Revitalizing your business for the next leg of the journey.
One effect of the pandemic in Canada is that small business owners across the country have revealed incredible amounts of perseverance, creativity and grit. The quick pivot to curbside pickups, enhanced online services and other creative ways to keep customers coming back has taken many owners out of their comfort zones. These unusual times have also become an opportunity to examine what’s working well and what might need some attention.
Review your business model
It’s understandable if the constant juggle to adapt to the latest pandemic business restrictions has left little time to consider important operational topics, such as succession planning, financial strategies and programs for employees. But perhaps the adversity you have experienced has exposed a few unexpected insights. As the economy reopens, this may be a good time for some reflection – on your own or with your staff. Here are a few questions to help start the process:
- What has worked well during this pandemic?
- What have been obvious weaknesses or gaps?
- What unexpected new way of working or new line of revenue has emerged over the past 12 to 18 months?
- What changes would I like to make, and what would they cost?
- What could I eliminate and why?
- If money were no object, how would I run my business?
- What expertise do I need to help my business thrive or change (lawyer, accountant, business coach, etc.)?
Supporting your staff
Mental exhaustion is taking a toll on everyone right now, and your staff may be feeling a bit flat. While many people are simply grateful to be employed and financially secure, part of your overall business review should include supports for employees – examining what is currently in place and considering some new ideas. A team meeting or a suggestion box might be a good way to include employees in determining how to best support their needs and desires. This could involve giving back to the employees themselves or giving back to the community.
Health and wellness benefits
From vision, dental and drug plans to life insurance and incentives to stay physically active, a range of health and wellness benefits are available to support employees. Your advisor can help you review an existing plan or investigate what’s involved in setting up a new plan. You might be pleasantly surprised at the range of options that can give your staff useful coverage they will appreciate at a cost you can afford.
Don’t underestimate the uplifting power of charitable giving. Supporting a cause that aligns with your business can be a unique way for employees to feel more invested at work, while feeling good about supporting something they believe in. Think about what makes sense for your organization and encourage employees to help in the decision-making process. Here are a few ideas:
- Supporting an amateur sports team
- Organizing an annual fundraiser to support medical research
- Creating holiday food hampers for families in your community
- Making a monthly employee contribution to a community organization, with employees in control of the contribution amount and the option to opt out
Cash flow. Having an accurate picture of money flowing in and out of your business on a weekly basis is essential. Increases or decreases in sales can help you track how well new services or promotions are landing with customers and can even identify unexpected opportunities. For instance, restaurants that shifted to weekly grocery boxes or hobby stores that began offering online crafting events can now consider whether these new lines of business are temporary or financially viable enough to continue over the long term. Routine and discipline are necessary to stay on top of this important business bookkeeping task, so you may wish to consider whether to set aside time each week to crunch the numbers or outsource if that fits your budget.
Line of credit. After careful examination of your business plan and reflection on opportunities for growth, it might make sense to consider a line of credit to help make your aspirations a reality. Perhaps you want to buy more inventory or equipment, hire more staff or even expand the footprint of your current location. With a line of credit, you have access to funds when needed.
There may also be government loans or grants available to you. This link provides useful information on funding options and other important considerations. Also make a point of meeting with your accountant, who can help identify any potential tax savings.
Planning for the next generation
You may have realized over the past year and a half that it’s time to think about retirement. Succession planning dovetails perfectly with any financial or business plan reviews under consideration. This article outlines all the succession essentials you might need to think about. Your advisor can help you identify a team of experts to help with the process (accountant, lawyer), review how succession planning and estate planning go hand in hand, and simply be that reassuring support to help keep you on track with your goals.
Running a small business isn’t easy at the best of times, and during challenging periods, it’s even more important to understand what’s working and what needs an overhaul. Taking the time to do a bit of planning can help to ensure that you and your staff are ready to continue earning community support for years to come.