“Canadian SMEs are resilient and second-to-none in their motivation and innovation. Canadian SMEs need the tools to scale up their businesses to bolster their success in Canada and grow internationally. Scaling up – not selling off – is the path for SMEs to sustained growth in revenues and employment, but aggressive growth strategies can be extremely intimidating. That’s why support programs are so important, whether they be federal, provincial or local, or services like chambers of commerce. They can help Canadian businesses with access to services, intelligence, information, and advice, which small business owners are often lacking in time to seek out.
“As the voice of our 60,000 members in 135 communities, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) mission is to support economic growth across the province by defending business priorities at Queen’s Park. “Small businesses constitute a vast majority of our membership and are the backbone of Ontario’s economy. That is why in 2019, our advocacy priorities include decreasing regulatory burden, lowering taxes and taking significant strides to address the skills mismatch in Ontario. We want to ensure that Ontario is well equipped to be the engine of the Canadian economy.
“To support the SME community, we will continue to advocate for delayed taxation on corporate income growth to help businesses scale, a variable Small Business Deduction to boost investment, more experiential learning opportunities and making it easier for SMEs to participate in government procurement.
“It has been a successful year filled with critical policy changes at Queen’s Park that have eased the burden on small businesses. In this coming year, the OCC will continue to ensure that the voice of small business is heard.
Take time to learn from your mistakes One of the best things entrepreneurs can do before jumping into new adventures is to take time to reflect on the past year and evaluate their wins and lessons learned.
Without reflection, we end up repeating the same mistakes over and over, never levelling our results. To take it a step further, you can dive even deeper by looking at lessons you have learned from others. Be intentional
To have a truly successful year, you need to stop reacting to situations and events around you and start being intentional with your relationships, time, focus and action. And to achieve the best results, it’s important that you look beyond your business and include your personal and family life as well.
Wishing you a successful 2019!
Being an entrepreneur means taking risks, feeling uncomfortable, and learning from your mistakes. It doesn’t matter how talented of an entrepreneur you are if you aren’t extremely passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll never be able to get over those speed bumps and keep pushing forward. On a more practical side, it’s absolutely critical to nail the value proposition and get it validated as quickly as possible by real customers
– the market shouldn’t just want your product, they should need your product. Work the customer discovery process hard and try and find customers that will back their need for your product with money – there’s no better money raised than money from a customer!
STAY IN THE WINNING LANE
• The passion you had when you started
• The passion your first team members invested in your business
• The passion your first customers or clients had for you, for your work
As your business grows and becomes more standardized, more efficient, more revenue-focused, it’s easy to lose sight of what got you there in the first place. It’s easy to replace people with numbers, customers with
targets. If you want to stay as fresh and focused as you were at the start, never forget how you felt back then and what you wanted so badly to achieve. Stay as excited about your team and your customers as you were the
first time. Keep checking in with yourself to ensure your core values don’t become compromised along the way. Most importantly, don’t become too big to care about the people who help you succeed. Winners never win alone
What is the number one advantage that smaller businesses have in their marketing? Themselves. Larger enterprises struggle to define a brand that represents such a diverse workforce. Smaller businesses,
meanwhile, take the imprint of their owners, managers and workers and then projects it outward into a real-world brand that is clear and authentic.
Sincerity beats hyperbole. Reality is more powerful than promises. Establish realistic expectations, then over-deliver, instead of setting unachievable expectations that can’t be met. Market to your customers the way you talk to them. Make it personal and relatable. Take pride – in larger businesses so much is out of the individual’s control that it’s difficult to take ownership of an initiative. Smaller businesses succeed because the owners, managers and employees are more accountable to their customers than a larger business can ever be. Don’t be in a hurry to look large – tell your own story. People love the underdog.
One of the key challenges SMEs often face is attracting top talent. The question I always encourage business owners to ask is: Have I considered how my diversity and inclusion practices could be helping, or hurting, my talent search? And if you haven’t even considered D&I at all, don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and it can immediately expand your pipeline. Try to get outside of your own network to find individuals that can bring in diverse thinking. A blind resume practice can help get more diverse candidates through the screening phase. And when interviewing, remember there’s a difference between a values fit (would integrate with your company culture) and a social fit (would be a good drinking buddy). If you make diversity a hiring priority — and foster a working environment that welcomes it — you’ll be sure to find a positive impact on your bottom line.
