Tuesday, 31st December 2019 | Marketing
Three small business marketing must-haves for 2020
Stop putting marketing on the back burner! Here are three must-haves for your business in 2020.
As we head into a new year, now’s the time to revisit our business plans and make improvements. Typically lower on the priority list than time-sensitive tasks like inventory or cash flow, marketing is frequently put on the back burner. The downside, of course, is marketing feeds into your bottom line, so keeping it fresh and current will actually help the business prosper. The good news is marketing doesn’t have to be onerous. These three must-haves are quick, simple, and effective. Set aside the time and make your business shine in 2020.
- Have a Google My Business profile
It’s super simple and free to set up a Google My Business profile and it’s one of the most effective ways to increase your visibility to prospective buyers. This is because once you have a profile, your listing can show up on maps, in search, and across other Google platforms. Additionally, your profile will give you more channels to communicate with your customers and an easy way to receive customer reviews—both crucial elements to your marketing strategy. And, Google will send you statistics every month that can help you fine-tune your efforts.
- Ask for Google reviews
Google is one of only a few places buyers check before they patronize your business. Indeed, 99% of businesses are assessed this way. By adding a "Give us a review" ask to the end of your sales process, you’re likely to solicit more reviews and leave a great impression as a business that cares, even in those customers who don’t post. Even if only a small portion of customers review the business, by asking for the review you’re establishing that you are interested in their feedback, which will go a long way towards building trust and warm feelings.
- Have a (good) website
If you don't have a website, or if your site doesn’t look good or perform well, you're losing business. It’s as simple as that. Buyers are fickle. They're impatient. And they want the information they want when they want it. Your website—even a simple one—needs to provide people with the information (or functionality) that they want, on-demand. This will keep your business in the running with your competitors.
None of these tactics are earth-shattering yet without them you’re missing valuable opportunities to get your name out there, build your credibility and do more business. If you don’t already have these three things in place, put them on your first-quarter of 2020 to-do list.
Can I apply for a personal loan during the COVID-19 pandemic? Should I?
Is a personal loan the right solution?
How to get a personal loan
Getting a personal loan if you are unemployed or underemployed
If you’ve lost hours or even your job, there are still options available to you. Working with the Government of Canada, several banks have made the commitment to work with Canadians who have experienced COVID-19 related challenges such as:
- pay disruption due to COVID-19
- childcare disruption because of school closures
- illness from COVID-19
- Bank of Montreal
- National Bank of Canada
- Royal Bank of Canada
- TD Bank
Should I take out a second mortgage?
Quiz: 7 questions to test your cash flow know-how
Does your business look good on paper but not so much in your wallet? Your cash flow management may well be the problem. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. A study of QuickBooks customers found nearly half (44%) of small- or medium-sized businesses who experienced cash flow issues said their problems came as a surprise. Effectively managing your cash flow could save you thousands of dollars, not to mention all the stress, but you need to understand the issue first. Take our cash flow quiz and test your knowledge. We bet you’ll learn something that will help keep your business operating more smoothly.
1. Cash flow refers to the money you collect from customers and use to pay suppliers. True or false?
True. Cash flow is the money coming in and going out of your business within a specific period of time, usually one month. As you might have guessed from the word “flow”, the term refers to the movement of capital. It is not your business’ valuation or profits.
2. If your company has high revenues and high profits, it won’t have cash flow problems. True or false?
False. Even if you have ample money coming in and expect to make a good profit at the end of the year, you may still have to deal with cash flow gaps. This is when more money is going out towards expenses than is coming in from revenue. So, while your company might be doing well in general, a cash flow problem could make it difficult to cover shorter-term expenses like paying staff or purchasing inventory.
3. Profits and revenue affect your cash flow. True or false?
Not quite! Your revenue is the money you have earned from selling products and services and your profit is what’s left over after you’ve paid all of your expenses. While generating revenue and turning a profit are important to the health of your business, your cash flow is affected by your accounts receivable, inventory, and accounts payable. This is because cash flow has to do with available cash in a given time period.
4. Every business needs working capital. True or false?
True. Your business ties up cash because most employees, landlords, and suppliers expect to be paid regardless of fluctuations in your cash flow. Managing cash flow, or tracking where your cash is going, is the first step to managing your need for working capital. Luckily, labour, technology, and materials are easy to track using a standard profit and loss (P&L) statement. At the same time, the faster you can generate revenue, the lower your working capital needs.
5. One way to control cash flow is to change the terms of your invoices. True or false?
True! You might not think something so simple could have an effect on your cash flow but the payment terms and due date on your invoices can be a great tool for bringing in revenue on your schedule. It’s good practice to send your invoices out immediately upon delivering products or rendering services. You can also shorten the time until payment by offering discounts for customers who pay quickly. Finally, make it as simple as possible to pay you and accept payments online.
