Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | December 8, 2018

Whether your small business is winding down or picking up, take some time to enjoy these small business blog posts and articles we’ve enjoyed recently. Read anything you liked? Let us know in the comments!

Waking Up at 5 a.m. Isn’t Enough to Make You a Successful Entrepreneur at Entrepreneur

How Two Leaders Use Hidden Storytelling Techniques To Inform And Influence at Forbes

Why Social Entrepreneurs Are So Burned Out at Harvard Business Review

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All about the 10 components of a marketing plan

By Samantha Garner | December 1, 2018

value proposition

Last week, we introduced you to the 10 key components of a marketing plan. Each are important, and deserve time and consideration.

Details of the 10 components of a marketing plan

Marketing Strategy

How will your marketing plan support your business goals? Before you start developing your marketing plan, you need to have a very clear idea of what you want to accomplish. This is your marketing strategy, and it is directly related to your business goals and objectives. Your marketing strategy outlines what you need to do in order to achieve your business goals, and the marketing plan provides the details on how you will do it.

Mission Statement

What are you trying to accomplish, and why? Your mission statement answers the questions: What are you trying to do? Why you are doing it? You may have already created a mission statement as part of your planning process. If so, you will want to add it to your marketing plan. In your marketing plan, your mission statement is the foundation. Although it may not play a direct role in your marketing activities, your mission statement focuses on your business goals and helps you make sure that the marketing activities you conduct support the business’s overall objectives. You can refer to your mission statement as a beacon guiding you to your destination. Refer back to it whenever you start to question if you are still on the right track.

Target Market

Who are you trying to reach with your marketing activities? Your target market is the specific audience – the ideal customer – you want to reach with your products and services; the group you will be attempting to sell to. The more details you include as you answer this question, the more targeted your marketing plan will be.

It’s helpful to create a sketch of the person or business that you would consider your “ideal customer.” Not only can this help you identify specifics about them, but it can also help you personalize your marketing messaging.

Competitive Analysis

Who are you up against, and where do you rank? One of the best ways to research your target market and prepare your own marketing activities is to snoop your competition. You should know who is out there selling something similar to what you are selling, especially if they are selling it to consumers that fit your ideal customer profile. Take a hard look at what they are doing right, and what they may be doing wrong.

Conducting a thorough analysis of your competition will help you identify areas where you can beat the competition, fine-tune your niche market, and make sure you are prepared to address the challenge posed by your competition.

Value Proposition

What makes your business unique? Once you know what you’re up against in the market and with your competition, you need to identify the approach that will set you apart from everyone else. What makes your business, products and services unique and desirable to your target market? A value proposition is a statement that outlines how your business, products or services deliver value to your customers, and what makes your business unique. It identifies what makes your business the better choice, and why your target clients should choose you over the competition – how are you uniquely solving customer pain?

Pricing Strategy

What will you charge, and why? If you are writing a traditional business plan, then you have already spent a great deal of time researching the best price point for your products and services. Now, it’s time to relate that pricing information to your marketing activities.

One of the most important factors to evaluate is how you will work your pricing strategy into your marketing message. In most cases, you want to be able to support the price points you have chosen by providing your customers with a clear idea of the value and benefits they will get in return. A high value proposition is often the factor that leads a customer to the decision to purchase.

Promotional Plan

How will you reach your target market? As a key element of the marketing mix your promotional plan covers all of the communication that will take place with the consumer. Essentially, your promotional plan answers the question: How will you get the word out about your value proposition to your target market? Your promotional plan should combine a variety of inbound and outbound marketing activities. While you don’t want to throw too many variations into your promotional plan in the beginning, you should start by selecting 3-5 specific activities that will help you execute the marketing strategy that you outlined in the first step.

Marketing Budget

How much money will you spend, and on what? As you outline a promotional plan, you will need to have a budget in place, so you can determine which activities you can afford while staying within your budget. Unfortunately, most new small businesses have a limited budget when it comes to marketing, so creating a promotional plan that works with the funds you have available is vital.

You may have an annual marketing budget, but it will also be necessary to break it down into separate monthly budgets so you can track results and modify the promotional plan to focus on the activities that provide you with the biggest return on investment.

Action List

What tasks do you need to complete to reach your marketing goals? Outlining exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it is an important part of your marketing plan. This will become your task list that guides you through every one of your promotional activities. Your action steps will help you stay on track so you can make consistent progress, without having to regroup and recreate the wheel every time you’re ready to take a step. To create your marketing plan action list, you will follow the same process you use when you manage your regular daily tasks: You will take the end goal, and break it down into a series of single-step tasks that will lead you to achieving your goal.

Each action item should also include a due date that works with the timeline you created for your marketing plan. And typically, the smaller the steps, the easier it will be for you to complete tasks and build momentum.


What results have you achieved, and where can you improve? All of this work you’ve put into creating a marketing plan for your small business will go out the window if you can’t track and measure the results of your activities. This step will allow you to take your marketing plan from a one-time, static document into a breathing blueprint that will grow and develop with your business.

The way you track and measure your results will depend on the type of marketing tactics you engage in. In general, the more standardized your system for tracking, the more relevant your results will be – and the more successful you will become at tailoring your marketing activities to focus on the areas where you will have the most success.

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What are the 10 parts of a marketing plan?

