Small Business – The Heroes of the Economy

Tips to help you grow your small business and support the local economy

Entrepreneurs who run small businesses, like those on George Street in downtown Peterborough, also support the local economy (photo: Pat Trudeau)
Entrepreneurs who run small businesses, like those on George Street in downtown Peterborough, also support the local economy (photo: Pat Trudeau)

According to Industry Canada, 98.2 per cent of all businesses in Canada are small businesses. In Ontario alone, there are a staggering 381,000 small businesses, and 75 per cent of these employ fewer then 10 people.

These stats show us that what’s really driving our economy isn’t large multinationals or the government sector: it’s the small business owner.

Starting a small business by taking an idea and forming it into a reality is no easy task. It takes time, money, and a whole lot of courage. However, the rewards can be hugely satisfying. There’s also a badge of honour that comes from owning your own business — that wonderful moment at a party or networking event when someone asks you for the first time: “What do you do?”.

At that point, you realize that you no longer just have a job: you have an idea that you’ll passionately follow until it becomes something great. Maybe your idea could even become the next great Canadian success story!

The benefits of running a small business aren’t just for you alone. A 2003 study found that, out of every $100 spent at a nationwide chain store, only about $13 stays in the local economy. However, out of every $100 spent at a locally owned and operated business, about $45 stays in the local economy. This provides a huge boost to other local businesses, including their employees and families.

If you own a small business and you’re keen to see your business grow, here are some tips that I’ve found have helped my own business succeed:

  1. Regardless of what your business is, grab your diary, journal or even a blank piece a paper and write the heading: “How can I make the lives of my clients better?” Then jot down five or six points on what your business does well. The answers will help you develop a model of success from which your business can operate successfully. As long as you are delighting your clients, you will never be short of work.
  2. Work on a dynamite elevator speech, so when it comes to that “What do you do?” question at a party or networking event, you can perfectly communicate the value that you bring to your clients through the products or services you offer.
  3. Learn from other small business owners by joining your local Chamber of Commerce or business club. You can take courses to learn how to run a business, but the experience of being in business is quite different. Be willing to ask questions, and even seek a mentor or coach.
  4. Set a clear and reachable financial goal. For example, $10,000 of sales per month. Without a clear goal, you’ll have difficulty determining whether you’ve been successful. How will you know that you’ve arrived at your destination, if you don’t know what it looks like?

These tips will help you understand that growing a small business is a process — many small businesses fail after the first year.

For all you entrepreneurs and visionaries who’ve worked so long and hard to make your business dreams a reality — thank you!