Predictions for the year ahead
It's that time of year: fresh out of the starting gate, the prognosticators look ahead at what the next 12 months will bring. And more than a few crystal balls are focused on small business.
Among them, on the Amex Open Forum, small business speaker, author and consultant Barry Moltz weighs in with a dozen predictions for the year ahead, and how they will affect small businesses. They include another win for Obama, no double-dip recession, rising sales and fuel prices, and tight bank lending. Check out the predictions and what they mean for small businesses.
More Canadian small businesses upbeat: survey
Forty-three per cent of Canadian small businesses feel their outlook for 2012 is better than business was in 2011, while 40 per cent expect no change and just 17 per cent are thinking things will get worse, according to a survey of 300 Canadian small business owners done by Sage and Sage Simply Accounting.
Getting new customers topped the list of challenges they expect to face, according to 43 per cent, followed by increased competition for 26 per cent, taxes for 21 per cent, customer retention for 20 per cent and government regulations for 14 per cent. Despite the rocky economy, challenges such as a weaker Canadian dollar, the European debt crisis and a stronger Canadian dollar, ranked further down, at 6 per cent, 4 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.
As for where they are placing their focus this year, 33 per cent cited cutting expenses, and 27 per cent said launching new services or products. Other focuses were to invest more in new technology, for 20 per cent; hire more employees, at 19 per cent; invest more in sales and marketing; for 7 per cent; and seek additional financing, also for 17 per cent.
Another gauge of growing small business optimism: The Canadian Federation of Independent Business's business barometer index climbed in December to 65, nearly a point and a half above its November level, and more in keeping with the 65 to 70 level it usually reaches when the economy is expanding, according to the CFIB.
You can also check out an infographic from Intuit based on surveys it conducted that looks back on 2011 and ahead with how small business owners view 2012.
Small business failures: an infographic
What makes small businesses sink or swim? Here's another neat infographic compiling facts and figures from a variety of sources on U.S. small business success and failure rates, and reasons for their demise.
EVENTS AND KEY DATES
Planning a business plan
For help with how, and why, to prepare a business plan, the Business Development Centre is hosting a free seminar on Jan. 7 in Toronto. The seminar will look at why you should commit to a plan, how best to put it together, and when to change it, even when it is working. For more information, click here.
How to catch a heavyweight buyer's eye
Want some insights into what technology heavyweights look for in a potential acquisition? Check out an upcoming event by Miller Thomson LLP, featuring partner Anthony de Fazekas as a speaker and using real case studies to see what acquisitors like in startups. Part of the MaRS best practice series, it takes place in Toronto on Jan. 24. For more information, click here.
All about franchising
For those interested in franchising, the Business Exchange is hosting the Business, Franchise & Investment Expo in Vancouver on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. The show is designed for both entrepreneurs and investors. For more information, click here .
Fuel your startup
There's a Jan. 7 deadline to apply for a spot as one of the teams to be picked for Montreal-based startup accelerator FounderFuel's 12-week program, which offers access to mentors, advisers, investors and seed funding to help startups boost their businesses. For more information, click here.
EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS
"The past year saw more news outlets than ever before leverage social media to extend their reach and provide a forum for two-way conversations between journalists and their audiences," writes Mia Pearson in her latest column. As more news outlets make use of social media and more consumers have access to content when and where they want it, she offers up a few PR strategies to keep in mind.
FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES
Franchise or more corporate stores? Decision made
Expand through franchising or corporate stores? That was the challenge facing Frogbox Inc. when the Vancouver-based seller of eco-friendly moving boxes and supplies was trying to decide its growth strategy into the United States last June. What choice did it make? Check out its decision when we revisited the company in October.
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