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By Sean Barbera • May 1, 2020

The Business Heroes of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has destroyed the global economy and completely disrupted normal business processes and operations for many organizations.

While some businesses have responded with self-serving sales tactics, others are embracing this season for service and weaving together community service with their adjustments. For these businesses, it is a time to double down on win-win business innovation.

While there’s no single playbook for how to serve others while surviving the pandemic, there are plenty of examples that can inspire you and your business.

Here are a few of those examples, business heroes during the COVID-19 crisis.

A Supply Chain Survival Partnership

Cotopaxi, a Salt Lake City company that specializes in making outdoor gear, had to effectively shut down to comply with Utah's shelter in place orders for retail stores. The company, which also focuses on alleviating global poverty and supporting local refugees, decided to get a new lease on life by partnering with another Utah company.

Park City's Uncharted Supply Co., which offers preparedness and survival gear products for everyday consumers, had been overrun with orders since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cotopaxi offered a partnership with the company that has been mutually beneficial.

Uncharted moved all the inventory and fulfillment aspects of its business to Cotopaxi's warehouse in Salt Lake City. This has enabled Cotopaxi to keep some of its workers employed by helping out Uncharted during a difficult economic time. And Uncharted has gotten some much-needed help fulfilling an unprecedented number of orders for its survival gear.

Perhaps most importantly, the partnership keeps the supply chain and normal business processes up and running during a time of distribution challenges and hardship.

Both businesses have been busy assembling survival packs to keep up with consumer demand, and have also created new jobs by hiring additional customer support specialists. In an exciting new business opportunity, they also are also collaborating on a product for adventure travelers that will integrate Uncharted's preparedness products into Cotopaxi packs.

Donation and Product Launch to Support Sheltering in Place

New York City's Daily Harvest, a subscription-based food delivery service that specializes in plant-based meal kits, decided to give back to the community while also launching a new product amid COVID-19. The company recently announced the debut of its new flatbreads line, and donated a whopping 400,000 of them to City Harvest, an organization that collects and delivers food donations.

CEO Rachel Drori told Forbes that the company began doubling up on inventory in early March, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. They also appealed to their network of farming suppliers to ensure their produce supply chain would remain intact. Drori said sales have surged since the onset of the pandemic.

Daily Harvest also has donated thousands of meals to frontline medical workers and those in need. The company also hosted a virtual bingo night with Neil Patrick Harris in April to boost morale and connect thousands of people quarantined at home. Daily Harvest said it will continue to donate meals while the hospital system remains in crisis mode.

Distributing Essential Items to Healthcare Heroes

Los Angeles lifestyle company FabFitFun is doing its part to help those in need during COVID-19, and building brand loyalty in the process. The company is enabling members to donate to No Kid Hungry, and has partnered with the charity during its Spring Edit Sale. The company teams up with a new charity each season to bring awareness and raise money. FabFitFun will match all donations up to $50,000.

The company also has expanded its seasonal sale to include essential items people may need while sheltering in place, and it has opened up its FabFitFun TV streaming platform to everyone for free. The offering includes cooking videos, home workouts, meditation guides and other useful content for those stuck at home.

Finally, the company has donated specialty curated bundles to healthcare workers across the country during the coronavirus outbreak. The packages include essential and non-essential items meant to promote relaxation and boost spirits.

FabFitFun reported completely selling out of or giving away all of its "Healthcare Hero Bundles" within hours. The company is now exploring other opportunities to help out healthcare workers.

Marketing Through Lockdown Isolation

Annie Selke, a company focused on producing quality-conscious textiles and furniture for the home, is taking advantage of its supply chain and social media presence during the coronavirus crisis.

The company has donated hundreds of yards of fabric to make masks for healthcare workers over the past month, and is donating food to local hospitals. But Annie Selke also wants to "Bring Happy Home" to those sheltering in place.

To help spread some joy, the company hosted an Instagram Flower Challenge for several weeks. Participants were tasked with creating a flower bouquet using real or paper flowers, then sharing the bouquet and tagging the company and friends. The weekly winner received a $500 gift card, to be used on the Annie Selke site.

"We believe in the power of flowers, and wanted to do something life-affirming for our online community," said company founder Annie Selke. "This allows our entire community to brighten the days of people they care about but can’t see. Our homes are our everything right now, so our mission to Bring Happy Home feels as essential as ever."

The Challenge was so successful that the company is now hosting a Foraging Challenge and also giving away $500 gift cards. The new event is designed to celebrate the early signs of spring and participants are encouraged to forage for a centerpiece using "echoes" of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.

The business heroes above represent just a fraction of the small businesses giving back to their communities globally to fight COVID-19. By taking advantage of their supply chains, resources and loyal customer bases, many of these companies are promoting positivity and uplifting spirits during a historically challenging time.

Win-win is always good business. But it is especially good business during these times when consumers and businesses are struggling across the board.