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Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship

Kelsey Ramsden's Advice for Entrepreneurs during COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020

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As the economic impact of COVID-19 starts to take its toll, Ivey Entrepreneur, and two-time Canada's Top Female Entrepreneur of the Year, Kelsey Ramsden, MBA '04, shared her insights on how entrepreneurs should approach the current situation.


1. Understand and manage your CASH.

Get a damn good handle on your outflows. Which are optional and which are essential ? Create a 12 month cash flow under worst case scenario circumstances and then break down what levers you can pull - what costs do you control and what can you affect?

2. Check your ego at the door and negotiate your pants off

Pride will kill your business right now. Develop a clear understanding of what financial help you will need, and get on the phone and ask for it. Call your banker - get extensions, changes to ratios on lending, lower rates. The big Canadian banks have just announced payment holidays on mortgages - get out any extension on capital that you can. Ditto for suppliers and landlords. They may all say no, but some might say yes, allowing you more flexibility to manage your cash.

3. Look for alternate sources of income.

If you have a gym - sell online training to your clients. If you have a spa - offer to teach women how to do facial massage to eliminate the signs of aging. Why not use those email lists that you have and offer people stuck at home access to your services? If you have a restaurant - think of ways to guerrilla market your amazing takeout. Get creative and think in terms of opportunities, not limits right now.

4. Partner

Think about who else in business can your business support? I just got an email from a woman who has a monthly subscription box business serving kids - orders are surging because so many families are at home looking for something to do with school age kids at home for weeks on end. She has seen the opportunity to access other people lists and offer an affiliate program to others who want to do mail outs to their lists for her business.  Who can you partner with to create a new stream of income ? This can either be by you helping them or them helping you.

5. Get in line

Government grants, programs, stimuli will likely be assessed and accessed on a first come and first served basis - so get your paperwork and assessment together. Now. Stay in tune with government programs as they roll out and get to the front of the line by applying early.

6. Be honest!

Communicate your plan to your staff and supply chain. No one wants any surprises and everyone is essentially in the same boat. If you see something coming – alert your stakeholders, so that you can all prepare together. Ensure you communicate clearly and understand government requirements and regulations. Do your best to be open and honest with everyone involved and you will build trust…..and we all know that business moves at the speed of trust.