When the going gets tough, Canada’s small businesses don’t just get going — they get more innovative, strategic and customer-focused than ever before.
It takes resilience to be an entrepreneur in the best of times, and most of what we’ve experienced in 2020 wouldn’t fall into that category. It has put small businesses to the test in ways they probably couldn’t have imagined. And while they’ve always been resourceful on their own, a little extra help can go a long way.
In May, we announced that we were bringing the Salesforce Care For Small Business Grants to Canada. Through a partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Business Resilience Network (CBRN), 62 small businesses from across the country applied for and received $10,000 grants.
Small businesses have used the grants to support their recovery efforts, including acquiring safety and personal protective equipment for staff, replenishing materials or adapting business models to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and equally as important, giving back to their communities.
Fast forward to Small Business Month, and it’s clear the program wasn’t simply successful. It was transformative, proving that when Canadian small businesses thrive, the impact extends to the communities they serve.
These are just a handful of examples of where the program has come to life:
Coffee shops have long been a hub in many communities, and locally-owned Rogue Coffee is no exception.
Thanks to the grant program, Rogue Coffee was able to follow in the steps of much larger competitors and chains by embracing technology and developing an online business that delivered equipment and coffee beans to customers. It didn’t stop there, though.
Rogue Coffee also used the money to create an all-weather seating installation, which it calls the Rogue Nest, where customers can continue to gather and enjoy their beverages in safety. While the first one was set up at its own location, two others are planned that will be open to the public.
The medical and clinical assessments AGS offers are critical to those dealing with injuries and disabilities. COVID-19 posed some obvious challenges to this family-owned business, which has been operating for 20 years.
AGS accelerated five years’ worth of planned technology upgrades into a matter of weeks through the grant program. This means it is now offering virtual assessments, which allows its practitioners to keep busy.
That digital transformation has a secondary effect, however, in reducing the amount of paper AGS uses and opening the door to new processes like the use of digital signatures, making it a “greener” business.
Although it caters to tourists, Inukpak Outfitting has become an ideal way for other businesses to entertain or reward their top clients, while also encouraging consumers to support nearby hotels and restaurants.
Grant money is allowing Inukpak to do the long-term planning that will ensure it can make the most of the summer 2021 season, such as expanding its hiking capacity and adding extra sea kayaks to its fleet.
When most schools had to close their doors right around March Break, parents grew understandably worried about all the time kids were spending on screens. On the other hand, tools like social media can be an important way to stay connected.
Jo(e) Social Media had already been focused on this issue by creating a centre where teens could talk to their peers about using social media in positive ways.
Rather than shelve its plans indefinitely, Jo(e) social media not only opened its Jo(e) Youth Creative, but used the money to purchase products its staff needed. As a result, local young people will have a chance to connect, learn and maximize the potential of social and digital channels.
Hospitality has been one of the hardest-hit sectors since the novel Coronavirus emerged. For a premier destination hotel like Kwa’lilas, waiting around for rooms to fill up again is not an option.
Recognizing that the post-pandemic era will create new expectations around safety, hygiene and other areas, Kwa’lilas Hotel used its grant to invest in its employees.
Additional training will ensure everyone who works at the hotel can offer an experience that will build confidence among its guests, no matter how long they book their stay.
For those who aren’t in the know, the “NDT” in A-Tech’s name refers to the “non-destructive testing" and inspection services it provides the oil & gas, pulp and paper, power generation and petrochemical sectors. Normally that’s a healthy industry, but since COVID-19, A-Tech N.D.T. has seen revenues plummet significantly.
The cash injection from the grant program doesn’t just allow A-Tech to continue operating. It has since changed its corporate structure to give employees 50 per cent of the company’s profit. That means more money in the hands of families in their community.
An initiative like that takes on an even deeper meaning when you consider that A-Tech NDT is 100 per cent female-managed, and promotes equal opportunity for everyone.
With a primary objective of offering a safe and welcoming place for youth in its local community, Supreme Cheerleading provides inclusive recreational and competitive programming for those aged four to adult.
Just before the pandemic began, Supreme Cheerleading had moved into a new, larger facility, but has since seen a huge drop in business. Support from Salesforce and the CBRN will ensure that it can continue to improve lives through sport and physical activity, as well as a mentorship programs for athletes aged 11+ that focus on leadership and building healthy relationships and lifestyles.
These businesses offer perfect examples of what resiliency in 2020 looks like, which will hopefully inspire others to pursue similar strategies.