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Mar 23, 2022

Three priorities to set your small business up for success

Our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic starts and ends with business. In this blog series, we look at the different ways Canadian businesses have contributed to helping lead our recovery.

This blog is sponsored and provided by RBC.  

Operating in times of change – by now, it’s become second nature to Canadian business owners.

Indeed, a recent Small Business poll from RBC found that a majority of business owners and Canadians believe that adaptability is the number one most important factor for success now and in the future – a finding perhaps unsurprising amidst unpredictable world events, evolving economic conditions and health measures.

But while an ability to pivot with the changing times is truly invaluable, many of the small business owners surveyed also cited specific priorities that they believe to be equally critical in navigating and adapting for the future.

In fact, when asked what businesses should consider when preparing for the months ahead, here’s what entrepreneurs and Canadians surveyed from coast-to-coast had to say:

Cash is king

As we contend with continued uncertainty, half of small business owners agreed that having cash reserves should be the top priority for businesses in the months ahead. With access to cash, those surveyed would focus on paying off debt (39%), investing in new technology (30%), focusing on marketing tactics (17%) and refreshing business appearance (17%).

For those looking to more closely manage their financial health, consider the following tips:

  • Monitor daily your cash balances and reconciliation with accounting
  • Implement a cash flow forecasting process on a 13-week cycle to help drive your short-term decisions in regards to payables, receivables and inventory
  • Explore your bank’s available offerings to see if they offer digital solutions to streamline these processes. For example, RBC offers solutions, such as NOMI for Business or the RBC Business Cash Flow tool that can help track the money going in and out of your accounts, as well as digital payment options such as RBC PayEdge that help to minimize fraud and make reconciling your accounts faster and easier.

Get creative to keep talent

Amid the great resignation, business owners agree that adopting a creative set of hiring strategies is essential to attracting the next generation of talent. Of those surveyed by RBC, 42% agreed that offering wellness benefits would be key for recruitment, while 37% say the same for implementing remote and flexible work. Likewise, one in three agree a 4-day workweek and digital tools in the workplace can also help to draw in potential talent.

These survey findings point to the unique ways in which small businesses can turn their size to their advantage in a tight labour market by adopting tailored approaches to flexibility, culture and benefits. For example, programs to support your employees with financial planning, such as RBC Group Advantage™, can be a great differentiator to help you take care of employees and support their financial and overall wellness. By getting creative, leaning into your value, and promoting some game-changing differentiators, small businesses can actively become a place where the best people want to be.

Put the customer at the center of your strategy

Though financially prudent, Canadians and small business owners say that, in the bigger picture, businesses should be focused on people above profit. When polled, 28% of Canadians agree that businesses who put the needs and wellbeing of clients and customers first are most likely to succeed in the future, while only 9% say the same for businesses who focus foremost on profit.

Especially in a world where the way we do business has rapidly evolved, it’s increasingly essential for small businesses to ensure the personal touch that earns the loyalty of their customers. For small business owners, this can mean finding ways to keep connected to your customers – whether through social media, newsletters, or even reaching out personally to share news and tailored offers that are relevant to your local customers. Finally, it can also pay dividends to take the time and truly understand your customer. For this, online tools and platforms like RBC Insight EdgeTM for Small Business that provide real-time intelligence on client activity, preferences and spending patterns can be invaluable to dig deeper and gain a holistic picture of your customers’ wants and needs.

Entrepreneurs today are undoubtedly operating in a world where change is the only constant. Yet as a starting point to set priorities, it’s clear that cautious cash management, a creative approach to talent, as well as a customer-centric strategy are considered the keys to small business success by owners, customers and Canadians alike.  

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