Member Profile: Doing Business in Uncertain Times

Cranked Energy Landscape
It’s been almost two weeks since COVID-19 began dramatically affecting our province. Although that may seem like a relatively short period of time, for many people and businesses it has already caused significant challenges.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman recently announced the formation of the Mayor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force. “As we continue to navigate increasingly unprecedented times, the effects of COVID-19 are placing extreme challenges on our local business community,” Bowman said in a statement.

The task force includes multiple business leaders across the province including Cheryl Zealand, CPA, CA, owner of Cranked Energy. The company sells energy bars across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario.

“I think one of the biggest problems right now is that we don’t know how long this situation is going to continue for, and that unknown is starting to create a lot of anxiety for businesses,” says Zealand.

Most of Cranked Energy’s retail partners have closed temporarily and a sudden shift of consumer buying priorities has forced the company to adapt quickly.

“Things changed so quickly. We pivoted and for the first time, we are offering free Canada-wide shipping of our product. It’s not ideal, but it is working in the interim,” she explains.

As a member of the Mayor’s task force, she has also heard from many other small business owners about how they are coping. “It’s different for everyone but some spin cycle businesses are renting out their equipment so it can be used at home.” Zealand has also heard from other businesses that are trying to come up with ways to create deals and engage customers in this climate. “As some restaurants closed, chefs took leftover food and created meals for our less fortunate.”

It is a challenging time for many people. “Another reality is business owners have two sets of bills, one for their business and another for their homes and living expenses. It can be very stressful,” she explains.

Despite those concerns, Zealand encourages businesses to continue to give back to the community if they can in times like these.

“Cranked Energy has been built by supporting the community in different ways. Of course, it’s different for every business but we were able to send energy bars to frontline staff at all the major hospitals in Winnipeg. Recently we also held a virtual cycling fundraiser for ALS. It was amazing how the community came together on this initiative. We have a few other things coming up very soon to help support The Winnipeg Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. We are fortunate to be able to give back and it’s something I’m passionate about. A commitment to community will help us get through this situation together.”

Zealand also understands that her CPA education and training has helped her be better prepared to handle a rapidly changing situation such as this. “As a CPA I’m able to more quickly evaluate and adapt my business model.”

As for where things go from here, no one is quite sure.

“All I can say is if there is a small business that you appreciate, try and support them during this time. Whether it’s an online order or some other means of support, it can make all the difference.”

As a member of the task force, Zealand will continue to advocate for small business and help shape the direction of Winnipeg’s COVID-19 response as it relates to economic and business impact. Email her at