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Community Futures Beaver River

Box 2678, 106 - 1st Street East, Meadow Lake, SK - Phone: (306) 236-4422

Image Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Paul Austringr

July 2020 Newsletter

  • July 2, 2020
  • Written by Beaver River Admin

The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business

new normal

Dealing With Now and Preparing for the New Normal

Canada is a big country and province by province and even region by region, businesses are experiencing various levels of disruption. Out on the far west coast, Vancouver Island hasn't had a new confirmed case of COVID-19 in several weeks, while Ontario is still on the front lines fighting this dreadful virus. This means some businesses are beginning to open up while others are struggling to survive.

One thing is for certain, how you as a business owner, handle the next few months will determine whether you survive or perish. Here are a few thoughts to hopefully get you on the right track.

Be realistic. Imagine what your new normal is going to look like and be ready for it. Here's the story of two hospitality businesses, one a large coffee shop that serves food and the other an Italian restaurant specializing in gourmet pizzas. They are both in a region that is lucky enough to have flattened the curve and are witnessing an easing of restrictions. Both were popular pre the pandemic. The coffee shop initially closed completely. It then reopened half the shop to create a social distancing line-up for ordering. It also closed the restrooms completely. Patrons can currently "enjoy" their coffee outside at a few tables that adhere to social distancing parameters. Their business is on life-support. They are to be applauded for doing everything they can to provide a limited service, but could their response have been a little more imaginative?

The Italian restaurant which had not previously offered a delivery service because the owner felt the quality of its special pizzas would suffer on their journey to a customer's home, researched the best way to sustain quality and safety, and began delivery service. They were overwhelmed with orders. For a few weeks they were forced to close their in-house dining but they didn't wallow in misery, they set to work on a plan to adapt to the new normal. As soon as restrictions were eased, they reopened with a completely new layout respecting the social distancing mores that are fast becoming the new norm. The "new" restaurant turned all tables into high sided booths which were adequately spaced. They introduced touchless menus, and new cleaning protocols keeping both customers and servers safe. What's amazing is that the newly revamped restaurant has an even better atmosphere, while the safety measures introduced are unobtrusive. The restaurant, even with reduced seating and time-limited dining, is busier and doing better than it was pre-COVID. A realistic but imaginative approach means they will survive. As for the coffee shop? Who knows?

Identify new and changing customer needs. People talk about the new normal; soon they will be talking about normal. Things are not magically going return to the way they were pre-COVID. We have all changed. Our needs have changed. More of us work from home. More of us order online. Fewer of us eat out at restaurants. We spend less time window-shopping; we know what we want, we go into a store pick it up and leave. Impulse shopping has taken a hit. Whole industries have new ways of working which means their needs are changing. What does all this mean to your business? Take some time and put yourself in your customer's shoes. Try to see the world through their eyes and adapt your business to meet those needs. If you try to restart your business as if COVID was just a temporary blip, you might find yourself struggling to be relevant.

Seek new opportunities. There is often a silver lining during times like these, if we are prepared to look for it. This may be tough, and much will depend on the type of business you are in, but carry out a brainstorming session with your team and see if there is anything proactive you can do to that might take you in a new direction or expand your range of products and services.

Create a preparedness plan. What happens if and when the second, or third wave hits? Do you know how you are going to handle it? These are tough times, and it's very likely there will be more of them coming down the line. Taking some time now to figure out what your response will be to a re-occurrence of this virus, or heaven forbid another disaster will help you survive and maybe even prosper.

Be honest and upfront. Lastly, be open with your staff, your customers, your bank, your investors, and ultimately with yourself.

Remember, we are all in this together. You will be surprised at the level of support you will get if you reach out and talk to people. Pessimists are usually successful at proving themselves right. Remember, however, that the same is true of optimists. You have a choice, sit back and wait for all this to be over and see if your business survives, or use your imagination and identify the hidden opportunities. It's your choice; coffee or pizza?


To paraphrase Peter Drucker, you can either meet or you can work, you can't do both. That may be stretching it a little, but it's not that far from the truth. At least where the majority of those in attendance is concerned.

Meetings, especially those held virtually have come into sharp focus recently given that there seems to be more of them happening as people are required to work from home. Meetings can sometimes be a curse to productivity. Many people hate them. It has been discovered that people often suffer from a meeting hangover, where their productivity drops significantly for the few hours after a meeting.

