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Coronavirus Business Continuity Plan for Small Businesses

Coronavirus is one of those rare events that it is hard for any business to prepare for, and it has had a profound impact on small businesses. The government’s response of making loans available for small businesses was a life raft for the businesses that qualified, but far too many small companies have received no government aid.

Given that small businesses employ almost half the workforce, it is essential to everyone that small businesses remain afloat during this economic catastrophe. The necessary response to the coronavirus pandemic required that many small businesses radically change their business model or close their doors altogether. Small businesses operate without the vast capital reserves of major corporations, so many small business owners have been unable to weather the storm.

The importance of developing a continuity plan

To give your business the best chance of surviving the coronavirus pandemic, you need a continuity plan. Developing a continuity plan will serve you well during the pandemic and will continue to be a valuable tool to have for any future upsets.

What is a business continuity plan? In its simplest form, a business continuity plan (BCP) is a written outline of how a business will continue to operate during a disruption in service. A well-formed plan should contain a contingency for every part of the company, prioritized by importance. Each small business’s plan will be unique to that company based on size and what industry the business serves.

The continuity plan is a fluid document that will need to be modified to fit whatever disruption or problem the small business encounters. It is not too late to create such a plan for your small business, as the pandemic will continue to cause significant disruptions even as the country moves toward reopening.

Continuity plan for the coronavirus pandemic

Given that the cause of the current economic turmoil is a pandemic, the health and safety of employees and customers have to be the primary focus of any continuity plan. This part of the plan will require that each business assess the potential risks and evaluate what steps can be taken to keep employees healthy at work.

  • Protect the health of your staff and customers

  1. Provide telecommuting for staff where possible. If an employee’s job can be done from home, there is no reason to require that they come into work. Technology today makes it easy to track time spent working, access company systems remotely, and video conference to keep the lines of communication flowing.
  2. Encourage sick employees, or employees who have been exposed to the virus, to remain at home. Offer extended sick pay if possible to prevent employees from attempting to work because they have bills to pay and prevent any employee who appears ill from remaining at work.
  3. Reduce the number of customers you serve at any one time. If your small business is a restaurant, encourage carry-out orders, and reduce the number of tables in your dining area. If you run a store, limit the number of people inside the store at any given time.
  4. Increase cleaning and disinfecting. Strive to exceed the CDC guidelines for your business.
  • Identify your most critical services, and have a contingency plan for disruptions in your supply chain.

  1. Reduce non-essential services until the worst of the pandemic is over. Focus instead on keeping your core services functioning at peak performance.
  2. Stay in close contact with your vendors so that supply chain disruptions will not catch you unaware.
  3. Have back-up vendors for critical supplies.
  • Prepare for the reduction in business.

  1. Most small businesses will see a significant reduction in business, thanks to the coronavirus. Take steps to reduce expenses wherever possible, including cutting employee hours if necessary.
  2. Look for creative ways to change your business model to suit the current environment. If you are a nail salon, you could consider having clients by appointment only. If you provide a consulting service, consider implementing online consulting into your business model.
  3. Cut overhead where possible, and speak with creditors before there is a problem. Many lenders are working with their business customers to provide temporary relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Cultivate community goodwill

  1. During a difficult time like a natural disaster or pandemic, businesses who go above and beyond to help the community earn well-deserved respect. Your current and future customers will remember what your business did or provided, and you will cultivate loyalty through service.
  2. Work with your customers and clients with compassion if they have lost their jobs or experienced other hardships.
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10 Jobs You Can Do Working From Home in Canada

2020 is the year of uncertainty. Canadians are concerned about their health, but also about losing their jobs. In March alone, Canada saw 1.01 million jobs lost due to COVID-19. Now, more than ever, people are looking for new ways to make money while staying safe at home. Read on to learn ten jobs you can do working from home in Canada.

