7 ways to be more successful

January 2018 — Our friends at BDC have come up with some suggestions to help small businesses be more successful in the new year. We thought you might be interested in hearing about them.

1. Track your cash flow

Making cash flow projections is easy, and you will have a tool to anticipate times when cash will be tight. This allows you to better plan your financing needs.

Use a spreadsheet to record your expected cash inflows and outflows for each week for the next three months. This way you will get a handle on cash coming in from customers versus cash going out for fixed expenses and to suppliers.

If there are weeks where more cash will go out than comes in, it means you need a reserve of working capital. These projections will let you see how much you need.

Update your projections every week with the previous week’s actuals and add another week on a rolling basis. Once you understand the pattern of your cash needs, you can move to updating your spreadsheet on a monthly basis.

2. Get creative in hiring

The growth of Canada’s workforce is slowing, and that means more competition for skilled workers. One talent pool many entrepreneurs overlook is immigrants. It is estimated that immigrants will account for 80% of Canada’s population growth by 2032 — but just 6% of entrepreneurs currently rely on them for skilled labour. Your business may be missing out if you’re not seeking out immigrants and making your workplace more welcoming for them.

Another way to find and keep great people is by offering them more than just a job. Study after study has shown that people want a sense of purpose in their work. Can you infuse your company with a higher purpose, such as greater environmental sustainability?

3. Diversify your business

As you consider the coming year, focus on diversifying your business by finding new customers, opening new markets and adding products to your line-up. Even a modest degree of diversification is associated with superior financial performance, regardless of the size of the business.

4. Up your technology game

There’s lots of talk about artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and big data. It may all seem beyond the reach of smaller businesses. But the reality is that businesses of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of technology, thanks to a new generation of apps that are both low cost and easy to use.

The beginning of the new year is a good time to re-evaluate your technology strategy and assets. What solutions could help you improve your financial management, operations and online marketing?

5. Broaden your export horizons

Nobody knows what the outcome of the NAFTA renegotiation will be. Whatever happens, our neighbour to the south will remain an important market for Canadian goods and services. However, this is a good time to consider other international markets. Many developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa are experiencing exceptional growth rates. And Canada has signed a free trade agreement with the European Union that allows 98% of Canadian goods to enter the EU duty-free.

6. Benchmark against the competition

Boosting your company’s productivity will make it more competitive and profitable today while making it stronger to withstand any future downturns. You can start by benchmarking your performance against your competitors. Measuring your productivity level and comparing it with similar businesses in your industry lets you know where you stand. Then you can work on improving by making your business processes leaner and investing in technology and equipment.

7. Energize your sales with content marketing

It’s getting harder to reach your customers with traditional advertising. One solution is to build a community around your brand by becoming the go-to source in your area of expertise. Think about how you can help your customers answer a question, solve a problem or avoid a hassle. It’s not hard — just think about the questions you hear every day. And then start producing helpful content such as blogs, videos, and eBooks. You can use social media and your other marketing to promote your content.

About Market Metrics

Market Metrics Inc. helps knowledge-based businesses with strategy, planning and innovation. We offer our clients a unique combination of top-shelf professional skills, competitive pricing, and real-world industry experience in business planning, marketing, and technology.

The consultancy was founded in 2003 by Greg Graham, a seasoned strategic marketing professional. Greg is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC), a Fellow of the Ontario Institute of Management Consultants (FCMC), and an Accredited Small Business Consultant (ASMEC) in the United States. He holds MBA/BEE degrees plus a Certificate in Strategic Management.

Prior to founding Market Metrics, Greg's 21 years of corporate experience encompassed tech start-ups through Fortune 500 companies. He is an expert in subscription-based business models (including SaaS). Greg frequently performs consulting engagements on behalf of the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).