6. Maintaining cash flow is just about making sure you have as much money as possible coming in. True or false?
False. Good cash flow management requires a deep understanding of your cash conversion cycle. Remember how cash flow refers to available capital over a certain amount of time? Your cash conversion cycle tells you how many days your cash will be tied up, so you can predict and plan for when you won’t have money to purchase inventory or meet other expenses. If, for example, your cash cycle is 45 days, you’ll only have nine cash flow cycles per year. Your employees, however, get paid every 30 days so you’ll need to make extra working capital available every month. Maintaining cash flow is about making sure you have money coming in at the right time.
7. No matter what, businesses should avoid taking out a loan. True or false?
False! Borrowing money to handle cash flow problems is common—and smart. Running out of inventory and failing to pay suppliers or employees puts your business in a terrible light, not to mention the extra fees you could incur. If you foresee problems with your working capital, your best bet is to be proactive. If your issue is a result of the COVID crisis, visit the Intuit COVID-19 Resource Centre, a free resource for business owners. Or, consider taking out a small loan to cover your costs. There are plenty of options with competitive interest rates and simple repayment plans.
How did you do? If you got all seven questions right, congratulations! You’re a cash flow champion. For the rest of us, there’s still hope to be had. Now is a great time to brush up, make a few tweaks to your processes, and give your business a boost.
Digital transformation for small businesses
Understanding digital transformation
Digital transformation is a phrase used to describe the process of deploying digital technology to solve business problems. Having a website falls under this umbrella, but so too does using cloud computing, application (ie. “app”) development, and the use of a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Part of the transition involves taking previously manual processes to the digital realm, but it’s important to understand that this change is not simply about hardware or software. A digital transformation will also result in a positive change to your business’ culture.
Why digital transformation matters
- The workforce is aging
- The millennial generation has entered the workforce
- The population is increasingly culturally diverse
- Virtual marketplaces are growing
- Business activities are increasingly automated
- The rise of the data economy
You need to evolve—now
- You’ll increasingly lose business to competitors
- You’ll be less efficient, and therefore less financially strong than competitors
- You’ll be less attractive to employees
- You’ll eventually become obsolete
Here’s what to invest in
- Website - Now is the time to review your website. Make sure your content is relevant and presented in a user-friendly way. Put product information and details online so your customers have access to everything they need. Get rid of any outdated code or technology (see ya, Flash!). Use popular media like video. Make buying simple, straightforward, and safe. Recognizing the rise of mobile, make sure your website is responsive (meaning it is painless to view on a phone) and, if appropriate, consider building an app.
- Online presence - At a minimum, your business needs to be on Google and social media. People are increasingly researching online before they buy, so make sure they can access your hours, information, and customer ratings. This is even more important during this pandemic. If you’re a restaurant, for example, your menu, hours, ratings, and service options need to be online. For shopping sites, include your delivery details. Give customers the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered. You must meet your buyers where they are, so put in the time to find out where is most convenient for your customers to ask questions.
Connecting to corporate culture
Undertaking a digital transformation isn’t just for big businesses. It has a bottom-line impact for small businesses, too. Just remember that companies that pair these changes with a clear strategy, employee training, and a culture of continuous improvement do far better than those who skip this step.
Cheat sheet: Canadian government support for individuals during the pandemic
Canadians in all corners of the country have been partially or severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are trying to find out what resources are available to you to help you, here is a summary of resources from the Canadian government as of June 2, 2020.
Avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees & creating new jobs
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) - The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. The subsidy generally covers 75% of an employee's wages – up to $847 per week - for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May. The program will be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
Increased Canada Child Benefit - An extra $300 per child was delivered through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for 2019-20. This benefit was delivered as part of the scheduled CCB payment on May 20.
Extra time to file income tax returns - The due date for filing individual 2019 income tax returns has been deferred until June 1, 2020. Any new income tax balances due, or installments, are also being deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
Mortgage payment deferral - Homeowners facing financial hardship may be eligible for a mortgage payment deferral of up to six months. The deferral is an agreement between you and your lender. Typically, the agreement indicates that you and your lender have agreed to pause or suspend your mortgage payments for a certain amount of time. After the agreement ends, your mortgage payments return to normal and the deferred payments—including principal and accumulated interest–are added to the outstanding principal balance and subsequently repaid throughout the life of the mortgage. To know if you are eligible for a mortgage payment deferral or to learn what options are available, contact your lender.
Temporary 10% wage top-up for low-income essential workers - All provinces and territories have confirmed, or are in the process of confirming, plans to provide wage top-ups for essential workers. This government funding includes up to $3 billion in federal support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. Each province or territory will determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much support they will receive.
Special goods & services tax credit payment - A one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low and modest-income families. The average additional benefit will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
Extending the Work-Sharing program - The maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19. This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
There are also over a dozen support initiatives for students, recent graduates, seniors, and indigenous peoples. These can be found on the Canadian government website.