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When COVID-19 struck, the lives of people around the world collapsed. From the way we work to the way our children learn, a lot of what we took for granted has suddenly changed.
In times like these, entrepreneurs have a responsibility to develop products and programs that have more than just an end result. They have faced the challenge in a variety of ways, from providing their services more safely to providing financial support to families in trouble.
These are social goods, but a number of entrepreneurs have gone a step further. Here are five ways they are demonstrating beyond social responsibility during the pandemic.
1. Make education accessible
COVID-19 basic education systems stalled. Universities shorten their semesters and send students home to do the rest virtually. Parents who had never been home schooled had to put on their teacher's hats.
As an entrepreneur, you might not be a parent, but you were a student. Think about how you can fill in the gaps created by a lack of instruction. Edtech company Instructure, for example, supports distance learning by combining customized modules with video conferencing services.
Lean in the direction of your expertise. If you've taught yourself to code, could you offer a coding boot camp? Perhaps you could set up a tutoring service for a subject in your specialty.
Related Topics: How Online Learning Will Change The Post Covid-19 Education System
2. Pan a product
Entrepreneurs know that product development must change according to the demands of the market. This has never been more true than during the pandemic.
Start your mission. Notify, a nurse call technology platform, was founded to help caregivers respond more quickly to emergencies. An application was developed for the COVID-19 crisis to enable contactless communication between patients and their doctors.
Get creative. Could a similar concept as what you already have in the market make a difference? As a clothing company, could you develop a quick drying mask? Perhaps food packaging is your swim lane: what about a virucidal plastic that is safe for food contact?
3. Go beyond prevention
Even if you don't have a product that will help people better manage the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways you can make a difference. Think about your customers' risk and help them cover their bases (and faces).
HyVee made the headlines. In late July, the Midwest grocery chain announced it was giving out three million free face masks to shoppers. Signs are also being put up in stores to remind shoppers to keep their distance.
People orientate themselves by the companies they do business with. Be a model. Insist that your team members wear face-covering, even if it's not required by law in your area. Post instructions in toilets so customers can wash their hands thoroughly. Offer small bottles of hand sanitizer as promotional gifts.
Related: COVID-19 will fuel the next wave of innovation
The pandemic was tough for everyone, but the service staff had a particularly difficult time. Not only do they put their lives at risk when they work, but relatively few receive employer-sponsored health insurance.
In partnership with Lyra Health, coffee giant Starbucks is offering its team members up to 20 free therapy sessions. To address the financial component of mental health, Starbucks also announced a disaster payment for team members who are out of work due to exposure to the virus.
Some members of your team have more mental health issues than others, and that's fine. Share a list of mental health resources in your area. Show the psychological benefits your insurance offers. Be generous with breaks and be empathetic with those who fear exposure at work.
5. Support in strengthening social ties
Millions of Americans are locked in their homes to help slow the spread of the virus. Help them stay socially connected while you are doing the right thing.
AT&T, Spring, Verizon, and all sorts of other telecommunications companies have signed a pledge to help Americans keep in touch. You have agreed not to end the service because a customer cannot pay, waived late fees, and published their WiFi hotspots.
Your business may not go that far, but it can help people maintain their social bonds in a variety of ways. Create online communities that target everyone, not just your customers. Host virtual events that bring people together (think platonic speed dating).
Related Topics: How To Support The Mental Health Of Your Employees When They Return To The Office
Your business doesn't just serve communities. it's part of them. Do your part to protect them. Think about how you can maximize your impact. During and after the pandemic, your generosity will not go unnoticed.