Tuesday, 2nd June 2020 | Management

Resource cheatsheet for businesses affected by COVID-19

Updated June 2, 2020 - Use this cheat sheet to quickly find what resources are available to you as a business impacted by COVID-19.

Many, many Canadian businesses have been partially or severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are trying to find out what resources are available to you to help you, here is a summary of resources from the Canadian government as of June 2, 2020. They fall into seven categories: 

  1. Avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees & creating new jobs
  2. Taxes & tariffs
  3. Financial support, loans & access to credit
  4. Targeted support
  5. Support for Self-employed individuals
  6. Indigenous businesses
  7. Supporting financial stability

There is additional support for some sectors, including agriculture. Read on for information on the seven main categories.

Avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees & creating new jobs

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) - The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. The subsidy generally covers 75% of an employee's wages – up to $847 per week. The program allows you to re-hire your employees and avoid layoffs during the crisis. It will be in place until August 29, 2020.

Temporary 10% wage top-up is a three-month measure that allows eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Increased Canada Child Benefit - An extra $300 per child was delivered through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This benefit was delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment on May 20.

Extending the work-sharing program - The government has extended the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19. This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Creating new jobs & opportunities for youth - Over 100K jobs, placements and training opportunities have been created for students, as follows:
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Canada Summer Jobs program (Calls for applications closed)
Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (Calls for applications closed)
Student Work Placement Program
Mitacs
Business + High Education Roundtable

Taxes and Tariffs

Extra time to file income tax returns - Businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Deferral fo sales tax remittance and customs duty payments until June 30th - Businesses, including self-employed individuals, may defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports. Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May. These amounts were normally due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of March 2020.

Waiving tariffs on certain medical goods - tariffs on certain medical goods, including PPE such as masks and gloves, have been waived to reduce the cost of imported PPE for Canadians, help protect workers, and ensure our supply chains can keep functioning well.

Financial support, loans and access to credit

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) - Provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. This program has been implemented by banks and credit unions in collaboration with Export Development Canada. Business owners can apply for support from CEBA through their banks and credit unions.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies. It's available at various banks and credit unions. 

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Business Development Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. The program offers differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues. This support is available until or before September 30, 2020. This program is now available at various banks and credit unions.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) - We are providing nearly $962 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies. This fund is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been unable to access other support measures.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) - provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Over the course of the program, property owners will reduce rent by at least 75 % for the months of April and May (retroactive), and June, for their small business tenants. CECRA will cover 50 % of the rent, with the tenant paying up to 25 % and the property owner forgiving at least 25 %.

Mid-Market Financing Program - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, the Business Development Canada’s (BDC) Mid-Market Financing Program will provide commercial loans ranging between $12.5 million and $60 million to medium-sized businesses whose credit needs exceed what is already available through the Business Credit Availability Program and other measures. BDC anticipates that qualifying companies will have annual revenues in excess of approximately $100 million. More details will be made available soon.

Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program - Through the Business Credit Availability Program, EDC’s Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program will bring liquidity to companies that tend to have revenues of between $50 million to $300 million, to sustain operations during this uncertain period. EDC will continue to work with Canadian financial institutions to guarantee 75% of new operating credit and cash-flow loans, ranging in size from $16.75 million to a maximum of $80 million. These expanded guarantees are available to exporters, international investors and businesses that sell their products or services within Canada. More details will be made available soon.

Businesses in the territories - We are making available $15 million in non-repayable support for businesses in the territories to help address the impacts of COVID-19. This support will assist businesses with operating costs not already covered by other Government of Canada measures.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) - This program provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going. The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF allows Canada’s largest businesses, their workers and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery. This program is delivered by the Canada Development Investment Corporation, in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Department of Finance.

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) for early-stage businesses - [Applications have closed] $250M to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access other COVID-19 business supports through the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). IRAP provides advice, connections, and funding to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses increase their innovation capacity and take ideas to market.

Additional support by sector:

Targeted support

Young entrepreneurs - $20.1M in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue supporting young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.

Women entrepreneurs - $15M in new funding through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). This funding will be available to existing WES Ecosystem Fund recipient organizations, enabling these third-party organizations to provide timely support and advice to women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support for self-employed individuals

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers who have lost income or stopped working due to COVID-19. An online questionnaire will help us direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments - businesses, including self-employed individuals, may defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports. Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May. These amounts were normally due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of March 2020.

