Turning Crisis into Opportunity: A guide for Small & Medium Business Leaders

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By Vicki Scott

While this can be incredibly trying time for Small & Medium business leaders, or those in specialty business categories, there will be survivors! The road ahead will require massive action, determination and work. Canadian small businesses make up 41.7% of our GDP. Between 2013 and 2018, 56.8% of all new jobs were created by small businesses.
While finding the needed motivation, enthusiasm and ideas can be incredibly challenging as we navigate through uncharted and tempestuous times, it is critical to recognize that new opportunities will present themselves, for those that are quick, and agile. While news on the business landscape changes by the minute, those leaders who rise to the challenge, take massive action, communicate effectively and dare to think differently during this crisis will be better positioned in the new normal, which will inevitably come.

You might need to change your business or service delivery model; it may be the way you interact with your customers, or even the product or service that you offer.

Here are a few ideas to adapt to the changing landscape:

1. Communicate - not just to your employees but to your customers and partners. Take to social media often to communicate changes, closures and any new services that you are offering as a result of self-isolation.
2. Listen to all your stakeholders to understand the problems they are trying to solve, the needs they have. Don’t look at the feedback in the context of how you do business today but in rethinking what tomorrow could bring.
3. Look for opportunities to maximize efficiency. With the right systems and tools, remote work can be successful. Drive costs and waste out of your journeys.
4. Find alternate service delivery models. There is no better time for entrepreneurs and business leaders to explore technology to stay connected with clients, bring new offers to market and challenge the delivery model.
5. Explore alternative payment methods. Cash is still king but so many businesses aren’t taking advantage of new secure payment methods. Now is the time to challenge these assumptions.
6. Rethink delivery. Why not look at how you deliver your goods. Safe pick-up sites or door to door drop off has been popular in food industries and could be part of your direct to customer model.
7. For organizations struggling with supply chain issues some have looked at alternative opportunities; many breweries and distillers have shifted some or all of their production to the manufacturing of hand sanitizer and disinfectant which is not only greatly needed but timely for diversification should there be impact to crops which rely heavily on foreign workers for harvesting. Opportunities to retool to manufacture masks, garments, ventilators abound.

There is no crystal ball to predict how long this pandemic will last, or what businesses will survive, but what history has taught us is that with enough hard work, determination and community, together, we can make tomorrow prosperous.