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The Leading Edge January 2016
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

In this Issue

Six Tips for Success in 2016

Starting A Buy Local Campaign In Your Community

Coach's Corner - 6 Questions to Kick-Start Your New Year's Resolution

Small Business is Big in Canada


THE LEADING EDGE - Smartphone cases that increase your phone's battery up to 120%.

Small Business News:

Red Tape Awareness Week 2016 - From January 18-22, CFIB is spreading the word that your small business faces too many unnecessary barriers: silly rules, confusing regulations, mountains of paperwork, and unhelpful government policies. Read more...

CPP/QPP expansion on hold...for now - The federal government and the provinces have put the brakes on increasing Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) premiums. Read more...

What the Liberals may have in store for the small business tax rate - Looming potential tax changes for incorporated professionals and business owners who run their practice or business through a Canadian-Controlled Private Corporation or CCPC. Read more...

BMO Holiday Spending Report TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 22, 2015) - Canadians report they are going to be more strategic in their spending this year, with fewer expecting to go into debt and more turning to rewards such as points, miles and cashback to extend their purchasing power. Read more...

    Six Tips for Success in 2016

Every New Year I feel a surge of enthusiasm for my business - a new year offers the opportunity of a fresh start, perhaps not in terms of the company itself, but certainly in how we as a business owner approach running our business.

Here are six things you can do right now to increase the chances of business success in 2016.

  1. Hold a retreat - as early as you can in the new year get together with your management team, staff, mentors, advisors, or whomever helps you with your business. Take a good look at where your business stands currently and where you would like it to be by the end of the year. Come up with six goals, break them down into objectives and action points and allocate responsibility for each action point to someone and attach a timeline. The number of goals doesn't matter but it should not be too many.
  2. When working on point number one, a key priority should be less is more. You, as the business owner, can't focus on everything at once, so decide what your personal priorities are and focus on them keenly.
  3. Reach out to your customers and wish them success in 2016. At the same time provide them with something that adds value to what you already sell them. This doesn't have to cost you a lot, or anything at all. Think about how you can offer them something that will add value to their business. It may be as simple as sending them useful information about your industry, or how they can use your product or service better. It could be a discount, or perhaps you could start sending them a newsletter like this one!
  4. When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your finances? Many of us are so busy working in our businesses we forget the value of working on our business. Make an appointment with your accountant and sit down with them to go through your most recent financials. Look closely at your gross and net profits, especially study your expenses and look at where you might save money. Remember every $100 saved on your costs goes straight to bottom line profit. Ask your accountant to supply you with quarterly management accounts so you can keep track of your financial performance and take action quickly when things are not going to plan.
  5. This is a fun one - create a bucket list for your business. If there were no barriers what would you like for your business? Maybe you want to end the year with no line of credit, or perhaps afford a new computer or other piece of equipment? Perhaps you'd like to double your staff, have the courage to fire someone, or hold a sales conference in the sun somewhere. No matter, create your list and you'll be surprised at how opportunities to check some of them off will all of a sudden appear.
  6. Finally, for one entire week make a note of all your workday activities. One way to do this easily is to use your day book and jot down what you are currently doing and once you move onto something else note the start and finish time of that and all subsequent activities. At the end of the week annotate the list to show which activities made money for your business and which didn't. Success lies in doing more of the activities that increase revenues and less of those that don't - the latter actually cost your business. When I was a consultant some years ago I noted how many hours a day I actually billed rather than did other stuff and was surprised to learn I was only making money for about 25% of the week!

I hope that 2016 will be good for you and your business. Success relies in great part on a positive attitude and how well we focus on the important things in our business. If in this new year you focus on the areas of your business that make money, rather than cost money you will end the year in a far better place than when you started it.

Starting A Buy Local Campaign In Your Community Top


Following on last month's article about Buy Local campaigns, we thought you might like to know a little about starting your own campaign. The best campaigns are started by an alliance of local businesses. If you think you'd like to start a shop, or buy local campaign in your town, here are a few basic first steps.

