The way for entrepreneurs to stay operating during these difficult times is to practise entrepreneurship at the highest standard possible — with strong ethics and sharp business strategy — according to experts.
Ray Frajad of Ray’s Picture Frames and Art Centre in Richmond Hill says it is difficult to keep customers’ loyalty during the pandemic.
“I just haven’t seen them very often as before, right? Like, for instance, if I was seeing Nancy six times, seven times in a year, I haven’t seen Nancy in 2020. I just talked to her over the phone,” he said. “She was calling me to see if I’m okay, if I didn’t close down and things like that.”
The best response for an entrepreneur is to adapt to the new conditions. There are safety measures which must be adhered to but also changing ways of doing business with customers which must be made possible. If an entrepreneur can succeed in these two areas, then they are well on their way in the right and necessary direction. On top of all that, Frajad is motivated to run his business by moral imperatives.
“That’s the philosophy that I have … treating the customer like a part of family basically,” Frajad said.
The impact of the pandemic varies across sectors of the economy, said Chris Dudley, director of entrepreneurship at Seneca College.
“However in general terms, ventures that have been able to adapt and pivot have been in a much better position to ride out the pandemic,” Dudley said. “Being able to access government funds. Having strong support systems and mentorship has also been key.”
On the other hand, an alternative for an entrepreneur is to hold on to ethical values in running their business. This is with the hope that by doing so, customer loyalty will help the business outlast COVID-19, as Frajad says.
“The way I have established this business is that I work hard, “Frajad said. “As you know the way I treat my customers, I will be healthy. The way I establish my business in terms of inventory and assets, I will be healthy…. I am not going to go under basically.”
It’s not just COVID-19 that is impacting businesses. At times, multiple and major factors hamper the opportunity to do business at the same time.
“Basically, the lockdown was quite out of my control,” Frajad said. “And also the Yonge construction was out of my hand. It was the lockdown and the construction on Yonge [together] that really affected the business.”
This time can be an opportunity to adapt one’s business to conform to changing methods by which society operates.
Opportunities include “building their online presence and restructuring their ordering and delivery processes,” Dudley said. “Ensuring they are compliant with the new health and safety standards including spending money to restructure their physical spaces.”