Better Business: Utilizing unexpected downtime to learn new skills

While many find themselves spending more time at home or in isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners are finding themselves facing new challenges — particularly, more downtime than they might be used to. But just because we have more time to ourselves than usual doesn’t mean we have to stop improving while the world slows down around us. 

From internet courses and webinars to Facebook groups and forums, we are surrounded by a wealth of resources when it comes to bettering ourselves and learning new skills. Here’s a few different ways you can continue to better yourself as a person and business owner altogether. 

Bring your team together

With all of this unexpected downtime and isolation, teams are more spread out than ever. But thanks to modern technology, that doesn’t mean we have to be “disconnected.” 

Use the downtime to bring your team together, whether it be over the phone or a virtual Zoom video chat, and talk to your team about ideas they may have or ways they would improve your business. Harnessing the power of collaboration can help you better understand how to improve your business for not only your customers, but for your employees as well.

Another benefit of using this time to brainstorm with your employees and managers, listening to their ideas and empowering them to voice their opinions, is that it can not only lead to an improved workplace morale — it may also lead to innovative new ways to expand your business.

Learn something new

We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, fortunately for business owners, that tends to be untrue — especially among entrepreneurs, who are learning new things each and every day.

Maybe you want to learn more about coding, to help you build or improve your website. Or maybe you want to improve your writing skills because you want to craft better marketing materials. Perhaps, even, you want to learn more about digital design work, so you can start creating custom designs (or just apply them to your company’s marketing efforts). 

Enter Coursera, an online “university” of sorts offering thousands of courses on a variety of topics, in collaboration with universities and companies like the University of Illinois, Duke University, Google, IBM and more.

While pricing varies, you can earn certificates (and even degrees) from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, all from the comfort of your own home. There are thousands of topics you can choose from, ranging from digital design to social media marketing, business leadership and management, information technology and more. To learn more about Coursera’s catalog of learning opportunities, visit

Improve your customer service and sales skills

As a business, there’s never a bad time to improve your customer service skills and sales techniques.

One free option comes from Bob Phibbs, also known as the Retail Doctor. Phibbs’ “Retailing in the Time of COVID-19” course contains eight video lessons that cover operations, marketing, sales and customer service, all free-of-charge. In addition to the COVID-19 course, the “Retail Doctor” also offers the SalesRX program — a comprehensive sales training program to “get more out of your existing in-store traffic and transform your sales staff with customizable online sales training” for all levels. To learn more about these programs, visit

Get better at social media and email marketing

One of the areas business owners can seemingly always improve in is their social media and email marketing strategies and execution. While social and email marketing can seem daunting, even the slightest of improvements can make a large difference in the online sales your business sees.

Over 99% of consumers open their emails at least once a day, while more than 70% of consumers who have interacted with a business on social media have elected to make purchases from that very same business (HubSpot, 2019).

Popular marketing platform HubSpot offers what they call the “HubSpot Academy,” a resource of courses dedicated to not only helping businesses understand the digital marketing landscape, but help them get better at execution in the process. Courses range from understanding search engine optimization (SEO) to introductions to e-commerce marketing, content marketing, social media strategy and more.

HubSpot’s comprehensive catalog of courses are mostly free, and can generally be completed in under three hours — with some courses even being less than 45 minutes. For more information, you can visit

In short, there are plenty of opportunities to better yourself, your team, your community and your business with all of the extra downtime. By connecting, inspiring and helping one another to improve, businesses can not only survive the current challenges— they can thrive, and will be stronger on the other side.

At SmartSolutions, our team can help assess your company’s marketing strategies and efforts and help you create a plan for your digital marketing channels.

Contact our team today to get your free consultation!


Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story. 

Navigating COVID-19: Marketing tips for small businesses

With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to spread across the country, small business owners are being forced every day to make tough decisions in various areas of their businesses — from staffing and payroll to marketing and advertising. At SmartSolutions, we want to help your company navigate these unprecedented waters with some digital marketing tips for your businesses in the wake of a global pandemic.

Don’t “capitalize”

Navigating the COVID-19 outbreak from a digital marketing standpoint as a small business.
Photo: Kira Yan / Twenty20

One of the biggest mistakes that a business can make, from an optics standpoint, is to utilize the pandemic (and the fact that more people than ever are quarantined at home) as an opportunity to boost sales. There is a big difference between helping customers find/shop your businesses, and capitalizing on situations.

Some examples of helping your customers find and shop your business can be offering ordering ahead and curbside pickup options (or even delivery, if you have the capabilities). Another option would be to offer exclusive deals on gift cards to provide your customers a way to help your business now, and keep them coming back later.

Bad examples of “capitalizing” on the situation would include offering distasteful coupon codes (related to COVID-19) for deals using the coronavirus for any type of marketing strategy.

Keep it positive

In the wake of a global pandemic, people are looking now more than ever for positive bits of news — and one of the most popular places they’re going to be looking is on social media.

Use the potential of added exposure to keep your social channels positive and uplifting, with motivational, feel-good and engaging content. This may mean going back through your scheduled social media posts and re-evaluating what you’ve scheduled previously.


With many businesses having to scale back their operations (or shut down completely), the outbreak might be a good time to sit down and re-think your social media and digital marketing strategies.

» Related: Increasing your social media reach in 2020

Although the COVID-19 outbreak is uncharted territory, the need for customers to be able to not only find your business online, but be able to shop and interact, is at an all-time high. Use the potential downtime the pandemic is providing you to re-focus your digital marketing strategies by evaluating your website, social media channels, advertising campaigns and more for efficiency.

Ask for help

At times like this, SmartSolutions understands that managing the current state of your company in the midst of a global pandemic can be a massive undertaking. Our team can help assess your company’s marketing strategies and efforts and help you create a plan that will not only help you get through the COVID-19 outbreak, but thrive in the online space well after. Contact our team today to get your free consultation!


Every company has a story — and at SmartSolutions, we’re passionate about helping you tell that story.