Small Business Trends for 2018 – Are You Ready?

shutterstock_365392142Welcome to 2018! After a hopefully restful and enjoyable holiday break, it is time to get back to business, and this year promises some interesting trends I want to share with you. In my 30+ years of experience helping small businesses, I have seen many significant changes, and this year brings new ways you can further expand and develop your business. I’m excited to highlight some of the trends worth noting, and look forward to working with you to implement these changes to grow your business even further in 2018.

The Mobile Experience – Consumers are using mobile devices to search for information, browse social media, and make purchases more than ever before. Ensuring that your business has a website that is easy to find and navigate, specifically on mobile devices, will help you expand your business’ reach to new customers.

Taking It Outside – Getting tasks done through freelancers, contract workers and outsourcing is becoming easier and more popular than ever before. Many businesses are leaving one-time functions or administrative tasks, like shipping, logistics, graphic design and content writing to others, thus leaving your staff to focus on other areas of expertise, and potentially saving overhead costs as well. Furthermore, giving your own employees the means to work and contribute from outside of the office can improve productivity, and satisfy your employees.

Engaging with Customers Online – The Internet is being used more and more by customers and companies to engage in business and share experiences. It’s becoming more important that businesses keep an online presence in order to communicate their brand, answer questions, respond to comments, and engage directly with consumers to highlight positive experiences, and minimize negative ones.

Storing and Protecting Data – Businesses are increasingly dealing with large data files and technical planning and software in their work. In order to best maintain, organize and protect their data, businesses that leverage the Cloud and other software can save storage costs, work with distant clients and partners, and increase their productivity.

Want more advice on ways to build on the success of your business with these trends, or general advice from other business owners like you? Make 2018 the year you join a TAB Board and get the support you need to make your plan a reality. Contact me today!


Employee Retention: How to Help Your Employees Find Work-Life Balance

startup-593341_1920With constantly improving technology and 24/7 access to email, it may seem like your employees are always available to keep your business moving forward. But have you ever wondered if this might be putting too much pressure and stress on your employees? I have worked with many business owners throughout the years and the topic of employee retention seems to come up often.

Every employee will differ depending on what provides them the most happiness on the job, whether it’s compensation, benefits, or office perks; however, studies show that there are many benefits for firms that take measures to improve work-life balance, like increased productivity and greater recruiting abilities.

To implement positive change for both your employees and your company’s bottom line, I’d like to share with you a few tips to improve work-life balance in your organization:

  • Set realistic project goals, and discuss them with employees. It’s important to discuss timelines with your employees before starting a task. Depending on their role, they may have competing project deadlines and making adjustments to their schedule could mean the difference between having to work overtime and spending time with their family.
  • Offer flexibility. Giving your employees the option of adjusting their work hours or occasionally providing the option of working from home can make a huge difference to them. Providing variations in work hours that work best for them will allow your employees to be more focused, less stressed, and much more productive at work.
  • Review your benefits package. It may be in your business’ best interest to offer group health benefits, or cover the cost of some medical expenses. While this may seem like a benefit reserved for larger companies, from an employee recruitment and retention perspective, offering benefits can serve as a unique competitive advantage. A well-structured benefits plan can offer security and peace of mind, and further motivate your employees, particularly if there is an issue affecting numerous employees.

There’s no denying that Canadians are career-driven and hard-working, but overworking your employees can lead to more harm than good for your business. But with a great work-life balance, your employees will be happy, motivated, and productive in their jobs. If you’d like more advice on how to improve your company’s bottom line, check out how TAB can help!

Looking for a New Opportunity to Increase Growth

14561581102_472fb7425c_zIn my 30 plus years of working with a variety of business owners, their vision, drive and entrepreneurial spirit never ceases to amaze me!

