Has the current turbulence and volatility in the global financial markets affected your business? Small business owners by their very nature are resilient and tough-minded. Nonetheless, to ensure your ability to respond effectively and recover as quickly as possible to any factors that may affect your business, proper planning and preparations on how to deal with demanding times need to be taken.
CFIB offers the following suggested best practices used by our members, today's successful entrepreneurs:
- It is important to keep your employees up to date on factors affecting your business, especially during tough times. Encourage your employees to offer ideas to help your business grow and offer them small incentives. Communicate openly so they are kept in the loop. And, if you have to deliver bad news, such as a lay off, let your employees know what you are doing to retain and reward those still with you.
- Small business owners will do everything they can to hold onto their existing staff. Employee training and education is a proven investment that pays for itself. Keep good employees by helping them gain the skills they need to help grow your business. CFIB can provide you with the tools you need.
- Satisfied customers are the best form of promotion, so work hard on maintaining excellent customer relations. Take the time to evaluate the policies you have implemented over the years and look at them from the customer's perspective. Flexible policies will increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. The only way to find out how your business rates, is to ask your customers. This process alone shows you care and fosters customer loyalty.
- Get out and join a business organization or form one! It can be as simple as a monthly breakfast club to share best practices and ideas. Meet other business owners, share ideas and work together on issues that concern you all. Some groups are dedicated to networking, others, like CFIB provide resources to save you and your business time and money.
- Make sure you have contingency plans in place, anticipating and minimizing worst case scenarios. But, even with the best plans in place a disaster can occur. So, no matter what has happened be honest with your customers, suppliers and financial institution and stay in constant communication. Most will understand and may be more flexible if they know what your situation is.
- Be pro-active in reaching out to your financial institution by making sure you are both on the same page in terms of all the important financial matters that pertain to your business. Part of your planning for the worst should be to establish additional sources of credit. Be realistic about your short and long term cash flow projections. Ask what it means to the future of your business.
- If you are planning to expand, evaluate your purchases carefully. Research leasing vs. buying equipment options and read all leases and contracts carefully.
- Take extra time to examine your budgeting process. Manage overhead and operating expenses by talking to CFIB about our Privilege Programs that can help reduce your telecom, banking, credit card costs and more.
- Don't get thrown off stride by stock market swings. The market ups and downs can cause turmoil on Bay Street but that doesn't always mean the same will be true on Main Street. Measure wisely using only those key indicators you need to run your business. Don't waste time compiling reports you never use. Decide what you need to know to run a successful business, study those reports regularly and use them to take action.
- As a small business owner you are accustomed to ups and downs and realize this is part of being an entrepreneur. Regularly review and reflect on your business practices. Know what is working. Review what isn't.
We wish you continued success in your business!
CFIB has been representing the interests of small- and medium-sized Canadian-owned enterprises since 1971. With over 109,000 members across the country; CFIB has grown to become the largest individual membership business organization in Canada.