 

Home Childcare Provider

Essential workers are having trouble finding reliable childcare, with schools shut down. If you have a safe home that is suitable for children and have experience in the field, consider offering childcare in your home for friends and family. You will need to ensure you follow a strict cleaning procedure and obtain all necessary permits and licenses set forth by the government in Canada. You will want to consider the risk of having children who live with essential workers as their rate of exposure is potentially higher, and you could be exposing individuals in your household to the virus. Consider this if you live with someone who is at high risk of complications from the coronavirus.

 

Crafter

More and more people are turning to their artistic hobbies that up until now were ways to blow off steam after work and on the weekends. Whether they are pulling out their sewing machine to make masks or are signing up for an Etsy account to sell their original paintings, people realize their hobbies are lucrative. Think about the skills you have and find creative ways to make money from your craft.

 

Online Music Teacher

If you know how to play a musical instrument, consider offering online music lessons. With kids stuck inside, caretakers are desperate for low cost, at-home activities to give parents an hour or two of peace. Post your offerings on Craigslist, Facebook, and ask friends and family if they would be interested in lessons! With people stuck at home, boredom is at an all-time high! You can also consider giving lessons in person in your home, or the homes of your students. If you use your home to provide in-person lessons, make sure you follow Canada’s laws and guidelines for your safety and the safety of your students.

 

Freelance Writer

If you are confident in your ability as a writer, consider signing up for platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr. Many companies post jobs on these sites looking for content for their website, blog posts, etc. With these platforms, you can create a free profile, upload your portfolio, and start applying for jobs immediately.

 

ESL Instructor (Teaching from Home)

If English is your first language, consider becoming an online ESL instructor. Companies around the world are looking to hire individuals to lead Skype training classes for students looking to learn English. You will work with groups or one-on-one, leading theme-based discussions that help students practice their speaking skills.

 

Translator

If you are fluent in another language, consider signing up to be a translator. Translators work to translate writing into another language. You may be able to find work through acquaintances or business connections. Companies also post work on the freelance platforms mentioned above. International companies often hire fluent speakers to voice Youtube content or proofread blog posts. There are also specific translation companies who hire translators to work from them, such as FluentU or Verbalize It.

 

Virtual Assistant

If you are a fast typer and have experience with administrative tasks, consider becoming a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants work remotely and are responsible for replying to emails, calendar management, and data entry. The job is usually entry-level and does not typically require a degree. You can find offerings for virtual assistant positions on Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.

 

Transcriber

Transcribers work by listening to recorded audio and typing out what they hear. While the job is straightforward, you must be able to type at least 75 words per minute. Transcribers are responsible for inserting proper grammar, so grammatical skills are necessary. Depending on the level of expertise required, translation jobs can pay up to $25/hour.

 

Survey Taker

You would be surprised by the amount of money you can bring in just by taking online surveys. These jobs pay between $1-$50 per survey depending on the amount of time required to complete them and typically cover topics surrounding shopping habits, product reviews, or anything related to consumerism. Survey takers usually get paid by check or PayPal and sometimes are given points to be redeemed for gift cards. The job is perfect if you want an incredibly flexible schedule as you can work whenever you want.

 

Customer Service Representative for Companies in Canada

In 2020, businesses are fielding calls from customers who now have the time to call in with their questions and concerns. If you have excellent communication skills and are comfortable on the phone, consider becoming a customer service representative. There are jobs in customer service in almost any industry, so you have many options when it comes to employment.

 

In today’s digital age, there are always ways to make money online. Evaluate your skills, passions, and hobbies then think creatively about ways to turn those things into a money-making endeavor. Many people who make money online have more than one income stream, so you might want to consider more than one thing you can do to make money online.

 

 

 

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5 Things Your Small Business Needs to Do to Survive a Shutdown

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has been a brutal blow to many small businesses. Even the best contingency plans often overlooked the possibility of a complete extended shutdown of non-essential businesses. With frightening talk of a second wave or rolling shutdowns, as small businesses around the globe continue to fight to survive.