Being involved with an SME is an extremely rewarding experience. You have the freedom to do something meaningful that aligns with your values and the mark you want to leave on the world. My advice is to
remember to not become overcome by your drive for success that you forget about what’s most important to you. In my early days, I became so entangled in my passion for the business and my ambition for it to succeed that I worked extremely crazy hours and started to forget about what’s really most important. For me,
suffering a brain injury was a turnaround point for me. Through rehab, I learned about mindfulness. I now practice mindfulness and incorporate it into my work life as well as into my business coaching with clients. When you feel stressed, instead of continuing to push through it, stop and take a few moments to breathe deeply and reset. This clarity will help you tremendously in business and in life.
Something you can do to make your business even better in 2019 is to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. A purpose-driven business will keep you inspired and motivated to reach your overall goals. remembering the Why behind your business is also key to retaining existing customers and gaining new ones. Likewise, regularly communicating the Why of your organization in the workplace may also result in greater employee engagement, retention and the tangible living out of your company’s mission, vision and values. At the end of the day, this positively benefits your customers. If you’ve lost sight of your first love (i.e. your passion for what you do), now’s the time to dig deep, reclaim it and let that energy and enthusiasm carry you, your team and your customers into the next calendar year and beyond.
Canadian entrepreneurs need to start thinking globally in order to achieve success in 2019. In 2018 we saw that the ecosystem is maturing: nowadays, Canada has amazing entrepreneurs and companies, there are more resources to leverage, more funding opportunities are being created, and entrepreneurs now have more access than ever before to building a start-up. A factor that is missing though is a global mindset. In order to be successful in 2019, entrepreneurs need to think about going global from the first start. This does not mean taking the leap from the beginning but considering going global in the early stages of business. When you have that goal in mind, your product or service will adapt to a global audience from the very start, making it easier to get out there when the time comes and own the podium for Canada.
YOUR VALUES… KEY TO SUCCESS IN 2019
In my experience, organizations move toward their definition of success which originates in the vision, mission, values, and then is lived out in goals, strategies and behaviour. At the same time, employees are navigating toward their own personal definitions of success.
These are uniquely based upon each employee’s values, goals, interests, capabilities, and work-life challenges.
The larger the organization and the more uncertainty in the overall environment, the more complex. If you have 10 employees, you will have 10 different definitions of success and values; 2,000 employees, you have 2,000 unique definitions. 2019 will challenge leaders to be charismatic, confident and clear about how their organizations will succeed and what values will support the journey. This will help them find an intersection as high up the scale on employee engagement as possible, while also getting the maximum contribution to the
organization’s own goals and objectives
WISHING YOU SUCCESS IN 2019… AND BEYOND!
It’s time for reflection, resolutions and planning! 2019 marks the end of the era of “Boomer Consumerism” and
ushers in a decade of Mega-Change for the entire global economy! Retiring Boomers have already stopped spending… and volatile stock markets are reflecting a rapidly deteriorating global economic backdrop. In 2019, start working on how your business will survive.
Winter is coming! Game of Thrones aficionados should readily see the future for myopic pretenders to leadership, as they scheme for personal power while ignoring a looming threat to their very existence. The future welcomes only the prepared! Reality is often stranger than fiction. The next decade promises business challenges fraught with risks and opportunities, like never seen before. Use 2019 to understand your personal vision of leadership! True leaders emerge in trying times because, in knowing themselves, they see opportunity where others cannot!
The most important advice I can offer to Canadian entrepreneurs is simple, but not necessarily easy. It’s to adapt your product or service to what customers want, and will pay for. Many entrepreneurs have an idea or a vision for their business. They feel that staying ‘true’ to their vision is essential for success. So when they launch and things don’t go as planned, they work doubly hard to make their idea work. But that’s wrong. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who adapt their business vision to what customers value – that means ‘what customers will pay for’. Staying nimble and open to evolving a business idea based on feedback from the market is the only real path to success.