Small business headlines that made us smile this week. | May 29th, 2020 | InspireHUB


This week we're sharing 9 more of our favourite small business feel-good stories!  There's no shortage of innovation as small businesses pivot to meet both their own needs and those of their communities as the pandemic changes virtually every aspect of our daily lives.

Here are some of our favorite silver linings, sharing the stories of people who are turning challenges into opportunities and a feast of resources and ideas to help you create the same kind of uplift and resilience in your own small business.


Innovative small business pivots during COVID-19

Coronavirus: Pandemic a 'pivot point' for small NZ businesses | stuff, business

Sisters Florence and Chloe Van Dyke own the Nelson company Chia Sisters, crafting nutritious health juices and smoothies in their solar-powered factory with a team of seven.  Seven weeks ago, sales had dropped to 20 per cent as they entered lockdown. They were struggling to keep staff employed and were rapidly pivoting to an online platform that enabled home delivery across the country. They share lessons from their progress, including this:

"Week 3: We hold an innovation hui over breakfast and brainstorm the positives of lockdown. We consider what we do have: staff needing secure work, New Zealanders looking to support local, cafes requiring income, nutritious and local ingredients, the ability to deliver to New Zealanders’ homes. ...A local cafe, with extra capacity will batch-make it weekly.

It also helps that our weekly calls bring instant market research, customers, partners, influencers and network connections to bring new ideas to reality in an instant.”

Thanks to SheEO™ Founder, Vicky Saunders, for helping us discover this, and for her additional dash of  #SheEOMagic:

There is a world of difference to thinking as a SheEO™ We always start from "what do we have" - an asset focus.


When the pandemic threatened PartySlate’s events business, ‘innovation happened’ | AmericanInno - ChicagoInno

Julie Roth Novack, the founder and CEO of Chicago-based PartySlate, was scrambling to keep her events startup afloat amid the Covid-19 crisis when she came up with a “virtual event strategy” aiming to keep current PartySlate users engaged, as well as attract new customers who may want to use the service once the pandemic ends. To date, PartySlate has hosted 10 virtual events, ranging in topics like LinkedIn marketing and website building.

“We have kind of a cult following for these digital events,” Novack says. “We have people that say they look forward to every Tuesday at 2 p.m. to listen into our webinar. I really feel that we’re giving back to this industry.”

Individual PartySlate events have attracted as many as 1,000 registrations, Novack says. An event in April featured Mindy Weiss, a Los Angeles-based celebrity party planner.


‘We’re still standing’: How Soupergirl plans to stop Covid-19 from becoming its kryptonite | AmericanInno - DCInno

Sara Polon’s Soupergirl, a plant-based soup business operating out of farmers markets, supporting local farming communities, opened the curtain on 2020 with aggressive growth plans, following a boon from ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2018. Polon aimed to grow 2019’s revenue by about 70% and was in talks with new potential supermarket partners while growing its direct-to-consumer business. But the pandemic threw that momentum out the door — and with it went some meaningful revenue streams.

Its bottom line took a hit, also from the loss of business at fast casual restaurants that sold Soupergirl products, and suddenly closed. The once reliable supermarket arena became a rollercoaster: first, sales skyrocketed because people hoarded; then crickets came, because consumers had already filled their freezers, Polon says.

She pivoted and switched to a takeout-only service, turning to her delivery model, a fundamental part of the business she started with her mother, Marilyn, in 2008. Click through to read how they made the pivot that led to local deliveries and national shipping taking off with a heightened demand for its plant-based soups. In addition to ABC’s Shark Tank, they’ve also been featured on NBC’s Today Show and CBS’ The Dish!


Frisco Business Owners Find a ‘Little Bit of Happy’ in COVID-19 Shutdown | NBC  DFW

The COVID-19 pandemic closed many local businesses for a while, including Countdown 2 Escape in Frisco, but the owners quickly pivoted to open up a new side business. "If there is an absolute worst business to have in the pandemic, it would be escape rooms," owner Shannon Hammonds said. That's because escape rooms put people together in close quarters, trying to get out. In that sense, it's a lot like what we've all been living these past few months. 

'How can we bring a little bit of happy to people's lives,' was the question Hammonds and her husband, Fred, asked themselves when they started their side business 'Little Bit of Happy.' Realizing that people are enjoying spending time with their families at home around the table again, they decided to sell puzzles out of their garage. The first shipment was 600 puzzles, half of which sold in just one month.

They’ve also started putting together 'Bundles of Happy' gift bags out of a home office, including small items like stationery, soaps, inspirational messages, and candles. Their 'Little Bit of Happy' side business has kept the Hammonds busy and kept their spirits high during what has been a tough time for many.

