The news headlines are full of doom and gloom stories of businesses shutting their doors, including retailers and restaurants, but don’t be mistaken – entrepreneurship is on the rise. The pandemic has proved that the jobs and employers we once counted on aren’t as reliable as we once thought. As a result, many are using this time to take their future into their own hands, supplement their income, and ensure their long-term security by starting or growing their own businesses. 

This is also true in the Black community. Due to the racial injustice we’ve experienced in 2020, there’s never been more of a concerted effort to support Black businesses, both within and outside our community. There’s also never been more of a focus on “Black Ownership”.

Of course, we’ve always had a rich history of small business, from barber shops and hairdressers to restaurants and catering services. This generation is no different. The internet has inspired a whole new generation of young Black entrepreneurs to start their own businesses as sneaker resellers, merch sellers, drop shippers, artists, artisans, music producers, fashion designers, and sellers of a range of Black and ethnic products.

If you’re one of those entrepreneurs looking to use the current pandemic as your opportunity to take the leap into entrepreneurship or grow your business, here are three tips for starting a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Find a coach or advisor

In 2019, I found a business coach who helped me to level up as an entrepreneur. My business revenue tripled in 2020. In hindsight, if I had found an advisor sooner I would’ve saved myself five years of trial and error. A coach or advisor can save you time and actually accelerate your growth in business.

2. Take advantage of online resources

The internet is full of free and paid resources to help you learn how to start a business. It’s never been easier to learn the ins and outs of business and marketing. In 2020, it’s not hard to find an entrepreneur who bypassed traditional learning methods to level up in business. You can too.

3. Start an online store

Ottawa’s very own Shopify has become the go-to e-commerce platform but for some people creating an online store still feels daunting. As I said before, with COVID and the widespread desire to support Black businesses, there’s never been a better time to start a business. Shopify has made the barrier of entry a lot smaller for new business owners and made the transition to going online a lot easier for more experienced entrepreneurs.

So, what’s next?

If you’re looking for 1, 2 or 3, you can find them all in one place – Invest Ottawa’s new Digital Main St. program. To help promote Black entrepreneurship in Ottawa during COVID-19, SHIFTER is partnering with Invest Ottawa to bring this well-needed program to our community. This groundbreaking program includes:

  • Free access to a digital marketing team
  • Free online learning resources
  • Free Shopify website design

Through Digital Main St. you gain a personal business advisor, as well as access to your own mini–marketing agency. They will also help you implement a new digital marketing strategy for your business, create digital ads, and develop high–end photos and videos of your business, as well as help you set up your new online store. And again, it’s all free.

Click here for more information or to apply.

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