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Show Notes:

COVID-19 is something we literally all have to deal with, and coincidentally Harpreet Hayer of Coast Capital Savings has 19 years experience helping small businesses to navigate the sea of challenges that are always present. In this episode, I dig in with Harpreet to discuss:

  • How to have a contingency plan before disaster strikes
  • Is it too late to start a contingency plan?
  • How to start a recovery process
  • How to attract and retain talent during and post-pandemic
  • The one thing most small business owners don’t understand about Small Business Banking
  • Harpreet’s top 3 things every small business owner should have in place
  • And much more!

Join us as we talk about all things small business, a passion for both of us!

Show notes:

Connect with Harpreet:

Connect with Elaine:

Get a free chapter from Elaine’s book, Sell Your Passion:

This episode sponsored by Coast Capital Savings. Would you like to have a dedicated small-business relationship manager who knows you and your business? I have banked with Coast Capital the whole time I have had my business, Easy Daysies, and they are member-owned, which means my business is their business! Call 1-888-517-7000 opt. 3 for latest small-biz promotions!

Announcer: 00:00
Welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table. This is where we share tips about business and parenting. Being a mom of three, CEO of the award winning company Easy Daysies, speaker and educator, you're going to learn the tips and secrets of successful and incredible people. Elaine wants you to be inspired, challenged and motivated, and that person you want your kids to grow up to be. This is real talk for real life.

Elaine Tan Comeau:: 00:24
Hi, welcome to Elaine's Kitchen Table where we talk about how to create better. How to create better business how to create better health, better family and better self. And during this COVID time, we've seen businesses, small businesses that had to shut down, businesses that have learned to pivot and succeed through this time. And this episode is focusing right now on navigating small business through a global pandemic. And my guest today I'm so honored to have her. She has 19 years - over 19 years of experience in the financial service industry. She has seen how businesses have been impacted and disruption caused by life events. And I am so honored to have Harpreet Hayer. She is the regional manager of small business banking with Coast Capital Savings. And I am excited and thrilled for her to share her advice and tips with all of us. So here we go.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 01:22
I am just so honored today to have my lovely guest with me. I am a huge fan of knowing your numbers, of partnering with corporations, businesses, partners who help the individual and it's not just about the business, but it's about the people behind the business. And this is why I am so thrilled to have Harpreet Hayer from Coast Capital with us. Harpreet Can you say hello?

Harpreet Hayer: 01:52
Hi, Elaine, thank you so much for having me.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 01:55
I am honored. I'm absolutely honored. So tell us a little bit more about yourself. I know I just introduced you but tell us that you personally.

Harpreet Hayer: 02:05
Well, I love numbers. And that's why I chose a career in banking. I am an enthusiastic volunteer, and charitable organization volunteer. I love to travel, and which has kind of come to a stop right now. But hopefully will resume shortly. So yeah, I'm passionate about what I do.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 02:30
I can tell I can absolutely tell. And I also love that you love to travel. I know that our lives are on pause on on that chapter right now. But what is what is one of the most interesting places you've traveled?

Harpreet Hayer: 02:42
Well, it's also a country that I'm fondly in love with and I keep going back as Costa Rica.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 02:49
Wow, so is it the food the people there?

Harpreet Hayer: 02:54
It's everything. So it's the food the fauna it's, there's a lot of wildlife. There's active volcanoes. The people there are amazing. They're friendly, very, very much like us here in Canada. So it's, they're very inviting. They'll invite you into their home even if they don't know you and offer you dinner. And it's just, and it's just beautiful.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 03:20
Wow. I think I saw somewhere recently I had some trouble show that Costa Rica has immense I'm gonna say different species that other places do not have. So that is very fascinating, because I heard you say fauna.

Harpreet Hayer: 03:39
Well, there's the sloths and I've had I've been mugged by a monkey before and so it's just a lot of fun.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 03:47
Oh my goodness, that can be scary. I was born in a country where monkeys little monkeys are like squirrels here. I was born in Malaysia so it can get dangerous if you think you're gonna feed just that one monkey within like seconds. There's gonna be like 50 of them on you. Like Oh, dear. Have you ever been to Malaysia?

Harpreet Hayer: 04:11
No, I have not but it is on my bucket list.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 04:13
Excellent. Excellent. If you are a foodie, you'd want to go there as well.