When working in a consultancy business, owners often work up to 100 hours a week in a busy season or during a huge campaign, but when summer comes, or tax season is over, or whatever the reason they are hit with a slower period, resulting in decreased revenues. These business owners share with me how they are looking forward to the next juicy new client, business acquisition, or new advancement in their industry to boost their monthly revenues and increase growth.

I have shared with many of my clients that run their own consulting business that they might be interested in leveraging their expertise and owning a TAB franchise. This would be a complementary business to your current business that will provide recurring revenues, and give you an opportunity to help other businesses grow.

As a TAB franchise owner, you can create a new revenue stream while keeping your existing business. A TAB facilitator is a franchise owner, who runs their own TAB boards and provides business coaching to business owners. However, this does not mean selling your business and buying a new one, it means owning a new complementary business that will provide recurring monthly revenues and new growth opportunities for your current business.

For example, if you are an accountant and run a small accounting firm, and now are also a TAB facilitator, you can see revenue growth in your current business if your TAB members (business owners) need your accounting services as well. Although you cannot make them use your firm, or suggest that you are the only firm, the fact that you are already working with them and their business might go a long way when they are considering who to hire for their accounting needs.

Adding a new business to your existing business requires a lot of thinking, specifically about whether you have the fundamental operational aspects of your current business in place. You’ll need to look at whether you have a strong foundation in terms of staffing, operations and processes in place, because being a TAB facilitator will require you to be out of the office perhaps more than you already are, and you don’t want to sacrifice current business integrity or revenue for this new business venture.

As a business owner with vision and growth on your mind, you might want to consider becoming a TAB facilitator. It’s an opportunity to do what you love, make a real difference with others, leverage your expertise and receive recurring revenues. Contact me to discuss how to get started.


Business Growth: How to Build Business Relationships After a Networking Event

rawpixel-com-267082.jpgIn previous blogs, I’ve discussed how to effectively attend networking events. You’re now quite adept at working the room and making the most of your opportunities. And, some of the connections you’ve made have the potential to develop into valuable business relationships. However, attending the event is only the beginning. Whether or not you’re able to build successful business relationships after attending a networking event depends on how well you follow-up.

Business owners often share with me that their networking event was not successful because they didn’t get any ‘real’ leads, but the truth is, that leads are not built in a day and this is why follow up after attending a networking event is so critical. In order to build business relationships after a networking event, you’ll need to follow up. I’ve outlined below seven tips I believe will help to increase your success at the networking events:

  1. Review and prioritize the connections you made: Review your notes and the business cards that you collected. Google the people you met and interacted with. Make a list of the ones that you believe could be a potential client, strategic partner, vendor or referral source and prioritize in order of importance.
  2. Send an email within 48 hours: Send a quick “nice to meet you email”, and personalize it by mentioning some of the things you discussed at the event. Suggest a face-to-face meeting for coffee or lunch and include a few date/time options.
  3. Connect on LinkedIn and other social media networks: This will help you build your online connections and a potential referral network. Connecting on social media also ensures that you and your connections will always be able to contact each other.
  4. Pick up the telephone and make a call: We’re so used to email, social media and text, that making a phone call has become a novel idea. Pick up the phone, have a chat and suggest a time to get together.
  5. Deliver on any promises that you made: In the course of discussion, did you promise to send your new contact some information he/she was looking for? Deliver on your promises as quickly as possible.
  6. Introduce people to each other: Add value. You may have met someone who you believe would be a great connection for someone else that you know. Make the connection. They’ll both thank you for it.
  7. Create a monthly follow-up plan: Building relationships takes time. A monthly follow-up plan will help you cultivate your contacts and build successful business relationships after attending a networking event. It’s also a great reminder.

Are you following up after attending networking events? Want more advice on building successful business relationships after attending a networking event, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


You’ve Built A Wealth Of Business Expertise – Now What?

office-1209640_1920Many senior executives want to share the lessons they’ve learned from their 20+ years of experience at several large corporations, but with the changing landscape of corporate culture, these execs are being ‘pushed’ out or looking for new opportunities.

