2018 and the future of Canadian small businesses

Small_Business_Owner_CanadaIn the spirit of Canada’s Small Business Week and our many B2B clients, we wanted to dedicate a post to the Canadian Small Business owner and take a look at what their future holds. Let’s explore the positives, the challenges ahead and what it means for us marketers and advertisers (keeping the politics out of it):

1. There’s more clarity around the tax impact on small businesses but the doubt and uncertainty still lingers.

  • The federal government recently announced a small business tax cut to 9% by 2019, after (arguably) a very heated consultation phase where many small business owners and associations  its small business tax. This is good news for small business owners’ bottom lines and eases some worries about sharing assets between family members in family businesses.
  • However…some argue this felt more like “damage control” by the government and with minimum wage hikes being planned to roll out across multiple provinces, more tax plan details to be unveiled and NAFTA debates in motion, it’s not an overly comforting situation for small business owners across the country.
  • With four consecutive months of declining confidence according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s  (CFIB) Business Barometer® Index, we’re not expecting confidence to suddenly rebound and skyrocket in the next couple of months. If you’re marketing to Canadian small business owners, keep this in mind as budget conscious owners will have even more added stress on their plate.

2. New technologies and platforms are providing more opportunities for small businesses to extend their reach – but with it also comes some enhanced competition. 

  •  Technology is a beautiful thing for the modern-day small business owner, especially for those in the retail, hospitality, food services, consumer packaged goods and professional and technical services. From getting a free business listing site with Google to social media platforms galore that make it easier than ever to showcase new products and build a loyal fan base. (If you’re a small business owner reading this and want to know more about free technology solutions that can help grow your business, check out our presentation on how to Do-It-Yourself Marketing tips)
  • To the point above, it will be essential for new startups and entrepreneurs to embrace and leverage these technologies to the best of their ability in order to keep up with online heavyweights like Amazon and Walmart, who are providing consumers speedy delivery and cost savings without having to leave their homes. Although based on US-data, it’s important to take note that 55% of online shoppers start their product search on Amazon (rather than use search engine king Google) (Source: Recode 2016). Small businesses that don’t have local community support and depend on online means for sales need to invest their efforts on building loyal social fan-bases, optimizing their search and exploring partnerships

3. The holiday season is coming…and with it there should be an optimism boost.

  •  Even with looming regulations and heavy competition there is some light at the end of the near-future tunnel. The holiday season is a time when Canadians are ready to spend their hard-earned dollars. Canadians spend on average $1,507 each during the holiday season, with consumers aged 18-21 years old and millennial parents expecting to increase spending by 48% and 43%. (Source: PwC 2017 Canadian Holiday Outlook).
  • For small businesses worrying Amazon will take all of that cash flow, think again. PwC’s study found 58% of consumers plan to shop with local and independent retailers. And for small businesses with a physical location, there’s more reason to rejoice with 62% of Canadians planning on holiday shopping in-store. For online-only small businesses, the sting may not be so bad either, as 62% of Canadians say they prefer to support Canadian businesses when shopping online (Source: CIRA 2016)

The SO WHAT for small business owners reading this: There may seem to be a lot of downside this past year but let’s face it, running a small business is never not full of risk and challenges. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s time to hamper down and make sure you have all of your ducks in a row leading into November and the holiday shopping season – specifically if you’re in the retail, food and accommodation, or entertainment sectors. Double check that you’re search is firing and look for any ways you could optimize your keywords to ensure you’re being found and coming out on top in major search engines like Google. Also, if you have a social platform, start tailoring content to your target audience in a way that will answer a common problem most Canadian consumers have: “I have to buy gifts but I don’t know what to get” but also make sure it’s relevant to your customers and leverage what you know about them. And most importantly of all, track the success of all of your marketing and communications this season so you can

The SO WHAT for B2B marketers and advertising agencies: If you’re in the B2B space, specifically targeting small businesses in Canada, take into consideration the different stresses and pressures your audience is currently going through. Content marketing around how to best leverage your product or solution to help take advantage of the holiday season could help you gain awareness with prospects. Also, be patient. After the holiday surge, follow updates from CFIB’s Business Barometer® Index to see if it starts making an incline, with a boost of sales and new year’s confidence, your target audiences may be more open to discuss how your solutions/products can benefit their growth year ahead.

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