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Don’t put it off: Top 5 things your small business should do today

Advice for how to ensure the longevity and success of your small business




Advice for how to ensure the longevity and success of your small business

In 2015, there were approximately 388,500 small businesses in British Columbia, making up a staggering 98 per cent of all businesses in the province.

These small enterprises play a critical role in B.C’s economy, however stats show that many of them fail after the first year in business. Often, the cause is short-sightedness and a failure to plan for the future.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin thinking about the long-term health of your small business. Committing to a few simple endeavours now can do wonders to ensure the longevity and success of your company.


1. Build your personal network

With a plethora of networking groups in the province, there really is a niche for every niche. Whether a tech start-up or a traditional brick-and-mortar shop, seek out ways to meet like-minded business owners facing similar struggles, pitfalls and opportunities. Attending networking groups and events will not only help you promote your business but can also provide you with free advice and new sources of emotional and professional support. Here are a few suggestions to find small-business networking opportunities in Vancouver. 


2. Build your online presence

It’s not enough for an entrepreneur to know they have a great business; everyone else needs to know about it for it to be successful. Many small businesses overlook their web presence, however having even a simple site adds a new level of credibility to an enterprise. According to the Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA), 26 per cent of Canadians don’t trust a business without a website, and 63 percent of Canadians think having a website makes a business more trustworthy.

Even if you are a traditional brick-and-mortar business, a professional website and social media presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Yelp can not only make it easier for potential customers to find you—it can provide invaluable free marketing.


3. Secure your business against cyber threats

With more and more business interactions taking place online, it’s important to keep web, email and data security top-of-mind. Many small businesses don’t consider cyber security because they think only big businesses with deep pockets are targeted, but that’s not the case. Ransomware attacks are commonly targeted to small businesses, with hackers locking entrepreneurs out of their files and demanding thousands of dollars to decrypt the information and restore access to critical business data. In addition to draining your coffers, a cyber-attack could also lead to the leak of your customers’ personal information, which could be a reputation killer that a small business would not be able to recover from.

“Every business needs to be thinking about cyber security no matter how big or small. In today’s threat landscape, all businesses are vulnerable, but arguably, small businesses are at greatest risk given their sometimes limited resources,” says Pamela Snively, Chief Data and Trust Officer at TELUS. “Any breach to your data, applications and network could have serious consequences for the health of your business.”


4. Balance your books

For entrepreneurs without an accounting or finance background, balancing the books can be a daunting task. Luckily, today there are a variety of accounting apps and widgets that can track income, expenses and more. Leverage that technology to make it easier to run your business.

Even if you have a smartphone or tablet to assist you, it’s also important to take the time to learn about managing budgets and remitting taxes. You can hire bookkeepers and accountants, but without understanding where the money is going or coming from, it’s easy to lose track of your finances.


5. Protect your intellectual property

Many small businesses are so eager to introduce their products or services to the world that they forget to protect themselves from the theft of their most valuable assets. Depending on what you have created, you may need to apply for trademark, copyright or even a patent. Trademarks are designed for brand imagery, language and other markers that identify a company’s products or services, while patents grant an inventor exclusive rights to products or services. Copyright protects artistic, dramatic, literary or musical creations.

From day one, entrepreneurs should research available options and laws regarding intellectual property. Not only will this protect your assets, but it can also protect you from potential lawsuits filed against you by other companies. To learn more about the differences between options and how you can protect your intellectual property, visit the Government of Canada’s Canadian Intellectual Property Office website.