CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – I passed another one on my walk to the grocery store today. A small business, this time a dental practice, all boarded up. While some neighborhood fixtures are reopening and straggling onward, others are falling by the wayside. Small and midsize businesses are having to think fast and reinvent themselves—sometimes several times over—to stay alive. Nobody knows this better than Chaz Tanase, whose platform GoNation has become critical to many small businesses since COVID struck.

GoNation started as a way to connect people with local businesses. You could step outside and open the app to see what’s going on in your neighborhood: karaoke at the old-school Chinese food restaurant, a retrospective opening at a nearby gallery, or maybe a holiday market you hadn’t heard about, rife with local vendors. A helpful tool for small businesses, locals and travelers alike.

But in times of COVID, some SMBs have become reliant on the GoNation platform to bolster their online presence, in sometimes transformational ways. “The key to weathering COVID is to go absolutely all in with your online presence,” Tanase told me. “Customers are online more than ever, and that’s where you need to be reaching them and making a splash. In some cases if your business doesn’t pivot to a massive online presence, it could mean closing the physical doors for good.”