The success and survival of small businesses are key indicators of a country’s economic strength—and Canada is no exception. Small businesses account for nearly 40 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product. In fact, a recent report revealed that 97.9 per cent of the more than 1.2 million businesses have fewer than 100 employees. Further, nine out of 10 Canadians work for a small business, which translates to 10.5 million people.
There’s no question that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) serve as Canada’s lifeblood. The numbers speak for themselves. Yet, at times, running a small business can be a very daunting task even for the most passionate and ambitious entrepreneur. To grow any business, you need the perfect mix of having the right technology, great talent and flexibility to respond and adjust to constant changes.
With Small Business Week just around the corner—a time dedicated to recognizing the incredible contributions of entrepreneurs across the country—it’s important for them to consider key ways to grow their businesses. With that in mind, here are a few tips to follow:
Leverage New Tech Tools
While small businesses understand that using technology can make their lives easier, they just don’t have the time to research and implement the right solutions. From attracting new customers, training new staff and managing day-to-day operations, they’re forced to juggle multiple tasks and wear many hats. For this reason, many small businesses are hesitant to adopt newer, more effective tech tools—especially those that are cloud-based—and are, inadvertently, putting themselves at a huge disadvantage.
If you’re still using spreadsheets and sticky notes, for example, because you think it’s the easiest way to stay organized, think again. It’s like choosing to work in a dark room when you can easily turn a light switch. You’re missing out on critical insights needed to move your business forward, like every customer’s contact info, orders, and interactions. With the right CRM solution, you can automatically capture or log information so that the whole team—sales, service, and marketing—has a full view of the customer.
Taking it one step further, new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) can be seamlessly
integrated into a CRM platform, so you don’t have to think about building them in. With AI, SMBs can automate basic tasks, enabling them to work smarter and better connect with their customers and future-proof their business.
Attract and Retain Talent
Many SMBs are laser-focused on meeting their customer expectations, but this causes them to overlook a very important resource – their team. In addition to saving money, attracting and retaining talented employees can make all the difference in helping your small business grow.
Engaged employees are productive and motivated employees. But if you just delegate tasks, and expect them to simply take orders, chances are that they’ll never become fully invested in the goals you’re trying to accomplish. Whether you have five or 50 employees on your team, each one should be aware of your mission and should also work with you to achieve it. Consider leveraging virtual collaboration tools like Salesforce Chatter, for example, that allows you to connect, engage, and motivate employees to work efficiently regardless of their role or location and all in real-time.
In addition to employee engagement, you should also prioritize employee training. This allows your employees to gain new skills, providing your small business with access to a higher level of expertise. More importantly, though, it demonstrates a commitment to your employees that will cultivate trust and loyalty among your team.
When you run a small business, there will never be enough hours in a single day to accomplish all the tasks that need to get done. For this reason, it can be tempting to stick to the status quo. However, you’ll never grow and catapult your business to the next level with a “good enough” mentality. This is where agility can become your secret weapon. Innovative products, enhanced customer service, and smarter marketing tactics often result from having the flexibility and open-mindedness to try a different approach. Yes, there’s an inherent risk in challenging yourself, as nobody wants to fail. But if things don’t go as planned, you can fail fast, learn key insights and ensure your business can be better for it. If you succeed, you continue to push your business forward into new territory while outpacing your competition.
There are several other factors that can help SMBs remain relevant and competitive, but these three elements—technology, talent, and agility—are key pillars that small businesses need to keep as priorities. The more they hone in on these three factors, the faster they’ll achieve success.