For many business owners in the Northeastern BC region, coping with COVID-19 has been a long, arduous journey. Some came out of the pandemic cash positive. Some businesses didn’t make it, despite government programs intended to help keep small- and medium enterprises afloat. As restrictions were lifted and lockdowns ended, it wasn’t business as usual. Many business owners faced skills and staff shortages, depressed profit margins and financial statements that were anything but balanced. Businesses are still reporting sales below pre-pandemic levels as well as payment and cash flow challenges. But new opportunities are presenting themselves, and North Peace Savings & Credit Union can help you carve a path towards even greater stability and profitability in this post-COVID-19 reality.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions from Statistics Canada found that the average small business increased its debt by $158,000 due to COVID-19, a burden the owners were personally responsible for. Some are still considering shuttering their businesses. A North Peace Savings & Credit Union Advisor can discuss a host of solutions that will provide security as you rebuild your business. This could include
issuing of new loans, helping refinance mortgages to free up liquidity and provide some access to capital to fund future growth opportunities.
NEW OPERATING MODELS
Customer behaviour has changed, and many now embrace online shopping. Staff behaviour has changed as well, with many supporting a hybrid workplace that allows them to split their time between remote and conventional in-office work.
Businesses are adjusting their operating models to incorporate such scenarios by focusing on efficiency, productivity, and cost reductions. This includes:
- Creating cost-effective staffing models
- Increasing digitization and automation
- Optimizing process by minimizing cost and maximizing efficiencies.
At North Peace Savings & Credit Union, we can advise you on changes to your business model, and help you support immediate and long-term enhancements that fit an updated operating model.
We live in a digital and data-driven world with accelerating change. It is important that businesses stay up to date with evolving technological trends.
Investing in digital will help your business innovate and create solutions for customers. This has many advantages, including expanding your customer base and reaching larger and more distant — even international — targets. This will require:
- Updating your business’s software, technology and IT department.
- Making data security a top priority.
- Plan for digital upskilling programs for staff.
- Adopt digital technologies that will help you react quickly to supply chain disruptions (as well as diversify your suppliers).
POST-COVID BUSINESS PLAN
Now is the time to undertake a data-collecting review of lessons learned from the pandemic and use these to enhance strategic resilience.
- Prepare for the future by preparing projected cash flow needs over the next few years.
- Analyze working capital and consider converting external sources of liquidity to cash.
- Maintain flexibility in the workplace in order to retain the best talent.
- Make key investments in innovation and technology.
- Prepare for rising inflation by improving inventory management and improving contracts in anticipation of rising costs.
- Plan and prepare for the next inevitable disruption by developing a crisis response plan that builds resilience into your business strategy and goals.
A North Peace Savings & Credit Union Advisor can help you and your business on the journey towards a new normal.
Shannon Luscombe is a Manager, Retail Advisory with North Peace Savings and Credit Union with a decade of experience working within the Credit Union system. She moved from Vancouver Island in 2019 to be with her husband who works in the Oil & Gas industry, bringing with her, Credit Union knowledge and experience to join the NPSCU team. She has a passion for helping Members succeed in achieving their financial goals, by sharing strategies and advice gained from a combination of education and experience in the financial industry.
Shannon says “the friendly people of Fort St John have made me feel right at home here and I am loving Northern life. I enjoy exploring the Peace region and all the beauty it has to offer with outdoor hiking, biking, and kayaking.”