We may be approaching another new “normal,” but for independent Canadian small businesses, digital strategies born of the COVID-19 era are here to stay, a recent survey of small business owners reveals.

It’s not out of fear of new lockdowns, but because of the opportunities and improvements that digital investments have unlocked for Canadian small business owners. According to a new post-pandemic survey conducted by Logit Group on behalf of go daddy, more than two-thirds of small businesses made changes to their online presence during the pandemic and are optimistic that their business will grow in the next 12 months. Having experienced the benefits of an online presence for the past two years, many agree that continued attention to their websites is key to future success.

This latest pulse test on the sentiments of Canadian small business owners comes two years after GoDaddy, the company that empowers everyday entrepreneurs, surveyed business owners about the changes they were making to keep their businesses going during COVID-19.

Before the 2020 lockdowns, only about half of Canadian small businesses surveyed had a website or social media presence; In the early days of the pandemic, one in four more businesses launched a social media profile or website to maintain operations and marketing. But at the time, only 37 percent of business owners said they planned to preserve these assets online once they were physically able to reopen.

What a difference two years make

As of 2020, 64 percent of small businesses surveyed said they have made digital adaptations to support their business. This includes more than 40 percent of small business owners who have made e-commerce-specific transformations, such as improving online tools, creating a new website, or increasing online business offerings. These digital investments are paying off: 42 percent of owners credit their e-commerce presence with helping their business grow, even amid the pandemic.

That’s likely why GoDaddy’s latest survey shows the number of small businesses saying their digital shifts were only temporary has dropped by a third.

In 2020, 18 percent of business owners planned to discontinue the digital adaptations they had made to weather the pandemic. Today, only 12 percent intend to reverse their online presence. Meanwhile, 41 percent say their new online tools and social media profiles are here to stay.

Online tools are expected to help with current challenges

Even as pandemic concerns subside, the resiliency and operational gains that businesses have gained from digital investments remain paramount. While Canadian small business owners have a strong sense of optimism, the future is not without worry. The survey found that rising costs and inflation are critical concerns for businesses of all sizes, and supply chain shortages and delivery and supplier delays continue to affect many businesses.

Amid these ongoing economic uncertainties, some businesses are doubling down on their digital investments: 22% of businesses with fewer than 10 employees said they are investing in automation and related technologies, and 20% have moved entirely online.

Unfortunately, cost containment can be a barrier when it comes to entering the digital realm. Among 37 percent of small businesses surveyed, perceived high costs were cited as the top challenge in adopting an online presence. And, nearly one in four cite a lack of familiarity with the process of getting online or a lack of knowledge as barriers. This underscores that for many small Canadian businesses, access to cost-effective, easy-to-use, and easy-to-maintain digital tools is more than just nice: they’re essential for businesses to survive challenges, whether they’re thriving during a pandemic, coping to inflation or a myriad of other potential problems that may arise.

Understanding these challenges, GoDaddy Website Builder offers an easy and affordable online solution to help Canadian small business owners thrive and grow their businesses. GoDaddy also offers free 24/7 customer service and support.

To learn more about how GoDaddy can empower your small business, visit godaddy.ca.

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