A year ago, no one would have imagined a pandemic in 2020 that would trigger a global crisis and wholesale changes around the world. Yet, despite many business owners grappling with devastating impacts of COVID-19, others discovered new opportunities by quickly identifying (or spotting) a whole new set of consumer behaviors and demands.
Among them are many diverse Canadian suppliers—often known for creativity and innovation in the best of times—that tapped into these strengths to rapidly pivot their businesses in the worst of times, allowing them to not only survive but, in some cases, also thrive.
A perfect example is Jennifer Beale, joint venture strategist, Find Joint Ventures™, whose event production company hosts several very large events every year. Beale’s company evaporated overnight in March 2020. She immediately booked appointments with clients and close associates in the wide business network she had cultivated over the years to check on how they were doing. Then she started helping anyone in her network who would let her by connecting them to people who needed their products or services. They agreed to pay her a referral fee for anyone who hired them. The approach is working, with every-one benefiting.
“I have been receiving referral fees for providing qualified clients for many years,” Beale says. “It’s something I was doing on the side. My entire career I’ve been a rainmaker. I get paid based on results, so I am wired to get results.”
During the pandemic, she learned it’s a practical skill that can be used in any economy. “All anyone has to do is recognize how the money is moving in the economy and help businesses that are doing well get more clients,” she says.
Beale started the 10 Percent Referral Club this spring. Members agree to pay each other a referral fee of 10 percent or greater for any referrals that become clients. “I also started the Find Joint Ventures Club to help people learn how to run a business entirely by brokering these types of deals,” she notes, adding that members of her clubs have participated in deals this year worth millions. “Many of them are tapping into thriving industries. We get inspiration and encouragement from one another. And we help each other make money.”
RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING IS A MUST
Although Beale’s revenues are down, her profit is actually up because of lower overheads in her new leaner business model. She encourages others to quickly let go of any business models that are not suitable for a given time. “Put time and effort into building relationships with business people who care about your success,” she recommends. “Join business groups of like-minded people. And if you cannot find one, create one and help others. The key to success is to help others succeed.”
Although many Canadian businesses are also taking advantage of the various government support programs and are appreciative of some financial relief, those who are faring best are being innovative and, in many cases, pursuing partnerships to weather the storm. As Beale puts it, “Being creative is the antidote to fear. I’ve learned that it’s possible to make money in any economy.”
From product manufacturers to service providers, these diverse entrepreneurs rose to the truly unprecedented challenges that a pandemic brings, shifting what they do and demonstrating that flexibility and ingenuity can carry their businesses. A number of them are giving back to other companies or their communities in truly laudable ways, such as by donating face masks.