Harpreet Hayer: 04:18
Oh, I love Malaysian food. Yes.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 04:20
And speaking of food during this COVID pandemic time Our family has been trying our best to support local. So visiting and ordering from small businesses that are restaurants and just ordering. And do you have a favorite small business restaurant or do you have many?

Harpreet Hayer: 04:43
I have many and I do I even prior to the pandemic I've always stayed away from chains. Because I do I love the customer service you get when you when you go into a little mom and pop and they remember you from last time and sometimes they'll make suggestions. Now it's mostly ordering online. So having built a knowledge of what they offer over the years has been helpful.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 05:10
And what I appreciate that you Harpreet is that you have 19 years of financial expertise working with small business. And you have seen a lot you have seen the impact of, of different derailments of life on small business, and this is why I am thrilled, and I know, my listeners are excited to hear you share your wisdom and your stories. And I just want to start with what we're currently in. So, in working with small business owners during this health crisis right now, what have you learned through this, that if it was to happen again, you can share with us that, you know, this is what I've seen. So let's hear this and be ready.

Harpreet Hayer: 06:00
I think it was what startled me the most. And that was how few small businesses actually had a contingency plan in place for business disruption. And what I mean by contingency is like, whether it's a savings account, or perhaps any type of access to capital. And so few of them had that and when the pandemic hit, it hit fast, and it hit hard. So businesses were seeing a rapid decline in income. However, their expenses hadn't gone away yet. And they also had to try to figure out how to mitigate the government pandemic guidelines. And although we have some really amazing government relief programs available, now, they took a long time to stand up. And in the interim, what I saw was stress, anxiety and fear. And, as you know, being a small business owner yourself, this is somebody's passion, it's their work, life's work. And there are ways to mitigate against that. And going forward, I'm hoping small business owners will utilize the advice and resources that are available to them. And it's just so important to work with a good financial institution and a good relationship manager who understands you, understands your business, and especially now understands the difficulties that you're facing, going through this.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 07:41
Absolutely. And I love that you brought that up that contingency plan. I think this pandemic was a wake up call, right, a wake up call for every business, especially small business. So if we were to set up like right now, it's never too late to plan ahead, right? So if someone was to say, hey, well, I have a small business, how am I supposed to create this contingency? Contingency plan? I'm just trying to stay on top of my current situation. So what should that contingency plan look like?

Harpreet Hayer: 08:16
It would be, it can be as simple as starting a savings account, where you're siphoning off, you know it, and there's no amount that's too small. So it could be as little as $25 a week you put into a savings account, if that's how you have to start, or as easy as adding a business line of credit to your checking account, something that you that costs you nothing if you don't use it, but is there for you in the time of need. And you only pay for what you use. And you know, just there's, there's no cost at setting it up. But it gives you that comfort in knowing that should things not line up, you have access to capital at the drop of a dime.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 09:03
That is excellent. That is such a good reminder. And I actually forgot about that. And I have one. But you were absolutely right, right. Because people are like, Oh, well, I can't, I can't afford to, you know, plan to have three months of savings to fall back on in case something happens. You're right, you can start with as little as $25 a week that you put aside, but setting up a line of credit for business. And you're right, it doesn't cost anything only when you start to use it and that's a wonderful safety net to have absolutely for sure. And so right now, we've been in it for I think is like six months of this and what are some of the current questions you are getting, you and your team are receiving from small businesses that is the current concern now?

Harpreet Hayer: 09:57
A lot of people are have realized that turned to their financial institution for advice is paramount. And that's where they're coming in. They are asking us for a lot of guidance on the various government programs that are available to them. But they're also looking now at how do I start with my recovery process? And how do I start my recovery plan. And that's where we are sitting down with them and looking at putting together a financial plan for them, that works for the size and stage of their company, in terms of sometimes it's a line of credit, sometimes it's putting them with one of our partners, and that can do financial planning and steer them on how to have tax efficient ways of utilizing their small business, banking and investments as well. And so people really want to know how they're going to get out of this, and what they can start doing to overcome the storm.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 11:07
So is there any specific advice that you and your teams are offering to small businesses right now, based on? On all that you're seeing?

