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How Your Business Can Survive A Pandemic

Written by: Crystal Bantel, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise


Running a business in 2022 is a whole different experience than it used to be just a few years ago. Business owners everywhere have had to become more creative than ever before and come up with a way to do business with less foot traffic than they are used to. This transition has been painful for many.

Just over a year ago in December 2020 around 60% of businesses listed on Yelp had to close their doors either temporarily or permanently as a result of Covid 19. It's been a devastating past few years for so many people who had a thriving business before; and yet there's a whole category of business owners whose businesses were able to bounce back shockingly quickly, or who never seemed to have been affected in the first place. What's their secret? Have you ever wondered why Katrina Tessier, owner of a super cute coffee shop on not-even-quite-Main- Street, looks so happy most days? How is she running her little business as if nothing's gone wrong for her in the past two years?

I have spoken with her on multiple occasions, when I would go in for a latte at Scout Coffee & Tea. And I have seen the weight of her business on her shoulders. There were times when she shook her head and she had no idea how she'd do it or if her business would make it; and yet she smiled and told me she would "keep rolling with the punches and try her best." She's not here just to run a coffee shop and make some money, even though both of those things are exactly what she's doing. She's currently Winnipeg's only play cafe, and she is passionately providing a space for families with children, mainly preschool-aged, to come together, have fun, socialize and enjoy something tasty. This concept captivated me right from the first time I heard about Scout Coffee & Tea and I can guarantee you that it had this affect on probably nearly everyone else who now is loyal to her business. Her vision was to create a community space where people can make new friends, feel welcome, and feel comfortable ‒ and this goes way beyond just "having a business."

It goes beyond just having chosen a coffee shop as your means of income. More deeply, she cares about families needing to have a space to "go out" and EVERY member of the family enjoy themselves. She cares deeply about inclusivity and when you're in her world, you can tell. I'm part of that community myself ‒ I have come into her coffee shop on many occasions with my two little people under age 5 in an effort to give them a fun new play experience while I get some work done on my laptop.

So how did Katrina manage to keep her business afloat during the pandemic? As much as I know it helped, I know that just her smile and positivity alone didn't do it. Let me tell you her secret (okay it's not a real secret, because you can go on her website right now and see it for yourself!) and her secret has two parts. Number one, she added a toy boutique to her coffee shop.

Secondly, she started an online business. Let's break it down and talk about what she did. Firstly, she got creative with HOW she operated her brick and mortar business. During the worst part of covid lockdowns, she was no longer permitted to have anyone utilize the dine-in tables or toys and all she could provide was takeout. So she brought in a significant amount of retail products. She created an online store to give people the opportunity to bring fun playtime into their own house, instead of at her shop.

When she was allowed to have dine-in customers again, she began to offer private sessions to give people a safer option. When I asked her about it, she said, "Creating new ways for people to continue to support in a way that felt safe to them definitely helped keep traffic flow up, whether it was actually in person or digitally." Being creative with your business can look all kinds of different ways, depending on your business. It requires looking outside the box. It can be hard to think of ways outside of your daily normal for how to do business when the regulations suddenly force you to stop doing what you are used to doing, or even just when the foot traffic isn't what it used to be and you know it's time to find new ways to buff up your income. Don't be too hard on yourself for not finding it easy to look outside the box of your business's regular routines very well ‒ you probably spent years building your business to be what it is today. Katrina's business and dream had been in place since 2016. You might have had your business for years and years and to need to change things up now may feel insurmountable. Things were different; even just 2 years ago things were very different. Everything was in person, in office, face to face, and dine in. Foot traffic might have accounted for 50% or 75% or 99% of your business and sales and then suddenly, POOF! foot traffic is barely allowed if at all! In many cases, there's only so much you can do to accommodate the regulations and still make the income you need to keep afloat, much less grow. There's another option that thousands upon thousands of businesses have turned to either in part or in whole, and it's the reason why some businesses are not only surviving, but thriving better than they ever did even pre-covid! And it's exactly what Katrina did.

