While the broader economy and many businesses have taken a hit through this pandemic, smaller businesses have pivoted, expanded or begun across the country and Sylvan Lake is no exception.
In this three part series we will look at three local entrepreneurs who have changed how they do business during the global pandemic. Kelly McMillan, Sacha Bojda and Janice Fogarty are the three women who will be spotlighted during this series, but there are many other female business owners in Sylvan Lake who have pivoted, expanded or begun a business in town.
According to StatsCan, small businesses make up 98 per cent of employer businesses across Canada. While small businesses have been more likely to experience a decrease in revenue and have less liquidity, and are more likely to be considering bankruptcy in the current economic environment, these women provide a glimpse of an entrepreneurial spirit that continues to grow. Despite the extra struggles, these women are striving to look at the bright side of things.
Janice Fogarty, a communications strategist, says she has struggled to move back into the workforce after the pandemic closed down a lot of traditional opportunities.
Fogarty looked for new opportunities in a sphere she was unfamiliar with; online business. She began a communications consultancy and podcast, Connections, Coffee & Confidence Podcast, in the spring of 2020.
“COVID really spurred me on to stop wasting time thinking about something I’ve wanted to do for ages, to just do it,” Fogarty said. “I’m surprised at how much I enjoy podcasting but I knew I really wanted to get back to working with people, helping them meet their goals. When COVID hit and the world went online, I had already dipped my toes in. Now I’m pretty much all in!”
Fogarty said the new set up was a “perfect marriage” at what she was good at and what she wanted to accomplish.
“I’ve always preferred to work with small business owners, getting them the exposure they need or helping them use communications to meet their business goals, and this seemed to be a time when I could really help.”
The communications consultancy was developed after the listeners of her podcast said they were looking for a professional who is experienced with entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“I do this work because too many smart, savvy women pour their heart and soul into creating a wonderful business but struggle with how to talk about it effectively,” said Fogarty. “I help them find clarity in their goals and messaging, and develop and confidently implement strategic communications plans so they can regain their time, make more impact with less effort and be known - and paid - for their work.”
The shift to a digital company and working from home has been difficult, especially with five people living, working and learning at home.
A small home office with a closing door has helped her family learn when it is work time and when it is family time, she says.
She said this has been a difficult time for many, and in her house temporary wage cuts have had their affect. During this tumultuous time, Fogarty has worked to find a better understanding of what is important versus what just feels like it is has been critical to helping everyone get through the last number of months.
“My own experiences have very much reinforced my belief in having a strategy and sticking to it in terms of when you are on social media and for what purpose,” said Fogarty.
“It’s so easy to get drawn down the rabbit hole of escape or ‘learning’ when really, there is an integration of digital marketing, networking and staying abreast of trends, doing the actual work of your business, and having a life outside of work that we all have to achieve. Some strategic planning goes a long way.”