  1. Begin the conversation with those local business leaders you already know - ask them if they'd help launch a campaign. Once you have several keen, key, business owners on side spread the word until you have enough to form a steering committee (business owners mostly, but also community leaders, and representatives from business organizations) and launch an association that will set parameters and manage the campaign. It can be a formal, or semi-formal organization, but it does require a structure that will enable it to build a membership, and raise funds.
  2. Set some initial goals and objectives and a timeline. For instance when do you want to launch the campaign? Once you've done this you can let the media know your plans and this will generate interest from others wishing to be involved and offer help. If there is sufficient interest you might get everyone together informally to discuss the initiative, or even hold a workshop to educate people about Buy Local campaigns.
  3. Develop relationships with a local graphic designer, marketer, web developer and others who will help you come up with a name, slogan and logo at no cost to support the campaign. Give these people free memberships in return for the support. Go online and see what other communities are using - here's a few examples: Go Local; Keep it Local; Grow Your Community - Buy Local; Come In - We're Local.
  4. Once you've grown your membership and got some funds, you can develop a campaign kit. Here's where support in-kind come in again so approach a local print shop to see if they will give you a deal, or even print material at no cost. The kit can include things like: decals for businesses windows; posters; top ten reasons to shop local flyers; fridge magnets; shopping bags; campaign t-shirts - whatever you feel will work in your community.
  5. Depending on the size of your community you can now hold a press conference, or perhaps a reception where you can present the new campaign to local business owners and the media at the same time. Make it a fun event and get your committee members and other volunteers to wear their campaign t-shirts. Sign up as many people as you can at the event. Ask everyone that is keen to join to try to bring onboard another business owner.
  6. Grow membership - now you have a promotional kit and a website, you'll start getting some traction. Develop membership criteria around what the definition of a 'local' business is to you. For instance do all owners or a business need to live in the community or just one of them? What about franchises? Then create a target list of businesses that you will encourage to join. Oh, and come up with a membership cost that is high enough to cover your costs, but low enough to be affordable for small businesses.
  7. Now you're ready for the big launch - hold an event and invite your initial members, everyone on your target list (preferably personally rather than by mass email) and of course the media. Have your story ready for reporters and provide them with a press kit including your rationale for the campaign, a list of inaugural members and your committee and at least some of the promotional material.

This will get you started, but you will need to sustain the enthusiasm, meet regularly and hold events and spread the message. In a future issue. we'll provide some tips on how to keep your early success on track.

Coach's Corner - 6 Questions to Kick-Start Your New Year's Resolution Top


As we enter a new year, we often write down or at least think up a number of New Year's resolutions. These resolutions may be personal, career or business related. Too often we do not fulfill these resolutions because they seem overwhelming and hard to achieve.

In coaching it is not so much about the answers—we have the answers within each of us—it is about the questions. The questions keep us thinking about outcomes, goals and successes we desire. The questions help shift our thinking patterns to explore the variety of options that are available to us. The questions assist us in keeping the focus on the goal.

What are the important questions that will help you to keep that important resolution? With each i> mportant question that is asked of you, there are supplementary questions that will help you zero in on what you truly want.

Here are six questions with some related questions to help you get started on your most important resolution.

  1. At the end of this year, what is the most important thing that you want to achieve? This is about your vision for your personal or your company's future and it is important to consider one resolution at a time. Subsequent questions may be: Why is this important to you? What does this success look like?
  2. How ready are you to take action? This speaks to your commitment and willingness to take some risks and leads to some other questions. What is holding you back? What are some challenges that you see?
  3. What would you need to be successful? As you start to figure out your path, other questions may arise that help clarify the ultimate goal and help you reflect. What have you learned from past experience or success? What resources are available to you? Who can help you with this?
  4. What is the first small step you can take? This question is clearly about breaking down the ultimate goal into manageable steps and getting started. A couple of other questions may be: What are three different ways to reach your goal? When will you start?
  5. How do you stay inspired and motivated to fulfill this dream? This question is about keeping the focus on your resolution until you have succeeded. How are you going to stay accountable to fulfilling this promise? Who have you shared your passion for this resolution with?
  6. How will you celebrate your success? It is important to acknowledge your accomplishment with some sort of celebration. It is also advisable to find suitable mini-celebrations as you fulfill the "small steps" along the way. Who will you invite to celebrate this success? What will each celebration look like?

Whatever the resolution, try to keep it in the forefront every day and make it a habit. Write down your resolution and the answers to the questions you have had along the way. Share your resolution with others—a member of your family, a good friend, your coach, your mentor, your colleagues—and keep them informed as you proceed.

Happy Questioning in 2016.

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach,

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