By Hanan Awaad
Despite the headlines in the daily news about large companies, in Canada, Small businesses are 97.9% of a total number of established businesses and create the majority of new jobs. We can say that small business is the foundation of the modern economy. Canada is home to more than a one million small companies employing more than 8 million Canadians or more than 70% of the Canadian workforce in the private sector.
As a small business owner, you are the driving force behind the Canadian economy and the significant job creator. However, every day, small business owners like you and me are facing new challenges of increasing costs, fierce competition, taxes and healthcare. Based on my experience and keen observation of the trends in the market, I have summarized the most important trends that I believe are reshaping the future of small businesses.
1- Strategic Partnerships
Attracting highly qualified and talented employees are one of the fundamental challenges facing small businesses. To overcome talent shortage, employers will seek strategic partnerships with other business owners to obtain the precious experience and progressive expertise, creating the highest ROI on their collaborations. Sweat-equity will become a trending currency in the market, establishing win-win partnerships.
2- Shrinking Budgets
Economic pressures usually crush small businesses and force them to cut their budgets tremendously. Budget cuts affect the competition-ability and hinder the effort of small businesses in attracting more customers. This tight situation forces business people to become more creative, strategic and work hard on optimizing their processes and tracking their expenses as well as the ROI of any spending.
3- Brand Matters
With the fierce competition, I believe that more emphasis will be on brand equity- that is, the company’s brand value to its clients and employees and its perceived image and reputation in the market. Branding is no longer can be achieved and measured by driving traffic to the company’s website or placing ads on public buses. Branding efforts of small businesses will continue focusing on a micro niche(s) and differentiating factors, adding more personality to every interaction with clients and reaching a wide range of clients with high quality, high targeted contents.
4- Innovation is a Strategic Growth Strategy
As it is tight for businesses, it is also tight for clients and consumers, meaning that your clients or customers are cutting budgets too and actively searching for new products or services of the highest quality and lowest prices that enable them to work smarter and save loads of ash. By using analytics and asking the right questions, you can create innovative services and products to attract new clients and maintain the existing ones. However, be careful with your creative, brilliant ideas because they will be copied sooner than you think of your competitors, so, stay ahead.
5- Social Networks are Still Big
Relationships are crucial to business growth, and online professional and social networks will continue to be the most important channel for promoting services or products. To stay relevant, your promotion strategies should be relationship-driven, not only creating brand awareness but also solving minor problems to grow your client base and building your online community.