By Momal Khan
Starting a new venture during these uncertain times may not be as rare as we think. Some Canadian entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the sudden shift in the business climate to emerge with their own ideas; where others saw pandemic- alarms and shutdowns, these individuals saw golden opportunities.
While it may be assumed that opening a new business in the midst of an economic meltdown is an unusual occurrence, the numbers indicate otherwise. According to Statistics Canada, it has been reported that Canadians opened about 52,700 businesses in June, which is around 40% greater than what the monthly average was between January 2015 and February 2020. However, it should also be noted that approximately 56,000 businesses closed in the same month.
RBC Ventures also reports a huge increase in new Canadian entrepreneurs, specifically noting a 100% growth in its volumes since March- the start of the pandemic and lockdowns across the nation.
“There are two things we can attribute to this,” said Shadi McIsaac, who co-owns RBC Ventures subsidiary Ownr, a business registration service. Speaking on the sudden hike in these numbers, McIsaas states, “One is the impact on employment and the number of individuals that need or want to start their own business venture. The second hypothesis is the growing demand for digital businesses.”
Based on a new study released by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), a majority of Canadian entrepreneurs are confident they can survive despite the devastating impact of the lockdowns on small businesses.
An overwhelming majority of 87% expressed confidence in this claim and, as a second wave crashes into Canada, many are remodeling and adjusting to changes to ensure survival. The study included two surveys conducted on 1000 owners of small and medium-size businesses (SMEs). Overall, only 4% of the SMEs surveyed said they had no plans to make changes to their business models or practices amidst the pandemic.
Combined with changing consumer habits, it has become essential for small and new businesses to have a solid business plan and focus on sales strategy. To illustrate this, 83% of customers indicate a willingness to pay a premium for locally-made products and 56% have moved primarily towards making online purchases.
“Our findings show that adopting business practices that consider new consumer and work trends can put SMEs back on the track to prosperity,” says Pierre Cléroux, chief economist and vice-president of research at BDC.
COVID-driven plans require the implementation of newer technologies to expand on online shopping capabilities, the altering of supply chains, and turning increasingly towards local suppliers.
New business entrepreneurs have recognized the need to implement these important changes in order to stay afloat, answering the demands of Canadians consumers and the shift in their shopping preferences since the beginning of lockdowns.
However, as the second wave hits markets, SMEs are at risk of another blow to their finances, in response to which the government has unveiled a support and development plan to help ease these businesses’ struggles. The plan includes a $600 million payout added to the $962 million already invested in the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund aimed towards the technology, manufacturing and tourism sectors in particular.
Despite it all, Canadians have braved the rocky conditions brought out by the lockdowns by staying resilient. Many individuals have even used these uncertain times to turn their hobbies into blossoming businesses; from baked treats, to florals, hand-made crafts, and even mobile COVID testing units, adaptability and optimism have been made synonymous with the definition of a Canadian entrepreneur.
To learn more about the impact of the second wave on Canadian businesses and the government’s response, visit this article.
Photo by Tim Mossholder, Unsplash