By Samantha Garner | November 24, 2018

small business marketing strategy

A marketing plan is an essential guide for every small business and owner – it’s a researched and written plan to guide your marketing investment. The marketing plan is updated quite frequently, usually every six months to a year.

The 10 parts components of a marketing plan

To create an effective plan, you’ll need to answer the following ten questions:

1. Marketing Strategy: How will your marketing plan support your business goals?
2. Mission Statement: What are you trying to accomplish, and why?
3. Target Market: Who are you trying to reach with your marketing activities?
4. Competitive Analysis: Who are you up against, and where do you rank?
5. Value Proposition: What makes your business unique?
6. Pricing Strategy: What will you charge, and why?
7. Promotional Plan: How will you reach your target market?
8. Marketing Budget: How much money will you spend, and on what?
9. Action List: What tasks do you need to complete to reach your marketing goals?
10. Metrics: How are you implementing, and where can you improve?

Tune in next week for more details about each of these 10 marketing plan components!

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20 ways to wrap up the year in your small business

By Samantha Garner | November 17, 2018

20 ways to wrap up the year in your small business

It’s that time of year again! As the days get shorter and chillier, you should spend some time getting your small business year all wrapped up with a nice bow. Here are some ways you can prepare for the end of the year. (Some of these tips assume a December 31 fiscal year-end, but they still apply if you have a different year-end!)

  1. Update your payroll records.
  2. Report all 2018 paycheques on T4 slips.
  3. Make sure all tax deductions are in order.
  4. Organize your accounting files, records and receipts to get up-to-date for income tax season.
  5. Make any business purchases that would qualify for tax deductions for 2018.
  6. Streamline your contacts list – remove old contacts and duplicate records, and update current contacts in your professional networks.
  7. Update your personal productivity and technology tools – download updates and templates and make sure your current apps are still working for you. Even more fun – look for new ones! Check out some productivity apps you may find useful.
  8. Create a to-do list for the first week of January and make appointments now with key advisors, especially your bookkeeper and accountant – before they get booked up.
  9. Do you have to renew any licenses or permits? Make sure you get that sorted out with enough time to spare.
  10. Review your year against your business plan. Did you meet your goals? Did you fall short? Take this time to think of new strategies based on what worked and what didn’t.
  11. Update your business plan if you’ve identified major changes in your business or the environment that didn’t exist when you wrote it.
  12. Evaluate your business’ policies and processes. Are there any that could be adjusted to help you make more sales, reduce bottlenecks, or increase employee satisfaction?
  13. Take a close look at your marketing, human resources management, financing and operations. Brainstorm some ways to improve in those areas.
  14. If you have employees, prepare and give evaluations. Discuss expectations and performance, and listen to any concerns your employees may have.
  15. Plan for holiday time off, whether or not you have employees. If you do have employees, the earlier you get everything organized, the better.
  16. Check out the latest in social media marketing strategies. What are the experts recommending for 2019?
  17. Organize your files, both physical and electronic. Make backups on a thumb drive or in the cloud, and delete files you don’t need.
  18. Keep your important information safe by updating your passwords. Apps such as LastPass or even Chrome’s and Safari’s built-in password managers can help.
  19. Change your form of organization: sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or cooperative. If it’s something you’ve been planning, you may find it easier to start the process now so that January 1 will be the first day. Check out the CRA’s website for more info.
  20. Enjoy the downtime! This is a fairly sizeable list, but the earlier you start, the easier it will be. If your small business gets quieter at the end of the year, give yourself a well-deserved rest. You’ve earned it!

Have questions about year-end preparation? Ask a GoForth Expert online any time. Not only will your question be answered by one of our experts, but we’ll post it on our website too. You’ll be helping other entrepreneurs who may be wondering the same thing. How charitable of you – perfect for the holiday season!

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What is social entrepreneurship?

By Samantha Garner | November 10, 2018

social entrepreneurship

According to David Bornstein and Susan Davis in their book Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know, social entrepreneurship can be defined as:

“A process by which citizens build or transform institutions to advance solutions to social problems, such as poverty, illness, illiteracy, environmental destruction, human rights abuses and corruption, in order to make life better for many.”

The most popular definition of social entrepreneurship was offered by Greg Dees, who is often referred to as the father of social entrepreneurship education. Dees draws on the thinking of economists Jean-Baptiste Say and Joseph Schumpeter, who argued that entrepreneurs improve the productive capacity of society and provide the “creative destruction” that propels economic change. Dees holds that social entrepreneurs do the same for social change, creating new combinations of people and resources that significantly improve society’s capacity to address problems. Social entrepreneurs, he explains, create public value, pursue new opportunities, innovate and adapt, act boldly, leverage resources they don’t control, and exhibit a strong sense of accountability.

Is social entrepreneurship new?

Social entrepreneurs have always existed. In the past, they were called visionaries, humanitarians, philanthropists, reformers, saints, or simply great leaders. Attention was paid to their courage, compassion, and vision, but rarely to the practical aspects of their accomplishments. People may know about the moral teachings of St. Francis, but not that the Franciscans became the fastest-growing religious order of its day. Children learn that Florence Nightingale ministered to wounded soldiers, but not that she built the first professional school for nurses and revolutionized hospital construction. Gandhi is remembered for demonstrations of nonviolent resistance, but not for building a decentralized political apparatus that helped India make a successful transition to self-rule.

For more about social entrepreneurship, check out our industry-leading Canadian online small business course.

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