‘Staying nimble’: How small businesses can, and do, shift gears

The first week after Cristina McCarter closed her Memphis, Tennessee, food tour company, a casualty of the pandemic, she had only tears. “It was a lot of emotions,” she said. “It was like going back to when I first started and everyone said I was crazy to give up my job to be an entrepreneur. I was like, this is what my granddaddy was talking about.” But then, she had an idea. As McCarter saw restaurants in town reopen to serve takeout, she realized she could take her business, City Tasting Tours, virtual. She could team up with the restaurants to create special meals that she could deliver to clients along with a link to a 30-minute video tour about the food, the chefs and Memphis. “I realized we could focus on the local,” she said. “We’re so used to focusing on tourists, but now is the time to show the locals the richness of what you have.”

Like McCarter, small-businesses owners across the country are looking for ways to survive the coronavirus pandemic, even as they fill out paperwork for federal stimulus funds that they no longer believe they can count on. Instead, they are adapting their business models and innovating products so that they, and their employees, can get back to work.