Opinion: New Burnaby businesses face crushing future with COVID-19

Chris Campbell

During my past two years at the NOW – and having helped start up a business years ago – I’ve learned a lot about the challenges of opening up a new business.

It ain’t pretty.

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Opening a new, independent brick-and-mortar business is a delicate balancing act. You have to set a budget, save enough more or secure financing, and then get things up and running in time to get some cash flow going before your original funding runs out.

I’ve spoken to dozens of new businesses owners in Burnaby in two years and they all have a sound of panic in their voice as they await approvals from the City of Burnaby and other government agencies, such as Fraser Health if it’s a restaurant.

Timing is important. Being delayed a few weeks or even a few months can be devastating. New business owners only have so much money to work with.

Now we have COVID-19, which has wiped out a gigantic chunk of their customers as we are all told to stay home if at all possible.

It’s no picnic for existing businesses in Burnaby, but at least they have some sort of advantage compared to a business that has just opened.

I think about restaurants such as Saray, La Forchetta or Zeus on Hastings, or the new owner or Fiordilatte bakery and gelato bar. All have just spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to renovate their spaces and open their doors.

They need that revenue to come in to get them to the next step.

Now they are faced with little to no money coming in the door at the absolute most crucial time.

I’m devastated for them. Who knows how long new and existing businesses can survive. The federal and provincial governments have announced aid packages to help out, but it’s unclear how long that money will take to arrive and if it will be enough.

New business owners dream of a new life. Most have put everything they have into these ventures.

And now this.

My thoughts are with them and everyone else impacted by this pandemic. Let’s all do what we can to support them.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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