Bates: Making it through tough times for business

Kay Rial Bates
Kay Rial Bates

Tough times are upon us. Our anxious thoughts can overwhelm us, as we think about the safety of our families, businesses and investments.. Who would have thought that a microscopic “it” could change our world?

Well it did. Yet we will get through this. As the saying goes, we’ve seen this movie before.  Maybe not the same plot, but remember the Great Recession?

We thought the world was coming to an end.

My gosh, my investments tanked as I am certain did yours. People were depressed, businesses suffered and families were affected by job loss.

It was the toughest of tough times. But it didn’t last forever. It took awhile but most businesses pulled out, maybe changed, but pull out they did.

Unemployment went from high to low and investments boomed while hope was restored. Keep this in mind. History tells us that no adversity lasts forever and life will get better.

Now we are dealing with the Coronavirus or COVID-19. We are sheltered at home. But let us all remember not to waste this season sitting at home watching Netflix. We will never get this gift of time again.

First with family, our most important asset. Don’t squander this time.
This is an opportunity to be together as a family.  

Limit the technology, bring out the board games, share the photo album and family videos. Tell family stories to help children understand their roots.

Take walks. Cook together. Use virtual tools to connect with grandmas and grandpas. Ask them questions, such as whether that five-mile walk to school in the middle of a blizzard was true.

Laugh together! This is a precious time to focus on family. This could be the best memory in your child’s life!  

Now as to the businesses that are closed or are seeking ideas on how to stay relevant to client groups, I suggest the following:

Stay connected with your customers. I recommend that you make phone calls expressing the concern you have for them. Most have forwarded phones or cell phones so this should not be too hard. Use social media or email to support your call, but a phone call is best.

Be a solution. Give clients some tips on how they can pull out of the shutdown once the virus is behind us. Change your model. Encourage clients to change theirs. Deliver products. Create online tutorials. We are all learning together to change with the times.

Recognize that your business is in a pause cycle.  Yes, most of us are at home but we can still brush up our business. Analyze marketing tools. Is that website easy for customers to navigate? Can you make it more relevant to clients? Increase your audience. Write a blog and share it with clients. Talk with trusted advisors about ways to thrive once this crisis is over.   

This is a good time to educate yourself. Take a social media course online. Think Big Go Local offers these. Frontier Marketing has great ways to help organizations market. Read, read, read.

Redo your office to be more efficient.  Get rid of the clutter.

Consider trends. Is there a product or service that you can possibly offer that could take your company into a brand new market?

Chambers can be your best friend. They increase your credibility and have unique communications with a wide audience.   For ease of access during these times, the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce’s communications and ways to access them have been placed on our website’s front page at

This is under the President’s Coronavirus update. Other chambers are using great and creative ideas to help their members.  Review all chamber websites. We all wish to help.  

Have an idea on how the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce can help your organization? Let us know. The chamber’s best ideas come from our members.  

Stay safe and healthy,

Kay Rial Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

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