OPINION: Three tips to pivot your small business during the pandemic

BY TAMARA JANSEN
Conservative MP for Cloverdale-Langley City
Official Opposition Deputy Critic for Labour

IT’S not likely that any small business owner included “pandemic preparedness” in their business plan for 2020; but for a passionate entrepreneur, unplanned challenges are always the mother of invention.
Having spoken to a number of local small businesses who have successfully pivoted during COVID-19, there are a few things they have in common. Recently, they shared with me what they think are the keys to weathering the storm and coming out stronger on the other side. Here are three simple steps they each implemented which could help you weather the storm as well.
To begin with, they took a long hard look at what assets they had at their disposal, ensuring that they could pivot in a way that leveraged machinery and personnel for maximum advantage. Maker Cube, a company that provides tools and space to their membership in Langley, assessed their equipment and realized they could produce items for local health care workers on their 3D printer. Camp Beer Co. switched their production from restaurant service to canning when they were forced to close their doors. The Langley Community Music School leveraged their talented teachers and pivoted to online music training within weeks. By using what they had available in-house, they maximized its value, positioning them for a quick transition as things begin to re-open in BC.
The second key to success was centered on safety, both for staff and customers. Creating a plan to keep everyone healthy ensures that once those doors open, they can stay open. Michaud’s Salon and Spa in downtown Cloverdale reorganized all their beauty stations and installed glass dividers which ensure that the open floor plan looks beautiful but remains safe for clients. Strict cleaning protocols add an extra level of security, ensuring that customers feel their safety is a top priority.
The third and probably most difficult action they took was to reach out for assistance. The moment COVID-19 hit and small businesses were forced to close, sales disappeared causing catastrophic losses in revenue. While asking for help from the government does not come natural for most private entrepreneurs, this time there was no choice. Wage subsidies, rental assistance and small business loans from government were essential to keep things afloat in this unprecedented calamity. Initially, none of the enterprises I spoke with were eligible for most of the programs. Either their annual sales volumes were too high, or they had not quite lost the 30% of revenue required or, even worse, they were a brand-new business with no historic sales. Fortunately, after sustained pressure was directed at the current government to remove those and other barriers, many programs were adjusted to ensure maximum eligibility across the board.
So, if you are wondering what it’s going to take to get our economy back on track, you don’t need to look much further than down the street to your local mom-and-pop shop, music school, boutique, restaurant and every passionate entrepreneur in between. Our local small businesses are leading the way to the new normal. This will take pivoting, planning and procuring the things needed to get the engine back up and running.
On the other side of this crisis, it will be small business that puts Canada back on the path to prosperity. Shop Local. Support our small business in these tough times. We are all in this together!
I’d love to visit every small enterprise in the Cloverdale-Langley City riding so please reach out. For more information on the businesses mentioned in this column, keep an eye out for my next MP Newsletter coming to your mailbox soon.