What can Canadian Small Businesses do during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Updated: Mar 29, 2020
This is a living document and will be updated as more information comes out and ideas are generated. If you have an idea or resource to share, please reach out: Adam@MazeKeyMedia.com
We’re all doing our best these days to combat the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to social distancing practices, but what does this mean for our businesses? Some businesses will be impacted more than others, but everyone will be impacted.
This does not mean we are helpless, there are plenty of actions we can take as individuals and business owners to operate and be successful during these difficult times. So, let’s take a look at 10 things small businesses can do during the coronavirus pandemic.
The technology on offer to us today means that physical distance does not mean complete isolation, there are plenty of ways to stay “in touch” without ever having to be close enough to actually touch. With teleconferencing you can stay in touch with your clients, contractors and the public.
Each of these platforms has their own unique pros and cons, but for simplicity sake I would say use what you know. If you already have a familiarity with a certain platform and it works, stick with that. If you are completely unfamiliar with the world of teleconferencing, use Skype.
Skype is one of the oldest and most commonly used video conferencing platforms out there right now. With a wide user base, cross OS compatibility and robust group call functionality, Skype is a great tool to stay in the loop with customers and co-workers. If you need to allow clients to schedule call times with you, check out Calendly.com
Find ways to manage the strain by keeping strong lines of communication open between, clients, suppliers, employees, even competitors. We're all in the same position here, let's work together to find solutions that work for everyone.
Has your event been cancelled recently? Offering a livestream instead is something you might want to consider. In practical terms, think of a teleconference as a phone call and a livestream as a broadcast. You’re sending out a video feed to a large number or (relatively) inactive users, or at least much less active than they would be on a teleconference.
There are many streaming services out there, two popular in the gaming community are twitch and mixer. Generally, for business use I would recommend Facebook. On Facebook you have a built in user base in your friends/followers and the tool's features and quality are likely sufficient for your needs. If you’re looking for something more professional or you’re wanting to sell tickets to your steam, check out your options here.
If you've been thinking of taking the plunge into the new and exciting world of e-commerce, now’s the time to do it. With people staying home under self quarantine or following social distancing guidelines, in person sales are likely to grind to a halt. However with vast amounts of idle time, online sales are likely to increase.
There are many different ways to sell online, from Etsy to Amazon to your own e-commerce website. You can even sell directly through Facebook, and for those looking to experiment, Facebook is what I would recommend. Selling on Facebook works in conjunction with Shopify’s Lite plan, which will run you $9 USD per month. To learn more about, visit the Shopify Lite page.
For a more professional ecommerce solution I recommend building your own ecommerce website using WordPress and adding ecommerce functionality through the WooCommerce plug-in.
This gives you the most flexibility in terms of how your shop looks and operates and saves you money on transaction costs. More info on Woocommerce here.
If you're looking for a more plug-and-play option, Shopify offers e-commerce solutions baked into existing website templates. The drawback here is that your monthly and transaction costs are significantly higher. More info on Shopify here.
Being closed for the next few weeks or maybe months, provides an opportunity to do some renovations. Take a look at your space and see what needs to be done.
Refreshing your website is something else to consider.
Business Development Canada (BDC) has recently announced 10 billion dollars to help small businesses in Canada make it through this economic downturn.
Use this time and availability of funding wisely. Use this time to build something great, so that when things pick back up you'll be ready to capitalize. More information on BDC's Support for entrepreneurs impacted by the coronavirus.
Offering courses online is a great way for you to bring in revenue because people are going to be looking for things to do when they’re stuck at home.
This is a time where you might want to reinvest in yourself by upgrading your skills through an online course.
Platforms you can use to buy/sell course: Udemy, Coursera, OpenSesame If you’re interested in selling a course, make sure you read each site's terms to see what percentage they take per sale. If you want a bigger slice of the pie, I would recommend selling courses directly through your website.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “write a blog, it’ll be great for your site’s SEO”. You would always brush it off claiming you were too busy, but now you might have the time. Podcasts also have the potential to boost your SEO by using the show transcript as a blog post, as well as linking to the show.
When planning your blog/podcast, keep in mind that it should be informative but also entertaining, no one wants to read a technical manual or a sales sheet, be casual, friendly and have fun.
If you're looking to launch a podcast there are many services out there that will host your site, I’d recommend Anchor for those getting started because it’s simple and free. More information on how to start a podcast.
Social Media Strategy
Now is a great time to take a step back and look at how you're doing on social media or to construct a plan for your launch into the social sphere.
How does Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, your newsletter, etc. all come together in order to elevate your businesses’ online presence?
Here are a couple resources on social media strategy that I recommend: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-marketing-strategy/ https://buffer.com/library/social-media-marketing-strategy
If you have the ability to operate your business adhering to social distancing guidelines, now is a great time to let people know.
How can your offerings help people cope with this new international crisis? A Facebook or Google ad campaign may be something worth looking into. More information on Facebook ads. More information in Google ads.
If things are getting tight financially, one option is to ask customers to purchase gift cards. If you don’t already offer gift cards, here’s a supplier that can get you started.
If your business is especially maladapted for the current climate. can you offer something new? This is the time to get creative.
There are plenty of businesses. people and governments out there that are looking for an answer, something that will hold the economy over while we weather this viral storm. Maybe you will come up with the answer... or at least an answer.
Looking for more ideas? Mark Cuban posted a thread on LinkedIn about small business. The thread now has over 7,000 comments consisting of questions answers and commentary about this crisis. If you have any questions about these ideas, want to contribute, or are looking for help, feel free to reach out at Adam@MazeKeyMedia.com We're all in this together friends. Stay safe.