As shorter days mark the conclusion of another year, one can’t help but take stock of the many events, accomplishments and lessons 2018 had to share.
All in all, it was a good year. An excellent year for businesses, many markets and the community. Hopefully, a remarkable one for each of you.
In North America, we experienced what’s been reported to be the longest bull market in modern financial history. The Dow hit a record high in October, and corporations have recorded profits.
Sectors of our economy are operating at full speed. We experienced record low unemployment in Canada. In fact, throughout most of the year, unemployment in Canada was steady at 5.8% — and we began the year at the lowest unemployment rate since data first become available in 1976. Labour scarcity is now an everyday challenge in many industry segments.
In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, we are all battling for an advantage over our competition. Yet, too often we miss one of the most significant competitive opportunities for growth that’s staring us right in the face: having a strong supplier relationship.
As businesses, each of us is dependent on our suppliers. Developing strong supplier relationships can be as important as your relationships with consumers or contractors. While there are instances when being forceful and direct with a supplier are necessary, taking a professional and respectful approach to your communications will yield greater long-term results.
While it’s true that suppliers want your business and need you to buy their goods and services, in many ways we need them just as much. Good and reliable suppliers can be hard to find, especially in an economy like the one we are currently experiencing. Building a strong relationship can be a lynchpin to your future success.
At the heart of this relationship must be balance and fairness, and finding the “win-win.”
Where do you expect your business to be in five or ten years? While it’s important to have a tactical plan, it’s equally important to think big, have dreams and a vision for the future. Blue-skying may be perceived by some as a business cliché. Yet, failure to think big robs you of the opportunity to visualize your future potential.
Let me define my definition of blue-skying and how it’s been invaluable in helping us create our future. For many, blue-skying suggests dreaming about the unattainable. But, how do you know it’s unattainable? It’s important when creating your vision that you don’t limit yourself by what you believe is feasible today.
Everything changes: business climates, partners, technology and even yourself. Stretch your thinking. Aim high, and you just might surprise yourself!
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is more relevant in today’s business world than ever before. The survival of the fittest mirrors our cutthroat economic landscape. This is particularly true for small and mid-sized businesses as they continually strive to reinvent themselves to grow and remain competitive.
As entrepreneurs and business people, we are profit-driven. We don’t have the luxury of deficit financing, racking up losses year after year. In fact, today’s business climate demands our decisions be even more insightful and data-driven than ever before. There is no margin for error, because errors can be terminal.
Governments, on the other hand, don’t appear to be held to the same strict survival standard or natural laws of selection. The concept of “we want it now, but we’ll pay for it later” seems to be a guiding principle for today’s politicians.
In our last blog, I presented how crucial it is to the customer experience that you build trust, and how trust is built through creating a more personal experience. Trust and the customer experience are intrinsically tied to your brand.
If you are like many small business owners, you don’t spend much time thinking about your brand image. That’s a terrible mistake. Many retailers convince themselves that their customers know who they are and what they do. What else do customers need to know?
Here’s what I believe. What makes your business unique and more successful than your competition is your brand. Branding is about the total experience. If that sounds familiar, it should. Brand is the result of a consistent customer experience; it’s about how you engage your customers so they clearly understand that you deliver more than simply products and services.
I’m back! Sorry for the extended absence. I’ve been on the fast-track for the last couple of months, and I’m now looking forward to getting back to Insights.
Let’s get started with asking you this: when was the last time you shared a positive shopping experience with a friend? How about a negative one? How many friends or colleagues did you share your story with?
When thinking about your last great shopping experience, was it a familiar store, or was it a new retailer that you tried for the first time? What made the experience stand out? More important, will you go back?
Recently, I wrote about how legislation being proposed by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau under the auspices of tax fairness was destined to suck the life out of small businesses.
I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Across the country, small business owners and advocates — from doctors and lawyers, to retail owners and farmers, and even Premiers and Liberal backbenchers — spoke out and pushed back. Following the short 75-day consultation period, Morneau tweaked the proposed legislation around the three most troubling areas.
To me, this is a striking example of the power small business owners when they stand up against bad legislation.
It bears repeating; if small businesses in Canada were to close shop, our economy would collapse. Small businesses contribute nearly one-third of the country’s GDP.
The future is now. We’ve been worrying about the pending labour shortage for years, but in many industries, it’s already upon us. Many of us need a hiring strategy today to deal with the dearth of talent.
Over the past year I’ve witnessed first-hand how difficult it is for our suppliers, dealers, and even the contractors we serve across Canada to find good young people willing to work within our industry. I’m not talking just about skilled trades! I’m also referring to young unskilled workers who have an opportunity to learn, grow and excel within the building/construction industry.
Fact: as millions of Canadian baby boomers retire and exit the workforce, we are witnessing a massive shortage of workers, both skilled and unskilled. Even with more boomers working into their 70s, it’s still inevitable.
In July, Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced a draft legislation proposing to overhaul taxation for private companies, ostensibly to eliminate “unfair tax advantages” that Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPC) are perceived to have.
The supposed goal may be tax fairness, but the proposed changes couldn’t be less so. Instead they unfairly target a group of the population taking all the risks, and claw back incentives that exist to incentify small business (and, in turn, jobs), that help owners succeed in the face of economic uncertainty.
Proposed changes: Are they counterproductive?
We’ve all heard it: there’s never enough time in the day, week, quarter or year to get everything done. Businesses run lean and time is perceived as a precious commodity.
But you can master time and make it work for you. Time, and your management of it, can become your competitive advantage. The better you manage time, the more you can achieve, and the better you feel about what you’ve achieved.
Here are a few top-line strategies to consider when making time your ally instead of your enemy.
Know what you want from your time