Five crucial steps for a small business to survive a shutdown

  1. Expand your business’s digital footprint—Adapt or die is the harsh new reality for many small businesses. Whatever your business model, one immediate step is enlarging the digital footprint of your business as quickly as possible. The shutdown requires that brick and mortar stores establish some type of online business model. If your business does not have a blog, now is the time to start one. You also need to reach as many of your customers as possible with email newsletters. These newsletters allow you to stay in touch with your customer base and inform them about changes in your business.
  2. Change how your business operates—Whether you are still under a complete shutdown, or planning for what could happen in the future, think about changes you could make to continue doing business in the event of another complete shutdown.

 

Can you ship your products from an online store, or offer free local delivery? Can a portion of your business be done remotely? If so, how can you grow that portion of your business? For instance, if you own a music store and offer music lessons, can you sell your inventory from an online store, and set up lessons conducted online. You can also explore the option of providing curbside service if it is possible with your small business.

  1. Update your payment options—If your small business has not entirely embraced mobile payment options, now is the time to start. Venmo, Paypal, Bitcoin, and other means of virtual payments comply with social distancing policies and can give you an edge over other competitors that cannot yet accommodate a wide range of payment options. Not only will taking this step help you stay afloat during a shutdown, but it will give you a competitive edge when things get back to normal.
  2. Postpone all possible capital expenditures—Now is not the time to continue with capital projects to expand your business, as there is no way of knowing how long the shutdown will last or what the ultimate financial implications will be. Hold the money as a reserve as you attempt to adapt to a business model that can still function during a shutdown.
  3. Protect the health of your employees and customers—Complying with local guidelines is the minimum you should do to protect the health of everyone involved in your business. If possible, seek to exceed these standards and publicize the above-and-beyond safety measures you are instituting. The news about COVID-19, and the proper safety precautions, has changed rapidly throughout the pandemic. Having a small business that goes above and beyond standard safety measures will offer your employees and your customers a measure of confidence that their health and safety is vital to your business. Exceeding the minimum requirements for health and safety, and other similar steps, build customer confidence and support loyalty to your small business that will not disappear with the virus.

Can your small business not only survive but thrive during a shutdown?

Technology is a vital part of enabling small businesses to adapt to disruptions like the pandemic and even thrive if they can quickly adapt their small business to embrace technology to comply with state and local regulations regarding social distancing.

Flexible work arrangements that allow your employees to work from home, thanks to technology, is helping many small businesses to embrace flex work. Employees using technology to do their jobs effectively from home lowers your overhead, keeps your employees safe, and allows your small business to gain a quick advantage over businesses that can not adapt as quickly.

As an added advantage, establishing ways to allow employees to work from home when needed will be a valuable asset for both your business and your employees after the shutdown ends. Having the option to work from home when a child is sick, or an employee feels under the weather, fosters job satisfaction. It also reduces the costs of lost productivity due to unavoidable circumstances that previously would have meant an employee being unable to work at all.

Exploring changes to your business model may help keep your small business afloat during the pandemic. Those changes can also serve as a valuable tool to grow your business after the shutdown ends. Creatively expanding the goods and services offered by small businesses is often very successful, adding to the overall value of the business that will continue to grow exponentially after the shutdown.

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How to Create a Succesful Food Truck Business Plan

Food trucks have been around for decades, but they were once known for offering only basic, and often unhealthy fare as a convenience in places where food options were limited. Now, food trucks often offer specialty cuisine and are growing exponentially in popularity.

Food trucks are attracting “foodies,” and often go beyond selling food from the truck. Successful food truck operations often have a business model that includes catering events and weddings to setting up at high traffic venues like sporting events, festivals, and outdoor concerts.

If you are considering opening a food truck, a solid business plan is a necessity. Not only is a business plan necessary for any financing your business might need, but it is also an important document to help you keep track of the things you must do to operate a successful food truck business.

What goes into a successful food truck business plan?

