Starting your own business takes ambition, vision and courage. You expect some hard times, slim margins and staffing challenges. But a global health pandemic that would shut down all businesses for a major chunk of the year and require you to reconfigure your operations in order to re-open and continue, was not something many business owners had imagined or anticipated.
According to a recent poll by CIBC, over half of business owners in Canada say their sales have dropped, and an additional 28 per cent have had to temporarily shut down operations. As a result, revenue shortage is the most pressing concern. Some 34 percent of business owners are reducing their expenses, 29 per cent are dipping into their savings to carry on; 25 per cent are laying off staff; and, 15 per cent are applying for more credit.
It can all be very overwhelming. If you’re feeling alone, it might be time to reach out and build a virtual team of professionals to support you through this transition. For example:
Accountants and debt counsellors to help figure out your cash position. CIBC suggests identifying “all potential sources of available cash and sort them into six categories: available operating funds; accounts receivable; locked-in investments; market-linked investments; inventory and other liquid capital, such as a line of credit or the Canada Emergency Business Account.” Then tally your obligations, such as supplier payments, employee wages, and rent. Once you’ve got an accurate picture of your position or shortfall, you’ll have a better sense of control. An accountant or debt counsellor can help you plot a course forward.
Technology consultants to improve and expand your e-commerce operations. The CIBC poll indicated that “of the 26 per cent of business owners who do have online operations, 30 per cent have seen an increase in sales and 25 per cent say they've remained the same compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.” Your e-commerce strategy is the key to scaling up for bigger sales during ‘normal times’ and survival during any future lockdown times.
Human resources consultants to help support your team. According to CIBC, “Sixty per cent of business owners say they wish they could do more to help their staff.” A professional HR consultant can advise you on how to better support your teams through phases of remote work or lay-offs, how to create a strategy for managing through a reopening, and how to create positive forums and communication channels to help manage everyone’s emotional, mental and financial stress (including your own!).
While it might feel like a bit of a Darwinian test, the effect of the pandemic will help many businesses to evolve in ways they had not previously imagined. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it is heartbreaking to see many businesses closing for good, those that do survive this downturn will undoubtedly be more strongly positioned for a brighter future ahead.