More time to pay income taxes - All businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

Indigenous businesses

Funding for small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and Aboriginal Financial Institutions - $306.8M in funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses, and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses. The funding will allow for short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, which offer financing and business support services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis businesses. Financial support for Indigenous businesses will be provided through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, and administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and the Métis capital corporations in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada.

Supporting financial stability

Relief for federally regulated pension plan sponsors - immediate, temporary relief to sponsors of federally regulated, defined benefit pension plans in the form of a moratorium, through the remainder of 2020, on solvency payment requirements for defined benefit plans. This relief will help ensure that employers have the financial resources they need to maintain their operations and their pension plans, and to protect the retirement security of their workers and retirees.

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program - the purchase of up to $150B of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada's mortgage market.

Bank of Canada's actions - The Bank of Canada is acting in several ways to support the economy and financial system and stands ready to take any and all actions that it can to protect the well-being of Canadians during this difficult time. The Bank has responded by lowering interest rates, intervening to support key financial markets and providing liquidity support for financial institutions.

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions actions - The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets. This action will allow Canada's large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.
 

For support by sector, and also support for individuals, visit Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan microsite

Read Also

Video marketing for small businesses

As commerce moves increasingly online, small businesses are looking for ways to get an edge on their competition and video marketing is a promising strategy. Take a look at these numbers: According to Google, YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year olds in an average week than all cable TV networks—combined. And it’s more than reach. Video is a strong medium for selling, too. In a 2020 report by Wyzowl, 84% of respondents said they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.

The data is there. It’s clear that video has a place in marketing small businesses, but effective implementation is another thing entirely. If you’re already using video, do you have the resources and know-how to execute it effectively? And if you’re not, why not? In this article, we’ll share some ideas and best practices for getting the most out of video marketing. Types of videos to consider As a visual medium, video has very few restrictions. If you can tell a story visually, you can tell it on video. That said, your marketing clip may not be the best place to try out an avant-garde approach. Luckily, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. These 9 types of video are tried and tested to get you the views and conversions you’re after.

Product overview

These short videos are the most common type of video marketing out there. Running around 90 seconds, a product overview shows the main elements and benefits of your product or service. Most television ads are product overviews. When shooting this kind of video, keep things short and sweet.

Teasers

Think of a teaser video as an amuse bouche for your upcoming product or event. As short as a couple of seconds, the teaser video is designed to pique the interest of your viewers, exciting and engaging them. As an example, imagine you own a kitchen supply shop and you have a new, imported pepper mill coming in. To market this, you could film a teaser with just an up-close glimpse of the grinder plates in action. You could even tie in a contest by having your audience guess the appliance. The idea of a teaser is to arouse interest and foster engagement.

Explainers

Similar to product overviews, explainers are frequently animated spots that break down products that would be difficult to demonstrate otherwise. If you have a complex or virtual product to sell, you might consider an explainer.

Livestreaming

Livestreaming videos are interactive and, due to their availability on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, free and extremely easy to set up. When you livestream you can speak to your audience directly and they can respond to you in the comments section. This is a live medium, so it’s important to make sure you have help with moderation but livestreaming can be the perfect way to share a Q&A or an event. You can showcase your expertise while making your viewers feel like they’ve had an intimate interaction.

Vlogs

Video blogs, or vlogs, are video-based posts designed to inform or educate. They’re suitable for how-tos, tips, or for information that breaks down easily into smaller chunks.

Tutorials

If you’re trying to show someone something more complex than suitable for a vlog, a video tutorial may work well. For example, let’s say you own a photography shop and want to share how to replace your LCD screen on a certain camera. A video tutorial will work perfectly. For computer-based tutorials, the content could be as simple as recording what you’re doing on your own screen.

Milestone or leadership announcement

If your business has reached a new milestone or has had a change in leadership, you could put out a press release and hope it gets read. Or, you could produce a video that captures behind-the-scenes content and showcases the personalities of the people involved. This is your chance to draw your viewers in and make them feel that they’re getting to see what your company is all about. Milestone videos can also help bridge the gap created by COVID and make your viewers feel connected to you and your business.

Contest or promotion

Running a contest or promotion is an established marketing tactic and using video only makes it stronger. As contests have closing dates, it’s critical to get the video shot well in advance.

Webinar or interview

Like a panel at a conference, a webinar or interview can educate and inform your viewers. Make sure you’ve selected a quiet space with a visually appealing background, and that your interviewer is knowledgeable and comfortable in their role. Webinars work well where the buying process is complex or lengthy.