Harpreet Hayer: 11:16
Yes, the main one is a lot of people are skittish, or they feel maybe, oh, I think they did something wrong by not having a contingency plan in place in the first place. And the biggest advice is, it's never too late. Come in now. And we can start working with you on how we're going to help recovery in the next three to six months. And then what does six to 18 months look like? This is going to be a long haul, like this is the only time I've suffered something like this in my lifetime. And we you need to have a plan in place. And plans are fluid. So we can change them as situations change. But really having all the knowledge at your hands is, you know, what? How can we help you maybe pivot to virtual services such as, you know, helping them recognize that an online presence might be a good delivery channel for them at this time? And how do they go about collecting payments from their clients? And how do they manage the employee impact, you know, there are a lot of small businesses are going to now have to look at ways to retain and attract talent as well. So you know, there are options available, that we can help look at setting up a benefit plan for you. So that, you know, you are able to successfully attract and retain talent, and, you know, get your business back up and running to where it was before the pandemic.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 13:05
So I love that you mentioned that businesses need to learn to pivot. And, many have thank God and I see that and I speak to a lot of small business owners too. And, just reminding people that, you know, this is a great way to think deeper about your business and how to know and to to share your solution. And for example, businesses that have never gone online or should be doing that and sharing that. And thank God for social media, because it's a free platform for marketing and sharing. And everybody loves to help and support local so. So if you're listening right now, don't be shy to share what you have to offer as a solution, whether it's a product or service, and ask for those shares and ask people to share for you. And I would love to know like, I'm sure you because you see these businesses. Can you share some of the pivots that you've seen in some of the small businesses that you've worked with?

Harpreet Hayer: 14:08
Oh, yeah, well, mainly, I've seen in some of some, a lot of our businesses had zero online presence up until a couple months ago. And they had to quickly learn, pivot and learn how to adapt to that. And some of them are doing it themselves by having, creating webpages and all of that and then some of them are utilizing, you know, alternate delivery channels, you know, using businesses to help them deliver their products and services. Some of them are adapting to accepting payment in different methods. So, you know, perhaps before it had to always be in person with a you know, your actual debit card or credit card. And now you know, you can do it all online or over the phone very quickly and very easily and with very little cost. So we're seeing a lot of that.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 15:14
Now, that's brilliant. And it's a great reminder to, to not have all your eggs in one basket, to have different avenues of how your product is, or service is available to the end user. So, yes, so important to just don't think the door is shut, just find other windows and other ways to share your business. So important.

Harpreet Hayer: 15:43
If I could just add one more point would be this pandemic, from the positive out of this has really proven how resilient we are, how resilient we are as human beings and individuals, and how resilient we are as a community. And it's just that part of it is a beautiful byproduct of a terrible event.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 16:06
Yeah, absolutely. And I've always said, you know even though we're a part I think we are stronger together because people are doing their own part to help other people who are all of us. Yeah. And I love that I love that so much. And yes, always do our part to support local. And yes, it's definitely the backbone of our country and what 150,000 new small businesses are started every year. And it is truly the foundation of this country. I believe. It's so important.

Harpreet Hayer: 16:45
I believe that as well.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 16:49
Right the small decisions that we make every day of what we purchase, or anything like that. So yes, I it is very important that we pull through this together that way. Absolutely. Now, I would love to ask you what is something most people don't understand about Small Business Banking? And? And what is it that you would like them to understand? Because I think there are small businesses who are listening who are still taking money from their personal bank account? And why should we understand Small Business Banking differently?

Harpreet Hayer: 17:29
Yes, and I love that you mentioned that because a lot of small businesses, you're well aware start at the kitchen table, right? That's where the, that's where the seed is germinated from, and what small business owners need to understand is they need business banking accounts with business banking, services, products and resources. If you're depleting your own personal resources, it's contrary to actually having that successful business. And there's just so many things that you can get. So you've got your checking account, you've got savings accounts, you've got credit cards, lines of credit we talked about. And then depending on how that business grows, there's other things you can layer on. There's tax benefits, and write offs that you can do. And when you are running it through your personal account, when the time comes to pivot. It makes it much more difficult, because it's too muddied. You know, like, what is actually your personal expense, what's your business expense, and the products are there to create simplicity and ease for you to transact. Oftentimes, on business accounts, the limits are higher, whether it's a limit for E transfers, whether it's wire transfers, all of that. Holds. So when if you're depositing stuff, you get higher limits on the business account, as we understand that your transactions could be much larger than those that typically transpire in a personal account.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 19:20
Absolutely. So I'd love to garner from your wisdom and your 19 years of experience with working in finances in small business. If there was a startup, or someone who is startup. If someone is in startup phase right now, and they were trying to get their ducks in a row, what is three tips or strategies you would say to this startup right now? You need to have these three things in place in line to make sure you're starting off successfully in your business. What would those top three things be?

