The last 18 months have been difficult for everyone, especially for small business owners. During the outbreak, many entrepreneurs were forced to close or declare their companies, and brick and mortar stores were left empty due to locks. Employment in companies with less than 100 employees fell by more than 20 percent, and in the first six months of 2020, an unprecedented 387,000 Canadian businesses were closed.

Mike Bunner, CEO of BMO Canada Business Bank, said: “Recognizing the importance of these businesses to local communities and our economy, governments and other partners – including BMO – have stepped in to help them adapt and find ways to achieve real financial growth.

To ensure the survival of the brick and mortar independent businesses, several levels of government have stepped in to support wages and rent subsidies, as well as interest-free loans. And now, with vaccines expanding and the CVD-19 restrictions being released, these major road trade openings are operating at 45,000 a month above the pre-epidemic levels, boosting small businesses.

All of this means that there is no better time for entrepreneurs to invest in their dreams of owning a business. There are many opportunities for smart, creative people and the spirit of entrepreneurship has never been strong. With this in mind, four business trends business owners need to focus on the way forward.

The future is digital

Although epidemic restrictions are declining and some offices are reopening, homework remains a favorite, and an undisputed fact for some workers. Expect to see ongoing process digitalization as employees remain productive wherever they work. Employers who can offer flexibility in remote work will attract more candidates, and small businesses with strong online presence will benefit by growing demand for goods and services online.

Small businesses are growing

When the epidemic stopped many goals and dreams, it took a moment to rethink and re-invest in a project. Expect small businesses to continue to grow, thereby creating more jobs and economic recovery. With the growing demand from many consumers, they have to wait for the “local state” and many small businesses, to start or reopen the post-epidemic, to see new, loyal and digital consumers.

Loans help businesses get back on their feet

Government subsidies and loans for small businesses at the time of the outbreak, including incentives for companies to retain or improve employees, and subsidies for private entrepreneurs who are unable to collect work insurance. New businesses and business lenders and their advice should be seen as a success by their financial advisors.

A bright future

While it has been a difficult year for many, entrepreneurs are naturally impatient and optimistic about the future. Consumers will be happy to revisit and support businesses that missed out on locks. The main road is expected to lead to the next phase of economic recovery, with the “shop environment” movement growing in popularity, opening up and opening new businesses.

How BMO can help you explore these trends

BMO provides a range of product and professional advice to give business owners everything they need to move forward and stay ahead. Expect one-on-one calls and meetings with a professional banker to help you navigate everything, no fees or small balances on selected business plans to help you save money, from BMO partners to discount estimates and approval and access to loans from the application process. With BMO, banking can help your business grow financially. More at bmo.com/businessoffers.