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Arlene Dickinson Launches Campaign to Help Struggling Canadian Businesses

One of Canada’s highest profile entrepreneurs and biggest advocates for entrepreneurship, Arlene Dickinson, has launched a social media campaign to help struggling Canadian business owners as they navigate the turbulent waters caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent Facebook post, Dickinson said: “Small businesses are in DANGER! They make up the fabric of our communities but many are at risk of closing this winter. If you want to see your favourite places survive and thrive act now! Waiting until ‘it’s all over’ may be too late. So I’ve come up with a way to make a real difference to local shops and businesses now by helping their rankings on search — please write and perform a #RavingReview! You could sing it, dance it, stand outside your favourite shop and YELL it! Get creative and be as over-the-top complimentary as you can be!”

Arlene Dickinson
Arlene Dickinson

Dickinson is urging people to keep buying from local businesses but also to go a step further and help them in this social media campaign by following three simple steps:

  1. Submit a review of a local business on Google/Yelp;
  2. Record yourself performing it; and
  3. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites with #RavingReview.

“Everybody’s talking about how important it is to support local and how meaningful it is for us to give them business but we can’t support every single business. Telling people to spend money is sometimes a really difficult thing for people to do right now. So we were thinking at Venture what could we do to support small business without it costing people more money and asking people to spend all the time,” said Dickinson.

“Small business relies on Google reviews and Yelp reviews because that helps them in their search ranking but also when you have a great review online you actually get more customers and you actually get them to spend more. So we knew there was a financial reward in having reviews and we knew that people liked to talk about the businesses they support with enthusiasm. So we thought why don’t we make that easier for people to do and get people to just do a rating review. Put something on Google and Yelp. Then record yourself and put it on your social media and amplify your voice. It works. Businesses are getting business as a result of it.”

Along with serving as Calgary-based Venture’s President and CEO, Dickinson is the General Partner of District Ventures Capital, a venture capital fund focused on helping market, fund and grow entrepreneurs and companies in the food and health space. The serial entrepreneur is a three-time best-selling author, podcaster, and accomplished public speaker. Dickinson is widely recognized for her role as a Dragon/Venture Capitalist for over 12 seasons on the multi-award-winning television series, Dragons’ Den. Dickinson is cause-oriented, passionate about the underdog, and brings a strong sense of social responsibility to everything she does.

Dickinson’s leadership has been recognized many times, including Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Hall of Fame, the Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, as well as PROFIT and Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. She is a Marketing Hall of Legends inductee and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award. Dickinson has served for many years as an Honourary Captain in the Royal Canadian Navy. She also sits on several public and private boards and is actively involved in supporting community and country.

“I have a fear that big business is going to fill the void and what’s happening with small businesses being shut down and big business not being shut down. You’ve got entrepreneurs who are not able to deliver their goods and services the way that they should be able to. So I do worry alot about small business being impacted,” said Dickinson. “We’re hearing now that one in seven businesses are at risk of closing. I think that’s an underestimation actually. I worry about their ability to keep the lights on and also to keep growing.

“It’s one thing with these government programs for businesses to do just that — keep their lights on. It’s another thing for them to be able to recover to pre-pandemic revenues. How do we help them grow and get in the digital world and compete? This is where I feel there’s going to be a lot of damage done to small businesses.”

As small businesses navigate through these challenging times, Dickinson said this is an opportunity for them to make sure they are keeping track of their costs and keeping up with their ecommerce.

“Going where people are. Making sure you’re thinking about the things you’re really good at and how you deliver those goods and services in a new age where there’s curbside delivery or back door delivery for restaurants now with their delivery services. And try to understand that consumers are still shopping — we saw record numbers on Shopify as an example — we know that consumers are still consuming. How do you get in front of them where you have to find ways to leverage your existing customer bases through email marketing, through offers and through promotion on digital platforms,” said Dickinson.

“Some small businesses are caught without a digital presence and so making sure that you have one I think is really critical.

“Being an entrepreneur is never easy but I’ve said this before but I will say that everybody always loves to say entrepreneurs are the backbone of our country’s economy. Small business matters so much and employs the majority of our country. And yet when it comes to programs that actually help small businesses whether it’s tax policy, whether it’s opening policies during a pandemic and how that can work better, whether it’s programs to help digitalize better, we really don’t do a good job. And we need to do a better job of that as a country or we are going to lose the innovation that entrepreneurs and small business brings to us.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Arlene, I’m troubled by the article as the digital solutions (Google, Yelp, FaceBook etc.) are all US based companies. Canadian small businesses locally sponsoring their content to shop local are sending money out of the country! There is a great Canadian story that speaks to the very issue you raised in this piece. Check out GetintheLoop and call Matt Crowell the CEO. A Canadian based company supported by local franchise owners.

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