Small things can add up quickly

Summer is coming to an end. Patios were often filled with families and friends enjoying the great weather we had. If you strolled by parks, you’d hear the laughter of kids playing and running. That first take of the situation would lead one to be convinced that we’d indeed surpassed the pandemic. We had adjusted our lifestyle and beaten COVID-19.

What if I told you that was a lie? Things are not okay. By many accounts they won’t get any better any time soon. The weather is about to get colder. In Canada we know what that means, we tend to retreat indoors seeking warmth and fellowship. In the age of COVID-19 though, that is a recipe for disaster. Patios are going to be shut down soon, schools are starting up, and we haven’t seemed to make any adjustments for what life will look like this fall.

This weekend, the CBC reported a story where they estimated close to 60% of the hospitality industry could be bankrupt. I can believe it. Consumer confidence to re-enter restaurants isn’t there. Patios are one thing. An enclosed space, even with social distancing is another. Restaurants are going to be forced to return to take out as their primary business model now. I doubt that will be enough to make ends meet.

We are constantly being told the economy is reopening and coming back strong. The reality is a bit muted. Jobs are continuing to be added to the economy. However not at a rate that keeps up with how many were lost due to the pandemic. A good chunk of those jobs were in the hospitality industry. As we enter into a second wave of COVID-19, expect those numbers to retreat. As retail and hospitality sector businesses begin to shutter their doors.

The federal government appears to be willing to help somewhat. News this week of their plants to extend CEWS and CECRA was announced. However these measures will end by December, and are voluntary to participate in. A major criticism is that CECRA has not been embraced by landlords en masse. Instead evictions are probably going to be looming over a great deal of small businesses come this fall.

It is becoming apparent that new business models may be required to survive this pandemic. The aid that the federal government put in place was beneficial as a stop gap measure. The sudden onslaught of this pandemic caught many small businesses completely unprepared. Meager savings which were meant to see them through rough patches of business, were clearly not enough for the magnitude of this problem. Federal intervention was needed.

While clumsy and in some cases unwieldy, the programs that the government instituted were meant to be there should small businesses need it. They are flawed, and are not meant to be sustainable in the long term. It is time to view them for what they are. A bridging tool for the new economy. It is time to unleash the vaunted power of the private sector, and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation to find new ways of operating with COVID-19 looming overhead. The federal government has extended the lifeline to the end of the year. Small businesses should take advantage of this and work to innovate their business models as best they can.

Throwing more money at this problem isn’t the solution. There is a limit to how much can be spent, as well as what the generosity of the Canadian people is willing to give. Know that these programs will inevitably end. Now is the time to experiment and try new things. The pay offs just might prove to be worth it. It is a risk no doubt, but thats what being an entrepreneur is all about…isn’t it?

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