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Current trends for small businesses

crop4By Michelle Cameron
When you are planning to buy a franchise, you will need to consider the nature of running a small business in a general sense before determining which specific model to follow. It is a big job: according to Statistics Canada, the number of small businesses across the country today tops one million. This is more than ever before and continues to grow quickly.

Approximately 104,000 new businesses enter the Canadian marketplace each year, 75 per cent of which are staffed by fewer than 10 employees. This subcategory is often referred to as ‘microbusinesses.’ Some small businesses are franchises, while others are independent.

The number of self-employed Canadians reached an all-time high of 2.7 million in late 2010. That is nearly one-tenth of the country’s entire population, which may suggest heavy competition—but from the perspective of franchise systems that provide services to other small businesses, it is great news, as it means more opportunity now than ever.

Big challenges for small business

Small businesses, especially microbusinesses, face a host of challenges. For one thing, their owners must wear many hats and change them frequently; the CEO of a small business is very likely also the administrative assistant, the chief financial officer (CFO) and the vice-president (VP) of sales!

With such a wide range of responsibilities, there is generally not a lot of time left for this same individual to handle a full sales or vendor acquisition process. According to a recent research study, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Canada are spending up to 100 per cent more time than they realize completing very simple business processes, such as courier processing.

crop2The study’s findings also revealed 74 per cent of SME owners surveyed across Canada would consider changing their processes to help optimize person-hours used for revenue- and value-generating activities. They are looking for practical, reliable and convenient solutions to the problems associated with running a business by themselves.

Also, as mentioned, with the increasing number of small businesses in the Canadian market, choice abounds and competition is stiff. There is also a great deal of economic instability today. As such, these businesses need to be ‘lean’ to survive, trimming any ‘fat’ from their operations.

This often means putting off planned investment into the types of in-house resources a larger company may enjoy throughout its office environment, such as a full-service shipping department or high-production multi-function printers (MFPs). Without such back-office resources, however, a small business will be hard-pressed to operate with the same speed and efficiency as its larger counterparts can offer. So, cost-cutting poses a risk of negatively affecting customer satisfaction.

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