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Recession Proof Business #1 — Supporting Small Business

Here’s a coffee shop story with the Coronavirus…

A friend of ours runs a coffee shop.

The world is told to stay indoors.

How do you pay your rent, your employees, and sustain through this challenging time?

Short answer…

I don’t know.

This is all unprecedented, and we’re going through struggles with everyone else.

But we have been through challenging times before. Both in business and me personally.

And I wanted to share some ideas that can be helpful for other small businesses.

Here are a few ideas for businesses in this current time.

I gave this to my friend at the coffee shop, but the ideas can work for any business.

Cost Reductions:

  • Email landlord asking for rent concessions until things stabilized
  • Budget a 40% revenue reduction and the costs necessary to be able to stay profitable or breakeven
  • Take salary cuts across the board
  • Reduce any software providers to one-time payments. AppSumo is great for this.
  • Transition your email provider to one-time payment. SendFox is great for this.
  • Look at your accounts and see if you can downgrade to more basic plans
  • Pause or suspend accounts for the interim until you need them again
  • Reduce any advertising that’s not 30 days ROI

Revenue Increases:

  • Pre-sell gift cards to existing customers
  • Deliver coffee or products to your customers instead of them coming to you
  • Use Shopify and start selling your coffee beans and other products online
  • Create a daily hangout where your customers can have coffee virtually with other patrons
  • Start making other food or drinks you can deliver to your patrons
  • Create activities to sell that people can do at home
  • Create software that people can use to stay connected while they are quarantined
  • Provide free resources of DIY / make yourself products (with ads) so people can protect themselves.
  • Transition or provide cars so all current employees can be drivers for Amazon Prime Now, Instacart, DoorDash, GrubHub, etc
  • Look for things to buy or sell on eBay, craigslist, Amazon or Facebook marketplace based on your existing inventory

Goodwill Activities:

  • Provide coffee to the hospitals
  • Reach out to the fire department for where they need help
  • Encourage your patrons to stay at home
  • Reach out to coffee farmers and other partners to see where you can help
  • Provide whatever stipends you can do your employees
  • Create spreadsheet and figure out who needs what and start helping organize it

Again, I don’t have all the answers, but think we can come together to help each other out during these times.

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30 responses to “Recession Proof Business #1 — Supporting Small Business”

Jules Wilson
March 28, 2020 at 1:32 am

The best advice I can offer, having been in the coffee industry for 20+ years is the keep your door open.
I can provide Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and I have an E-Commerce site available and ready to go –

Nicolas Berrios Vergara
March 23, 2020 at 9:15 am

Thank You very much Noah for sharing your wisdom. I’ve taken the liberty to translate it and customize it for Chile, at my blog.

March 22, 2020 at 8:41 am

Thank you for the actionable suggestions and ideas to help communities thrive during this stressful time.

How do I create a virtual hang out for members of our community? Can you recommend an easy platform for people of all ages to join?

Susan Z Martin
March 20, 2020 at 11:20 pm

It is great that you have listed goodwill but why not let customers support these efforts. Maybe every coffee bought could have 25 cents or something added onto it and every 8 cups you’d send out some kind of an instagram post or something saying ‘there’s another cup for the hardworking nurse at XYZ hospital’. There are lots of other ideas I can think of – see my comment on your LinkedIn piece encouraging you to start some kind of crowdsourcing plan to collect ideas for a range of businesses – good work. Susan

Kent Bliven
March 19, 2020 at 11:17 am

Thanks Noah! I have a friend who owns a local college bar that is shut down for at least the next two weeks. They are taking this opportunity to make repairs such as to floors and booths that could not be done during regular hours. They are also deep cleaning freezers and other items. Same could be applied to those stuck at home during this time.

This is also a perfect time to focus on the quadrant most essential for growth and success, the important but not urgent quadrant.

