Key Advice To Small Business Owners For 2021 By Laura Williams

Small Business Canada

Laura Williams, LLB, CSP – Lawyer, Speaker, HR Business Consultant, Workplace Investigator, Thought Leader, Corporate Trainer, Instructor, Podcaster Founder and Principal, Williams HR Law, and Williams HR Consulting Inc.

Laura has built two highly respected firms that respectively provide proactive HR law and HR consulting advice designed to minimize workplace law challenges, maximize employee engagement, and boost bottom-line performance.

Laura is also a seasoned workplace investigator, routinely engaged to conduct complex workplace investigations, and is recognized for specific expertise in investigations related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As a professional speaker, Laura regularly delivers keynote talks on topics relevant to entrepreneurs, business leaders, HR professionals, and lawyers. Laura has recently launched a podcast for business leaders and HR Professionals called, We Thrive Forward – Conversations with Laura Williams which is available on all major platforms.


What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? 

Many SMEs not only were blindsided by the impact of the pandemic they, frankly, felt “sucker punched” – like the rug had been pulled out from under them.  Maneuvering and adapting has not been an option in many cases to survive, but those that will ultimately thrive are the ones that are seizing this opportunity to focus on three I’s when contemplating changes during this period: Introspection, Innovation, and Inclusivity.

Introspection: SMEs should revisit their vision, mission, and core value statements to ensure they are still relevant and aligned with business objectives, which may have shifted in the pandemic. It is also critical to ensure organizational goals are clear to employees, and that everyone knows their role in fulfilling them. Further, leaders must be equipped with the necessary skills to stabilize employee morale and engender trust, as the pandemic has destabilized workplace cultures and mental wellness, and employees are increasingly demanding transparency from leadership, along with compassion and empathy.

Innovation: While the dust has far from settled in terms of the pandemic’s impacts, SMEs should explore the degree to which areas of their business need to be recalibrated, improved, and/or modernized. Innovating to ensure that internal employee work and client service delivery models are relevant, optimized, and efficient is essential.

InclusivityAccording to a 2020 ADP survey, nearly half (47%) of all Canadians aged 18-34 feel more loyal to organizations that value equity and diversity. SMEs lacking talent with diverse backgrounds and perspectives are disadvantaged in recruiting and retaining employees and should identify this as a priority for improvement. SMEs should also be inclusive by leveraging input from all internal resources when considering operational changes, as this provides avenues to discover opportunities that may not be apparent to leadership.

The degree of change that SME’s have had to endure as a result of the pandemic can only be effectively navigated if leaders are proactive, intentional, strategic, and focused during these times.  Incorporating the three I approach above, among other things, can help organizations build stronger foundations to be better equipped for the future economy when the pandemic subsides.

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