After the unprecedented challenges of the past year, many Canadian business owners are feeling optimistic about the economy and future opportunities.
Forecasts suggest Canada should enjoy solid growth in the coming years. BDC’s Monthly Economic Letter in May painted a positive picture for the economic rebound, citing the Bank of Canada’s upwardly revised forecast of 6.5 per cent growth in 2021.
The time is right for business owners to go on the offence. But many Canadian entrepreneurs are still cautious about plunging into new growth projects. Some are holding back due to continuing uncertainty.
Others are ready to invest but can’t decide what direction to go in or which projects to prioritize. This is also understandable. Today’s businesses have to quickly juggle changing market realities, new client expectations and technological disruption, all accelerated by the pandemic.
But despite the challenges, inaction is not an option. If Canadian businesses don’t act now, others will. Companies that don’t prepare and invest in their growth will be left behind. The ideas that worked two years ago may no longer work now.
Concrete strategy is crucial
What can entrepreneurs do to be ready to thrive in the post-pandemic future?
The first step I suggest when advising CEOs is to review and formalize their business strategy. A lot of entrepreneurs tell me they have a strategic plan. But when I ask if it’s documented and their team is aligned on the priorities, it often turns out to be just in the CEO’s head.
Creating and updating a concrete business strategy is something all companies should do regularly. A strategy is a roadmap for your business. And after the year we’ve just had, it’s more important than ever to get the clarity and alignment that a strategic plan offers. We’ve found time and again when advising businesses that creating a strategic plan is a powerful team-building and -alignment exercise that takes companies to the next level.
Review your business model and value creation
It’s also important to think about how to adapt your business model and value creation process. Many companies have already pivoted significantly in the past year. Now step back and talk with your team about how you can proactively move forward.
Keep in mind that business models expire. In today’s quickly changing landscape, it’s important to review and update your model – how you create value for your customers and generate profit.
Also consider your operational efficiency, which is a key area often overlooked by businesses. An efficiency exercise can make customers happier, improve employee hiring and retention, and reduce costs, errors and accidents.
It’s useful for any sector, including services and manufacturing. By some estimates, just 15 to 20 per cent of work in a typical business is value added – meaning a customer will pay for it. That’s a lot of opportunity to reduce wasted effort, time and resources.
Solidifying your business now will put you on track to be ready for the post-pandemic economy. It will help your business grow, be more profitable and gain value. Canadian businesses have faced unprecedented challenges. Now they face substantial opportunities. It’s our time to lead. Are you ready?
David Lyons is a senior client partner with BDC Advisory Services. He is part of a multi-disciplinary team of industry experts that aligns clients’ business objectives with impactful, results-driven advice.