Small businesses have been through the wringer over the past couple years. The pandemic placed incredible pressure on owners as they worked to keep operating amidst constantly changing restrictions, but even as those complications have eased off, there is now the looming possibility of a recession. Recent survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) indicate the short-term (three month) outlook for small business owners is at 40.2 points, a number normally only seen when there is an actual recession, and indicate feelings of “caution and anxiety.”
Only 38% of the CFIB survey respondents said they believe their business to be in good shape for 2023, while 17% describe it as being in bad shape. These numbers are very similar to where they were in December 2019, right as the pandemic was beginning to hit in Canada.
Thirty-seven percent of businesses cite high borrowing costs as one of the reasons for concern as interest rates continue to rise. In 2022, the Bank of Canada raised its key overnight lending rate seven times, increasing it to 4.25 per cent in December in an effort to tame inflation. Experts predict there will be at least one more rate hike in 2023, as unexpectedly strong labour force numbers were recently posted from December. Canada added 104,000 jobs to the economy just last month, which is more than a quarter of the 381,000 jobs added for the entirety of the year. More workers means more money in the economy, so another raise of 0.25% could possibly be announced at the end of the month.
Ninety-six percent of enterprises in Alberta are small businesses, which means that a large portion of the province’s employees are likely feeling trepidatious for the next year. As people attempt to spend less money, businesses are expecting their numbers to drop. Supply chain issues are continuing as well. High business debt also remains from the pandemic, so it is not surprising that owners are feeling a bit defeated.
Keeping yourself and others motivated
When things are looking down, it’s very difficult to keep yourself positive and motivated. Small business owners need to take good care of themselves and their employees, cultivating a positive work environment and keeping aware of mental-health levels. It’s easy to feel exhausted, frustrated, and discouraged, but subject matter experts say there are several ways to keep moving forward in a positive manner.
- Expanding your network can help find new customers and also help support business owners through increased connections and access to resources. Check in to conferences, industry, and professional organizations, your local Chamber of Commerce, and, of course, social media for opportunities.
- Set (reasonable) business goals and work to get everyone on board to reach them. Determine accessible milestones and make sure to celebrate when they are achieved. Be clear about your intentions for the year.
- Redefine your mission according to the changing times. Motivation can be found simply in what your business does and is good at, so determine what your strengths are, support those, and find your passion once again.
- Don’t look at failure as a loss, but a learning opportunity. Rather than wallowing, think about what you now know and how that knowledge will allow you try something new with greater success.
- Study how your business can disrupt the market. Business growth courses are a great way to access the expertise of entrepreneurial experts who may be able to help you target a whole new sector you hadn’t even thought of.
- Continue to put your customers first. Great customer service remains one of the very best ways to retain and gain customers, plus it just feels good to do the right thing.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to get the rest you need when you need it. Train employees so you don’t feel like things will fall apart when you’re not there, and travel to expose yourself to new places and perspectives for inspiration.
Small business insurance
While entrepreneurs face uncertain times, small business insurance is a way to improve your peace of mind. As your business evolves, be sure to keep in touch with your insurance broker to keep your coverage updated. Small business insurance is highly customizable and there are numerous options available, including:
- Commercial property insurance, which protects your business’s building and its contents from loss and damages and also covers the contents stored inside.
- General liability insurance protects your business from claims resulting from bodily injury and third-party property damage caused by events involving your premises, products and/or business operations. Employee injuries are covered by Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable obligations you must abide by.
- Commercial health, life and disability insurance helps businesses attract the best available workplace talent. Offering these types of benefits gives prospective employees added incentive to work for your business, and helps you retain current employees while maintaining higher levels of worker satisfaction.
- If you use your own vehicle for business purposes, or if you and/or your employees drive company-owned vehicles, you’ll need commercial auto insurance.
- The Internet age has brought a whole new set of risks and perils, which is why cyber insurance is so important. If you own or hold significant intellectual property assets, of if your digital data represents an essential part of your business operations, you should strongly consider this type of coverage. Remember: the vast majority of small businesses that suffer a critical breach or loss of data end up going out of business within three years.
- Fidelity insurance offers enhanced protection against losses resulting from crime. With a growing number of employees stealing from their workplaces, fidelity insurance can pay dividends by closing coverage gaps that may exist.
- Does your business have a continuity or disaster recovery plan? It should, and business interruption insurance should be part of it. This form of coverage provides financial relief and practical support if an unforeseen event causes a serious interruption to your regular business activities.
Trust Lane’s for your Alberta small business insurance
If you need resources or advice regarding small business insurance in Alberta, don’t hesitate to contact the knowledgeable and courteous professionals at Lane’s Insurance. Our brokers work for our clients, not for the insurance companies, so you can be sure you’re getting impartial advice that protects your best interests. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff or greater Alberta offices to see how we can help get 2023 started off right so your business can thrive.