Over the past six months, retailers and entrepreneurs have had to quickly pivot their business models or transform their operations to continue serving their communities and reach customers. As of mid-September, an estimated 30% of all Canadian small businesses remained closed, and with the current pace of recovery, it could take almost a year and a half for most small businesses to return to normal sales.
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has led the celebration of Small Business Week for 40 years, in support of Canadian entrepreneurs and their contribution to Canada's culture and economy. To help kick off this year’s event, we’re sharing how Canadian small businesses have used Google tools to get started online and grow their presence, for free.
Step 1: Get started online for free
Teatro Verde is a florist in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. Over the past 24 years, they’ve established a loyal customer base but the pandemic had an immediate impact on the company’s staff and supply chain, and they needed new ways to serve customers fast. Through the ShopHERE powered by Google program, owners Shawn Gibson and Michael Pellegrino were able to quickly set up an online store for free and promote new services for shopping in-person or online via delivery and curbside pickup.
“We are a very high-touch business and have a distinct in-store environment, and we wanted to bring that online. The images on our website have really helped people visualize our products,” Gibson said. “ShopHERE is an amazing way to help develop your business for free especially if you don’t have a lot of time.”
For small businesses looking to get set up online, apply here.
Step 2: Build your customer base
While the pandemic has brought many challenges, it has also opened up opportunities for businesses to find new audiences online. To make local businesses more discoverable, we have launched the Local Opportunity Finder tool. Enter the name of your business and we will provide customized suggestions on how to improve your presence on Google Search and Maps in under five minutes.
New Google My Business features are also helping businesses organize appointments and keep track of customer flow. Saint Lou’s Barbershop has fostered casual, community connections in Halifax, N.S. for years. But when the pandemic hit, they quickly needed to shift their walk-in-only business model to a more organized, appointment-based system for physical distancing and customer safety. Owner Rob Oxner quickly implemented the “book online” feature on Saint Lou’s Google My Business profile, and says most customers now book appointments online.
We’ve also made it free to list your products on the Google Shopping tab, so businesses can connect with millions of online shoppers actively searching for their products. Carmen and Jordan West from Abbotsford, B.C., are the duo behind family and baby clothing line Little & Lively. This year, they’ve seen sales increase as more people shop online and turn to “retail therapy.” The couple call Google Shopping their “magic bullet” for eCommerce, allowing them to reach people actively searching for their products.
Step 3: Stay connected and organized
With the rise of remote working in March, many companies turned to digital tools and cloud technology to stay organized and connected or to meet new demands. Burnaby, B.C., business One Arrow Meats is one of those companies. Cree-Métis chef and entrepreneur Heat Laliberte’s hand-cured artisan bacon is a staple at Vancouver-area restaurants, farmers markets and grocery stores. Orders have quadrupled during the pandemic and Laliberte quickly needed to find ways to delegate some of his day-to-day responsibilities across the team. They turned to Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite), with collaborative tools like Google Calendar, Drive and Meet to help team members stay connected.
Say it with a review: A simple way to support Canadian businesses
Reviews on Google provide valuable information about your business to customers, and can help your business stand out on Google. This year, we’re challenging all Canadians to help small businesses near them by rating their favourite businesses and writing a Google review. These reviews help people research and understand businesses around them, and learn from other people’s customer experiences. This is especially important during the pandemic, as consumers consolidate shopping trips and seek more information around safety protocols. Research has found that positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to choose a business.
Learn more about how you can give help this Small Business Week here.