As you can see, no matter your purpose or type of information, there’s a style of video for it. Start simply by running a livestream event or a useful tutorial and work your way up to the more expert applications.

 

Marketing

Mitigate risk and potential cash flow issues with a business line of credit

Small business owners know that sometimes businesses need cash. Sometimes they need it fast. Liquidity is a lifeline for small businesses, and owners need to make sure they have the tools in place for every eventuality. A business line of credit is a strong defence against volatility, emergencies, or simple fluctuations, extending a continuous option of cash liquidity so that cash flow never becomes a problem. Read on for more about business lines of credit, how they work, and whether your small business would benefit from a line of credit.

What is a business line of credit and why would you use one?

Just like a personal line of credit, a business line of credit is a loan that gets you access to capital that you can use to meet your needs. For small businesses, these needs might be purchasing inventory, replacing or repairing equipment, renovations, paying off unexpected expenses, or other short-term cash flow gaps. Cash flow allows you to be nimble and make decisions quickly. With a business line of credit, you can simply take out an advance on a pre-approved amount with its own predetermined repayment plan to meet your short-term needs.

A business line of credit from iCapital is an unsecured line of credit with pre-negotiated interest rates and repayment terms. With this product, you can access any amount of money up to your limit on an as-needed basis. And, when you take out a business line of credit with iCapital, our software will automatically send a notification when you become eligible for credit limit increases so you’ll always have up-to-date information on your available cash flow. If you’re interested in a business line of credit, simply apply online with your bank statements and your application will be reviewed on the same day. You can expect funding in 24 hours or less.

Alternatives to a business line of credit

A business line of credit is not the only product you can use to ensure you have access to cash flow for your business. Other products include:

  • Term loan
    With a term loan, you repay daily or weekly over a set term. There is no interest rate but rather a predetermined fee negotiated by you and the lender, based on your credit score, length of time in business, and other factors. This type of product might work well for a single unforeseen expense such as replacing broken equipment.
     
  • Merchant cash advance
    Also, a one-time loan product, a merchant cash advance is perfect for those in retail, hospitality, or food service-type businesses. Rather than having a set repayment amount, you repay based on a percentage of the daily sales transacted through your credit/debit machine. This means that you can get much-needed cash flow without worrying about closures or slow seasons.
     
  • Secured business loan
    With collateral (typically property), you can get a business loan to use toward your expenses. As a secured product, you may be able to negotiate lower interest rates and longer repayment terms.

Cash flow is absolutely vital for small businesses and it can be hard to keep on hand. Business loans, cash advances, term loans, and lines of credit are all powerful products to help you keep your business running smoothly. Applying for a business line of credit will ensure you can enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you have access to a pre-approved amount, should the need arise.

Small business financing Canada ,Business loans for bad credit ,Management

Better business & customer service in 2021

As 2021 grows closer, many small business owners are making plans with an eye towards rebounding from a year disrupted by the pandemic. Now is the time to plan, but COVID-19 is really only one of many variables impacting small businesses right now. The pandemic affected how products and services were offered and delivered, and will have implications well into 2021. But savvy business owners are also planning against other market forces like the shift to big box stores and the uber-fast delivery expectations set by Amazon Prime. As you build your new year’s strategy, consider these ideas to make your business stronger in 2021.
 

Make purchases and delivery easier—for everyone

According to web registrar GoDaddy, “Roughly half of those [businesses] surveyed had a website or active social media account before the pandemic hit. That number has almost doubled.” Businesses who want to maintain or grow during COVID-19 are flocking to online and the next big shift is going to be the adoption of platforms that do everything in one place: sales, email communication, and even marketing.

By undergoing a digital transformation, small businesses can improve their own system while continuing to offer top-notch customer service—and it’s not as complicated as you might think. Take for example, Coffee Tree Roastery, a small shop in Toronto’s West End that, as a response to the COVID-19 retail shut downs, began selling online and offering local delivery or pick-up. They chose the Canadian platform Shopify, which allows them to manage everything from online orders and payments, to in-store POP transactions with one system. For their customers, this represents an easy way to order and pay 24/7.

Some businesses are new to being online, while others are ready to adopt better digital tools. Wherever your business is in regards to your digital presence, now is the time to invest in online.

Go all-in on customer service

It’s tough to compete with the lightning fast delivery times of Amazon Prime or the rock bottom prices offered by some big box stores. Our advice? Don’t. Cultivate your advantage where the giant retailers can’t compete—the personal touch.

