Kayla Isabelle is the Executive Director of Startup Canada, the national rallying community supporting and giving a voice to Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs. Kayla has dedicated her career to supporting entrepreneurs, both in Canada and internationally. Kayla is an award winning strategic communications consultant and change management facilitator, and is passionate about leveraging the power of storytelling in the entrepreneurial community.
What is your key advice to small business owners during these challenging times? And what steps should they take to keep their small business afloat during the current crisis?
Small businesses and startups within Canada have been hit hard by COVID-19, leaving many in vulnerable financial positions. In fact, nearly 60% of the country’s small businesses reported declines in revenue of 20% or more. Additionally, many entrepreneurs experience problems with their mental health as a direct result of the pandemic. Despite these challenges, there are many actionable steps and resources available to entrepreneurs that can help keep their businesses afloat.
One key piece of advice for any small business during COVID-19 is to update and implement a risk management strategy. A risk management strategy helps identify both major and minor risks to your business and details a proactive mitigation plan. A good risk management strategy should include: identification of specific risks, measurement tactics, mitigation strategies, reporting procedures, and Governance protocols.
COVID-19 has drastically changed the way businesses connect with and expand on their existing networks. Entrepreneurs should become familiar with valuable digital networking avenues, such as direct messaging via LinkedIN or an online community forum for small business owners. Maintaining team engagement and productivity while working from home can also be a challenge. Regularly utilizing video conferencing tools to host staff meetings can help in replicating an in-office work environment, strengthening your team culture, and increasing motivation.
Canada’s women entrepreneurs have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. A number of resources have been developed for women-owned businesses, such as:
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) (providing $15 million in funding to women entrepreneurs across the country).
- The THRIVE Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs
- The Resource Guide for Women Entrepreneurs
To thrive amidst this crisis, entrepreneurs will need to juggle structural and operational changes, network connectivity, and actively prioritizing self care. Despite the many hurdles and barriers COVID-19 has created for entrepreneurs, adversity continues to fuel innovation in the nation’s startup community.