For decades the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has hosted Small Business Week running from Oct. 17-23 this year to highlight the impact SMBs have on the economy, and celebrate the hard working people behind them.
This year, Small Business Week holds even greater significance as the pandemic has brought on an entirely new set of challenges and presented threats to continued success. During the last two years, smaller companies were hit hard as the crisis radically changed demand for certain products and services across every sector and phyiscal distancing restrictions were put in place. However, this difficult time also introduced new opportunities for businesses to rethink traditional ways of working and operating models.
Coming out of the pandemic, the future looks optimistic. According to Scotiabank's recent New Path to Impact Report, Canadian small businesses are performing better than expected. Despite ongoing uncertainty and rising case rates across some Canadian provinces, over half (54%) of small business owners feel they are doing the same or better than they were pre-pandemic.
The report also found 31% of black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) small business owners are seeing an improvement over their pre-pandemic performance, compared to 14% of non-BIPOC small business owners. To stay competitive during the pandemic, many BIPOC small business owners shifted their operations online and expanded their product offerings, which helped grow their customer base.
Small Business Week is a great time for entrepreneurs to come together to learn, network, and share their own stories about building business resiliency, and think about what’s possible for the years ahead. Here are several ways you can take part in and celebrate Small Business Week, whether you’re attending one of the Canada-wide events hosted by the BDC, your local Chamber of Commerce, or simply getting together to celebrate with your staff via a virtual event.
Small Business Week is bringing 10,000 plus entrepreneurs and business owners together to attend virtual events, conferences, seminars, information sessions, and luncheons around Canada. Find out which events are happening near you.
In addition to attending a local BDC Small Business Week event, there are other ways to celebrate:
Small business owners have a lot going on. They’re focused on prioritizing business continuity, hiring the right talent to meet fluctuations in demand, and protecting the health safety of their people and their customers. With everything happening, it can be difficult to pause and acknowledge the role SMBs play in the Canadian economy. This year it’s particularly important to take time to celebrate your employees and come together with other entrepreneurs to share lessons learned and advice for navigating the uncertain business environments.
Acknowledge the contributions of your employees, even if you can’t be together in person. Consider hosting a virtual team lunch or after work happy hour in absence of face-to-face activities. Your people help keep your business running and are the drivers of growth, which means you should never overlook their dedication.
Show your appreciation via a video posted on the company’s intranet, issuing points through an internal rewards and recognition program, or by mailing thank-you cards to employees. Recognizing your people during difficult times is an essential part of keeping employees engaged and satisfied – especially if they’re working virtually or in different locations.
It’s also important to thank customers and other SMB owners that may have supported you and your business in the past. Send your appreciation via a video on your social channels. Also consider including a thank-you note with purchase of a product or service. A message of appreciation will go a long way and can help to build brand loyalty.
Do you have lessons to share on building greater business resiliency or advice to help peers overcome adversity? Or are there things you wish you knew about running a business during difficult times back when you were just starting up? Consider celebrating Small Business Week by sharing your knowledge with an up-and-coming entrepreneur, or one that may be struggling. Chances are someone else could benefit from your knowledge.
Help your people develop their skills by offering learning and development programs. This can include developing technical skills, such a new technology or software program, or soft skills like managerial and leadership development. As well, providing opportunities to work on projects and tasks outside of an employee's current day-to-day responsibilities can help your people grow, so your business can too.
Think about the challenges that have been presented over the last several months. Are there any opportunities to improve on ways of working? How can you better support business continuity for future disruption? What new skills will your business need in the future? How are you supporting the development of your workforce? What inefficiencies can you reduce or eliminate? Are there any potential partnership opportunities available?
Share the success of other small businesses by celebrating accomplishments. A great way to do this is to nominate a small business for an award or recognition. The CanadianSME Business Awards, for example, was developed to raise awareness around the impact small businesses make on Canada’s economy. Awards can go a long way in inspiring business owners to continue working hard in growing their business, especially coming out of a tumultuous time.
Encouragement to shop local is coming from all over, however, this can be difficult as social distancing restrictions are constantly changing in various regions. There are other ways to show support other than shopping in physical locations. For example, purchasing items online for delivery.
Take advantage of the power of referrals and a small business will thank you. Commit to telling a friend about a small business owners’ great customer service, a unique local product, or reputable service. You can also support your favourite SMBs by writing a positive online review on Google or Yelp.
Ceridian is pleased to commemorate this year’s event and celebrate small businesses this week and all year round.
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