The Ongoing Hardships with Small and Medium-Sized Business enterprises due to COVID-19

By: Cheryl

Small and medium-sized businesses across Canada continue to face challenges due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Small and medium-sized businesses have had to adapt to the circumstances by creating an online presence, developing new business models, reducing hours of operations, laying off staff, applying for government funding, and seeking rent relief. However, numerous businesses have been unable to fully reopen as they only offer partial service, alongside businesses that have closed down permanently. Small and medium-sized businesses play a crucial role within larger businesses across Canada, thus directly impacting the Canadian economy.

According to Statistics Canada, revenue changes are a large issue that many small and medium-sized businesses continue to face. Over half of Canada’s businesses reported a revenue decrease, specifically smaller businesses were more likely to report a greater revenue decrease of 40% or more. Several reasons for lower sales figures within the reopened small businesses include limited activities to protect staff and customers, operational challenges such as supply, and having only a few customers.

Establishing a successful online presence is one ongoing problem with many small and medium-sized businesses, as the transition may be more challenging due to navigating through website development or online platforms. Many businesses now rely on customer interaction online. Thus, they are directly affected by changes within customer behaviour due to safety measures, including physical distancing and mandated operational restrictions. As in-person shopping decreases, online shopping has increased and is at an all-time high for major companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy. However, as we advance beyond COVID-19, it will be an excellent asset for businesses to have a responsive and effective web and social media presence.

For the small and medium-sized businesses that survive the pandemic, the road to recovery will be a great challenge with an abundance of obstacles. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says a survey shows only 26% of small businesses reporting normal sales volumes, leaving the remainder at risk of insolvency. Many of these businesses are still struggling with layoffs, rent problems and overall bills. The small and medium-sized business has already gone through drastic changes, including temporarily shutting down stores, laying off workers, putting a pause on expansion plans, and even closing factories.

To help, there are multiple resources available for small and medium business owners affected by the global pandemic. The B.C. Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program is a resource that provides fully funded grants to businesses to ensure they have the support they need during and beyond COVID-19 for British Columbians. The program runs until March 31, 2021, or until the funds are fully allocated. For more information about the program, how to apply, and eligibility, please click here. In addition, interpretation services are available for applicants!

To learn more about MCIS’ support and response to COVID-19, please visit our page, which includes recent updates on the ongoing pandemic, free/subsidized interpretation and translation services, and a mental health resource page.