COVID Lessons: Have an Innovative Business Mindset

As we move into the reboot phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Douglas asked local business leaders to share lessons learned.

As we move into the reboot phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Douglas asked local business leaders to share lessons learned. They’ve told us that having a strong, innovative business mindset is equally as important as having a strong, innovative business.

Have the Mindset of Progress, Not Perfection

One of the lessons Denise Lloyd and the team at Engaged HR learned early in the pandemic, as they worked to meet the urgent HR needs of hundreds of clients across Canada, was that “perfect is the enemy of done.”

“As a company,” Lloyd says, “it is very important to us to be a leader in our field, and that means communicating information to our clients and our community as quickly as possible. So I couldn’t wait for it to be perfect because perfect didn’t exist; we had to work with what we had, and we had to adapt on the fly.”

For Lloyd, the key to building this innovative business mindset is trusting that her team’s values, experience and expertise will get them through. And it has.

Flex Your Business Mindset

At DriveWise BC, Kate Harris, owner/operator of the family- owned driver education company with locations throughout B.C., experienced the initial shock of having to shut down completely.

“It was incredibly hard and scary to have our business of 45 years suddenly go completely quiet,” she says.

“I wish I had taken more action to innovate in the first few weeks after closing our doors. It was a scary time and I panicked,” says Harris. “Fast forward to a few weeks later, I decided to trust our experience in this business and our willingness and ability to adapt to new ways of doing things.”

Lloyd adds, “There are lots of tactical and pragmatic things that we are advising clients to do to prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 or for a future pandemic of any sort.

“Having said that, none of those are going to work if you don’t have one important thing in place, which is a nimble mindset. If you want to not just survive but thrive, be prepared to think strategically, to make decisions quickly and to leverage opportunity when you see it.”

Put On Your Oxygen Mask

“Pay attention to your team, including you,” says Denise Lloyd. “Some employees will thrive during this time, and some will struggle. Some will rise to the surface as rock stars, and some will disappoint you.

“The thing to remember is that these are unusual times, and everyone is going to need some additional care and attention to navigate these times successfully. This also includes you, so be sure to put your oxygen mask on first and take care of yourself, so that you can, in turn, take care of your team.”

Build a Business Mindset by Creating Strong Communication

“We’ve learned to communicate more, and with intention. We’re feeling more connected to each other as a team and with our community,” says Stacey Toews, co-founder of Level Ground Trading, which imports fair trade coffee and roasts and packages it here in Victoria. “Being ‘forced’ to connect remotely has actually improved the quality of our conversations, and I think it will have a long- term positive impact on how we work, give back and show up as a business.”

At One Net, Nicole Sorochan and her team balanced the seriousness of the situation with lighthearted fun, holding MTV-style ‘Cribs’ tours, where an employee per day got to virtually tour the team through their homes, and hosting game hours to connect through online gaming.

“It brought us even closer together,” says Sorochan. “Our creative concepts as a result are some of the best yet.”

Community Matters

“Be the local business that is connected to your community and steps up to help out,” says Stacey Toews. “Support those who are doing great work and find ways to engage your team with giving in some way.”

At Level Ground, Toews and his team completed a major food bank campaign, did giveaways and gave their tin-tie reclosure tabs from their coffee bags to local businesses making masks. “It’s all helped keep our culture strong and brought us closer to our peers,” Toews adds.

At Stepforth Web Marketing, Ross Dunn offered free website audits via Zoom to small business owners in specific markets to help them build their businesses. StepForth also donated time and expertise to create and to create awareness and provide free mental health support for front-line healthcare workers.

And at Maximum Courier, the team set up a COVID-19 support account, providing free delivery of essentials, such as prescriptions, to vulnerable people in the community.

“We learned that our customers and the community really want to support local businesses, even if we can’t be there to serve them like we always have,” says Kate Harris of DriveWise, which has been developing safety controls in preparation for the business reopening. “We have really learned to trust in that support, and we’re so grateful for our wonderful employees and our extremely patient customers.”

“Let’s all support each other and support local,” says Scott Garman, “helping our local economy recover together.”

Continue reading: Coping with COVID Series Part 01