Private growth companies: Lessons learned from surviving the pandemic

Watch the full recorded broadcast above.

Private businesses are a vital part of the Canadian economy. They create jobs, improve local communities, and fuel innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the deepest, albeit shortest, recession in Canada's history and Canadian small and medium sized enterprises have been profoundly impacted. These businesses have responded by adapting, innovating, and targeting emerging trends to capitalize on. The decisions these companies have made during the recovery period are critical for sustained growth and long-term stability – not only for themselves, but for the Canadian economy as a whole.

On Thursday, January 28 we were joined by Eric Morse, Executive Director, Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship; Debbie Fung, Co-founder, Yoga Tree Studios; and Adam Hill, Founder and Executive Chairman, LGM Financial. Together we discussed how the pandemic has impacted Canadian private business, what it will take to get back to growth, lessons learned along the way, and the overall importance of private growth companies to Canada’s economic recovery.

Key webinar content

Core topics

  • A view of the current business landscape in Canada for small-to-mid-sized enterprises
  • The importance of government subsidies and rent relief programs
  • Some pandemic challenges private growth business face and how they’re choosing to manage through them
  • Signs of optimism and an outlook for 2021
  • Unforeseen consumer demand changes resulting from the disruption caused by COVID-19
  • Acutely listening to what customers now want
  • How to “build back better”
  • Practical lessons learned throughout the pandemic
  • Will all businesses need to incorporate some sort of virtual/online-based revenue stream?
  • Ideas on what a reasonable system of support for private business could look like for the first six months of 2021
  • One-line slogans to describe 2021

Memorable quotes

“We’ve been fortunate in Canada. I think the government was quick to act, they rolled out a number of programs around rent, employment, debt programs, so we’ve seen less bankruptcies and insolvencies than our neighbours to the south and many countries around the world.” – Eric Morse

“We will have been closed for more days in 2020 than we’ve been open.” – Debbie Fung

“We definitely have tightened the belt and made the best of available subsidies, which I'm very grateful for. As an aside, I noticed people sometimes not always following the stay at home requirements and people have said, “why are you a bit of a stickler on this? Why aren’t you, you know, doing something in your own backyard – even small?” And I said, you know what? I got a $1.5 million handout from the government for my business so I don't think I should be. We’re following the protocols as best we can, especially when we've been able to get the help that we needed. Without the help I'm not sure that we would be in a position to have this conversation, to be quite honest.

“When health matters, when the government's giving me a hand and saying this is what we want you to do – you know better. I’ve got to do that right and I’m going to lead by example.” – Adam Hill

“Businesses are doing things today the would never have imagined … how do we hang onto those things that we’ve developed and leverage them effectively? I think, with few exceptions, everybody will be looking at an online presence and hopefully an online production capability.” – Eric Morse

Additional reading

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about Canadian SMEs, BDC
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for businesses
Canada needs more growth-oriented small businesses: report, Investment Executive


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About The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School
The Ivey Academy at Ivey Business School is the home for executive Learning and Development (L&D) in Canada. It is Canada’s only full-service L&D house, blending Financial Times top-ranked university-based executive education with talent assessment, instructional design and strategy, and behaviour change sustainment. 

Rooted in Ivey Business School’s real-world leadership approach, The Ivey Academy is a place where professionals come to get better, to break old habits and establish new ones, to practice, to change, to obtain coaching and support, and to join a powerful peer network. Follow The Ivey Academy on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Associated Faculty

Eric Morse

Eric Morse

Professor, Entrepreneurship