Small Business Chat with Navin Arora

Small Business Canada

Executive Vice-president and President, TELUS Business Solutions

Navin leads a national team of more than 5,500 team members and oversees the end-to-end portfolio for B2B nationally, including sales, marketing, product development, customer experience, strategy, and operations for all TELUS business customers across Canada. As part of his national portfolio, he oversees TELUS Enterprise Solutions, TELUS Small & Medium Business, TELUS’ Employer, Partner, and Financial Solutions teams, as well as GoCo, one of Canada’s leading, managed service providers.

From local small businesses and tech startups to medium-sized manufacturers, large national businesses, and public sector agencies, Navin and his team are working with thousands of organizations of every size across Canada to reimagine the way technology can be used to thrive in a digital world. Under his leadership, the team is providing world-leading technology capabilities, ranging from network connectivity, collaboration, security, 5G, IoT, and virtual care solutions that power the digital workplace of the future.

Since joining TELUS in 1999, Navin has held senior leadership roles with increasing responsibility across various parts of the organization, including Business Solutions, Partner Solutions, Consumer, and Technology and Operations. He’s played a crucial role in steering some of TELUS’ most successful market growth and service innovation strategies and has guided several transformations that have driven industry-leading business growth, customer loyalty, and operational excellence.

TELUS, Canada’s leading healthcare technology company, and its TELUS Business division now provide small business owners and employees on smartphone plans with access to the TELUS Health Virtual Care app-based service at no extra cost to help them and their teams prioritize their mental and physical health when and where it’s most convenient for them. We got more insights from Navin Arora, Executive Vice-president, TELUS Business Solutions. In this exclusive Q/A Navin discusses how services like virtual health care can help small businesses succeed, why mental health should be a priority amongst small business owners and shared his future predictions for the small business owners in Canada in 2022.

What made you offer TELUS Health Virtual Care to small businesses and how will this support them?

We’ve always been proud to support Canadian small businesses, and TELUS Health Virtual Care is the latest in a series of activities we’ve launched to give them greater value and peace of mind. Other programs include our $1.5M commitment to #StandWithOwners where we helped profile owners across Canada to give them the exposure their business needed and the launch of TELUS’ Owners Advantage Mobility Plan. We know the pandemic has put huge pressure on owners to run their businesses and focus on well-being, for themselves and their employees, so we really want to continue doing our part and make it easier for them, their employees and families to access healthcare support they need.

How much do you think this pandemic has posed a threat to small business owners?

Small businesses are one of the hardest impacted groups, and for many, it would have been very difficult to prepare for all the different challenges. The pressure to stay afloat, take care of their family and employees, while dealing with the challenges of moving their business online, has been immense, and I’ve been blown away by the stories of resilience, support, and seeing how owners have pivoted so quickly to adapt. The pandemic really pushed more people and businesses to go digital, and there’s no going back, so we really feel we have to do our part and help support our business customers both professionally through their transformation and also personally with health and well-being support. 

How can services like virtual health care help small businesses succeed?

Coming out of the pandemic, I believe virtual care will continue to be prevalent and expected by Canadians. The labor market is really competitive, and offering virtual health options such as this is a win-win for small businesses. Employers can offer something highly differentiated to their employees and their families at no extra cost, which helps with retention, engagement, and productivity. And employees and their families can safely access health services where and when they need them, which is typically reserved for larger organizations that have more robust benefits plans.

What do you think about keeping mental health a priority amongst small business owners?

I think a focus on mental health is vital. Dr. Diane McIntosh, our Chief Neuroscience Officer at TELUS, recently shared that “In any given year, one in five Canadians will experience symptoms of a mental illness.” Small businesses make up nearly 98 percent of businesses in Canada, and many times it’s members of the family working in that business, so imagine the impact on all these hard-working owners, and their family members who support them. Small business owners taking care of their own and their family’s mental health, and providing support for their employees to do so as well, is good leadership and good business.

As a world-leading technology company, TELUS is committed to leveraging the power of technology to deliver connected solutions. How is technology important today?

Connectivity is a resource that is as important as any other type of infrastructure. Canada has a huge and vast geography with people spread out across the country, and the pandemic really reinforced the importance of connectivity and technology for society and day-to-day lives. It also demonstrated how we really do live in a digital world. We take great pride in using our technology to bridge the digital divide and enable the connections that matter, like being able to FaceTime with family, work from home with fast connections, and to get remote access to health experts. We also take great responsibility in helping to drive meaningful change in society, whether it’s improving access to virtual health services, addressing global food sustainability issues in agriculture, or enabling cities to operate more safely and sustainably.

What is the Unique Selling Point of TELUS Health Virtual Care being offered to Small Business customers?

What’s great about this service is that it’s easier to get the health support you need by being able to book an appointment on your device anywhere and anytime you need it, and for Small Business mobility customers to get that support at no additional cost. I think the other important piece is that we have over a decade of providing leading health technology, and we want to use that technology for good, which is a big reason for offering this up so owners, their employees, and families can prioritize their health.

How can small business owners keep themselves mentally healthy during these tough times? Could you please share some strategies?

I think one of the most helpful strategies for anyone is to make the most of the resources and support around you.

For our part, we hosted a webinar and virtual discussion on mental health and wellness with mental health experts and Canadian small business owners. There were some great stories from owners who shared how easy it is to get burnt out as an entrepreneur, and how important it is to take time for yourself, lean on your network, and always check in on their own and their team’s mental health.

What are your future predictions for small business owners in Canada in 2022?

Small businesses have weathered a ton of challenges and shown us how resilient and adaptable they can be. My prediction is that more owners and small businesses will embrace digital technology to transform their businesses so they can thrive in a post-pandemic environment. However, there’s a lot of pressure to overcome, especially with supply chain disruptions and shortages in a competitive labor market. Only 30 percent of small businesses are back to pre-pandemic revenue levels and only 42 percent are back to pre-pandemic staffing levels. So I think the key will be to differentiate through some variations of e-commerce, curbside pick-up, and delivery, and to get really creative around attracting, engaging, and retaining employees so they can get a leg up against larger businesses. I also think as individuals we have to do our part and continue shopping locally to support their success.

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