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Help your business in good times or bad

If your business is a small- or medium-sized business in Canada, it is one of over one million Canadian enterprises that, together, account for approximately 45% of Canada's GDP (according to CFIB). Your collective success drives Canada forward. But that success doesn't come easy. Small businesses face challenges dealing with everything from staffing to sales. Still, despite those challenges, you remain optimistic. You're ready to meet those challenges head-on and grow your business.

Three common challenges facing small businesses include increasing sales, reducing costs (time and money) and remaining competitive.

But, how do you it?

To succeed, you must evaluate, innovate and collaborate.

Evaluate your customer pool

Because of limited resources, small businesses often get caught in the spinning hamster wheel of daily operations. Clients need to be served, orders need to be filled, and bills need to be paid. However, taking a time-out to take stock of your customer base, and analyze the potential of new markets, can pay dividends well-worth the effort.

There are two ways for businesses to increase sales: 1. Sell more to existing customers. 2. Sell to more customers. To achieve these objectives you must ask yourself questions. Who are your customers? How do you reach them? Do your business processes work for them? What do they want? What else can you provide? Who else can you sell to?

Your answers to the questions above will help you assess potential avenues for expanding your business.

What's more, advances in logistics, communications and technology, and the proliferation of free trade agreements, are providing increased access to global markets.

No matter your size, you can engage in global trade

If you're ready, get off the hamster wheel. It's time to grow.

Innovate to save time and money

The word "innovate" tends to lead people to think of technology – and with good reason. The technology sector leads the way in providing new tools that simplify our lives.

Consumers and big businesses are quick to adopt such tools, but small businesses are frequently less quick to move. Research shows that a factor linked to this slow adoption is that small, domestic markets, like Canada, are less conducive to innovation than large markets, like the United States or the European Union. However, innovative technology has consistently proven to save time and money by facilitating communication, improving business agility and increasing productivity.

Two concrete ways businesses can use technology to reduce costs are by using up-to-date inventory management systems and by automating supply chain processes. A strong inventory management system gives you quick and easy insight into the location and quantity of your products, and it lets you manage and control their movement. Automated supply chain processes enable you to streamline the procurement, processing, tracking and delivery of the goods you need, and the products you sell.

However, innovation does not always require technology. What it does require is that you be willing to modify established processes, by introducing new products, methods or ideas.

You can be innovative and reduce expenses by implementing creative subtractions: ask yourself how you can simplify your processes. What steps can you remove? What processes can you combine? What tools can you re-use? A common question is 'what will it cost to be innovative? Innovation comes at a cost, but with proper planning, you can secure the resources you need to ensure that your innovative steps reap rewards.

How to get big money behind bright ideas

Collaborate to win

It's a competitive world. There are threats to your business coming from all sides. But there's help. GS1 Canada is here to work with you. Our standards and services enable more than 20, 000 organizations – of all sizes from over 23 sectors – to enhance their efficiency and cost-effectiveness through the use of electronic supply chain best practices.

From facilitating sector-wide work groups to address common supply chain challenges through GS1 standards, to providing access to education and best practices for streamlining your supply chain, to being an implementation partner supporting your adoption of standards-based tools that drive efficiencies, GS1 Canada helps you take your business to the next level. Contact membership services today to learn more about the tools and services that will help you grow you business.

It won't be easy

Business isn't easy – especially for small enterprises. But opportunity lies ahead. By being willing to evaluate, innovate and collaborate, small businesses can overcome challenges and create opportunities for success. And your success will continue to drive Canada forward.