October is Small Business Month and what a different time to reflect on the state of the market this year, with a pandemic that has completely shifted our economy and financial priorities. As we know, business owners across the country have faced the greatest challenge in a generation. Some have had to close or pause operations, while others have pivoted to meet new demands and unplanned opportunities for growth.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in so many industries – exposing vulnerabilities and weaknesses in even the most well thought out continuity plans. Although this may be the case for leaders across the country, it also presents an opportunity for improvement and scalability during the second wave.
So, what should business leaders be considering for growth as the pandemic continues?
Prepare to pivot
The ability to remodify quickly has been critical for many businesses during this time and has been a defining part of surviving the pandemic. In Ontario’s food and beverage sector, where producers had previously been supplying restaurants, hotels and banquet halls, modification has saved businesses.
In one example, a meatpacking business that had lost a big chunk of revenue due to hospitality clients shutting down, saw a new opportunity when grocery stores began running out of stock due to panic buying. They quickly changed their production to go direct to consumers instead.
Consider diversifying supply chain
The pandemic has compelled businesses to put their supply chains under a magnifying glass to find points of weakness. Mapping your company’s first- and second-level supply chains, and identifying potential weak links, is critical. Earlier this year, businesses started to ask important questions. Could they continue to get the critical parts needed to produce their goods and services? Some businesses require many components to make their products, and if the supplier of just a few of those shuts down shipments to Canada, it was cause for concern.
As we’ve learned, keeping conversations and new ideas open is a key part of business continuity. Diversifying your supply chain can provide many benefits for operations and faster and more reliable access to materials in times of crisis. Ensuring that you are not too reliant on one region or market will also strengthen your supply chains during the regular course of business.
Be ready for more change
The last few months have taught us to think more swiftly than we have ever before. Business leaders have been called to make fast decisions that have lasting impact on their future, for employees, operations and bottom line.
If you’re looking to grow, don’t expect anything the same as it was a few months ago, and a few months before that. Embrace new processes, technologies and efficient solutions that will allow you to be agile and think strategically.
While this new normal isn’t so new anymore, business leaders need to take a holistic approach when figuring out how to move their organization forward. Having a business continuity plan and leaving space for quick changes is essential.
This Small Business Month is unlike any Canadians have experienced in the past. While it may be difficult to look ahead, we encourage business leaders to envision what their organizations will look like in the future and identify the steps they’re willing to take domestically or internationally to get there.