You’ve already taken steps towards an online platform so your customers receive the fast and easy ordering process they deserve. Next, figure out what more you can do to make shopping with you pleasant, stress-free, and perhaps even memorable. Free local deliveries, discounts for in-store pick-up, and personalized invitations on key dates like birthdays or anniversaries are all terrific ideas.

Be memorable

Find ways to stand out beyond your customer service efforts, too. Take 15 minutes with your team to brainstorm strategies that make your product or brand memorable, with an added bonus for “feel good” touches. Even if you’re only allowing curb-side pick-ups, consider putting out a small hot apple cider to warm up your customers. Include a hand-written note on the bag for the personal touch. Or, tuck a little freebie like a candy cane or chocolate into the order.

Earn a loyal following

Building your brand is about more than just awareness. You want to earn your customers’ loyalty. Think about ways you can inspire your customers to not only return for more of your product or services, but also recommend you to their friends, family, and colleagues.

Tap into what matters. For example, if your customers value their local shops, find ways to reinforce this like giving them a branded reusable shopping bag. Remember your customers’ names and listen when they tell you about their lives. Recalling their order or their children’s names will go a long way to making them feel special. Encourage repeat customers with VIP offers or discounts. Positive interactions are an incredibly powerful advertisement for your business.

There are many challenges facing small businesses as we roll into 2021, but there’s no shortage of pathways to success. Customers want what they’ve always wanted—fast and easy ordering, a pleasant experience, and a personal touch. COVID-19 has caused notable changes in the shopping experience, but good service is always appreciated, even from six feet away.

Small business financing Canada ,Management

5 ideas for stimulating sales through this pandemic winter

For Canadian small business owners, the approach of winter without a COVID vaccine holds some uncertainty. Businesses that have managed to adapt and pivot during the first stages of the pandemic face another slow season—this is especially true for those in areas retreating back into stage 2 restrictions. With more time at home, people appear to be spending more time on social media, particularly on YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (Facebook has always had strong usage rates.) Whether it’s to connect with friends and family virtually, to search for jobs, or to enjoy online diversions, it’s clear Canadians are taking to social media. This is an opportunity for Canadian small business owners. Here are 5 fresh ideas to connect with buyers, increase awareness of the business and products/services, and deepen loyalty using social media.

#1. Make ‘em laugh

Canadians are under a tremendous amount of pressure. If you can engage your followers in a fun or funny way, you’ll have a good chance of not only keeping their attention but also leaving them with a positive feeling about your company. Skip cold corporate speak if favour of messaging with a light and relatable tone. Puns and in-jokes are great but make sure your humour is relatable and uncontroversial. 

#2. Run a contest 

Who doesn’t like the chance to win something? Engage your audience with a contest like this one by SAOR Studio that’s helping its members to stick to their exercise regime with a workout bingo. The game is proving to be almost as much fun as a night out at the bingo hall—members are even posting their progress on social media. The big prize? Complete a line and receive 15% off on gym merchandise—a win-win.

3. Use livestreams

Nothing stops the runway for Canadian fashion brand Miik. Using Instagram and Facebook Live, the Toronto-based clothier has taken the catwalk digital and now customers can tune in for virtual viewings and Q&As with the owners. Borrow this strategy to host industry “shows'' or to launch new products.

4. Post often

Even if you’re open for foot traffic, people are increasingly hesitant to be out and about, so posting regularly is more important than ever. Get creative with your content so you don’t give your customers social media fatigue. Consider the Halifax Thunderbirds. While this Canadian lacrosse team is side-lined, they’re keeping their audience entertained and engaged with squad news, fan pictures, and anecdotes from past matches. 

The National Ballet of Canada is taking a similar tack by sharing behind-the-scenes posts of dancers in their homes and offering free, live virtual ballet classes and performances. The same strategy that works for athletes and performers can build relationships with retailers. Edmonton-based New Classics uses their Instagram to showcase their ethically crafted and environmentally conscious slow fashion items so customers can window shop from their couch before ordering online.

5. Be inspiring

Tone is everything and these days Canadians are looking for brands that make them feel good. Search out and post thoughtful and inspirational (but not saccharine) statements and ideas that show off your brand voice. Take for example, Mail Chimp, the marketing platform. They’ve peppered their feed with lovely, simple animations with positive, encouraging phrases like "It feels good to put something back into the world" and "Making the most of it sometimes requires a little something extra." Choose statements that are in line with your brand voice and couch them in your own design.

Canadian small businesses needn’t fear the coming cold months. With the right social media strategy and outreach, they can meet their customers where they are—in their comfy clothes, at home.

Marketing

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