As we move into the reboot phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Douglas asked local business leaders to share lessons learned. They told us it’s important to be prepared for absolutely anything. Here are some tips from Victoria business owners on how to do just that.
Keep Receivables Up-to-Date
“It’s tough for some because not many small businesses have a lot of reserves,” says Al Hasham of Victoria businesses Maximum Express Courier and Max Furniture. “So making sure your receivables are always up-to-date is important. You shouldn’t have receivables at 60 and 90 days in the first place. We make sure anybody going into 60 days, we put their account on hold. If you don’t get paid, why are you providing the service? You just can’t work that way.”
And make sure you have a relationship with a financial institution, he adds. “You need them to see how your business has grown so when times are tough they say, ‘OK we’ll give you a bit of leverage there.’”
Learn to Scale
For Tony Drolet, owner of local business Elite Promotional Marketing, which provides custom promotional products, apparel and awards to clients across Western Canada, an important lesson came from his days of scouting: Be prepared. “More specifically, the guiding principal I would advise on would be to understand how to scale your business, both up and down,” he says.
“A lot of businesses concentrate (as they should) on how to grow. The opposite is just as important, depending on the wide range of local, national and international economics. Having the ability to smoothly scale your spending down as a reflection of the dropping revenue during a pandemic will ensure viability and survival.”
Don’t Ignore Your Digital Presence
“Having a strong digital presence that can help you sell [is important],” says Nicole Sorochan of Victoria business One Net Inc. “When you can’t open up a physical door, you need to open up a virtual one. Most importantly, trust in your creativity and innovation to solve and potentially pivot your business model if you need to. Who knows? You may end up with an entirely new thriving business.”
Diversify, Diversify, Diversify
“Try hard to ensure your income isn’t reliant upon too few clients for your bread and butter,” says Ross Dunn of Victoria business StepForth Web Marketing. “[StepForth was] not as diversified as I wish we had been, but at least we didn’t have to worry about one or two clients worth most of our income cancelling.
I try to consider this quarterly:Are we too exposed? If so, what new business verticals can we target or increase our presence and limit our exposure to market destabilization?”
“Reliance on a single travelling market, no matter how diverse that market is — it’s still a single market,” says Charles Horn. “Unless you have deep pockets and can wait out a season, that reliance can be a dangerous strategy.”
Continue reading: Coping with Covid Series Part 02