The problem with most meetings is that people don't find them productive. Or for that matter enjoyable or rewarding. What is interesting is that when surveyed, the attendees who found a meeting most useful were those who talked the most, or of course organized and led the meeting. The others may not even be paying attention for much of the time. One survey discovered that almost three-quarters of people in a meeting are doing other work surreptitiously. Sure, they may look as if they are taking notes but in reality they are answering emails, or writing a report. This is exacerbated during virtual meetings.

Whole books have been written on effective meetings, and there are webinars solely on creating an agenda but in this article we'll touch on a few things that you can do, with little effort, to make your meetings more efficient and productive.

The Reason

First things first. Ask yourself, "Why am I calling this meeting? What do I want to achieve?" This sounds obvious but the vast majority of meetings are held where there is no precise expected outcome. Think of regular weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings (catch-up meetings). They happen because, well, they always do. Before you call a meeting, consider your goal and break that goal down into objectives. List them and at the end of the meeting check off what you achieved. Basically, hold yourself accountable. Meetings should focus on outcomes.

The Right People

A big mistake people make when calling a meeting is to invite too many people. Or at least the wrong people. Once you know why you are calling the meeting and what it is you want to achieve, consider carefully who can help you meet those objectives. Remember, people get bored if they are not involved, or they feel out of their depth, or irrelevant. And, it's a big mistake to invite people just because of their seniority. They are usually busy and taking them away from their work is counter-productive.

The Agenda

Once you know your overarching goal and objectives, create an agenda that covers all the points you need to discuss to allow you to meet those objectives. Be as specific as possible. Avoid being vague, "Discuss rebranding" is not as good as "Create a team for the rebranding project."

An agenda sets up expectations and allows those attending to come prepared. It also keeps you and them on track. Your agenda should have set start and end times. You should also allocate an amount of time for each item. If you don't, then automatically whatever comes earlier will get more attention than items that come later which will inevitably be rushed.

The Voices

In most meetings the originator of the meeting, or the leader talks most. Think about the common sense of that for a second. You know what you know. You need to know what you don't know. You need to know what they know! Your job is to guide and listen, not pontificate. People hate meetings either because they deem them a waste of time, irrelevant, and boring, or they feel they don't have a voice. It is your job to ensure that every single person in the meeting contributes. Otherwise, why did you invite them? As an added bonus, once people know their voice will be heard, their input valued, and that they will be expected to make a valid contribution, they will come prepared and will hopefully pay attention to the proceedings rather than work on those emails.

Giving a little thought in advance to a meeting will make it more productive whether it's in person or virtual.


Coach's Corner - What's Your Filter Question?

"A mission statement is a written declaration of an organization's core purpose and focus that normally remains unchanged over time." Business Dictionary

A mission statement is a formal summary that explains what you do, how you do it and most importantly why you do it. It is the "why" behind our company or organization. It becomes a mirror that allows us to reflect on and guide our frequent decisions. These decisions will be in accordance with our mission or overarching goal.

When we are faced with a significant decision we should ask ourselves a filter question to ensure we are keeping true to our mission or goal. This can be as simple as taking our mission statement and placing the words, "How is this ...?" in front of it. For example, let's look at what the filter questions for seven well-known companies would look like.

Uber: We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion. How is this igniting opportunity by setting the world in motion?

Google: To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. How is this organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful?

Kickstarter: To help bring creative projects to life. How is this helping to bring creative projects to life?

Tesla: To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. How is this accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy?

TED: Spread Ideas. How is this spreading ideas?

Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. How is this building the best product, causing no unnecessary harm, using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis?

IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people. How is this creating a better everyday life for the many people?

Asking the filter question focuses us on the important things and ensures we are not getting distracted from what we need to be doing to fulfill our mission and reach our specific goals.

What is your mission and your filter question?

"Focus is a matter of deciding what things you're not going to do." John Carmack, computer programmer, video game developer and engineer.

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching

status meetings

peter drucker quote


Beaver River Community Futures Development Corporation
PO Box 2678, 106 1st Street East, Meadow Lake, SK, S9X1Z6
Phone: 306-236-4422 | Fax: 306-236-5818