While the COVID-19 pandemic has, and continues to, make operating a small business increasingly difficult, there are some businesses that were able to transition and experience growth and success despite the downfalls of the pandemic.
Even though Canadian small businesses are tough and innovative, the recent surge of COVID-19, more specifically, Omicron cases, have brought on a new round of restrictions and lockdowns that make staffing and operating a small business increasingly difficult. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Restaurants Canada have issued a joint open letter to all Premiers urging them to provide more financial support to Canadian small business owners.
We encourage you to read and share the letter to push for increased small business government support programs. Check it out here https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/media/news-releases/cfib-and-restaurants-canada-issue-open-letter-premiers-calling-more-business
We have all heard of the saying “bent but not broken” but for small business owners this statement resonates now more than ever. As 2020 wound down, entrepreneurs were hopeful that 2021 was going to bring the world back to some normalcy. But, to everyone’s dismay, the year continued to bring struggles in the face of the repercussions of the pandemic.
There are many uncertainties that come along with a global pandemic, and small businesses are struggling to navigate the effects it’s had on the economy, the consumer market, supply chain disruptions, and soaring inflation rates. But, some small businesses were able to pivot away from their typical business model to adapt and thrive in the new landscape. Take for example, the story of restaurant owner Ryan Grey, who speaks about overcoming diversity, keeping busy, and remaining hopeful that the new year will be bright and prosperous. Check out his story here https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/were-bent-but-not-broken-restaurateur-hopes-for-brighter-2022
Here are some practical steps used by fellow small business owners that you can take to deal with the situation:
In order to provide some assistance to small businesses struggling with the impact of COVID-19, the government of Canada has created several support programs. With the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) being cancelled, some more targeted support for the hardest-hit industries have been introduced. This includes the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program which provides rent and wage subsidies of up to 50% for those with heavy losses.
To explore the government support grants available for your business visit here https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/grants.html.
It’s very important to maintain constant communication with your staff and customers alike. Ensure your staff are properly trained on all health measures and be transparent with them about the contact tracing and hygiene protocols.
Keep your customers in the loop about the measures you are putting in place concerning their safety. If they know you are working hard to keep them safe, it will create a bond of trust amongst the community.
As proven during the pandemic, it is crucial for businesses to develop a plan incase of emergencies. Having the foresight to keep an optimal cash reserve will provide your business with some leeway should unexpected circumstances arise. Financial experts generally recommend that a solid business reserve should have enough funds to cover anywhere from three to six months of ordinary expenses.
Check out the top 5 advantages of planning ahead in your business here https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissahouston/2020/11/12/the-top-5-advantages-of-planning-ahead-in-your-business/?sh=5473d1ba6ce5
These are strange and turbulent times; be understanding of this. With the shadow of the omicron looming over us, many employees prefer to work from home instead of coming into the workplace. If possible, be open to hiring remote employees or accommodating your current staff. This will allow you to hire staff regardless of their geographical location and save you money on office space.
Additionally, small businesses that were able to find success among the pandemic had to be flexible with their offerings. Shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to ecommerce platforms and/or contactless pickup, gave customers more shopping options.
To learn more lessons from small business owners about how to be more flexible visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/07/28/lessons-from-small-businesses-on-flexibility/?sh=374f05583417
We know that new variants of COVID-19 continue to pose a threat to small business owners but rest assured that we’re here and we’ve got you. We are committed to helping you stay safe and flourish during these unpredictable times. That’s why we have created the COVID-19 Knowledge Centre, where we have compiled the latest news and updates related to small businesses and the pandemic. Please visit us often as we will continuously be making updates.
Advice and research for Canadian small businesses from our expert team