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How to pivot your small business into a pandemic success story

Starting a new business is tough at the best of times.   Starting a new business at the start of a global pandemic is even tougher.    With uncertainty across the workforce, rolling lockdowns, opaque government policy and subsidies, shifting consumer trends, supply chain…  to name a few factors— business owners across the globe were faced with a reckoning.

Few sectors were affected more negatively than the food and hospitality industries.  With patrons legally not allowed to be customers, and staff requesting to be let go — to collect government support; restauranteurs and small business owners were faced with a tough choice: cut your losses and close shop or cut the fat and try to ride out the storm.

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Two years into the pandemic: which approach worked best?  It depends who you ask… and with no definitive end in sight; opinions on the matter are starting to shift.   Those who have held on to the pre-pandemic dream are feeling the dread of a looming new wave of the pandemic (with the restrictions to follow), and are questioning their capacity to carry on. 

The big questions plaguing owners across the globe are:  Will customer trends ever return to the pre-pandemic rate?  If so— when?  Is half/ limited capacity a viable strategy? 

Depending on your location and business— these questions will have different answers, but the unifier for all business is a need to react and act in order to not only survive— but thrive.  

Few have navigated these challenges better than acclaimed restauranteur and entrepreneur Aliza Devenyi, of Cured Catering ( www.ordercured.com ) in Toronto, Canada.   Pre-pandemic Aliza was also the co-owner and founder of one of Canada’s first and most successful poke restaurants— but with the lockdowns + unknown restrictions ramping up in early 2020— Aliza knew she had to make a dramatic shift.

Upon almost all the restaurants staff asking to be “let go” to collect government incentives (at this stage in the pandemic the Ontario government was providing substantial “CERB” payments for those out of work due to the pandemic)— and with no end in sight: Aliza made the tough decision to close the restaurant indefinitely, and shift her catering company’s entire focus.

It was at this time, when all the future corporate orders started to ask for refunds on future events that Aliza had an epiphany moment— if we cant celebrate together — how about celebrating together, apart?

Within a matter of days, an entirely new menu and business model was created: personal items— delivered directly to individuals homes.    The response was immense.   Corporate clients were thrilled to have a way to show their staff appreciation, and retail customers were similarly thrilled with the chance to send loved ones pick-me-ups.

Listen to Cured Catering’s story on the Own Your Potential podcast here.   Learn how the team turned the table on the shifting tides— and created a thriving business in the midst of a global pandemic.   With corporate customers such as Gucci, Estee Lauder, Charlotte Tilbury, Google, Shopify, Snapchat, Ebay to name a few— its safe to say Cured has figured out a winning formula.

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Cured Catering specializes in gourmet gifts, charcuterie trays, candy trays, dessert trays, and corporate gifting.   They offer local deliveries in the greater Toronto area, as well as offering mailable options across North America.

In addition to the need to navigate the business fundamentals — another major shift to navigate was the shift in consumer behaviour.     What is a restaurant/ caterer to do when people aren’t allowed to gather or dine in?   In essence— the answer is obvious: adapt.   But what does that look like, when the consumers themselves are also adapting to the changing times?

For Cured Catering — the answer came in the form of a mixed media marketing strategy that focused on the customer, and creating special experiences.   Aliza quickly grew Cured’s Instagram account to over 80k followers by focusing on the experience of receiving and enjoying — rather than simply showcasing their gorgeous products.

By showing customers (and potential customers) the joy and excitement the act of gifting and receiving provides— customers started to get inspired and participate in the growth of the business — by making special requests and inspiring new products.

Currently Cured has a range of offerings for all major life events from birthdays, to engagements, to socially distant events— and all the major holidays.   Live outside the local delivery range?    The wait is almost over!   With plans to expand into more shelf stable options — and increase their shippable options; you’ll be able to elevate your next celebration or event anywhere you choose!

Follow Cured Catering’s instagram today for food and hosting inspiration, and to be the first to know about new and limited release product launches!