Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | July 6, 2019

small business coffeeshop

We hope you’re having a good summer and staying productive while managing to enjoy the weather! Why not take a quick break and enjoy these small business articles we’ve enjoyed lately?

Let us know if you’ve read anything interesting that you’d like to share!

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Getting started with influencer marketing

By Samantha Garner | June 28, 2019

getting started with influencer marketing

According to a recent study by Linqia:

Influencer marketing saw explosive growth in 2016, with 86% of marketers having used the tactic, 94% of whom found it effective.

Let’s look at influencer marketing, and how can your small business use it.

What is influencer marketing?

You’ve probably heard the term “influencer” – content creators with a significant following on Instagram, YouTube, TV, podcasts, blogs, and elsewhere online. They have the power to influence their followers to purchase certain products or services. Their audiences come in varying sizes, too – anywhere from a few thousand to a few million people.

With influencer marketing, businesses and brands partner with these influencers to offer promotions, raise brand awareness, and create unique content.

Influencer marketing in your small business

When thinking of influencer marketing, you may think that only large corporations can afford to do it, or benefit from it. However, that may not be the case. Because there are all kinds of influencers, there may be one out there that’s an ideal match for your small business. Here are some ideas:

  • Approach popular mommy vloggers to review your line of handmade baby clothing in exchange for a certain amount of free product.
  • Launch a new menu at your restaurant and invite local bloggers in exchange for exposure on their social media channels.
  • Partner with fitness Instagrammers to hold a giveaway of your new workout gear.
  • In exchange for financial support of a YouTube channel or video, offer a discount code on your services to the first 50 viewers who sign up.
  • Collaborate with a popular blogger in your niche on a sponsored post you write for their blog.

To find the right influencers for your small business, you can do a simple Google search or ask around your personal networks. You can also use tools such as BuzzSumo, or go through influencer agencies.

When looking for the right influencer, consider your target audience. Who would they trust and believe? For example, if you’re promoting your luxury fireplace mantel business, who would be a better influencer for your target market: A forty-something fashion influencer who’s always photographed in designer outfits, or a twenty-something food blogger who’s just graduated from university? While it’s true that neither of these influencers have obvious connections to luxury fireplaces, your audience has more in common with the high-end fashion influencer than the food blogger just starting out in life.

And don’t forget, when it comes to influencers, it isn’t the Kardashians or nothing. Smaller niche influencers, like in any business, can be a more effective use of your marketing dollars than someone with a larger following.

Check out DigitalMarketing.Org’s rundown of the average costs to work with different levels of influencers on Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and blogs, Forbes’ tips on working with influencers without breaking the bank, and Later’s post on working with influencers.

Influencer marketing can be a fun and unique way to get your product or service noticed by more potential customers. As always, remember to keep everything legal and above board – and have fun!

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Staying productive in the summer months

By Samantha Garner | June 22, 2019

small business summer productivity

It’s summer, which means you’re likely paying more attention to your barbecue and beach plans than many other things in your daily life. It’s understandable – it’s hard to concentrate on the everyday demands of entrepreneurship when the sun is shining. To help you stay on top of things and enjoy your off time guilt-free, here are some tips to help keep your small business productive during the summer months.

  • Set an example. As a good manager, you know that your employees look up to you and take their behaviour cues from you. Make sure you and your management are at work and actually working right along with your team.
  • Loosen expectations a little. We’re not suggesting you turn a blind eye to summer slacking, but don’t forget that happy employees are loyal end productive employees. Find ways to let your team enjoy vacations and summer weather while still meeting their work responsibilities. You can also find ways to get outside as often as you can, such as holding your meetings outdoors or taking the team for Friday lunch on the patio.
  • Take advantage of productivity tools. There’s probably an app or website that can help you stay on the ball and reduce time spent not relaxing in the sun. Check out some tools to help entrepreneurs stay productive.
  • Use downtime wisely. If all your clients are on holidays, why not tackle that filing you’ve been putting off? Summer slowness can be a great time to handle behind-the-scenes tasks that get pushed aside in busier times.
  • Encourage employee development. Your team can take advantage of downtime too, with professional development projects or training. Summer can be a great time for your business to invest in the skills and satisfaction of your employees.
  • Don’t deny yourself some summer fun. It’s important for the boss to be happy and productive too, especially if you’re a sole proprietor doing all the work (but keep point #1 in mind!).

Do you have any tips for staying focused in the summer? Let us know in the comments!

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Entrepreneurial inspiration from Sheryl Sandberg

By Samantha Garner | June 15, 2019

In 2016, Facebook COO and Leanin.org Founder Sheryl Sandberg gave a commencement speech at the University of California at Berkeley. She spoke of perseverance in life, and we thought that several of her sentiments could easily apply to small business, too. Enjoy these words of wisdom!

sheryl sandberg business quote

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Understanding cash flow in a small business

By Samantha Garner | June 8, 2019

Why is it important to understand flows of cash as they move through your small business? Even if you don’t think you have a head for numbers, not keeping an eye on your cash needs is one of the quickest routes to business failure. Here are some key things for every small business owner to keep in mind about cash flow.

The difference between sales and cash

When you sell a product or service to a customer, you are entering into an exchange with that customer. The customer pays you or your business for this exchange — a sale has been made.

However, in any business transaction there can be a timing issue. You may not get payment for your product or service right away. This creates a cash crisis, when a business is caught without sufficient cash in the bank to pay bills, salaries, loan payments, and other important things. So even though you’ve made a sale, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have cash.

For example, you might have an outstanding invoice in your consulting business, and the client keeps promising you the cheque is in the mail. What if one day overdue becomes three weeks overdue? Can you pay yourself this month? Can you pay your employee salaries? (PS There are industry statistics from Statistics Canada and Dun and Bradstreet that tell you the average time it takes in your industry for customers to pay you.)

In the other direction, your business might owe another business, like a supplier, for inventory.

Both accounts receivable and accounts payable will impact your cash flow planning.

What is cash flow?

As it sounds, the flow of cash through the business during a period of time. Cash is your most important resource and you must keep a close eye on it, particularly during the start-up stage. Conducting a cash flow analysis is an important step in determining the overall feasibility of your business idea. The examples we gave above illustrate the importance of timing cash flows — proper cash management would enable you to have reserves to cover cash shortfalls.

Did we mention the average time to profitability for Canadian businesses is between three and four years? Yup. Three and half years is the average length of time it takes to establish a business, and for that business to have enough sales to cover its expenses. Yikes.

Want to learn more? Check out GoForth Institute’s online small business training.

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