Many economists’ outlooks for 2020 pegged the year as a continuation of the economic recovery after a few tough years to round out the 2010s with modest, steady growth rates in the forecast. Businesses weren’t set for a sudden windfall, but neither were they set for major setbacks. The forecast was business as usual.
With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing it is not business as usual.
The way COVID-19 has affected our communities has thrown the business world into turmoil, with normal spending and behaviour patterns being upended. Businesses’ revenues have therefore taken a hit while most of the expenses, namely mortgage or lease payments and employee wages, persist. Not many businesses, small or large, have the cash flow to continue in this situation for a long period of time.
There are many businesses that will not be able to survive the current circumstances without some form of government support. The Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan have already announced various economic packages for businesses including loan programs, wage subsidies, and payment deferrals for crown corporations or utilities but more will be required to help a larger number of businesses. This includes measures such as grants or non-repayable loans and forgiving payments outright rather than deferring them.
Amid this darkness there are businesses that are flexing their creative muscles to keep their employees working, keep revenue coming in, and possibly set their businesses up for success once things return to “normal” (although we doubt that things will ever be exactly the same). Restaurants and businesses that did not previously offer delivery, such as Dad’s Organic Market or Supplement World, are now offering local delivery and local craft distilleries are producing hand sanitizer. These businesses are creating new revenue streams or are finding ways to keep existing ones producing.
A large concern for businesses now is finding productive work to keep their employees on staff and avoid layoffs. Some businesses, such as 9Mile Legacy Brewing, have turned their staff’s attentions to projects that give back to the community. Others have “lent” their staff to other organizations that are looking for extra workers to help keep the basic needs of our society functioning. While these things aren’t necessarily generating revenue for the business, they are keeping people employed.
Further, good deeds—whether that’s finding ways to keep serving your customers or helping fill a more urgent societal need—help build a business’ brand and building a strong, community-minded brand will certainly help a business rebound once the pandemic is over.
We can’t help but look at the clouds on the horizon at a time such as this; the ongoing forecast is a mix of doom and gloom. And businesses do need to be realistic about what they need to do to survive. But we encourage businesses to also look for the silver lining in the cloud. Maybe the pandemic offers an opportunity for an entrepreneur to distance themselves and work on that next big idea or the opportunity for professional development of employees. The question we encourage you to ask yourself is “how do I come back bigger, better, faster, stronger than I was before?”