A Message for Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs During a Crisis
by Amber Mac on March 20, 2020
This is a message for Canada’s small business owners and entrepreneurs. Based on a recent Business Development Bank of Canada report, there are more than one million of us in the country. More than half of these businesses have fewer than 4 employees. Despite our small average size, together we are a big part of the economy.
Unfortunately, a study from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reveals that – in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic – half of the country’s small businesses have already reported a drop in sales and many worry they won’t survive a month because of income losses of 50% or more. Yes, every Canadian business is hurting, but the small and mighty are facing unprecedented challenges.
I’m not sure I buy into the shiny Instagram quotes and inspirational messages these days that this pandemic is happening for a reason and there is a bright side. It’s impossible to hope away the realities we face, but strategic thinking and quick action can help.
In this blog post, I want to share a few ideas for small business owners and entrepreneurs to stay in the game. The truth is some will have to close shop, but it is possible for many to survive. We’re already seeing this incredible flow of creativity and innovation. Here are a few examples.
- Distilleries are using their alcohol to make disinfectant and sanitizer;
- A local bookstore Queen Books is offering online shopping and a delivery service; and
- Gyms and personal trainers, such as Train with Torrie, are stepping up to offer classes online to keep us all healthy at home.
I’ve been speaking about Relentless Adaptation on stages and in books for years. Now, more than ever, it’s time to apply this.
Waiting out this crisis is NOT an option. What we hoped would get resolved in a few weeks, now looks more like a few months, or more. While many of us also have to face a new twist, which is working from home with kids at our feet, the Internet is an indispensable lifeline for a rapid business pivot and, yes, new business models will arise out of the current crisis.
In the knowledge economy, which is the foundation of our business success, this is especially true. There are unique opportunities for online training, virtual events, and more. At AmberMac Media, we’re working around the clock remotely to keep building in the digital space. For many entrepreneurs, investing in this brand building will reap benefits – whether it’s video updates you shoot on your phone, finally launching that newsletter you’ve been putting off for months, or recording that podcast series to build your community.
In the retail world, things are especially complicated, but there are people who are providing excellent advice and leadership on Twitter, such as my dear friend Doug Stephens – who is important follow in this time of chaos. For e-commerce, subscribing to Harley Finkelstein’s updates is a must. Plus, read up on what financial institutions are doing to offer small business loans, and how the Canadian government is providing new support for businesses.
For some, even choosing technology to transition to online can be daunting. For those of you who need a few suggestions, here are some great sources:
- Learn more about Shopify for your online store
- Try Anchor.fm to record and distribute a podcast series
- Download Zoom for online workshops or video meetings
- Try out Facebook Live for live-streaming
- Use Slack for team collaboration
- Download BigVu to turn your tablet or phone into a prompter, and create accessible video
Now, I’m not naive in thinking that technology can solve all small business problems in the face of a crisis, but it can certainly help. Just imagine today’s world without it. Most importantly, to borrow a quote from the late futurist Alvin Toffler:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. This is especially true in a world where self-isolation and social distancing is our new reality.”
And, an important final thought, the time to take action is now. The time for strategic thinking is today.
I’m here if any small business owners or entrepreneurs want to chat or want to brainstorm new ideas. We’ll do livestreams regularly to answer questions you may have, and we’ll keep sharing everything we learn that can help all of us relearn together.
Please reach out to me if you need anything. I’ll be here, at a distance, but ready to help online.