Strategies for Women Owned Businesses During COVID-19

By Silvia Pencak

COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented amount of change to the business world and economies around the world in a very short period of time. 

There are 3 types of businesses coping with this crisis. The first group is directly impacted by this pandemic and they have had to shut their doors due to social distancing requirements, like event planners, catering companies, travel industry and others. The second group includes businesses in high demand in need of rapid scale up like healthcare manufacturers and suppliers or tech companies. The last group is comprised of  businesses that are able to continue doing business as usual, but need to adjust to new trends and work arrangements. Each of these groups needs a different strategy to cope with COVID-19 as their needs are different. 

1. Leveraging Mandatory Shut Down

Business owners in the first category should move into survival mode meaning they need to ensure that they have the necessary financing to remain dormant for the upcoming weeks or months. Your top priority should be to leverage the government funding during this crisis, talking to your lenders and negotiating payment deferrals. Check the resources WBE Canada has prepared for you here.

Meanwhile, this is not the time to become a couch potato. Use this time to…

  • review and evaluate your business,
  • look to improve efficiencies or implement innovative new approaches,
  • invest into (virtually) retraining team members,
  • implement “stay in touch” strategies,
  • map out “get back to market” strategies
  • and more

Basically anything that you normally don’t have time to do because you are too busy running your businesses. Business owners who implement this approach will be ahead of the curve when things get rolling again.

2. Managing Instant Scale Up

The second group must focus on production, delivery and putting the necessary supports in place to keep moving forward. The key is to not get distracted by unnecessary activities that could slow you down. Here’s where you should focus your time and energy: 

  • Leverage procurement opportunities and get your business on radar of government and other organizations looking for solutions you offer. Check here for important links.
  • Tap into critical supplies to ensure smooth operations for your business and protect your staff (list has been shared with our WBE community)
  • Develop critical partnerships to expand your capacity and/or opportunities (WBEs and Corporate Members of WBE Canada can either check our WBE Database or reach out to our team for direct introductions)

This is your time to put in extra hours and work harder than ever before. Your downtime will come. 

3. Adapting To Change

The last group is the one that needs to get creative and adjust to the changing environment. The key to doing it right is to understand where your clients are and providing the right solutions that will help them to overcome the hurdles to move forward. What we are hearing from the large companies right now is that they are still buying, but with the corporate priorities being shifted, so did their purchasing. It is extremely important for you to tap into urgency and priorities

For example, if you are a leadership trainer, this is not the best time to offer your generic leadership training. Training is not on radar these days. Which specific hurdles or challenges can you help leaders overcome or resolve? How can you save them time, money or headaches? Tapping into urgency is mandatory in times of crisis.  

In addition to urgency and priorities, it is crucial that you adopt innovative technology and approaches. For example,

  • Move your training or coaching into an online environment (utilize webinars or conference lines)
  • Change capabilities – add a new line of business, streamline or expand your offering to be more relevant
  • Reach out to clients or potential clients to let them know how you can help them through this crisis (aka don’t wait for them to find you) – if you are a Certified WBE, check out our April newsletter for the visibility opportunities
  • Boost your online marketing efforts to get in front of the right individuals – keep in mind that being resourceful goes a long way in difficult times
  • Use the phone to catch up with your clients and prospects and check on current or future opportunities

This is the time to get creative and make necessary changes to remain in the game …and even profit from it. 

About WBE Canada 

Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) certifies Canadian women owned businesses that are majority owned, managed and operated by women. We work closely with corporate and government buyers to provide suppliers for their supplier diversity programs and initiatives. Our work is even more important during crisis like COVID-19 when corporations and governments need to find suppliers quickly and when suppliers are seeking to get connected to the right resources and find necessary supports to ensure sustainability.