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Some strategies small businesses used during the pandemic



With the emergence of COVID-19, multiple lockdowns and changes in consumer spending patterns, many small businesses over the last year and a half were impacted, according to a Statistics Canada report.

To avoid further disruptions to their business, some owners took it upon themselves to find new ways to adapt. Whether it was retaining/attracting new customers or changing their business model, new measures were put in place so that they could keep their businesses running, even if it was in a smaller capacity.

Many pre-pandemic business growth plans might have had to be put on hold as adopting new business practices were of vital importance.

Small businesses constitute 98% of all employer businesses in Canada, as seen in this Statistics Canada report, and have a great impact on the country’s economy.

The following is a list of some of the creative strategies that some small businesses adopted:

1. E-commerce and online solutions:

As more and more consumers turned to the internet to meet their needs, a Statistics Canada report showed that 21.6% of all small businesses made sales online, of which 10% made more than 50% of their sales online in 2020. Turning to e-commerce and online solutions might have been the solution for some small businesses. Here are some of the common e-commerce solutions that may have been considered during the pandemic:

  • Creating a business website
  • Adding new website features like live chat that is available 24/7 to help customers
  • Hosting online workshops, classes or events to showcase the products or services of the business
  • Listing products or services on general online marketplaces
  • Incorporating multiple online payment solutions

2. Social Media

With a rise in Canada’s social media use during the pandemic, as shown by a Statistics Canada report, many small businesses may have thought about creating or strengthening their online persona through social media platforms. Small businesses can now utilize some of the special features that are available on these platforms; for instance, live streaming and digital ads. Social media can help increase online brand visibility and open up communication with customers.

3. Contactless solutions:

A Payments Canada survey reported that 42% of Canadian consumers were uncomfortable handling cash. Nearly 47% of Canadians reported using their debit and credit cards more frequently during the pandemic than before. It also showed that 44% of Canadians will continue to prefer digital modes of payments over cash payments in the future. Some small businesses navigated around government-ordered restrictions and cautious consumers with the help of contactless solutions such as digital payment options, contactless deliveries, curbside pickup, and contactless payment terminals with the tap functionality.

4. Staff development:

In some businesses, staff had to learn new skills to keep up with business changes. While the skills varied between businesses, some examples include: adjusting to working from home, accepting online orders, fulfilling curbside pickup, attending meetings through video conferencing platforms, completing contactless deliveries and helping customers over the phone.

5. Marketing solutions:

The pandemic inspired some small business owners to find unique and compelling ways to market their business. Some used tactics, such as hosting online classes or webinars, while others used slogans to draw empathy from customers, such as “Support local”. Businesses also may have focused on optimizing websites, adding SEO and sending promotional emails, discounts or freebies with the goal of making a connection with current and potential clients.

Tough times may have also brought out the entrepreneurial spirit in people across Canada. An Intuit Quickbooks Canada report revealed that nearly 2 million people in Canada launched a new business during the pandemic.

Some Canadians may have been able to launch businesses during the pandemic by:

1. Noticing a gap in the market:

As business owners looked to evolve or pivot their businesses during tough times, they might have noticed gaps in the market and reconsidered their business plans to launch new businesses. Some may have noticed the benefits of adopting a range of business solutions during the pandemic, such as the ones listed above. To bridge the gap of opportunity in the market, some Canadians considered using a combination of these solutions to build a business plan to launch their new business.

2. They decided to invest in their dream:

A Statistics Canada survey showed that small businesses accounted for 60% of the job losses in Canada during COVID-19. With fluctuating employment levels and career uncertainty, some Canadians used the time to invest in their dream.

The examples listed above highlight some of the common strategies that may have helped or inspired some small businesses during the pandemic. They also provide business owners with various options to consider in the future.

Whether you’re looking for financial solutions or banking advice, TD is here to help you move forward.

Want to talk about your business banking needs? Contact your TD Account Manager or find an Account Manager near you.


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