Harpreet Hayer: 19:58
Top three - number one, a strong and diverse business plan, very dynamic, and two would be a very dynamic financial plan, and three, aligning yourself with a financial institution that, you know, has the same beliefs and values as yourself, and is able to understand your business and understand how to help you not only open the business, but grow that business over time, and working with them to ensure that you have access to all of the various resources that are available.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 20:45
OK I'd love to come back to each of these. So having a diverse, yeah, diverse plan. Yes, every business should have a business plan. And you know, and we don't think that way. Because many entrepreneurs, we just automatically fall into this new world of being an entrepreneur, and we don't think business plan. A business plan is so important, because if you don't have a target at the end, you're just aimlessly walking, and your business will appear that way. So I love that you say I diverse business plan? Do you mean diverse in that it should definitely be changing or diverse in that it should have many avenues towards that goal.

Harpreet Hayer: 21:36
I think both. So you know, as society changes, you're going to have to be able to adapt, or if things like a pandemic, as we're going through right now you need to be able to adapt. So I think it's important to try to think of all the what ifs if this was to happen, how would I be able to successfully change course, and or stay on course? And what would what will it take in terms of resources, both financial and support from the various agencies that are out there to offer it?

Elaine Tan Comeau: 22:13
No, so lovely. That is a very good point Harpreet to, to ask the what ifs when you are creating your business plan? That is an excellent point. Thank you. I think that's first time I've ever heard someone say that. So that's very insightful. Very smart. So the dynamic financial plan when you say this is your number two. So this means Where are you getting capital? How are you going to fund this business? Where are the funds coming from? Is this Is this what you mean by a dynamic financial plan?

Harpreet Hayer: 22:50
Yes. And I think with small business owners, it's taking, letting them go on that journey, because they're in the moment, usually, especially when they're just a startup. They're there in that moment, and it's really walking, talking through, you know, this is what it looks like today. And where do we want it to go in 12? months? Five years? 10 years? 12 years? Right? And how are we going to get there? Because you don't you might not need all the bells and whistles on day one. But you know, that continuous journey, the continuous conversation in what is it going to take to get you to where you want to go and what is it? What do you need to ensure that you can stay on course for your business plan? should something happen?

Elaine Tan Comeau: 23:44
No, absolutely. Very, very good points. And I remember when I started Easy Daysies and I launched it two days after my third baby was born and I knew it didn't cost me 1400 dollars start to love to pay for my first product. And I saved up by tutoring and selling crafts because I was a school teacher. And and then it was a learning process for me because I then sold out right away and then I use that that that those profits to to invest in the next batch of manufacturing, and so on. But quickly I learned especially when you have our product base business you your cash flow is super tight because you have to pay for your product ahead of time before sales happen. Very, very important to have your forecast and to know ahead what your plan is financially. Absolutely. And of course number three I love align with financial institution that gets you that understands what is happening. And this is my shout out to Coast Capital Savings is I I love the part that I love most But because capital is you care about the people. And it's it's the people behind the small business and and that is something that I can attest to. So thank you for that. I think I have another numbers question. In business, we all know that we it's very, very important to know our numbers. And often most people think that the most focused number is that top line sales. However, with your expertise, I'd love to know what are the most important numbers that a small business owner should be keeping track of.

Harpreet Hayer: 25:40
I think that top to be fair to especially an entrepreneur, the top line is going to be a focus because it helps you validate that you did you know, you've created an either a concept, a product or a service, and people are willing to pay you money for that. So it really does validate that you're successful. And I understand why people tend to focus there. But that's the success of your small business concept and or service. But what determines the success of your business is actually the bottom line. And so the bottom line really speaks to your operating efficiency. And you know, how well are you taking the funds that you're receiving from your top line to execute on your business delivery? And, you know, whether it's what channels are you using for distribution, how you're doing your marketing, how many staff you're employing, at what time of the day? Are you employing them, all of those are things that measure the efficiency of your business. And those are the ones you really want to look at. Because, you know, if I was to give an example of a coffee shop, you know, if a coffee shop has five employees, are they having everybody there from open to close every day? Or do they have peak hours where they need maybe more staff and non peak hours where they maybe can do with one or two, and really making their business efficient, and spending their resources in a manner that assist them in being more profitable at the end of the day?

