5 essentials for small business success

Planning to launch a small business? Make Community Futures Okanagan/Similkameen your first stop

If you’ve dreamed of hanging out your shingle on a business of your own, you’re not alone.

According to Small Business BC, as of December 2015, there were 388,500 small businesses (less than 50 employees), and 79 per cent of them had less than five employees. Together these business employed over one million people.

For the best chance at success, prospective business owners must do their homework, and that’s where the local experts at Community Futures Development Corporation of Okanagan-Similkameen come in, supporting small business and economic development through business training, business loans and more.

1. Business plan? I know what I want to do … why do I need it?

“Business planning provides a roadmap for success that addresses the many moving parts that come with owning a business,” explains Community Futures’ Nicole Clark.

For example, fully understanding your financial position will help you make the best decisions, whether you’re looking at spending less or expanding. What laws and regulations affect your business? Who is your “Ideal Client” and why is that important?

2. What are some of the basics that make for a successful business?

In addition to mastering the basics with the popular Business Plan Development Program, Community Futures offers hands-on workshops in bookkeeping, social media, website building, human resource management, succession planning and more.

3. Succession planning? But I’m focused on my business today …

“Succession planning helps you make decisions that let you craft the best exit from your business,” Clark says. “Whether you’re planning to sell in five years or pass it down to your children, having a plan today will help you create your business of tomorrow.

4. I’m in a traditional industry … I don’t need to worry about social media, right?

Wrong. Social media is a mainstay in marketing. It’s important to learn where your Ideal Client is hanging out on social media so you can build a relationship with them. “Social proof is also a big part of today’s buyer journey. People want to know a company is living up to its promise through great reviews and recommendations from their own online community,” Clark says.

Get social media savvy with Community Futures’ Social Media for Entrepreneurs class.

5. Do I still need a professional website?

“Canadians are among the most active eCommerce consumers, with statistics indicating 76 to 80 per cent of us shop online,” Clark says, noting that excluding travel, eMarketer estimates almost $39 billion will be spent online by Canadian consumers in 2017 and sales are expected to reach $44 billion in 2018. A professional website is critical to gaining access to those dollars.

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