Small Business Can Still Thrive After the Pandemic

Jesse Swanson
Jesse Swanson
Special to The Daily Record

Just over a year ago, partners-to-be cut down their wedding guest lists and popular venues cancelled events. From caterers and photographers to DJs and florists, wedding industry workers have faced several obstacles over the past year. Many have adjusted to the “new normal”, but the question if weddings will ever be the same as they were prior to the pandemic is still looming.

Since last March, my business, Chaos Productions DJ and Photo Booth, has seen the effects of the pandemic firsthand. The cancellation or postponement of more than 40 events and varied crowd restrictions presented challenges I had never given thought to in years past. Instead of letting the pandemic destroy my business, I decided to take the necessary steps to keep my business alive, and because of that, I am heading into this wedding season more prepared than ever before. Now, I want to encourage fellow Omaha businesses to embrace the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and use the digital tools at our disposal to succeed in this “new normal” way of life.

Taking on these challenges wasn’t easy. For the weddings that didn’t get cancelled, we had to navigate regulations that changed from venue to venue. For most events, that meant abandoning classic wedding dances that encourage guests to get on the floor and boogie, and instead utilizing group games or table dances designed to let people party and be safe. Getting creative with songs and activities allowed us to still provide our clients an unforgettable evening.

Beyond navigating these weddings, another challenge we faced was not being able to show people proof of our services in person. We could no longer recruit new customers by putting on a good show at large events; we had to transition our outreach to the digital world. We took the party to them instead and hosted Facebook Live remote dance parties in living rooms all across Omaha. By streaming on Facebook, our content was easy to find and accessible, and it allowed us to gain an online following which helped us stay front of mind for potential customers.

Behind the scenes, I also used the idle months at the beginning of the pandemic to further grow our online presence. To give people a holistic sense of who we are, we created short videos of staff members detailing our event process and expertise. By keeping our content genuine, we didn’t crowd timelines with fluff. Instead, our Facebook page gives customers a good idea of who we are as people and as entertainers. We also worked to boost our search engine optimization for our website — we pulled out all the stops to get our brand in front of future brides.

Of course, our work behind the scenes was continually motivated by the support from the community. Businesses in the wedding industry came together online in Facebook Groups to share ideas and stave off the stress of the pandemic. I borrowed from others in the community and hopefully dispensed some useful advice in return. The mutual support we gave each other in those groups is something I’ll always remember.

Thankfully, being resourceful, tapping into social media more and broadening my community over the past year has paid off. We have over 210 events on the books this season! That is significantly more than what we have done in seasons previously. As we inch closer to open venues and traditional receptions, I can’t help but be grateful for the “pandemic push” that opened up our business to so many new possibilities. I’m not sure what my business would look like today if not for our novel attempts to reach people over the last 12 months.

Right now is the perfect time for small businesses to embrace the tools that have kept our industry afloat over the last year. The year 2021 may feel unfamiliar, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to get ahead. By embracing online tools, providing social proof of your services, and connecting with others in the same boat, you can form a real bond with the community and find success.

Even though dance lines might look different, it’s still possible to find success in the new normal.

Jesse Swanson owns Chaos Productions DJ & Photo Booth Service and enjoys helping Nebraskans have the best day of their lives through sharing his passion for music and entertainment. Find more on the business at


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