Category Archives: Innovation & Creativity

COVID-19 Creativity!

The COVID-19 pandemic quickly derailed 2020 for a whole lot of folks. For business owners, staying afloat while people are staying at home is a primary concern, reflected by a downturn in the economy and a rising unemployment rate. For a small business, the key to surviving a crisis like a pandemic is an ability to pivot from its current offering to one that’s easily provided and highly desired given the circumstances.

COVID-19 graph on blue background with bulb and question mark
Covid -19 graph on blue background with bulb and question mark

We’re seeing examples of this everywhere right now. Businesses are resilient in light of the challenges COVID-19 creates, finding creative opportunities to not just survive, but thrive. In our “COVID-19 Creativity! How to Pivot Your Business” we’ll discuss:

  1. Government programs – Which ones are available to you? Which make the most sense to pursue?
  2. Cash flow – How can you make sure that you stay afloat?
  3. Getting online – Will “going digital” open new markets for you?
  4. Virtual services – Can you provide your product or service online while you can’t offer it face-to-face, or add products or services that are available exclusively online?
  5. Manufacturing Pivot – Can you pivot to manufacture products that are in high demand during the pandemic?
  6. New supply chains – Can you create new supply chains to get products to customers?
  7. Customer loyalty – How can you use your time to strengthen relationships with your customers?

Government Programs

Most governments have infused money into the system during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist struggling businesses. Assistance includes:

  1. Wage subsidies – Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Summer Jobs
  2. Rent support – Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
  3. Loan programs – Business Credit Availability Program, Canada Emergency Business Account, BDC Co-Lending Program
  4. Export support – Grants

Speak to a representative at your financial institution to see if your business fits the criteria for any of these programs!

COVID-19 Cash Flow

Cash is still king! You must have enough money left in the bank account to cover expenses each month, even if your storefront is closed to flatten the curve. Here’s how some businesses do it:

  1. Gift cards – $25 is $25, whether you’ve sold someone a meal or a gift card for a meal. The restaurant doesn’t need to be serving food in order for you to sell a gift card for a meal, though. The gift card’s allure of giving people money to spend (so to speak) in your restaurant when lockdown is over may keep revenue coming in while lockdown is on.
  2. Memberships – Use your creativity to keep your membership program going while you can’t offer the services you regularly do. Maybe the members at your gym get online classes while they can’t access the physical gym, or their money refunded at a later date for every day that the gym was unavailable to them. What matters is that the cash you get from memberships remains available to you now, when you need it.
  3. Reduced Operations – Sometimes consolidating operations saves time/money in the long run and lets you plan better. There’s a good example of this involving an irrigation company in the webinar. As a social media manager, I like to schedule as much posting as I can in advance so that I have to spend a minimal amount of time on it each week.
  4. Getting Online – Plenty of businesses have shops on their websites filled with their products, but you don’t even have to get that specialized if you don’t want to – Etsy, Yahoo, and Amazon are all existing online markets where you can sell products. However, some companies that already have an ecommerce presence chose to use it to meet a need created by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, GoJava.ca opened a website to take grocery delivery orders in addition to their primary service of helping offices operate in an environmentally conscious manner.

Virtual Services

Speaking of getting online, some businesses pivoted during COVID-19 from offering face-to-face services to offering services online through video-teleconferencing once lockdown began.

  1. Mental Health – Counselling services delivered online help people to deal with the mental health stressors that come with the lockdown situation
  2. Exercise – Classes and/or personal training delivered via Zoom let people work out at home and gyms continue to collect money from memberships.
  3. Education – What can you teach over Zoom? Art classes? Writing seminars? Computer skills? Quilting or sewing? Depending on the popularity of your classes, perhaps you won’t even have to charge that much to make them profitable!

Consider what services you already offer and how you can adapt them to offer them online – the work could be minimal for significant reward!

Manufacturing to Meet COVID-19 Demands

If you’re in the business of making things, consider whether you’re equipped to pivot at this time to make vital supplies for dealing with the pandemic that are currently in short supply.

  1. Masks – More and more, people want masks to wear when they’re out in the community, and retailers can’t keep up with the demand. We need to be sure that masks are available for them, so that they’re not buying up the more specialized masks required by front-line workers who put themselves at risk all day, every day. Businesses that work with fabric materials for which demand has dropped have pivoted to making and selling cloth masks.
  2. Disinfectant – Hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and cleaners (household and industrial) are very difficult to find right now because people have been hoarding them. Some companies that specialize in handling and mixing chemical have pivoted to making hand sanitizer, to help out with the need.
  3. Other PPE – The World Health Organization has said that the global stockpile of PPE, or personal protective equipment, is deficient – there are not enough gloves, gowns, and N95 respirators to protect front line medical staff treating COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Is it feasible for your business to do a manufacturing pivot at this time? What can you provide? If you’re a Canadian business, let the government know that you can help.

