By Jen Gendron, Owner, Lifestyles Health & Wellness Centre
As we move in to our fourth month of dealing with the pandemic that has swept the world, taking lives & grinding this entire country to a halt, we are slowly beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The spread of this disease is finally slowing and businesses are now able to reopen gradually. Many people are starting to feel like it is “business as usual” but sadly, for many small businesses, while the doors may be opening, behind the scenes there is chaos as the recovery process begins. Just like recovering from the disease is a slow & difficult journey, so will be the recovery for the small businesses that have been most impacted by this situation. Sadly, many small businesses will be “casualties” of this pandemic.
As a small business owner, this new phase we are moving in to is an exciting one that we have been anxiously awaiting for months, however, it is also a terrifying one filled with many unknowns. After facing three months of closure, a loss of 75% of our membership and revenues, and the high costs associated with the changes needed to reopen, this is a difficult & uncertain time to say the least. While many have supported us faithfully throughout this crisis, others have decided to make other arrangements. Many people feel that it is “business as usual” now that we have the go ahead to reopen. That we have received government handouts to get us through but the truth is, we have struggled every step of the way to do all we can to make it through. As a small, privately owned family business, we do not have a corporate structure to back us up & assist us through this situation – the pressure & cost has landed squarely on my shoulders. It has been an incredibly emotional & stressful time as a solo business owner, having to make the gut wrenching decision to lay off staff that I love as family and now, having to hire them back with reduced hours and benefits, asking them to stand by me with no guarantee of what the future will hold; having to reduce the hours we are able to operate & the way we do business, but asking members to continue to support us; having to find ways to juggle payments & loans, deferring all that we can but knowing that somehow, it will need to be repaid & that we are only prolonging the debt that we must carry; and struggling to find ways to get by as we work hard to rebuild all the we have lost & stand to lose going forward.
While I know there will be many small businesses that will be casualties of the COVID crisis, I want to do all that I can to ensure that Lifestyles isn’t one of them. I am blessed with a team that has stood strong and is willing to ride out this storm, with a family who has jumped in to do whatever they can to make the changes needed to allow us to reopen, and with a core group of members that has followed us faithfully throughout this entire situation. For those reasons, I am committed to continuing to fight, to searching for ways to reinvent ourselves & find a way to continue operating in this new world we have found ourselves living in. But the truth is, I can only handle so much and I can only ask my team for so much and without the support of this community, our future remains uncertain. While there are times that the hurdles we have in front of us seem impossible to overcome, there are just as many days that I am determined not to let this be the death of us, that I try to take a deep breath and just try to take it one more day at a time with the faith that we will find a way to make it through this.
I share this with you not to invoke fear or pity, but to give you a look behind the scenes at just what kind of a toll this situation is taking on small businesses around the world and right here in our community. It is going to take a community to rebuild from this crisis and in this time of uncertainty, we are very much looking to you for your support & encouragement as we work through this situation that none of us can control. We ask for your patience & understanding in the months to come as we do the very best we can to rebuild & recover as do many other small businesses in this community that we love. We will get there together – one step at a time!