I’ve spoken to countless senior executives that have climbed the proverbial corporate ladder, and have been dedicated to progressively building their careers at a huge multinational for years, even decades. However, they are finding that the face of the company is changing and a younger group of individuals now reflect the corporate culture. Some are facing the possibility of being phased out, or are looking for ideas and direction for what may become the next chapter of their career.

There is little doubt that today’s rapidly changing, globally competitive environment often requires a shift in mindset and competencies, and a growing number of senior executives in their 50s are evaluating their value and long-term growth plans. These professionals were hired by large multinationals when in their 20s and have enjoyed travelling the world, solving business issues, creating new processes and plans, organizing teams, going to tradeshows and conferences, and engaging in high-stake meetings with their colleagues in Asia. Where do they go from here?

When you have fully invested in your career and have a wealth of knowledge, the question is how can you share your wisdom and help others reach their goals?

If you are interested in learning about an opportunity to leverage your business expertise and provide guidance to business owners while giving you the freedom to work at your own pace, build equity, meet local business owners and become part of your business community, check out this website or simply contact me to discuss your situation.


Put an End to the Feast and Famine of Owning Your Own Business

indexI’ve seen it time and time again, business owners, whether they own an accounting, engineering firm, marketing agency or IT company, are left feeling vulnerable due to the feast and famine of income streams.

When I meet with business owners they share with me their concerns about their struggle for consistent revenues; one month the financials look great, but next month, they are not on target and they begin to stress about making enough income to cover their expenses. Sometimes this cycle is endless and it can take a toll on the many business owners striving for income predictability and growth.

When a business experiences the feast or famine scenario, things like hiring staff for a project today in hopes that there is work for them tomorrow can result in more stress and pressure on the owner to bring in more business.

Owning a business can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but so often business owners are conflicted with decisions about hiring the right staff, committing to paying rent for the appropriate space, investing in office equipment and technology, not to mention marketing. Without consistent and predictable revenue it is hard to make long term plans that will allow owners of professional services businesses to accomplish their goals.

If you are interested in learning about a professional business that will put an end to this feast or famine scenario but still give you the freedom to own a business, check out this website or simply contact me to discuss your situation.


The Roles They Are A-Changin’

changes-aheadAs a business owner, you know how important it is to keep things fresh and innovative in your workplace, but when making changes, you’ll need to consider how your plans might impact your employees.

If you are in the process of job redesign where employees are assigned new roles that play into their strengths and contribute to a more successful business, these changes can be stressful to your employees. If someone has been hired for a particular job and then he or she is suddenly expected to perform a different role in the organization, tension and stress can result.

A recent report found that 46% of 1,018 Canadian employees recently surveyed had taken time off work or noticed other employees taking sick leave following workplace changes, a common symptom of a stressed-out workplace.

I’ve outlined below a few tips on how you can shift roles in your organization without contributing to employee stress:

  1. Share your vision.

Why are you doing this? What is this change going to accomplish for your organization? Sharing this vision with employees will allow them to understand exactly why this is happening, and help them find their part in it.

  1. Keep the lines of communication open in regards to role change.

Ask employees how they feel they can contribute to a new role and encourage conversation. By doing this, you can evaluate each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, while giving them an opportunity to work in a new role they would truly enjoy.

Make sure employees stay up to date as things begin to shift. For example, when you have made some final role decisions, send out an email to all staff informing them of the new structure. Keeping everyone in the know will ensure a smooth transition process.

  1. When your employees begin their new role, make sure they feel supported.

Assuming a new role can be challenging, especially if the employee doesn’t have a lot of previous experience in the position. Positive reinforcement can go a long way, as employees are less likely to experience stress when they report a positive and supportive workplace culture.

In today’s workplace, you need to keep things fresh, but maintain a balance against a backdrop of inclusiveness and communication. Learning how to handle change effectively is what will keep your team on the right path to growing your business.

How have you successfully restructured your business?