New Supply Chains for COVID-19 Times

Being in lockdown sometimes makes it difficult to get what you need, whether you’d like a bottle of wine or some beer after a hard day of Zoom meetings or you’re out of something that you need for the evening meal or you shouldn’t be in grocery stores because you’d be a high-risk case if you got infected with COVID-19.

Can your business create new supply chains that make products easier for people to get?

Examples:

  1. Wine and beer delivery from Toronto restaurants to customers became available through third-party company soon after the pandemic began, making it unnecessary for people to have to leave the house to buy alcohol.
  2. Pop-up grocery trucks that visit food deserts and communities low access to food help people meet their nutrition needs while keeping them out of the grocery stores.
  3. While libraries are closed in Ontario due to the pandemic, food banks have been using the buildings to store donations.

What else might people need during the pandemic to which they might not want to dedicate a trip to the store? Is there a way that you can create a new, safer supply chain for them?

Customer Communications

Customer loyalty can see your business safely through a crisis. Stay in touch with your customers and let them know what you’re doing to ensure their safety during this time.

In general, after any sort of social crisis, focus on the following in your communication strategy:

  1. Connection – Touch base with your customers as soon as possible and reassure them that you’re there. You cannot over-communicate at this point.
  2. Safety Updates – Tell people the measures you’re taking to preserve their safety and give them clear instructions about any measures regarding your products or services that they must take. Depending on your business and what products and/or services you offer, you may be required to offer information in multiple formats. Consult the accessibility laws for your province or country for more information.
  3. Loyalty – Think about how you might build loyalty even if you can’t offer your customers all the services during lockdown that you can face-to-face. How can you demonstrate to them that you’re thinking of them and the challenges that the pandemic creates for them, that might set you apart from other businesses in your community offering the services that you do? Customers remember companies that treat them as more than numbers and are more likely to become and stay return customers.

Steer into the COVID-19 Skid

When Sarah took Driver’s Education, many years ago, she learned that the best way to get out of a skid on a slippery road is not to slam on the brakes, as people reflexively do.

To increase your chances of getting out of the skid safely, you must keep steady pressure on the gas and steer in the direction that the skid. If you slam on the brakes, you’ll lock them, and lose control of the vehicle.

Ask yourself how your business can steer into the skid of COVID-19 – pivoting your business to take advantage of potential opportunities it creates – to increase your chances of safely getting out of it. Don’t slam on the brakes and lose control of the direction in which the pandemic takes you!

If you enjoyed the COVID Creativity Webinar watch our other webinars on our YouTube Channel!

Small Business Solver is Better Than Ever!

The Small Business Solver logo - A cartoon man in business attire stands smiling against a blue sky with a cloud in it. "Small Business Solver" in black and "www.SmallBusinessSolver.com" are centred in grey on a white text box next to him.

Small Business Solver has done a relaunch! We’ve worked hard on our website and modules and made some changes to what we offer, and we’re very happy with what we’ve come up with:

  1. 100 new training videos and 105 coaching guides
  2. PowerPoint slides for business centers and incubators
  3. A pay-what-you-can option for business owners and a low-cost plan for coaches that wish to use our materials in their trainings
  4. A new staff member, Sarah Levis, to help with marketing and to respond quickly and efficiently to customer concerns.
  5. A monthly email newsletter to keep all our contacts up to date on company activities
  6. A bi-weekly educational webinar series designed to educate entrepreneurs on a variety of issues affecting today’s small business owner.

We’re very excited about all these things, but in today’s post we want to draw your attention to our live webinar series, which debuted on March 28, 2019. Small Business Solver co-founder and CEO Carla Langhorst did a presentation called “Make It Fly!” where she talked about how to evaluate whether your business idea is a good one, using Small Business Solver’s Make It Fly Idea Tester.

You’ll learn about:

  1. How to test business ideas (and why we don’t, even though we should!)
  2. Questions to ask to determine your idea’s viability as a business
  3. Determining your breakeven numbers
  4. More good questions to ask and things to consider

The live webinar series will run bi-weekly, each one covering a different topic. You can get the schedule for each month, including topics, in our monthly Newsletter. Please do sign up for the webinars, attend, and let us know what you think of them! We would love to hear your feedback.

We post Recordings of all of our webinars to our YouTube channel. Check them out and let us know which one is your favourite.

See you soon!

Top Home Based Businesses

Starting up a business from home is a viable option. In fact over 50% of self-employed people run their small business from the comfort of their own home.

Find out why you should consider working from home, some surprising stats, the top trending home based small businesses, the top home based small businesses in operation, and if it is right for you.

Finally this 20 minute video reviews some best practices to help you start and keep your own small business at home.

Contact the Expert
The information from this webinar was gathered from small business resources and Stats Canada. For more information, please contact us at [email protected]

Like the Slides? Top Home Based Businesses

Let Your Creativity Out!

 
As a small business owner we need creativity to help us with product development, creating new ideas in our business, and to stay ahead of the competition.
 
Sometimes we think that other people are the creative ones and that this is not a strength that we have ourselves. But that is not true! Everyone has creativity inside of them, they just need to know the tools and how to recognize it in yourself.
 
