Navigating today’s economy can be challenging for business owners. Labour shortages, inflation and economic uncertainty all make it hard to plan for your company.
It’s easy to fall into the rut of being reactive and absorbed in day-to-day challenges. But in my experience at BDC working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I find that many successful businesses consistently use a key strategy: They invest in themselves.
This allows them to address the kinds of issues business owners face today—and even find opportunities in difficult times. It breaks down into three specific activities:
- investing in strategic planning
- investing in technology
- investing in yourself as a business leader
Plan your future
If you already have a strategic plan, you know it’s a road map for your company. Creating one with your team brings everyone together around a common vision, well-understood goals and an action plan to achieve them. If labour or supply challenges are impeding your growth, a strategic plan is how you can address that.
Many businesses put a lot of energy into creating a strategic plan, but then fail to execute. It’s important for your team to meet regularly to gauge progress on the action plan, celebrate successes and make any needed tweaks.
Implementation is how your plan comes alive. Strategic planning is especially important to focus on when your business faces external challenges or uncertainty.
Invest in tech
I think most business owners know by now how important technology is in today’s economy. But many don’t follow through with action. A BDC study last year found Canadian small and mid-sized businesses scored an average of only 51 out of a maximum 120 points for digital maturity—how well they use digital technology.
That means the average company is only slightly ahead of what the study deemed to be a “beginner” score (45 points) for digital adoption.
This is a huge missed opportunity. Over half of “digitally advanced” companies enjoy 10% or greater revenue growth, the study found. Just 7% of digital latecomer companies had the same rapid growth. Digitally advanced firms are also much more resilient and likely to export.
See how you rate with BDC’s free digital maturity assessment tool
Investing in technology is clearly a winning solution in our uncertain times. If you need help with financing or planning such an investment, you can reach out to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)’s Canada Digital Adoption Program. ISED has partnered with BDC to provide advice and offer interest-free loans for approved digital plans.
Investing in you
And finally, don’t forget to invest in yourself as a business leader. The more you know and the more curious you can be, the more easily you’ll address your company’s challenges.
Many online and in-person courses and webinars exist to expand your entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. BDC offers free articles and resources to develop your business know–how. It may help to narrow down the learning process to focus on acquiring the specific expertise you lack for the current stage of your company’s development. You can also hire an outside expert to coach you—for example, in areas such as productivity or financial planning.
Or consider BDC’s Growth Driver Program, which offers tailored advice and leadership development to reach your next level of growth.
Investing in strategic planning, technology and yourself is a proactive way to navigate today’s uncertainty and find the next opportunities. Outside challenges come and go, but how you meet them is in your hands.