Small businesses find new ways to reach customers during the pandemic

LA CROSSE, Wis. – (WXOW) – Since the pandemic began, it has been hard on small businesses. Using technology and other resources, some have found different ways to still reach customers. For the owner of Palm + Pine, a yoga school and studio, she completely changed the format of the […]

LA CROSSE, Wis. – (WXOW) – Since the pandemic began, it has been hard on small businesses.

Using technology and other resources, some have found different ways to still reach customers.

For the owner of Palm + Pine, a yoga school and studio, she completely changed the format of the business. While Palm + Pine is still holding small in-person classes, she created an online digital format as well.

“This is a completely different business model than we had before,” said Palm + Pin Founder Kat Soper. “We also have recorded content to give people options because everything is so unpredictable for everyone on a day-to-day basis.”

Soper said the pandemic has been a lot of adaptation and learning but for her, staying in business is more than just for her own sake.

“I look at us as alternative medicine,” said Soper. “People definitely have been struggling with mental and emotional health and so by us staying open we are able to provide an outlet for people and the resources to take care of themselves.”

Because so many businesses have had to change their formats, the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse is taking the time to educate small businesses through webinars and workshops about how to operate a business in the middle of a pandemic.

“We’ve seen businesses really trying to adapt the way they do business by doing more effective online marketing and connecting with their customers and even connecting with others, their vendors, it really opens up new opportunities for a business,” said Anne Hlavacka, Director of Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-La Crosse.

The SBDC is involved with small businesses in the region which includes the seven counties that surround La Crosse. They assist them with free and confidential consulting and training programs.

“We really are here to be that support mechanism for businesses throughout their whole history of business from starting to growing,” said Hlavacka.

Kat Soper said she has taken advantage of the webinars the SBDC has offered before, especially after the pandemic hit and she realized Palm + Pine would have to transition to a different business format.

“Moving from a traditional in-studio only experience with an 18+ team to a 10+ team and also branching out into online, I needed help looking at how we were going to make this work,” said Soper.

On Wednesday, December 9, the SBDC is holding a workshop about websites and how small businesses can create their own. They are then able to create programs like curbside pick-up, or for Palm + Pine, move their classes virtual.

“Many businesses I think realize they need to reach certain audiences more effectively by having a website, but I think the change that has occurred is just engaging in commerce using websites more effectively and how do I really connect to my audience if I can’t have them come as regularly to a location,” said Hlavacka.

For Palm + Pine, these online formats and websites allowed them to continue services through the hard times. Soper explained that if there wasn’t technology and programs like Zoom and other formats, the mental health and the feeling of isolation for people would be much worse.

If you are interested in signing up for classes with Palm + Pine you can do so on their website. They offer a variety of options from live in-person classes to digital subscriptions and on-demand as well.

For any small businesses that would like extra help, the free webinars held by the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center can be accessed on their website. If you need more help you can call them at 608-785-8782.

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