This article is sponsored by the Ottawa Board of Trade.
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
Our current situation is as far from “business as usual” as one could have imagined. Our economy is facing what is known as a K-shaped recovery in which some businesses will rebound more quickly than others that have been more affected by the countermeasures to the pandemic – namely smaller businesses and those in the hardest-hit sectors.
Throughout this last year we have witnessed the ingenuity and resilience of many businesses. Not one has escaped the need to shift their financial, marketing and operational plans. Each one has had to mitigate the impacts of uncertainty, workforce well-being and some form of stress.
However, there is hope on the horizon. The rollout of the vaccines combined with our ability to leverage many lessons learned and emerging opportunities will win the day. Now is the time to get prepared for when the economy reopens fully so we can hit the ground running, support our local economy and get growing.
- Commit to safety first. Many businesses have invested heavily in new equipment, staff training and implementing recommended protocols to ensure the safety of their customers, employees and families. The changing landscape requires a continued review of the standards, best practices and emerging opportunities. Ottawa Public Health has been diligent in providing information and offering workshops. The current reopening framework is based largely on population vaccines. Set the example by getting yours and looking for ways to encourage your employees and those in your network to do the same. Meanwhile, also consider participating in the newly launched “Rapid Screening Initiative” to identify asymptomatic carriers in the workplace. Our governments are offering them for free as another layer to protection to keep your employees safe and keep the economy open.
- Make the POST Promise. While we prepare to reopen fully, the key to success will be increasing economic activity and the willingness of everyone to re-engage. We need to inspire business, consumer and workforce confidence. Responsible businesses that have done everything right in terms of safety protocols can declare their commitment by participating in a Canada-wide program to show that your business is a safe place to be. The POST Promise (People Outside Safely Together) has been adopted by some of the leading business organizations across our country and we are preparing for the reopening of our local and national economy by inviting businesses to be involved. We believe the need to proactively declare your business as committed to health and safety will be a competitive edge moving forward.
- Tell your story. The last year has revealed many fault lines in our systems that can be addressed as we begin to recover and rebuild. We all have an opportunity to shape our community with our business practices and consumer spending. Customers are looking for ways to support local, sustainable and inclusive businesses. In addition to building your brand and promoting your products and services, look for ways to tell the story of your business, your team and your purpose to attract customers that resonate with your values, will be loyal and become your raving fan.
- Build your network. We invite you to become a member of the Ottawa Board of Trade as a way to affordably access resources, promote your business and influence the policies and programs that will create a competitive business environment in which you can thrive. We have been advocating on your behalf at all levels of government and represent your interests with local stakeholders and decision makers. In addition, we actively look for ways to build your business, save you money and support your teams. We are independent, non-partisan, member-driven with a provincial and national network of business leaders. Join us today and together we will shape the Ottawa of tomorrow.
Congratulations and thank you to all the business and community leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to the growth of our economy. We have many challenges and opportunities ahead of us to make Ottawa the greatest capital city in the world. And together, we will.
Sueling Ching is the president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade