By Matthew Hopton
Re-invention, is a term that took on a very significant meaning for businesses during 2020. With thousands of businesses being forced to close their physical doors to customers, businesses had to reassess and re-imagine their plans. Some retail businesses never recovered like Chuck E. Cheese which filed for bankruptcy on June 25, 2020. However, there have been success stories where quick thinking and rapid pivoting sparked a whole new wave of commercial success.
Jacob Dawkins an associate manager at Hybrid Financial, a capital markets advisory firm in Toronto explained how they changed their approach during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We looked at businesses that used a traditional brick and mortar style way of conducting business and tried to innovate around that idea.” Dawkins explained that many businesses were forced to adapt and use the power of technology to mitigate losses. “A lot of the time we saw that, Toronto businesses had the ability to go more digital but they hadn’t in the past because organizationally there was never a need to change.”
Speaking with Mary Copeland, a small business owner that runs the Black Forest Bakery in Mississauga, she explained that initially they thought they might have to close permanently. “It was looking really bleak, even with the government providing small businesses with loans we thought the bakery might not survive.” Mary says that adopting a new business plan that focuses on deliveries and pre-orders for planned events helped save and even grow her business. “It sounds weird to say but the pandemic made our business even more popular… online sales have stayed about the same as during the height of the pandemic but, with the storefront opening we also get foot traffic too.”
One of the ways that the Black Forest Bakery re-invented itself was it began catering to large events such as weddings. “A year without wedding ceremonies really put a strain on catering companies. I was asked by about three different people if I catered and I had never done it but I took it on as a challenge and it’s been going well so far. We did two weddings in October and have spread through word of mouth to having about ten more events lined up.”
The innovation and perseverance displayed during the pandemic from small business owners is impressive. When asked why some businesses faired better than others Dawkins said “sometimes it just comes down to who’s running the business and how great their passion for it is, it’s a hard thing to quantify but it makes all the difference.”
By Masahda Lochan-Aristide