Many small business owners are facing hardships that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. With tougher lockdowns and climbing cases ahead of us, it's easy to start feeling COVID fatigue.
However, the longer we neglect to adhere to public health guidelines, the longer this marathon goes on.
According to Dr. Scott Lear, you can help ease COVID fatigue by writing down your commitments to new behaviours. We've compiled a list of actionable items that your business can do to help put an end to the pandemic.
1) Keep your employees safe
If you have employees, it's pertinent to everyone's health and safety that you understand your responsibilities. It is your duty to provide a safe workplace for your employees. Ensure that your employees are working remotely when possible, practicing physical distancing, and using the proper PPE.
Ontario employees are also entitled to Infectious Disease Emergency Leave for the duration of their illness. It is unpaid but job-protected, and proof of a medical note is not required.
Employees have the right to refuse unsafe work, and that can include the risk of contracting COVID-19. If one of your employees shows signs of respiratory illness, you may be required to send the employee and co-workers home as well as shut down the affected job site. Learn more here about Ontario worker rights and your responsibilities here.
2) Show your customers your commitment to safety
The entire customer experience has changed drastically over the past year. Where your business might lack face-to-face interaction, you can find connection with your customers by way of empathy, says Mckinsey.com. Let your customers know what actions your business is taking to help stop the spread.
You can post your promise on your website or storefront, and send email newsletters to subscribers to let them know how you can help.
3) Support your fellow small businesses
We all know that supporting local is fundamental to the survival of our economy. Many businesses have been forced to shut down their operations due to lockdown or restrictions. Consider redirecting your company spending in favour of Canadian small business. Start small, such as with office supplies or meals.
Also, many businesses have switched their operations to supply the healthcare industry with PPE to reduce shortages. If your business requires the use of PPE to operate, consider finding a local supplier to purchase from.
However, we understand cash flow may be limited at this time. Consider supporting in any way you can - join small biz Facebook groups and answer questions. Comment on and engage with your peers' social media pages.
4) Check for financial help from government programs
If your business needs financial relief during this time, you're not alone.
You've heard the terms CERB, CEBA, CERS, etc. floating around. But did you know there are many more programs and grants available to you?
If you haven't already, we highly recommend checking out the Business Benefits Finder. Answer a few questions and you'll get a list of grants and supports customized to your business. Deadlines, dollar values, and eligibility requirements are all listed clearly for you, as well as links to apply.
5) Get your business online
Your customers are looking for your services - can they access them online? Now is the time to get your business's website up and running. The web isn't going anywhere after the pandemic is over - so don't wait. 43% of all small businesses in Canada are selling online. That number will only be increasing in the coming months.
Thanks to Digital Main Street, you can access free resources to help you get started. Their SHOPHere program can even build your website in 2-6 weeks at no cost.
6) Access mental health support
You can't help others if you're also not helping yourself. Many Canadians are experiencing mental health issues during the COVID-19 crisis. You are not alone.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has an abundance of resources to help you cope during this difficult time, and will point you in the right direction if you need further support.