Early in the pandemic, I joined a roundtable call to listen to 100 small- and medium-sized companies talk about what they were going through. The call also included several organizations wanting to help Canadian companies navigate the COVID-19 crisis and economic fallout. 

I was truly moved by their stories, which ranged from reaching for new opportunities to falling into despair. It struck me that despite being in the same rocky boat, each company was facing its own unique set of challenges. Some were quickly pivoting in new directions, changing their product lines or their scope of business. Others had less flexibility and were trying to ride out the pandemic by streamlining operations or cutting costs. Many others simply felt stuck, unsure about what to do next. 

But there was one recurring theme: Whether you’re past the chaos or still in it, there comes a point where you need to map out a plan of how your company is going to survive, adapt, and recover. And that ranges from tweaking your business operations to doing a full pivot.

Around that same time, EDC Export Help Hub was receiving lots of questions from companies about financing help and continuity planning during the pandemic. 

Together, these insights told us that business owners could only get so far with a one-size-fits-all template. What they really needed was a strategy toolkit—a canvas they could customize for their specific business model. To meet those needs, EDC’s Business Pivot Playbook was developed. 

How to get your game on

With the free Business Pivot Playbook, you can figure out and maximize your company’s potential. 

For example, some restaurants started delivering groceries when they were forced to close. Once they were allowed to reopen, they wondered if they should go back to restaurant service or change their business models, leveraging those short-term changes over the long term. 

There’s no one right answer for every business and that’s why filling in the canvas can help you understand your business better and become more proactive with your business strategy.

See the big picture

Many startups are used to working with a canvas format, but don’t worry if you’re new to it—there’s no experience required. When you download the Business Pivot Playbook, you’ll find there’s a very thorough, step-by-step guide to filling out the canvas template, with questions, resources and prompts to help you. 

We’ve also provided a sample canvas, so you can see what the process and finished product look like. If you don’t know some of the answers, there’s free access to EDC’s expert advice and the COVID-19 Business Recovery and Resilience Guide

You should get all of the major decision-makers in your business—unless you’re a one-person operation—to participate. 

You can fill out the canvas online or print it out and have it enlarged to hang on your wall with stickies that you can move around. The playbook will help you create an actionable strategy fully tailored to your business, prompting you to ask the right questions about your company’s current situation, its potential, your customers and competitors, and more. Once complete, you’ll have an actionable plan to pivot your business or just make improvements. 

What makes the canvas especially powerful is that it gives you the big picture. It’s a living document that helps determine your priorities, make decisions and seize opportunities, so you can review and update it regularly. 

Ready to build your Business Pivot Canvas?

The Business Pivot Playbook and the enclosed canvas template are free, so what are you waiting for? You can access it through your MyEDC account. If you don’t have an account yet, create one. I should mention that the free MyEDC account also gives you one-click access to a whole library of free EDC resources, including market insights, live and on-demand webinars, and interactive tools to help your business succeed in Canada and abroad.