Key Advice To Small Business Owners During These Challenging Times By Rebecca Pang

Small Business Canada

Rebecca Pang is the Vice President, Commercial Financial Services at RBC where she leads a team of relationship managers with a focus on Asian markets in Toronto. They provide commercial banking services for example business loans, commercial mortgages, and cash management. She has 20 years+ of experience in banking and other industries, including progressive leadership roles in strategy (@Mckinsey & Company), investment banking mergers and acquisitions (Merrill Lynch & Canadian FIs), retail channel analytics and corporate development, in Canada, U.S. and China. 

Pang received her MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and later earned her Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Business Valuators designations. Pang currently serves as the board of Toronto Zoo, Yee Hong Foundation and was previously appointed as the Dean Council Member for Ryerson University Ted Rogers School of Management. 

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?

Understandably, small business owners will be focused on short-term survival, but as they lay out their recovery plan, I advise they think about the following:

1) Re-think the budget: Lay out all your costs, identify needs vs. wants, and prioritize where your money should be spent. Think of every item in your list as an investment – how much return will you get from each of them? And then spend accordingly. And most importantly, while it’s easy to think short-term, I encourage you to think about the future when you budget. What costs could be re-allocated and invested in things that will modernize and allow your business to survive tomorrow?

As you budget, effectively leverage government relief programs. These are designed to support and speed up your recovery process. 

2) Don’t just survive, but thrive by finding new opportunities: It has been said that there’s no education like adversity. While it’s easy to maintain a short-term focus on surviving, it is critical and perhaps most important to create a long-term vision so your business survives post-recovery and in the expectations of a post-pandemic world. Think – how will consumers behave moving forward? How are other industries modernizing to succeed in this new economy? Can anything be digitized? These are some of the questions you should think about as you move your business into the future. 

Take this opportunity to see how you can re-brand to stand out, but also survive in the long-term. For most businesses, it has become essential to incorporate a digital aspect; whether it is creating a modern website (booking, shopping, promotion, etc) to completely bringing their services online if possible.

3) Be ok not having all the answers: As you budget and re-think your business model, reach out to experts in the industry and seek advice. Ask them what has been successful and what new things you can try to win now and in the long-run.

Don’t be afraid to seek financial and industry guidance and build a plan around their expertise and your personal vision for your business. 

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