By Kam Raman
Small businesses are the backbone of Canada’s economy and at the heart of our diverse communities.
As we continue to live and work in a time like no other, it has never been more important to be innovative and courageous while advocating for inclusivity and equity. The impact of the pandemic has been disproportionately worse for women and that’s why we continue to stay steadfastly committed to providing access to procurement opportunities for women entrepreneurs.
At RBC, we believe in diversity and growth in our workplace and supply chain. Our Supplier Diversity Program has proven to advance inclusion and open opportunities for companies with diverse ownership while enhancing quality, service and overall value to the organization.
In normal economies, entrepreneurs need to navigate unpredictable business environments and the pandemic has taken that uncertainty to new heights over the past year.
Let’s talk about some strategies to build back small businesses to not only survive but thrive in the new economy. Three critical areas of focus for any entrepreneur are to build community, to advance digitization and to partner with the right business banker.
Building community with your small business means partnering with local associations like the board of trade, chamber of commerce or non-profit association in your market. Organizations like these are passionate about investing in, and improving their communities. And they understand the vital role of small business! The other part of building community is nurturing your loyal brand advocates. There has never been a more important time to leverage your most important customers to spread the news about your products or services to their friends and family through social media.
The pandemic has accelerated consumer demand for digital solutions and delivery. Entrepreneurs that can efficiently pivot into the digital age have proven to be more resilient throughout the past year. The recent federal budget includes provisions to support small businesses in their pursuit to adopt new technologies and digitize to meet customer needs.
This includes micro-grants to help with the costs of digitization and support for digital trainers. My advice is to leverage government support programs to assist with sustaining your business finances, to protect jobs and to embrace the new digital customer expectations.
Engaging with a business mentor to provide business advice, as well as encouragement and support, will help you stay focused on what is required for your business to succeed. Motivation, reassurance and advice is more critical than ever as we continue to navigate the pandemic and post-pandemic world. Formal mentorship programs provide learning opportunities and resources and informal mentors like your business banker can provide invaluable financial advice and guidance.
“Having the right business banking solution, which includes the right account and advisor available in the digital channel of your choice, can make all the difference,” says Martin Thibodeau, Regional President – British Columbia. “At RBC, our accounts make your day-to-day banking easier and more cost-effective and we have advisors who understand that technology is disrupting business like never before. I invite you to contact your local RBC branch so that we can support your full range of banking needs to help your small business thrive today and tomorrow.”
Our commitment to supplier diversity is more than just the right thing to do; it allows us to support RBC’s purpose of Helping Clients Thrive and Communities Prosper.
I am confident we will come through this stronger with the resilience and optimism of small business entrepreneurs like you taking action to leverage community connection, enhance digital capabilities and engage the right partner.
We are in this together.
About Kam Raman
Kam Raman is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at RBC in British Columbia with a focus both provincially and nationally. She brings over 25 years of progressive experience in senior leadership and strategy roles within the financial services industry. She has been consistently recognized for her business acumen, communication, collaboration and leadership abilities. Kam is steadfastly committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion for clients, employees and the many communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast in Canada which RBC serves.