She started an online business. The lockdowns totally voided the concept of what her play cafe & store were meant to be when she could no longer have families attend the space. Opening up an online store to sell a variety of open-ended-play toys was Katrina's way of still being able to provide a wholesome play atmosphere to families in the safety of their own homes. She now sells the cutest children's books, games, activities, and lots more. See how her goal for the play cafe was to bring playtime to families so that the entire family can enjoy themselves and feel included? Well, this online store became the perfect extension of that dream.

Starting an online business has saved thousands upon thousands of businesses from closing down permanently. Just like Katrina, multitudes of businesses have started selling products using online marketing, have started selling digital services, have created memberships and subscriptions. Some business owners have used the "break" from being allowed to run their brick and mortar business to create an online course teaching others how to do what they're skilled at doing. There is no single formula of what your online business could be. But one thing I can tell you is that you can't have an online business without just starting it. I know that some people are still stalling right now. You may have floundered your way through the pandemic, getting JUST enough foot traffic to be able to keep your doors open. If you're wondering whether it's too late for you to try marketing something online, No. It's not too late. You can still start something now, and your income will thank you for it. It could be an extension of your already existing business. It could be standalone from your business. It could replace your business. It could be so many different things but it's really up to you and your business to decide what works best for you. Starting an online business is sometimes the easiest way to think outside the box of your current or past business because when you start an online business, even if it's not a change in what you're doing but just marketing it online, it causes you to think differently. You begin thinking more about the people that you could reach online, not just the people who walk by your storefront every day. Thinking about how to market your business online will stimulate your creativity in a whole different way which you may find gives you more ideas than you could have ever come up with in the physical confines of your brick & mortar business.

What an exhilarating moment when these downloads of ideas start coming to you! You will most likely find yourself invigorated ‒ that is very common when you start experiencing this flow of ideas and plans. If you want to harness that flow, just grab your laptop, open a new document, and start typing whatever ideas come to you. Create a bullet point list and just see what you come up with.

Starting an online business, or an online portion of your existing business, can truly be the key to surviving the pandemic. Better yet, an online business can be the key to thriving and doing better than a brick and mortar business could ever do because suddenly you're no longer bound to time and space and location. An online business, depending on the type, may not even be dependant on your headspace or energy.

You might be thinking that an online business means "making money while you sleep." That phrase may be a bit cliche by now, but it is possible and many people do it. That doesn't mean that an online business doesn't require a lot of hard work too, but it's a totally different kind of hard work. In many cases, the work happens before selling and then you can sell the same thing over and over if it's a digital product.

If you have wanted to start an online business but have not taken the leap yet, I encourage you to start now. Just brainstorm. I know you already have a few ideas ‒ you're a business owner and that means you are creative!

To help you brainstorm how you might be able to take your business online, I created a workbook for you that's filled with strategic journal prompts. The questions in the workbook will help you identify your strengths and areas of possible burnout. You do not need to scrap your current business. You do not need to turn away from your years and years of experience, expertise, or education. There is a way to harness the power of ALL of that, and create a functioning and fulfilling online business that sustains your legacy as well as your income.


To explore Katrina's play cafe and online store, go to

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Crystal Bantel, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Crystal Bantel is a website designer and online business mentor based in Winnipeg, Canada.

Combining web design & tech integration with her certified online business/entrepreneur coaching sets Crystal apart from other business coaches, web designers, and integrators who focus on only the tech or only the strategy.

Crystal helps seasoned business women to plan out and start an online business based on the things they've loved the most about their career, trade, or brick and mortar business.

She does this by taking them through a unique process of business coaching, designing their website & sales funnels, and creating the platform for their online program. Crystal integrates all the steps in between the tech pieces to make a truly functioning business that sustains their fulfillment & legacy while growing their income.



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