Pivoting is a Lateral Move
The worst thing an entrepreneur can do during a crisis is lose focus.
Considering the daily headlines and constant pandemic related news, one might think most small and medium-sized businesses would have already given up and lost their way. Not the case at all.
This is not to say that the uncertainty created by the global pandemic has not been extremely difficult for business owners to keep it together, but for the vast majority, pivoting has kept them in business.
Sound simple? Not so fast.
Pivoting is an overused term, especially since March 2020. While many believe that pivoting means a whole new way of doing business, it’s really more about a lateral move for short-term survival.
For many Atlantic businesses, their pivot came in several forms. Some were forced into e-commerce almost overnight, while others had to develop new e-tools for business development to allow them to continue selling without physically getting in front of customers. For others, their pivot came in the form of whole new product lines to respond to Covid needs.
Whatever lateral move SMEs made, their common goal was the same…. survival.
These moves came at a cost and this is where government really stepped up to the plate. Beyond helping put money into the pockets of Canadians, they also reacted quickly with new programs and initiatives, all aligned to help SMEs pivot to survive. For the most part, government assistance has focused on the immediate as opposed to addressing what is expected to be a new normal, post-Covid.
While the government’s strategy was sound and exactly what was needed, the time has now come for a major shift to longer-term resilience, increased sustainability, and growth strategies.
It might seem premature, given the current context, to predict a period of economic growth only a year after this massive catastrophe. But early signs are promising, even with this third wave upon us, as we have now learned to adapt our virus-containment measures, especially in Atlantic Canada.
At LearnSphere, we feel the same sense of urgency about the rebound and renewal phase as we did about the response phase. As we see it, if given the opportunity, Atlantic Canada has a once in a lifetime opportunity to make significant progress on key business performance indicators that have been lagging in this region for quite some time.
The most obvious ones are technological investments to bring about faster productivity growth, the need to train for skills for the future, the necessity to embrace digitization and automation, and from a market perspective, a renewed focus on growing our exports and stimulating innovation.
Governments, quite frankly, can help determine the extent of these gains by the type of programs and initiatives they put in place for the future. As the economy emerges from the pandemic, our region will need major investments in all these areas if we want to, once and for all, close the gap with the rest of Canada.
With the federal budget recently announced, it is our fervent hope at LearnSphere that the funding announced to help SMEs fully recover and return to growth strategies will be put into action very quickly.