How small businesses can adapt to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is scary. There is a sense of uncertainty in the markets, and we do not know how this will all turn out. Most of us are practicing social distancing, and in doing so, we have isolated ourselves from family, friends, coworkers and consumers. Small business makes up the majority of businesses globally, and I am sure we are all worried.

As a design lab, Stradea thought, why not do what we do to help as many people as we can. Let’s share our thoughts and see if it can help all other businesses. It is tough to adjust and adapt to a new norm, but it also allows us to evolve and try new things.

We built this page with a few intentions in mind.
  1. Share things businesses can do to adjust to the new remote work lifestyle.
  2. Provide sourced and validated information on the COVID-19 virus.
  3. Offer support resources for businesses and offer access to free training.
  4. Offer up some Stradea resources to help businesses during this change.
  5. Allow others to ask questions.


Here are a few things businesses can do to adapt to the social distancing initiative. For most of us, we are now 2 weeks into our self-isolation, however, many organizations are just starting. So some of these steps may be a review.

Implement a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available. Often, working from home produces greater results from team performance. Find solutions for communications: web conference/share screens, slack channels, WhatsApp or email are all great options. The goal is to find what each team member is responsible for completing. Then, finding a way for everyone to keep in touch and collaborate on achieving their goals.

Try to keep opportunities for exposure to the virus to a minimum. Virtual meetings are a great solution. But let’s be a bit more creative. Why not have your team give clever names to rooms to host your meetings. For example, here at my home office, I’ve designated 4 areas of my home for office spaces. Each office is named after a Game of Thrones House or area. Everyone has a favourite. My wife’s company uses constellations. Fun fact, I actually created an asterism for my wife as my wedding gift (we even consulted with NASA on some of the details). When it came time to choosing their constellations, they didn’t even consider our 9-star asterism. Talk about missed opportunities.

Still, find a way of engaging with your team for this and give them an opportunity to contribute.

People will not remember what you did for them, but they will remember how you made them feel. In a time like this, being genuine counts more than anything else. It has always been our number 1 goal when we create a marketing campaign. Be genuine.

Let your customers know how you’re going to support them, offer them a helping hand, make sure they are doing ok. We are not saying give away free services, but find a way to help. Let them know how things changed, how you’re adjusting, and how you can still support them. They say honesty is the best policy. I think that holds true, especially in times like these.

This is a bit of a combination step for numbers 3 and 5. Marketing is crucial at all stages of business. At Stradea, we adopt a flywheel approach. It’s a perpetual cycle of raising awareness, building customer considerations and helping in the decision making process. At all points, we are always helping guide the customer along their journey.

Planning your marketing plan takes time and steps. We’ve included a short guide at the bottom of the page. Have a look. It will guide you on how to manage the current communication debacle and important elements of your marketing plan. We specialize in building brands, our focus is on brand identity, building inclusive websites with WCAG and AODA compliance and helping businesses plan their strategic focus to include inclusion and equality in all forms. When we focus on our marketing plan, we look at what interests us about our customers, what challenges they are facing, and how we can genuinely help and learn along the way. For us, the learning experience is a great adventure, and you should think of it as the same.

There is now and always will be a place for bricks and mortars. Honestly, we feel that after the pandemic, we will see an effective shift in local support and globalization may have a fundamental shift. But let’s hold off on that thought. Online has been a massive part of commerce over the last decade. Digital media is the largest growing marketing sector in the world and still has so much room to grow.

Something to consider, with everything going online (even faster now), make sure to create inclusive designs and make sure your website is accessible to everyone. In Ontario, we have the AODA, which has a list of requirements on how to make your website accessible. It all stems from the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Every country has it’s own mandates. These mandates help businesses build more interactive and inclusive online experiences for potential consumers. With over 20% of the world with an impairment that impacts their online experience, can businesses afford to neglect these potential customers?

Don’t worry, we’ve included a guide to what’s needed to meet the requirements and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out, we can help to get you set up to meet this new change.

Uncertainty leads to uncertainty. With such an unpredictable time ahead of us, most will become reactionary. However, proactively looking ahead is equally important. We will get through this, all of us. Things will change, but things always change.

Now is the perfect time to plan for the future. Things are a bit slower, but that give you a chance to focus on the things on your list that never have a chance to get done. Plan for the future, begin by reaching out to your customers and getting some feedback. If you need some help, we’d be happy to set up a call. You can have your choice of Office Stark, Office Lannister, Westeros and the Free Cities Conference room or  Design Lab Targaryen.


We’ve found some sourced information to help you receive information during these trying times. We’ve included a series of helpful resources (downloads) for you to get started along your new journey. As well, here are links giving you information on resources for businesses through the Canadian Government and some free training for you and staff.

Business Marketing Starter Pack

Canadian COVID-19 Support Resources

The business community globally, in Canada, and Ontario is being impacted by COVID-19. In response, both the Canadian and the Ontario Governments have announced support for the business community during this pandemic. For more information, please visit the following: 

Government of Canada: Economic Response Plan: Support for Businesses

Employment and Social Development Canada: Employment Insurance

Trade Commissioner Services: Resources for Canadian Businesses

Business Development Bank of Canada: Entrepreneurs impact support caused by COVID-19

Export Development Canada (EDC): support for Canadian exporters impacted by COVID-19

FedDev Ontario: Support for Tourism Operators and Small-Medium Businesses or Organizations


LinkedIn Learning has unlocked 16 learning courses for free, which are geared toward working from home. Now is the perfect time to try these lessons out and inspire your WFH lifestyle.

If you don’t have a CRM, now is the time to learn and implement one. We use HubSpot, and we LOVE IT! They offer free training on their software before purchase and a low cost to entry.

Free Shopify training will help you build and grow a profitable business. Academy topics include starting your online store, promoting it via social media, photography, and more.

Hootsuite Academy – In addition to their free services, Hootsuite offers several courses and certifications that will help you succeed with social media. Try a lesson today.

Google has a ton of free training and now they offer even more free training, tools, and events to help you grow your skills, career, or business. Have a view of grow.

Insights. Ideas. Inspiration. Take your marketing further with Google. They are the largest purveyors of information online, so you know they know a lot.

Bite-sized lessons to better your business. Google Primer is a free mobile app that offers quick, easy-to-understand lessons to help business owners grow skills .

Hootsuite, a software that many of us use to manage our social media accounts, is giving free access to Hootsuite Professional plan until July 1st, 2020