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Since our last issue, businesses across Canada have contended with a pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of the economy. We invited executives from the Report on Business list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies to tell us what they’ve done to manage through the crisis.

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Matthew Nielsen CEO, Fishbone Analytics Inc.

Sells, implements and manages ServiceNow workflow software

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From a tactical perspective, Fishbone’s team was already able to work from home, so closing our office was the easy part. Keeping everyone engaged and sane while self-isolating is more challenging. We have implemented a multipronged approach, from virtual two-on-two lunches with the CEO and another leader, to morning stand-up meetings three times each week—we get together on videoconference, and a different employee leads us through something interesting and non-work-related for 15 minutes. Helping our team members to feel a part of our community is vital to our ongoing success and continued low attrition.

Claudia Sjoberg CEO, The Pedalheads Group

Operates bike, swim and sport camps for children

Make sure you can see the end in the worst-case scenario and know that you will survive one way or another. Do what is in your power during the day and detach from it at night. Worry is a waste of your valuable life.

Jerry VanKooten CEO, Earthline Foundations and Shoring Ltd.

Provides construction drilling services and earth retention systems

Your people need to have faith in you. Have a good cry at home, where no one can see you, and then get back hustling for work. I am always telling my people to look for “Diamond Shreddies”—if you turn a product or service a few degrees to the left or right, is it something different?

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Shelby Taylor CEO, Chickapea

Manufactures organic pasta made from chickpeas and lentils

As a shelf-stable pantry item, Chickapea was incredibly fortunate to see a surge in sales rather than a decline. For that I will always be incredibly grateful. The real challenge we experienced was trying to bulk up inventory enough and plan as best we could. Our whole team came together to form a plan for how much inventory to invest in, how to finance it, and to plan what we would do if there was a slump following the surge.

Darren Anderson CEO, Vive Crop Protection

Develops and manufactures crop protection products

Resilience of your business is critically important, as is having a sustainable business model. Sometimes I see entrepreneurship approached as: “Grow at all costs and figure out the economics later.” Having solid unit economics and a sustainable business model gives you more tools to manage through a crisis.

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