Noah Kagan
March 22, 2020 at 5:14 pm

Love reading this Kent. Found it inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

March 19, 2020 at 9:00 am

This is why I listen to you avidly. You are so positive and inspirational. Keep well and be safe

Dave MacEntee
March 19, 2020 at 8:20 am

Great ideas. Our backgrounds are very different but I have learned quite a bit from your podcast. If only I knew how to create an interactive e-commerce website.

Phi @
March 19, 2020 at 8:08 am

Awesome ideas, sharing with several friends who own small businesses and I’m going to share on social media. The world needs wonderful ideas like this right now!

Chris Backe
March 19, 2020 at 7:27 am

Noah, am curious what online businesses / types of online businesses you see thriving in these uncertain times. Can definitely see room for entertainment, video chatting…

As a board game designer, I’m reminded that Monopoly brought a form of escapism to the Great Depression, and that Candy Land was a form of escapism during the polio outbreak. Without suggesting one of my games could be named as the escape for 2020, how could it be positioned as an escape of sorts?

Emmanuel Omosun
March 19, 2020 at 5:58 am

awesome ideas

Glynnis Campbell
March 18, 2020 at 5:50 pm

Really creative thinking!

Rich | Generous Support
March 18, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Perfect timing as I’m creating a completely free, no-strings-attached marketplace for people to offer & ask for help. Let me know if you’d be willing to give a shoutout to the project.

March 18, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Start the first subscription based coffee shop. The netflix of the beans

March 18, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Any similar ideas for a travel company? No one wants to travel right now. Our cars , drivers , guides have nothing to do. We still have to pay their salary.

March 19, 2020 at 4:28 am

As for guides I have no idea but cars and drivers can be „sub-rented” to local (or not so local) delivery services. They (delivery services) are going to have a lot of work in the coming time as people will buy almost everything via internet.

Chris Backe
March 19, 2020 at 7:26 am

Assuming it’s safe for them to be outside, it would be a heck of a time to narrate some videos. Smartphone, gimbal for steadying the video… Could even set up a sort of Twitch meets Pokemon thing — people in chat tell you which way to go / look.

March 19, 2020 at 8:18 am

Virtual tours / guides? Help people get to know the area better so they have something else to think about and look forward to. Some of the other ideas still apply for cars/drivers.

Michael D
May 8, 2020 at 10:57 pm

Food delivery! Pick up from local shops on the customer’s behalf (which also gives a boost to other local businesses)

andrea metcalf
March 18, 2020 at 1:47 pm

good ideas

March 18, 2020 at 12:43 pm


Marilyn Heywood Paige
March 18, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Thank you for the positive, solution-based ideas.

March 18, 2020 at 12:21 pm

So good to read some good practical, actionable steps to take. Great job Noah.

Eva Dimitrova
March 18, 2020 at 10:15 am

Those are some good ideas. I did a similar analysis but from a tech company’s perspective:

March 18, 2020 at 9:36 am

Great tips. I m going to start offering a free quick website to local businesses that sell food so they can get online orders for pickup. Small restaurants are struggling

Juan Manuel Garrido
March 18, 2020 at 9:03 am

Cool and useful ideas!

Alexander Skakunov
March 18, 2020 at 8:18 am


Andy Enright
March 18, 2020 at 7:40 am

Great post for stimulating some outside the box thinking. It’s always interesting how we can survive with less. I also appreciate that you turn the focus outward with the goodwill suggestions. Sure, it’s a deposit in the “Bank of Karma”, but in the moment, it’s an act of generosity that will be greatly appreciated. Plus, you never know the connections you might make when you put yourself out there. Thanks Noah!

David Gilbert
March 16, 2020 at 9:31 pm

Excellent list of ideas – great ways to expand the mind and think outside the box for innovative ideas! Thanks for sharing Noah!

March 16, 2020 at 5:37 pm

Awesome ideas from a great dude. Appreciate the great notes, Rabi Can’t Lose.

We don’t have a brick and mortar, but it’s always worth looking at expenses and seeing where we can get leaner by replacing with Appsumo where it makes sense.

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