  1. Permits and licenses—local governments have strict requirements for food service, and you need to know the ins and outs of the requirements before you equip your food truck or cart. Contact your local government to understand what permits and licenses you will need and how to go about getting them. The process can be arduous in some major cities, so anticipate obstacles.
  2. Purchasing the food truck—be aware that health departments hold food trucks to the same standards as restaurants, making it expensive to buy a fully equipped truck. Before taking this step, you will need to know how large your budget for the startup is, and what type of food you plan to sell. The kind of food served will determine the size of the truck and the type of equipment needed to meet your business model goals.
  3. Define your niche—to be competitive in the food truck business, and you will need to have something special or unique. Do not plan on selling authentic tacos in an area oversaturated with taco trucks. Instead, focus on bringing a unique twist to standard cuisine or selling a specialized product. Will you have a signature item? If so, is there enough demand? It pays to do in-depth market research before finalizing your business plan.
  4. Price insurance—as your restaurant will be on wheels, your insurance costs will be high. The costs of coverage will depend on geographic location, the amount of insurance required by your lender, and the driving record of anyone listed on the policy.
  5. Establish parking—you will need a plan for parking your food truck, both during operating hours and where you can safely park it during the off-hours. Some cities are very strict about where food trucks can be parked, while other municipalities are more relaxed. You need a plan for parking safely during and after business hours.
  6. Name your food truck business and expand the business’s social media profile—you need to utilize the free advertising of generating social media interest. Advertising is a significant cost associated with opening any new business, so work on providing as much free advertising as possible by documenting your food truck journey on social media. You want to have crowds lined up during your first days of business so that you can quickly take advantage of word-of-mouth advertising as well.
  7. Secure your financing—Once you have priced the truck, equipment, insurance, and the costs associated with parking, employees, and advertising, then you should be able to complete a professional business plan and seek financing. To ensure the success of your business plan, be prepared by having well-documented market research and how much money you can personally invest.

 

Take your business plan, bank records to establish your own solvency and know your credit score. Traditional financing through lending institutions will provide the best terms, but they often operate under strict lending practices for small businesses. Credit unions and other small lenders often have more latitude in their lending practices.  If you still do not qualify, consider alternative means of financing, such as taking on investors.

 

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How to Write a Business Plan for a Succesful Coffee Shop

Coffee shops are a consumer favorite, especially if you can offer great wifi at a convenient location along with a relaxing or trendy atmosphere. If it has been your dream to open your own coffee shop, your first priority should be market research. How many coffee shops can area support, and how many exist in the area where you hope to open?

Once you feel confident you have found the right area, the next priority is location. Coffee shops do well in high-traffic locations. People need to see your business to think about stopping in, but those areas can mean high rent prices. You may have to sacrifice some visibility to get into affordable rent, which means you will need a better marketing plan to ensure you establish a customer base as quickly as possible.

Why is a business plan essential?

A business plan is necessary, primarily, to ensure that you can receive financing for your start-up costs. Even if you are using savings, or some other form of financing, do not skip the critical step of developing a business plan. A business plan will detail the specific steps you need to take to make your coffee shop successful.

A comprehensive business plan for your coffee shop will detail your short and long-term objectives, which will help you remain on track to build a successful business. Think of your business plan as a detailed to-do list that will grow and evolve along with your business. A business plan also helps you remain focused on the details and numbers that will determine the success of your coffee shop.

The most important details of a business plan

There are numerous sample business plans that you can find online, but crafting a plan that is specific to the needs of a coffee shop is critical for success. The first draft should follow an outline that covers the important areas of:

  • Market research—Market research is something you will update throughout the life of your business. It is vital for a start-up, but it continues to be important for increasing sales and remaining competitive as your business grows. For a coffee shop, the areas you need to focus on are understanding your target market and information about the competition. You will also need a detailed analysis of whether the market is oversaturated.
  • Sales strategy—This will be the area of the business plan where you lay out what will set your coffee shop apart from other similar businesses in the area. Why will customers return again and again to feed their coffee addiction at your location? For a small business, a reliable base of repeat customers is essential, so how do you plan to win the loyalty of customers?
  • Capital—Starting any new business takes money, and a coffee shop is no exception. You will need to research the costs of rent, renovations, and how much quality machinery costs to get started. Even if you have a prime location and a great business model, it will take time to build up a customer base, so capital is also what will help you cover overhead until the coffee shop is making a profit.
  • Labor requirements and financial data—How many people will you need on staff to cover the hours you plan to operate? What will be the costs of employing these people? Financial data includes anything that might convince a lender to loan you money for your business start-up, including account statements that show you have money of your own to invest in the business.