Elaine Tan Comeau: 27:29
No, great points, great points. The bottom line is that bottom line numbers are so important. It's a scary number, but it is the truth number in small business. Because you are right, you say it so well that that bottom line reflects your operation efficiency. I love that my husband would be giving you a standing ovation right now. So true. He is also his family also has a small business. And it is operation efficiency. And if you have a great bookkeeper, if you are doing your own bookkeeping, it is those numbers in between that are really important to look at. And it's such a great reminder of how do we lessen and decrease the amount that we are spending on overhead or on inefficiencies that could right bottom line. Thank you for that reminder, I'm going to be looking at my books again today. And I wish I had your your brain for those kind of numbers. And often as an entrepreneur, we are focused on the creative side of business and making the product and our service to provide and, and our strengths might not be in looking at the operations efficiency numbers. So that is an excellent reminder and finding a right partner. And help with those numbers is important. But as if I could share a tip to our listeners into myself. His his numbers are very important. And you should be looking at them every day. I think they should excite you and or scare you to do the right thing and to look at things so that you're not just making and making and making a product. But looking at the business side of it, which is that bottom line is an excellent reminder. And I would love Harpreet to close on almost like a rapid fire on you. So this is fine. Oh wow. you on the spot. And I'm just going to ask some quick questions and and there is no wrong answer. But what is a book that you would recommend? And it could be pleasure, it could be business, any book.

Harpreet Hayer: 29:52
Radical candor.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 29:53
Oh, okay. Excellent. Radical candor. What is your A restaurant that we all should try.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 30:03
I'm a foodie.

Harpreet Hayer: 30:05
I'm gizmos and stevenston.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 30:09
Excellent, I will definitely look that up. Now my podcast is all about how to create better and create better self. So I'm talking about self love self improvement, what is something you do to take care of you?

Harpreet Hayer: 30:24
I have a nightly ritual of gratitude. So every evening, as I'm, before I go to bed, I look back on my day I look at what can that could I have done better? And what could I change, but then I'm also looking at everything. I'm grateful for all the people I've come across that day. And just being grateful for being able to make an impact. Whether it's at work for a small business, or you know, to some charity work with maybe youth or families who need some support, but just an hour of gratitude.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 31:10
I love that very much, you must sleep very well after that. I love that and starting the day with gratitude to and anytime having gratitude in your day just really puts into perspective how I think fortunate and blessed we are. And my last question is your final tip on how to create better business, I

Harpreet Hayer: 31:37
reached out and get advice from people who understand the business and the resources that are available to you. So there is an magnitude of free services companies that will offer free webinars, financial institutions that will do open house sessions. And none of this costs anything. And it really empowers you to be educated, informed, and then ready to make the decisions that are right for you as an individual.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 32:11
Now that you're saying that I'm thinking of something I did want to ask you about now, because Capital Savings is partnered with Vancouver based beach. And there is a business resilience program. Can you tell us briefly about that?

Harpreet Hayer: 32:27
Absolutely. So it's available for all of our small business members. And the dollar value of that is approximately about $2,000. If you were to individually take the courses, it is a self paced, so it's a web based learning. And it's self paced, and you don't have to go from A to Z, you know, if you need some assistance with marketing, or you know, reopening after COVID, or the potential recession that's going to follow. And it business plans, all of that. And it's just, you know, another way for us to help our members in achieving what's important to them.

Elaine Tan Comeau: 33:10
Wow. And where would one find that if they wanted to find out more information or just reach out to you Harpreet, where would you like?

Harpreet Hayer: 33:19
Absolutely. Anybody can reach out to me anytime, they can go to our website, and click on the business tab and the support that we have available. And that will take them to the link. But definitely reach out to us. Reach out to what if you're an existing member, reach out to your relationship manager, we can help guide you through the process

Elaine Tan Comeau: 33:42
is awesome. Thank you so much. You've shared so much insight and wisdom. And I'm so grateful. And listeners were so grateful for you thank you very much for taking the time to to check in. And you know, I think you are like me and right after this podcast, you want to go run and look at your spreadsheet for your cash flow, and how to become more efficient in operations so that that bottom line is a better number. And there is it small businesses tough, but we are stronger together and we can learn together and don't be afraid to ask for help. And that's why I'm so grateful for you. Harpreet, thank you so much for joining us today.

Harpreet Hayer: 34:29
I'm so grateful for you. Thank you so much for having me. So

Elaine Tan Comeau: 34:32
I just want to say to everyone bye for now and I look forward to chatting with you again. Bye for now. Bye