Small Business Canada

How small and medium-sized business owners can get unstuck and meet more customers where they are

While it’s true that many Canadian businesses were propelled into doing business online during evolving pandemic restrictions, tens of thousands of small and medium-sized business owners still haven’t expanded online. 

The government of Canada estimates that 70,000 small and medium-sized businesses don’t have the digital know-how and DNA to be competitive in the marketplace. 

Canadian research shows that businesses that have adopted updated digital practices and tools – including AI-powered customer service tools, updated e-commerce platforms and other digital advances – are 62% more likely to have higher sales growth. 

So, what’s holding Canadian business owners back from expanding digitally?

Here’s what I see first-hand: Stress and fatigue are holding many business owners back from embarking on new ways to meet their customers where they are today and in the future. 

As Jack Dorsey, our CEO and co-founder of Block, shared at a Ryerson DMZ Fireside Chat, when something stays in your head, you consistently make excuses for why it won’t work and that takes all the potential away. Don’t let fears swirl with “guesstimations” about how much time and money might be involved in the expansion. Or concerns about making “wrong” decisions paralyze you from even getting started. 

Three proven interventions can help any business owner get unstuck and move forward and in this case with helping them grow online: 


Mind Your Mind
I encourage people to explore fears getting in the way of their progress. Instead of avoiding your fears, realize there is discomfort there and stories you’re telling yourself. It takes practice to actually meet difficult feelings with attention, and self-compassion. And that will help you focus on what parts you have the ability to change.

Get Curious
When business owners talk to other business owners who have already expanded online, they are more likely to want to follow suit. Asking questions and finding out what’s working for other businesses helps a person realize others have been there before and they come to understand the path and their options. Virtual events and forums are other places where business owners can connect with other business owners.  

Test and Learn
When it comes to expanding online, business owners need to know they can start small in featuring only their best-selling products and/or services. An online store should be built over time just as you’ve built your in-person business over time. Reduce the pressure for perfection you’ve unconsciously put on yourself. After you launch your online store, see what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust accordingly as you go.  

Again and again, I’ve seen the power of adopting a mindset that’s open to new ways of being. 

The good news is that support is now available to business owners across Canada. Knowing that the pandemic has changed the way Canadians do business and that businesses, employees and customers are doing more and more business online, the federal government has committed $4 billion to help small and medium-sized businesses across every province and territory accelerate their digital transformation.  

The recently launched Canada Digital Adoption Program provides micro-grants and access to young, digital advisors to help business owners build online stores and take advantage of e-commerce opportunities. To take the first step, all business owners need to do is submit an application to a service provider in their region. 

The opportunity to work with young digital advisors is powerful. For the 70,000 Canadian business owners who are not yet maximizing their digital potential and may still be thinking about digital expansion,  there’s no time like the present.

Martin Guerrero is a community impact advocate with Square that is a part of Block. Martin is an e-commerce expert and has trained over 600 online advisors across Canada, who in turn are helping all kinds of small businesses expand online. 

Pin it
Related Posts