Start-ups and small and medium-sized business owners are always looking for new ways to make sure they stay ahead of their competitors – and growth is the way that most experts see as the best answer. They want to stay competitive with other small business, but they also want to stay competitive with larger global brands. Growth can come in many forms, but the top ones currently are:

  • Expansion into new markets
  • Building your online presence
  • Automating the processes within your company
  • Do not just attend networking events or training seminars – create your own

Expansion into new markets. Canadian companies should look outside their borders for new markets, but not before tapping into good growth markets at home. Once those Canadian growth markets are exhausted, then they need to explore U.S. markets that closely resemble the make up their best Canadian markets. They need to look at the demographics and business climate in those potential U.S. markets, as well as the competitive advantages they might have in terms of economics and cross-border trade.

When a company from the U.S. sees Canada as a place to expand their business, they need to look at the advantages they may have in under-serviced sectors. Some businesses like Whole Foods have thrived in Canada because they were able to fit into a market that was crying out for something different. Canada can also be a great test market for a company’s product or business model, before trying to expand into other international markets. If a product or service does not work in Canada (which shares many of the same U.S. demographics and consumer values), then that is a strong indicator that it may encounter problems in other international markets. Before considering expansion into Canada, you should read the whitepaper Doing Business in Canada.

Get your business online. This may sound like common sense, but statistics show that in both Canada and the U.S., on average, only 50% of small businesses have a website. In this digital age, more consumers and businesses are sourcing the products that they are looking for using the Internet. While the need for a website by almost every small business is important, it is even more important for retailers and businesses who sell products directly to the public. Companies who made a website for their business a few years ago but have neglected it, should consider that it is 2017 and time to do a re-fresh. Website design and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices are constantly evolving – and what looked great in 2014 will quickly look dated, and the site might not rank as well on search engines as it did previously. Small businesses who have a website need to perform a website audit and identify areas that are outdated and where search visibility improvements can be made.

Automating the processes within your company. When most small business owners hear the word automation, they think of needing to replace staff with robots, but that is not what automating processes are all about. A small business owner needs to evaluate what things on their to-do lists take up the majority of their time and how those processes might be more automated and free up more time to focus on the core functions of the business. Can the inventory management, invoicing and customer relationship management (CRM) be done better with a better workflow system that requires less time spent hands-on? Can sales leads and customer management be better handled using CRM software? Would moving your office into an office business centre  or a serviced office space save on having to hire a receptionist? Does the need to manage the operation of an office or perform secretarial duties (that take time away from core business functions) benefit the business better than having traditional office space for lease? These are some of the questions small business owners needs to consider when automating the processes within their company.

Don’t just attend networking events or training seminars – create your own. Many small business owners are not satisfied with the results of the networking events that they have gone to in the past, but they might consider starting their own. Some small business owners have even turned creating niche networking events into a business of their own. Sometimes the biggest challenges for a B2B (Business to Business) company to close a sale or retain a customer, is that the customer does not understand how the product works or how upgrades to the product will benefit them – so they put on a training session. Renting a seminar or training room and conducting a training session can help to gain new sales and to remind current customers why they purchased the product or service in the first place.

These tips could help make your business a success no matter what type of industry you are in. For small business, marketing, sales and other tips, you should consider following Telsec’s blogs and following us on social media where we share more tips and advice from many different sources.