Somewhere in Toronto, a family-owned café serves its final customer, preparing to shut its doors indefinitely. Just across the border in New York, a salon owner wonders how she will make her next $6,000 rent payment.
While the definition of the ‘new normal’ continues to evolve every day, for many the future is as uncertain as ever. Despite lockdown restrictions lifting in some areas, sales remain low as shoppers spend only on basic necessities. All around us, small business owners are struggling to pay rent, plan for their families and themselves comfortably, keep their employees, and return to pre-pandemic levels of income.
In challenging times, it is often critical to look through a lens of empathy. In doing so, we see that these individuals are so much more than “just” small business owners; they are members of our communities with families to support. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members, and our customers. And right now, they are overwhelmed with the possibility of losing their livelihood and for many, losing their dream.
Insurance was born out of the spirit of community, where the burden of one was shared by many with the intention to support each other and protect each other’s wellbeing in times of hardship. So, in these difficult moments we ask, “How might we come together to support the small business owners in our community?”
In April, we asked this question at our first virtual co-creation sprint, “Innovating to Save Community Businesses During COVID-19“. Innovators from across the Americas collaborated for 4 afternoons to develop a solution to this shared challenge. To accomplish this, we began by empathizing with small business owners in Canada, the US, and Bermuda through virtual interviews.
The interviews gave us incredible insight into the challenges they were facing, and many tears were shed during the conversations. We understood the fear and anxiety that our community members experience every day, and how painful this experience is for them.
After the interviews, one of our innovators was able to put into words what our entire team felt. She said, “This was a reality check. People’s dreams are being put on hold and there is a lot of uncertainty for them as business owners.”
Over the course of the project, we deliberated over many potential ways we could provide support in these difficult times. Our team came up with 70 ideas, and 1 MVP later, the concept of Back to Business was born!
So, what is Back to Business?
It is a solution to assist small business owners in preparing to return #BackToBusiness. We understand that many owners seek vital information to develop their reopening strategy, such as financial planning, marketing, and insurance coverage. As an industry, we will stand by our small business owners and provide access to experts on these topics and more in a 2-day virtual summit. To provide support to as many business owners as possible, we will make the information accessible across the Americas at no cost, truly from the core of supporting the community.
As an industry, we will come together to show our community that we care about them, that we are here for them in times of hardship.
We will reach out to the family in Toronto and the salon owner in New York. We will support them in recovering from recent business interruptions. We will provide access to resources to help bring them peace of mind in these difficult times.
This is our community and we will show up for them.
Who do you know that wants to show up and support the community?
To become a Back to Business Partner and play your part, click here.