Small Businesses and What This
Pandemic Means for Them
Small Businesses and What This Pandemic Means for Them
Throughout Canada, the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had an impact on everyone over the past few weeks, but the spread of the virus has had a disproportionate impact on small businesses and their employees, as many have been forced to temporarily shut their doors.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently reported that 60 per cent of small businesses have seen a significant drop in sales, with in excess of a third reporting a reduction greater than 75 per cent. If you own a small business, we want to give you some tips which may help you navigate through this pandemic. Or, if you don’t own one but want to support small businesses during this challenging time, we also have some ideas that can help you.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
On Tuesday, March 25th, the Government of Canada proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This legislation is to support workers and help businesses keep their employees. CERB would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate through these difficult times, while simultaneously ensuring they keep the ability to quickly resume full operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The provincial and federal governments are for the most part giving daily updates, so keep tabs on these updates where possible.
Owning a Small Business
Review and know your finances. This is the time to calculate all earnings, expenses and debts. Familiarize yourself with where your business stands as this can help you make a decision for whether you should temporarily close, or continue operating on reduced work hours and overheads.
Speak to a trusted advisor. Get some third-party input on what things would look like if you were forced to temporarily close, as this may happen to any business that has not already had to do so.
Create new health and safety habits for your employees and business. This may include new cleaning routines, limiting customers, and placing markers on the floor six (6) feet apart for when customers are standing in line.
Keep your employees in the loop. Make sure to have a trusted relationship with your employees as they are dependent on the decisions you make. Allow them to feel comfortable telling you if they don’t feel well, so you can protect others against the spread of the virus and germs. Inform them about their options, whether that be applying for Employment Insurance or taking paid time off to self-isolate when needed. As mentioned above, the Canadian Government has proposed the CERB to assist with this.
Supporting a Small Business
If your local small businesses are open, visit them as you normally would, taking into mind any new health and safety regulations they may have added, as well as social distancing. This way, you will be supporting them while still being mindful of your health and the health of others.
If your usual businesses have limited services, such as only take-out food or online orders, make sure to take advantage of these. You can make a friend’s or family member’s day by ordering a favourite meal to the door pre-paid for, or you can enjoy a ‘meal out’ in your home.
If the local small businesses have reduced hours, limited services or have had to temporarily close their doors, some businesses are offering free or reduced delivery charges. This way, you are purchasing something, and can get your bouquet of flowers or favourite dessert delivered right to your door. You can also share any social media posts local businesses are posting to show your continued support.
These are challenging and uncertain times for everybody. While nobody has all the answers right now, hopefully, something in this article is of help to you or has highlighted a way you can help those small business owners in your community.