All about the competitive advantage

By Samantha Garner | August 15, 2020

All about the competitive advantage

A competitive advantage can help set your business apart from others, and can often be what customers love about you. It happens when customers believe you offer superior products and services compared to your competitors.

Why should you create a competitive advantage for your business?

Successful small business owners craft a competitive strategy, which considers how their business will compete against others — either by being different, or by serving a niche market where there are no other competitors.

Some entrepreneurs try to copy what’s succeeding already. On one hand it makes sense to do what’s already been proven to be successful. But on the other hand, why would customers buy from you if you’re exactly the same as your competitors?

Think about a competitive advantage from your customer’s point of view. At least they have some history with your competition, so they’re lower risk. With you, they may have no history. The best way to lower that risk is to clearly communicate to your customer why you’re different.

Where competitive advantage comes from

Competitive advantages in small business are often based on price/value. Sure, larger businesses may be able to offer lower prices, but small businesses can offer greater value, like superior customer service. Small businesses can adapt to changing conditions quicker than larger ones, and are more responsive to what customers want. Small businesses can also serve niche markets, or small markets with unsatisfied needs.

So – what’s your small business’ competitive advantage? How do you clearly communicate that to the market?

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How your small business can adapt to the post-coronavirus world

By Samantha Garner | August 8, 2020

online ordering

In Canada, many regions and provinces are easing pandemic restrictions, and some small businesses are opening up more. Here are some ways that businesses can adapt to our new world, and implement changes moving forward.

Investigate online and contactless options

During the COVID-19 pandemic, contactless delivery, pickup, and payment options helped many small businesses keep their heads above water. Not only did these options help to maintain social distancing guidelines, but many customers found them convenient as well. They enjoyed the convenience of placing orders online and not having to worry about carrying cash and making change. When your business is back to normal, consider maintaining some of these options to retain those customers who responded well to them.

If you ran a virtual workforce during the pandemic, could your team and workflow benefit from adding work-from-home days to your regular schedules? Could you investigate remote work more often in the future to allow for greater work-life sastisfaction?

Audit your offerings

Many small B2C businesses, particularly restaurants, had to streamline their offerings in order to avoid needless supplier orders and reduce customer wait times. When opening your business back up, ask yourself what this streamlining has shown you about your offerings. Did your customers miss what they couldn’t get? Did not ordering materials and supplies for these things positively affect your process or your expenses? Ask your customers what they want – you may be pleasantly surprised.

Maximize safety

If there’s one thing the pandemic made us all keenly aware of, it’s how many things we come into contact with during a transaction that may have the potential to cause illness. Review the safety protocols your small business enacted during the pandemic. What lessons did you learn from them? Could you adopt any of these protocols in your business going forward to increase employee and customer safety?

Review – or create – your crisis plan

Not many small businesses saw the pandemic coming, or could respond quickly enough. The way your small business weathered the storm can teach you a lot about how to prepare for similar events in the future. If you have a crisis plan, review how the pandemic stacked up against it. If you don’t have one, now’s a great time to make one! Think about how your small business can respond to sudden disruptions in staffing, supplies, operations – everything. You may be able to enact permanent changes that can help your business make it through a future event.

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Five tips on hiring your first employee

By Samantha Garner | August 1, 2020

social entrepreneurship

Whether hiring employees took you by surprise or was part of your business plan all along, it’s not a task to take lightly. Your very first employee must fill a position that is necessary, well-planned and even fulfilling.

Here are five quick tips to keep in mind when hiring the first employee in your small business:

1. Plan, plan, plan – Once you’ve caught yourself thinking about hiring someone, sit down, get out some paper and plan it all out.

2. Consider the timing – Make sure you know your business and its cycles of profit and loss, slow periods and busy periods. Make sure your employee can be busy, productive and fulfilled as much as possible.

3. Hire someone you’d enjoy working with – Skills and experience are important, but not the full picture. Look also for someone you’d enjoy working with and vice versa.

4. Work your network as well as traditional recruitment channels – Let your contacts know you’re hiring, the necessary tasks and all other details. They might be able to refer a candidate to you who may not have come across your job ad on their own.

5. Ensure you’re following the law – There are many legal and regulatory requirements you might not be aware of, including: Workers’ Compensation; filing for a registered Business Number if you don’t have one already (because you’ll no longer be a sole proprietorship); paying your employee; and registering for a Payroll Deductions account.

Want a few more details on these five tips? Click here to download our free resource on hiring your first employee.

Hiring your first employee can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Be prepared, plan it all out and make sure everything’s above board. Growing your small business is an enriching experience. Enjoy it!

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | July 25, 2020

travel small business

Here are some recent interesting blog posts and articles from the world of entrepreneurship and small business. Have you read anything you’d like to share lately?


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Five sources of small business ideas

By Samantha Garner | July 18, 2020

5 sources of small business ideas

Sometimes it can seem like the next great small business idea can come out of nowhere. But in reality, there are five common sources of small business ideas. If you’re considering entrepreneurship, look to these five places for some potential business ideas.

Business idea source #1: You!

About 60% of new business ideas come from our own experiences, whether it’s life or work. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you thought something could be done more efficiently, more quickly, or in a different way, you may be able to find business inspiration there. Think of past jobs you’ve had – was there one thing that always bugged you about a process, or one way you always wished a service would be delivered differently? And in your personal life, what encounters have you had with other businesses or brands that made you think, “Hmm, what if they did/sold this instead?” Is there a hobby you’ve always thought you could sustain as a long-term, money-making endeavour?

Business idea source #2: Others

As we showed in the previous business idea source, existing customers often have new product ideas or ideas for improvement. Get feedback from customers who are active in industries that interest you. Their experiences and ideas may really help your business.

Don’t overlook people you work with, either! McDonald’s products like the Filet-o-Fish, the Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and Hot Apple Pie were each created in light of ideas from company operators.

Business idea source #3: Organizations

Business ideas can be found within all levels of government, non-profit laboratories and associations. Your public library can help you find the government departments relevant to your business ideas. Organizations can help out in building on your idea, too.

Business idea source #4: Literature

No, we don’t mean Moby Dick. We mean literature as in books, textbooks, research journals, trade magazines, patent registries, databases and the internet. Reading business blogs, websites, and magazines might stimulate your creative thinking, too.

Business idea source #5: Serendipity

Anyone can happen across a new product or service idea seemingly at random. Being in the right place at the right time was the turning point in the careers of many entrepreneurs. We’re not saying you should try forcing this serendipity – rather, stay open-minded and curious, and willing to consider ideas wherever they may come from.

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