By Christopher Page | Founder and CTO, Nearby Creative

During the past eight weeks we gained three new clients, kept our team focused and humming along, and continue to deliver the best work we can to our current client roster. 

Yes, even as I typed that line I had to stare at it, double-check it, spell-check it, and make sure I wasn’t dreaming. 

But it’s true. With the ranks of the unemployed swelling to 30 million in the U.S., with my team now connected through Slack and missing our daily lunches together (and three young daughters as my new office-mates at our dining room table), and with our clients happy and in business, we are thankfully keeping the lights on.

Thankful? Yes. Grateful? Yes. Lucky? Sort of. 

At the root of all this lies empathy. The more genuinely empathetic in your outreach to current clients, former clients, and prospects the better off you will be. Seriously. There may well be immediate opportunities, and, just as importantly, building a bulwark of leads for when COVID-19 recedes and companies will be looking to rebound. The more empathetic you are with helping your staff adjust to new remote-working as they are beset by additional personal stresses, the better. And keeping in close-connect with those you deliver for each and every day, the better. 

Here are three quick-take takeaways that I’d like to share to all of my small-business friends out there. 

  1. Relationships Matter, Nurture Them.
    If you’re good at what you do and that base level of professional respect is there then you have the freedom to build a deeper relationship. Hopefully this is something you’ve already done. If you haven’t, start now. As in yesterday. 

  2. You Only Get Out What You Put In.
    Don’t phone this in. Well, pick up the phone (by all means) but people everywhere are looking for genuine connection right now. You need to be emotionally present and professionally present for those you reach out to. I’ve had many more heartfelt and meaningful conversations with clients, colleagues, and prospects the past eight weeks than ever before. 

  3. Consider the Now, the Next-Now, and the Future-Now.
    I realize it’s hard to imagine what the future holds when so many of us in the small-business community are struggling on many fronts to make it through right now. As in really hard. But if you want to stay viable it’s crucial to look beyond when the hoped-for PPP money arrives. The Next-Now I roughly define as the arc between these soft-reopenings and when we get a vaccine. A novel virus by its definition is a new virus, and it will spread and change in ways that no one has ever seen before. Future-Now is what the entire business landscape will look like post-vaccine when things will be, hopefully, somewhat a return to what normal was. Being empathetic in your relationships with clients, prospects and colleagues will mean different things in all three phases but remain central.

So reach out. Consistently. With empathy. And with the understanding that as human beings we need to be on the giving and receiving end of empathy for the success of the entire small business community and your own businesses.