Why Ottawa’s entrepreneurs have the tools to survive COVID-19

Susan Richards
Susan Richards is the co-founder of numbercrunch, a one-stop-shop for business financial services.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by numbercrunch.

It’s time to give up.

We’ve all likely experienced at least a fleeting feeling of despair at some point this spring.

But this is not a time to cast aside all aspirations for your business. Instead, channel those sentiments into abandoning any notion that 2020 is going to be business as usual. Give up on that pre-COVID plan and you may just discover the next big thing. 

It was only one quarter ago that we were setting large targets for 2020. Kicking off a new decade (and a leap year at that) was great inspiration for shooting for the moon.

Our great city – which includes Canada’s largest technology park – is full of hungry tech entrepreneurs leading ventures that are poised to break out. Little did they – or anyone else, for that matter – know that a silent force was gathering momentum and poised to shut down the global economy.

And here we are. One million jobs have been cut as businesses are hit head-on by the greatest economic challenge our country has ever experienced (at least in my lifetime). Some form of physical distancing will be necessary until a cure is found. Business owners must find ways to stay above water while we endure the uncertainty of 2020.

But scaling a startup is not so different than stabilizing a business from the impacts of COVID-19. The same leaps are required, and many entrepreneurs can find comfort in the synergies:

  1. Think big and act bold: When you decided to scale your business, you hired the best talent you could find. Bringing new and diverse perspectives into your company helps uncover countless new ways of generating revenues. This is arguably a time when fresh ideas are needed most. Focus your energy from scaling into recreating your new and improved business and you may indeed be the next big thing.
  2. Tap into key relationships and networks: As you positioned your business to scale up, you established important channel relationships – likely with very large enterprises. These relationships may prove more valuable now than you ever imagined. Many large technology companies are not yet feeling the financial hit of COVID-19 and are eager to step in and help. They are also interested in strategic business plays. By focusing more on these relationships, you may accelerate your returns faster than in your pre-COVID plans.
  3. Evaluate financing options: You’ve always been living in financial uncertainty. Funding rounds are oxygen tanks for tech entrepreneurs. And, in between fundraising rounds, you’ve tapped into IRAP, OCE and SR&ED. There are now more options available than ever before. Review options such as BCAP, CEBA, CEWS, CECRA and others. 
  4. Keep processes simple: The creeping effect of complexity is what can slow progress. Now is a great time to cut out any and all complexity. CEOs who are most effective in reducing complexity tend to have a greater willingness to change course when signs start to point them in new, promising directions.
  5. Delight your customers: Successful scaleups do this incredibly well. COVID-19 has reminded us that we are not just businesses, employees and customers. We are people first. Reach out to your customers and you may be surprised at where those conversations take you. Find out what they need. Imagine how you can deliver it to them. 
  6. Automate everything: In the face of unprecedented disruption, we are innovating like never before. Office space, for example, was suddenly considered non-essential for many businesses. We are all increasingly recognizing the opportunities to automate everything and outsource non-essentials. Video meetings will live forever more.
  7. Know your numbers: Although your 2020 financial plan may now be out of date, give it a refresh and make sure you know where you stand. Fear is the greatest virus of all. Over the past decade, I’ve learned that we often imagine things are worse than they actually are. 

The economic impact of COVID-19 will hit some businesses harder than others. Business owners may feel symptoms of psychological trauma. Please look out for yourself and others and reach out if you need any help. We are all in this together. You’ve got this.

Susan Richards is the co-founder of numbercrunch, a one-stop-shop for business financial services. The company offers cloud-based bookkeeping, and virtual CFO and controller services. To learn more or to request a quote, visit numbercrunch.ca.