Start 2021 on the Right Financial Foot

Last year wasn’t easy. But by setting some goals for your business, you can make 2021 a year of growth.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, making up 98 per cent of all businesses in the country and 95 per cent of businesses in Alberta. Yet they’re also bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many small businesses laying off employees, racking up debt or going out of business altogether.

According to Statistics Canada, almost 25 per cent of businesses with 19 or fewer employees saw their revenue drop by 40 per cent in late 2020 compared to the year prior. For even smaller businesses, it’s worse: of businesses with one to four employees, about six per cent were considering bankruptcy or about to close because of COVID-19.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected bigger businesses too. More than 30 per cent of businesses with more than 500 employees reported revenue declines of more than 20 per cent. Yet for smaller businesses with between five and 19 employees, 56 per cent reported a similar drop in revenue. And 60 per cent of businesses with just one to four employees reported this same decline.

In other words, the last year has been hard on businesses of all sizes, as well as their employees. In October 2020, Edmonton had the highest unemployment rate in the country, at 12 per cent, and the province’s unemployment rate was almost 11 per cent. The pandemic is shaping up to be even worse for employment than the 2008 recession.

Make financial resolutions for your business

As individuals, we like to make New Year’s resolutions. They’re a convenient way to imagine where you want to be by this time next year, and then set targets to hit along the way. Sure, we don’t all live up to every single one of them, but sometimes the journey itself is what counts. So why not do the same thing for your business and start your 2021 off on the right foot? (Yes, it’s a little after January 1, but who’s counting? It’s never too late to start!) So, if you’re wondering how to elevate your business in 2021, how can you rebound after a setback like this? In this blog, we’ll help you set some New Year’s resolutions and start working towards them.

Of course, if you own a business, you already have some goals in mind. Maybe you have specific revenue or production targets. Those are all crucial, but it’s also important to take a step back from the numbers and set some broader goals for yourself—goals that don’t depend on hitting certain numbers, goals that you can still work toward if the year doesn’t go as predicted.

Here are some resolutions you can start working on today to better prepare your business for the rest of the year.

Find financial supports for your business

As you surely know, there are a number of different financial supports available to businesses, whether federally or provincially. You are likely already aware of many of these programs. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, for example, is used by many businesses. Yet it’s worth your time to examine all the different supports that are offered and see if any apply to you. Taking advantage of these programs will put you on equal footing with other businesses and will help you go as far as you can in 2021. These supports are meant for businesses like yours!

There are many different financial options for businesses when it comes to addressing liquidity problems or access to capital. The Business Development Bank of Canada, a development bank owned by the Government of Canada, has compiled a list of support measures in this area. There are too many to list here, but they range in nature from subsidies, employment insurance top-ups and loans to non-repayable contributions, and can either be general (for example, applicable to businesses of all sizes) or specific to certain businesses (such as small businesses). Some of these programs apply to businesses in all kinds of different industries, while some are targeted—for example, loans offered to farmers or entrepreneurs.

Further, there are different financial supports available to businesses depending on what province or territory you’re in. There are also different supports that can be accessed through regional development agencies, and different supports offered to Indigenous businesses and Black entrepreneurs.

For Albertans, the Alberta Biz Connect page is a helpful resource for businesses.

Additional financial tips for business owners

That’s the big one, but here are some other New Year’s resolutions you can adopt going into 2021:

Renegotiate contracts

You can always renegotiate—or try to renegotiate—contracts with your vendors or suppliers, or even with the financial institutions that you’ve borrowed money from. Many other businesses are dealing with the same uncertainty you are, and they may be willing to be flexible. This could save you money in the long run and may create better terms for you in the near future as well.

One thing to consider is that if you are having issues around cash flow or access to capital, you may want to renegotiate payment terms. For example, you may be able to change weekly payments to monthly payments.

Set some money aside—even if it’s not much

They say that saving money is sort of like making money. It’s true—if you’re not spending as much, or if you’re putting money aside every month, it can feel like more money is coming into your account. So, if this last year has affected your ability to make money, why not put aside some revenue and at least feel like you’re making more money?

Keep a handle on your debt

According to a recent LendingTree survey, almost three quarters of businesses took on debt to deal with losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Chances are, your business is one of them.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—banks and governments have facilitated this borrowing precisely because businesses need it. The debt is what helps some businesses stay open.

Invest in your employees

“Investing” doesn’t necessarily mean money. With revenue yet to return to normal levels, this might not even be a possibility. But you can reward your employees in other ways. It could be as simple as creating an employee recognition plan or getting employees to participate in team-building exercises.

The important thing to remember is that your employees are vital to the success of your business, so this period can be an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. Further, team-building exercises can be a good way to spend time if your business isn’t quite as busy as it used to be.

Let Faber help you achieve these financial goals

These are just a few simple resolutions you can set for yourself. As always, Faber is here to help your business through this rough patch. If your business is experiencing financial difficulties, you can always contact us and explore your options. We’ll schedule your free confidential consultation with one of our professionals and find the right corporate debt solutions for your business—there are many options beyond bankruptcy.

With our expert advice, you can be sure to start 2021 on the right foot.