A business plan will be one document with sections that cover the above information. Many people include a mission statement, which is a formal description of what you hope to accomplish by opening this coffee shop. When you envision the business, what things are most important? Do you plan to create a cozy place for people to come together, or is it quiet place packed with students and business people working while enjoying their favorite brew? The vision you have should be included in your plan, and it may grow and change along with your business.

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5 Ideas to Make Money In the Service Industry During the Pandemic

 There is no question the economy has taken a hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but that does not mean there are not opportunities to make money in the service industry during this time. Jobs from many sectors were hit hard, but none more than the service industry. Whether you lost your job, or you just want to make money during uncertain times, there are opportunities in the service industry.

Five service industry opportunities during the pandemic

  1. Temporary Delivery Service—many companies from Amazon to local restaurants, have seen skyrocketing demand for the delivery of goods. If you are not in a high-risk group, then working as a delivery person can be a great way to continue earning money during the pandemic. If you do not want to work for a company, you can start your own service by advertising with friends, family and neighbors your willingness to run errands or picking up things they need for a small fee.
  2. Tutoring—with a large portion of the school and college population no longer attending classes in person, there is a surge in demand for online tutoring. Many parents have to work full-time while their kids are forced to continue their education online. Many are willing to pay online tutors to help in the areas where their children are struggling. Some parents are paying online tutors to homeschool their children. If you enjoy working with young people or are passionate about a particular subject, then online tutoring may be for you. Numerous websites are hiring online tutors, and you can apply there or use your own contacts and social media to start your own private service. Tutoring is a great way to make money during the pandemic, and many satisfied clients might keep you on after school resumes.
  3. Virtual assistant—VA’s have been around for some time, but the industry is booming during the pandemic. A virtual assistant can work exclusively for one person or may have numerous clients at one time. There is almost no limit to the type of work a VA may encounter, from taking phone calls to helping manage an entire business enterprise from home. There are platforms designed to match clients with virtual assistants who have the skills the client needs. These platforms operate by taking either a one-time fee or a portion of the money you make as a VA. If you have plenty of contacts, you may be able to skip the platform and use a site like linked in to let contacts know you are accepting new clients.
  4. Childcare for essential workers–This is another service you only want to consider if you are not in any high-risk category for COVID-19. Many parents are struggling with child care arrangements for children while they work on the front lines of the pandemic. Check with your local government to make sure you comply with rules and regulations. Often, you do not have to be a licensed provider if you have a small number of children in your care. Make sure that you take all possible precautions for the health and safety of yourself and the children in your care.
  5. Start a lawn care service—With spring giving way to summer, this is the season for lawn mowing and landscaping services. You can perform this service with social distancing guidelines in place, so the risk is minimal. You can advertise on social media and through neighborhood apps, and accept payment via online apps live Venmo, Paypal, or Facebook Pay to protect yourself and your clients from any risk in exchanging cash or checks.

Making money during a pandemic

Technology has opened the door to many ideas for ways to make money from the relative safety of your own home. The gig economy made up of freelance workers was booming before the pandemic, but the coronavirus brought the concept into the mainstream. Working from home has a long history of being riddled with scammers, so be wary of any offers that seem too good to be true.

Never pay a fee for a job, as no reputable companies or platforms require you to pay a fee for a job. Some platforms do require that you make a minimal investment to be able to apply for jobs, but you can easily research them to make sure they are legitimate. Use a simple contract created between yourself and your client if working with private clients.