A five-step Road to Recovery framework to help entrepreneurs adapt now and for the future

CO.STARTERS has always been about helping entrepreneurs get unstuck. In fact, since 2008 we’ve guided more than 12,000 aspiring business owners through the process of launching or growing their ventures. The underestimated business starters we support often feel stuck and alone, and find the help they need in our network of support and tools they can trust to find their best way forward.

For the past eight years, we’ve focused our work where the need was greatest—helping people start new businesses. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, a greater need has emerged—to support existing small business owners as they work to survive, stabilize, and adapt through this extremely difficult time.

To this end, CO.STARTERS has launched the Road to Recovery framework1 to help entrepreneurs and communities navigate the unforeseeable future. This initiative takes a five-step approach, with our proven methods and supports addressing this new challenge every step of the way.

Stage 1: REACT. The first step when a crisis hits is to take action to both prevent further damage and provide immediate relief. For these purposes, we created the Recovery Guide, a curated directory of resources for small businesses, sorted by issue and industry to reduce overwhelm.

Stage 2: REGROUP. We firmly believe we are strongest together. When problems are complex and the context is changing, no one person has the answers. We gain perspective by sharing our challenges and hearing from others. To this end, we started the Straight Talk with Starters roundtable series for business owners to connect and support each other in a virtual forum. We are also curating events from partners that provide entrepreneurs with similar community support.

Stage 3: REFOCUS. Entrepreneurs need to find clarity in order to see how they can adapt their businesses in the midst of rapid change. This is why we launched the Refocus workshop, a two-hour session in which business owners work in a collaborative setting to creatively problem-solve. This workshop primarily utilizes the CO.STARTERS Canvas, a simple but powerful tool that allows business owners to make smart adaptations to their business model based on changing customer needs.

Stage 4: REBUILD. We want entrepreneurs to not only survive this pandemic, but to come out of it even stronger. Coming soon, business owners will be able to participate in a 10-session program that will equip them to better navigate the uncertain times this pandemic brings—and identify its opportunities. Entrepreneurs who participate in the program will be able to confidently move forward with actionable next steps, identify creative solutions, find both short-term and long-term financial stability, and adapt in this uncertain environment. And all this will be accomplished in the context of a live, virtual cohort of peers.

The live cohort element is especially crucial. “When a known problem has a known solution, passive content is helpful.” Enoch Elwell, CEO of CO.STARTERS, explained. “But the problems we are facing are changing by the hour. This requires a rich process of facilitated co-creation, which is the CO.STARTERS way.”

Stage 5: RECOVER. We still don’t know what the world will look like for business owners when the pandemic is over. But we’re committed to providing sustainable tools and services that truly help small businesses both during this crisis and after.

This Road to Recovery framework is how we believe we can best serve businesses of all stages in the moment that we are in. The CO.STARTERS approach is a reliable process with proven results. We know that communities are always made stronger when people come together and collaborate. Our programs have served as opportunities for innovators, leaders, and starters to do just that around one particular goal—thriving through entrepreneurship.

“This framework, support group, and set of curated resources provides business owners with the knowledge, confidence, and connectedness to take decisive action when it matters most.” –Enoch Elwell

“With many small business owners across the country feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and alone, we built the Road to Recovery model to cut through the debilitating flood of information and resources and help entrepreneurs find confidence to take the first steps toward recovery through these uncertain times,” explained Enoch. “This framework, support group, and set of curated resources provides business owners with the knowledge, confidence, and connectedness to take decisive action when it matters most.”

1 The Road to Recovery framework is informed by models used by WHO, FEMA, and conversation with Ilana Preuss of Recast City.

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