for my little guy’s big day. It was a positive experience that relieved a ton of stress during a time when my wife and I had more than enough stress to go around.

It was in sharing this experience with a group of friends and business colleagues, and hearing about their  similar experiences with other small businesses, that a seed of an idea took  root – what can we collectively do to help small businesses strategize, plan, and prepare for life with COVID-19? As we were discussing, a member of our group, Kyle York of York IE, quickly began drafting a template that a business could use to kick off their strategizing. A rough draft was in place by the end our Zoom call that day and in the days that followed, the template and overall concept of this project was developed.

In partnership with Chamber, our ad-hoc group agreed to share and promote this template and use it as a way to engage small businesses in helping them strategize a path forward and, if helpful, offer advice, guidance, or the opportunity to share their success story with others. The template also includes some case studies of local small business that we’ve observed are doing some pretty cool things in this challenging environment.

This template is meant as a tool for your small business to help you strategize and plan ahead. After you fill it out, if you’d like to solicit feedback or brainstorm ideas, please email me at I’m happy to connect you with our local entrepreneur panel, listed below, who are open to providing feedback and guidance for your small business or simply start a conversation on how to forge a path forward.

On behalf of the Chamber, I’m excited to see where this conversation leads and welcome your participation in it. Depending on the response and interest, we are open to facilitating group discussions, webinars, or other programming opportunities of interest to those who find value in completing the template for their business. While the road ahead is uncertain, our small business community has proven to be resilient and creative and I have no doubt we can collectively navigate this challenge and recover.

If you’re ready to the take the first step, download the template, fill it out, and reach out to let us know your ideas, questions, and how we can collaborate.

My best,

Mike Skelton

President & CEO, GMC