Community leaders discuss the widespread impact COVID-19 is having amongst underrepresented founders, entrepreneurs and business owners across Canada.

Nextdoor Canada and Square are on a mission to ensure everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on.

This is the second installment of our 3-part webinar series with Nextdoor Canada, Conversations with the Business Next Door. Host Joella Almeida, Head of Partnerships at the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce sits down with four women in business to understand the impact of the pandemic amongst small business owners in Canada.

Guest speakers for Small Businesses with Mighty Hearts include:

  • Aymen Dewii, Change Management Consultant
  • Amie Nguyen, Tech Entrepreneur
  • Tasha Tringale, Freelance Designer
  • Melanie Ang, eCommerce Food Entrepreneur

COVID has brought many small business owners across Canada to the brink of closing up shop for good. Here’s what these lady gurus think about the future of small business in Canada, how owners can adapt, and other tips for fellow entrepreneurs.

Community leaders discuss the future of small business in Canada, how owners can adapt, and other tips for fellow entrepreneurs.

What Challenges Have Small Businesses Faced?

The pandemic has posed several challenges to the way small business owners in Canada approach their daily operations. For instance, prior to COVID, trade shows were a great way to showcase businesses, what they provide, and even to make a few sales. By March, these events were cancelled, causing a need to pivot incredibly quickly to remain relevant. One of the ways many small businesses met this change head-on was the move to eCommerce.

One of the greatest challenges to small businesses across Canada remains a fear of the unknown. Many small business owners feel that from the federal government to the many provincial and local government entities and health departments, a clear plan was lacking from the beginning. While this is a new normal for all of us, we expect more from our leaders. Aspects of COVID regulations, such as lockdowns and gathering restrictions have put many small business owners in quite the bind for almost an entire year. Certain sectors like tourism and hospitality could collapse as many of the jobs in these sectors hang by threads.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Some business owners have celebrated successes, however small they might’ve been. Just making pivots like adding an online presence for a shop used to face-to-face interaction is a monumental step in the right direction. Businesses that had already made this step, such as those using Digital Mainstreet, have had a much easier time of it than those trying to navigate this step amidst lockdowns and other restrictions. Seeing your competitors through new eyes — as collaborators — means small business owners have each other’s backs. We’re truly all in this together.

Tips for Small Business Owners

As you’ve navigated the trenches of 2020, you’ve likely had some “A-ha!” moments of your own. The ladies of Small Businesses with Mighty Hearts share some of their tips below:

  • Make yourself available to other small business owners — connecting is a must
  • Diversify your offerings, elevate your brand, pivot into other sectors if necessary
  • Focus on what makes the biggest impact and grow that part of your business
  • Lead with empathy
  • Collaborate with other shop owners, reach out to your local community, and keep your shop top of mind with your customers
  • Make sure you’ve got multiple suppliers — supply chain disruption doesn’t have to be the end of your business

Most of all, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Your business could come out stronger than it ever was.

What Does the Future of Small Business in Canada Look Like?

No one in December 2019 could possibly have predicted what 2020 would bring us. While hindsight is definitely 20/20 — no pun intended — what last year has brought wasn’t all bad; it forced many businesses to re-evaluate how they were conducting their operations, where changes could be made, and many businesses were able to implement those changes rapidly. It’s pretty amazing to see the transformation on Main Streets across Canada — local business owners partnering to save their communities is a beautiful thing.

Just don’t feel paralyzed. Everything is changing. Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone—you could come out much stronger than ever before.