"It really does make an impact to a small business owner whose business has been closed," Hammonds said.  With the escape rooms able to open again this week, they’ve decided to keep the side business too.


'Tourism a 4-letter word': Georgina residents vital to town's post-coronavirus recovery | York Region News

People in the Canadian Town of Georgina think the perception of tourism needs to change and that the future of tourism is local. Now, it’s not about attracting people from far away, but more about strengthening the fabric of the local community.

The unchartered waters could be an opportunity for the town to create local destinations on main streets and in downtown areas. That could mean closing a portion of the road to allow for more pedestrians and patios.

Chuck Thibeault, Central Counties Tourism executive director: “How cool would that be to sit outside and enjoy a meal or a coffee. People are jonesing to get outside. This could be an opportunity.”

Now, more than ever, shopping local and experiencing Georgina from a tourist lens is vital to community recovery and business survival, said Georgina Chamber of Commerce executive director Jennifer Anderson.

“Because we’re a small town, when we talk about a local business we’re talking about a neighbour,” Anderson said.


Summer Camp 2020 Reimagined Join us for Virtual Open House |

The people in Johns Creek, Georgia aren’t letting the pandemic get in the way of their kids have fun.   With the help of the Atlanta Workshop Players, kids will be able to attend a Summer Performing Arts Camp -- virtually!

AWP is working magic to create summer programming that engages students, activates their imaginations, celebrates their unique talents, exercises their creativity, and inspires them with stellar, industry celebrities and pros! Real memories Real friendships Real learning Real fun REEL a virtual world


Advice From Business Owners, to Business Owners During the Coronavirus Pandemic | NBC Chicago

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to generate more questions than answers, especially for businesses, BizCastHQ has gathered dozens of CEOs, small business owners and industry thought leaders for individual interviews to share advice, tips and solutions in hopes of helping others like them.

More of the interviews are available on BizCastHQ's YouTube channel.


American City Business Journals Creates Small Biz Backer Platform for Small Businesses to Share Their Stories | Business Wire

To help small businesses get back on their feet and share their stories of response and survival, American City Business Journals has partnered with supporting sponsors and underwriters to create Small Biz Backer, a new product launched this month. Small Biz Backer will be in print and digital platforms across the 44 cities where ACBJ publishes local business journals.

“Small businesses are vital to every city’s economy and make up a core coverage area of our business journals. Small Biz Backer is a designated place online and in print for them to share how they are responding,” said Whitney Shaw, CEO of ACBJ.

A Small Biz Backer underwriter can donate listings to small businesses they choose, such as customers, suppliers and vendors. In a Small Biz Backer listing, the small business can share and market products and services it is providing or has added during the virus response. Small Biz Backer will appear across the print and digital versions of the local business journals and their email newsletters.


TELUS’ #StandWithOwners program is supporting Canadian small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic | TELUS

Canada’s TELUS is committing $500,000 in direct revenue, marketing, and expert advice to support, promote, and celebrate small business owners.  TELUS is launching a new #StandWithOwners initiative to support Canadian small businesses and their owners through direct revenue, marketing, and expert advice, engaging industry experts and leading Canadian entrepreneurs like Arlene Dickinson for their support. In the coming weeks, TELUS will launch a series of interactive online discussions where small business owners can ask questions, share advice and discuss best practices on how to manage business uncertainty in a candid environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be as much of a financial crisis as it is a health one, significantly affecting Canadian small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of owners, their families, and their employees. Yet despite the challenges, countless owners have rallied and pivoted their businesses to survive against all odds.

TELUS is also investing marketing funds to promote owners across social media, digital advertising and a new digital hub on to showcase their business and connect them with new customers and share their inspiring stories.

“The Canadian economy needs a thriving small business community to rise from the COVID-19 crisis” said Roi Ross, Vice-President of Marketing, TELUS Business. “Owners not only drive the economy forward, but their businesses are the heartbeat of our beloved neighbourhoods. The #StandWithOwners campaign celebrates and promotes this critical role that owners play in our local communities from coast-to-coast.”

“Owners and Canadians at large are working to navigate through unchartered territory that has completely altered the way we live and do business. This can be extremely stressful, scary and lonely at times,” said Arlene Dickinson, General Partner of District Ventures Capital. “Now more than ever is the time to stand together as owners and as a community. This initiative by TELUS will help us to stay connected and support each other, and I'm looking forward to participating.”


Are you a small business owner looking for a little help!
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Topics: small business, innovation, community building, pivots, feel-good stories

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