WECM Board Identifies Future Trends

WECM’s talented and experienced board of directors meets six times a year to support the organization in its service to the women entrepreneurs of Manitoba. While a good part of the board’s work lies in risk mitigation, oversight, and linkage to organizations that are in alignment with our mandate, board members also provide their knowledge and expertise to help develop a strategic direction for the organization.

 

As any good strategic planner will tell you, a solid plan needs a good foundation and a relevant sense of context. This includes examining the environment in which this organization is functioning and what are the trends that need our attention because they may impact our ability to achieve the outcomes or ultimate results of our work.

 

Our board met on October 25 to discuss what trends we are seeing that might be relevant to the direction we should take in our training, programming, and project development. As always, we discuss trends from the PRESTO perspective; political, regulatory, environmental, social, technological, and ‘other’ (in this case COVID-19 and its repercussions).

 

At the heart of a strategic discussion is the purpose of the organization:

 

WECM’s mandate is to support women-owned and partnered businesses province-wide as they launch, operate, and expand their ventures by providing advising, financing, training, resources, and networking opportunities.

 

Here are some highlights of the insights garnered by the board discussion (designed and facilitated by staff members Alanna Keefe and Colleen Krebs) that we expect will impact the methods by which we will achieve our desired results in the medium- and long-term.

 

Political and Legal

  • Depletion of relief funds (wage subsidy, etc.)
  • Mandatory immunization requirements
  • Competition for government funding and support
  • Relationship of Canada and US – trade agreements, border crossing
  • Increased presence of Indigenous governments
  • Diversity in ministerial/government service positions

 

Regulatory

  • Importance of tracking and documentation for businesses
  • Vaccinations and regulations for staff and customers
  • Compliance with regulations around equal opportunity
  • Cybersecurity
  • Protections around online commerce
  • Regulation around online data storage
  • Ad hoc policies around COVID-19
  • Regulations about climate change
  • Overall logistics concerning movement of goods and transport
  • HR policies regarding onboarding, recruitment, termination
  • Import and export regulations

 

Economic

  • Current low interest rates
  • Increased import duties
  • Ability to recruit and retain staff at appropriate levels
  • Changes to buying behaviours
  • Increases in savings
  • Hardest hit industries – arts, entertainment, travel, hospitality
  • Increased entrepreneurship
  • Psychological shifts – impacts of lack of security, safety, trust
  • Inequities in effects of pandemic on women affecting employment
  • Inflation
  • Globalization
  • Growing focus on social enterprise

 

Sociological

  • Indigenous power in the marketplace
  • Opportunities and needs of New Canadians
  • Increased purchasing power for women
  • Roll-back of women’s careers
  • Increased awareness of mental health issues derived from pandemic
  • Aging population and impact on workforce, health care
  • Increased understanding of cultural diversity, norms, and etiquette
  • Increased youth in job force affecting customer experience

 

Technological

  • Virtual and hybrid work environments
  • Currency and mediums of exchange
  • Online marketing, e-commerce
  • Security for remote access workers
  • Increased automation
  • Enhanced qualifications and levels of certification required
  • Human vs. machine experience
  • Continued investment in tech
  • AI to streamline and enhance performance
  • Generational adoption of tech at all levels

 

Other

  • Labour shortage – early retirement, reluctant workforce
  • Increases in freelance vs. employed
  • Demand for different employment models
  • Increased focus on enhanced customer experience and brand loyalty
  • Supply chain disruption and delays

 

Each of these trends (and more besides) will influence entrepreneurial choices and business decision points in the future. Analyzing how this will manifest and how to prepare our clients for a rapidly shifting world will be the next step in the work of the staff so that we will be strategic in the choices we make. What training and advisory knowledge and expertise must we develop to offer our guidance to our clients as they start and grow their businesses? What tools will be optimal in entrepreneurship development and support for the women business owners of Manitoba?

 

Stay tuned as WECM follows information and knowledge with experience, intuition, and dedication to bring the best of what we do to helping you to respond to the specific and environmental shifts in our wonderful and complex world.