This video outlines the three major steps of creativity:
 
1. Brainstorming. Some different tactics to approach brainstorming and tools that you should try out. A lot of times it is as simple as starting to write things down.
 
2. Prioritization. Once you have a bunch of ideas it is important to figure out which ones are the best ideas or what order you can actually approach them. Everyone has a limitation on time and money, so prioritization becomes important.
 
3. Implementation. Once you’ve decided on the ideas, action becomes necessary. Many times people want to wait and make things perfect, but often it is good to get your MVP (minimum viable product) out there to begin your testing.
 
At the end of the video, there are additional tips and tricks, as well as an example of where creativity has made a huge difference.
 

 
Contact The Expert
 
Sheri Andrunyk
[email protected]

Small Business Growth Strategies

growthstrategiesGrowing your business is something that most entrepreneurs strive to do. They want to grow their business to help increase their profit, grow the value of their business to sell it at a later date, they want to hire more people, they want to help the community, they want to build something for their family, they are competitive, they never quit, and there are many other personal reasons.
 
Regardless, most small business owners are looking for ways to grow. The two that often come to mind is to grow outside of your geographical location and expand the size of the market or to create a new product. But there are a ton of other strategies to growing a business and many examples to follow. Click on the image to see them.
 
Watch this 30 minute video to find out;
 
– 12 small business growth strategies
– examples of businesses that used these strategies and how it worked for them
– draw out key takeways and ideas to use for each strategy
 

 
Expert’s Contact Information
 
Carla Langhorst
Small Business Consultant
[email protected]

New Product Development

85-95% of New Product Launches fail annually (FORBES article of March 24, 2010 based on approx. 250,000 global launches).
 

With this daunting figure, we want to do everything right to increase our product’s chance of success. Learn from the expert, Kevin Scanlan, who has over 30 years experience in new product development with enterprises and small business.
 
In this 30 minute video, you will learn:
 
– what invention is versus product development
– the importance of a roadmap and the process
– how to scan the environment
– the QUAD approach and the 4 different types of product development
– the components of a product specification
– the Gate process used by the most successful companies out there
– red flags and things to look for during the process
 
Plus, if you have any other questions you can always contact our expert.
 

 

Contact The Expert!

 
Kevin Scanlan
Anubis3D
tel: 905-963-9130
email: [email protected]

Path Of An Author

Whether your goal is to write a business book, create an anthology, or share your family’s history, this webinar will help you gain some added clarity amidst all the choices available in today’s exciting, ever-changing and often confusing world of publishing.

You’ll learn about the production process, the different kinds of publishing and basic marketing. Most importantly, you will be encouraged to think what it is that you want—and how to go about getting it!

Enjoy Sheri’s fresh approach, as she shares excellent information and tools that you will be able to use and incorporate immediately.

Above all, Sheri will inspire you to become even more committed to yourself and your work, reminding you of the value of ongoing learning and the dedication of time and patience required to bring about meaningful success . . . . and the importance of surrounding yourself with people who care about your work as much as you do!

Contact The Expert!

By Publisher, Editor, Speaker, Consultant, Author Sheri Andrunyk of I C Publishing

Email: [email protected]

Follow Sheri on Social Media
LinkedIn (Sheri Andrunyk, MNLP, RP)
Twitter (I C Publishing)
Facebook (Insightful Communications Publishing)

Sheri’s Blog geared to authors and entrepreneurs at www.ICPublishing.ca

 

Test A Business Idea In Minutes

Test whether or not your business will fly by going through the idea tester’s funnel.

 

This 30 minute session is delivered by Small Business Solver co-founder and the author of “Will It Fly? The Idea Tester”, Carla Langhorst. It will give you a solid process to evaluate quickly any great idea that you have. If you have a new product, service, or business, this is for you!

The process has been tested on 1000s of small business ideas and has been used by small business coaches throughout North America as a guide to highlight red flags in a business model.

Top questions that will be answered:
1. Will people buy your product?
2. Is it better than the competition?
3. Will you burnout?
4. Are your salary expectations reasonable?
5. Will you end up working more than you are intending?

Test your business idea for free through the Idea Tester.

Market Research To Make Your Business Fly

The key of market research is to reduce a small business owner’s risk. How? The focus should always be on justifying whether or not your sales projections are realistic to meet your financial requirements.
This 20 minute video outlines the key pieces of research that you need to know & how to get this information. Whether you are an existing business or a revolutionary new idea, this video will highlight some key risk areas and how to reduce this through market research.

Build A One Page Business Plan That Pops!

A one-page business plan can be great if you are using the business plan more of an action plan for yourself, your partner, and your company. It makes it easy to update, keeps the attention of the reader, and is to the point.

Another way to use a one-page business plan is to use it to generate interest from customers, potential partners/employees, suppliers, and initial interest from financial companies.

The video is a quick overview of the main components of the one-pager & then how to make the one-pager a little bit different (add POP!)