Category Archives: Small Business

A fresh start in 2014

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes
The start of a new year is a time of renewal and for many a period of optimism,  hopefully building on the success of last year.

Ideally, 2014 is the next stepping stone in your long-term plan. For some, it might require an adjustment because plans often require tweeking. Maybe you are ahead of where you expected to be at this point. Maybe not. Either way the start of the year is the perfect time to set in motion a plan that propels your business forward.

If your plan in 2013 fell short of expectations, I hope you were able to assess what went wrong, and adjust. For that to happen you had to set measurable goals that can be evaluated all year long. Quarterly analysis is a good milestone. You also needed to look at the external environment– the local economy and your competitors for example. And talking to your customers for their input can help you determine what you might have done differently.

If your business is ahead of where you expected, it’s important to understand why so you can continue to build on that momentum. So, set goals and measure quarterly. Adjust as required.


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Filed under Marketing, Small Business, Strategic Planning, Uncategorized

Do You Measure Once, Cut Twice?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Business owners often have a couple of objective measurements that they make to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. As admirable as that is, the problem remains that these measurements are normally conducted quarterly, bi-annually or at year-end, and often measure the relative financial success of the organization, while leaving unanswered critical questions about the how’s, the whys and the when’s.

George Bernard Shaw once said; “The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them”. This applies to the majority of business people today. We carry on with our business activities for months, sometimes years without checking back to those who are directly responsible for the success or failure of our business, our clients. Maintaining the status quo, assuming that our product or services are still desired, well received and recommended by clients can be a fatal error in judgment.iStock_000013870483Small

Here are 5 questions you need to have answers to at regular frequencies in order to strategically develop your business activities.

  1. How do your new customers hear about you? Was it through referrals, your marketing, networking or some other way? How will you capitalize on this information once you have the answers?
  2. Did your product or service offer them a solution to a problem or issue they were encountering?  Was the solution sensational, very good or adequate? Can you get a testimonial?
  3. What features of your product or service are providing the greatest benefit to the clients? Is there a way to build on those? Are there other potential markets? Does the feature provide a future opportunity to solve other issues?
  4. What do your customers tell others about you, your company, your product or service and the experience of dealing with you? How often do you survey your clients?  Do you provide a mechanism for them to feed this information to you? Do you want to hear the good and the bad?
  5. Are there misconceptions about your product or service floating around in the marketplace?  Are you aware of anything negative on social media about you or your business?  Do you respond and if so how? Have you ever heard a potential client express any concern about dealing with you from something they might have heard?

We can spend countless hours testing and measuring every area of our business, and still emerge with a basic misunderstanding of why we are successful or where our failures are being hidden.  Keeping in touch with our clients provides us the truest measure of our efforts, and the clearest direction on how to grow, yet it is an area we often ignore until it may be too late. Continuous feedback allows us to make adjustments as we need them which gives a small business a huge advantage over larger organizations where change may be more cumbersome. By measuring once and cutting often, you are creating greater opportunity for errors in your business.

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Small Business

Small Business contributes 28% to GDP

By Jeff BowmanJBMG_5500a

No matter what size of business you operate, have you ever stopped to think about the importance to the overall economy of what your business contributes? As business owners, our focus is usually on the bottom line, as well it should be, however the statistics show that small business contributes about 28% on average to the total GDP in Canada.

GDP by definition is the total market value of all final goods and services produced in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports. A somewhat confusing equation, however the basic premise is to build on the GDP each quarter, which shows growth. (GDP rose .40% in the second quarter of 2013 over the previous quarter.)

Small business owners work very long hours, endure tremendous stress, need to be conversant in all areas of their business, and often encounter tremendous obstacles to growth. Owning a small business is not for the faint of heart! The upside is that small business owners, the employees they hire, the products and services they produce and sell, are critical pieces of our economic growth.  The largest contributing sectors are agriculture, health, education, construction, and hospitality; however the contribution that every small business in any sector adds to the overall growth is very important. No wonder we celebrated Small Business month in October!

Table 8: Small Businesses’ Contribution to GDP by Province, 2002 to 2011
Province Contribution to GDP (Percent)
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Newfoundland and Labrador 19 18 21 19 19 18 18 20 19 20
Prince Edward Island 32 29 31 30 30 29 29 29 26 32
Nova Scotia 26 25 26 25 25 26 25 25 24 23
New Brunswick 25 23 25 25 24 25 25 24 23 22
Quebec 27 27 29 30 30 30 31 30 28 27
Ontario 24 23 24 25 26 26 27 26 25 25
Manitoba 23 24 25 25 26 26 26 26 24 24
Saskatchewan 26 24 29 29 30 32 33 35 30 32
Alberta 28 26 26 27 29 31 31 29 27 27
British Columbia 28 29 33 33 33 34 34 32 30 29
Canada 26 25 27 28 28 29 29 28 27 27
Source: British Columbia’s Statistical Service, Small Business Profile 2012: British Columbia.
Note 1: In these data, small businesses comprise businesses with fewer than 50 employees, plus those operated by the self-employed with no paid employees.
Note 2: Differences between these data and those published in previous versions of Key Small Business Statistics reflect changes to the underlying data on which the numbers are based, as well as a refinement of the methodology used to generate the estimates.

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Filed under Small Business