The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Canadian Federation of Independent Business: May 2023 Report Highlights
Small Business Optimism in Canada: Canada's small business optimism index has experienced continuous growth for seven consecutive months, reaching its highest level in nearly a year. However, labor shortages and their associated challenges continue to pose significant concerns for small businesses.
CFIB's Business Barometer® long-term index, which measures 12-month forward expectations for business performance, slightly increased to 56.4. Although this is approximately 5 points below the historical average, it indicates positive sentiment. The short-term optimism index, reflecting a 3-month outlook, remained unchanged at 53.5, about 2 points below the historical average.
Provincial Outlook: Except for Saskatchewan and Quebec, all provinces reported optimism levels above the mid-50 range. Saskatchewan experienced a notable drop in optimism, reaching 51.9. Conversely, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) demonstrated significant improvements in optimism, surpassing their historical averages for this time of year.
Sector Analysis: Across most sectors, long-term optimism is on the rise. Most industries, excluding transportation, finance, insurance, real estate, leasing, and agriculture, reported confidence levels above 50. The agriculture sector has experienced consistently low levels of optimism for the past 12 months. While some sectors have witnessed marginal improvements, others, notably transportation, and natural resources, have seen declines in business confidence.
Labor Market Indicators: For this period, full-time staffing plans indicate a moderate outlook, with only 22% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) planning to hire and 12% anticipating layoffs. Average wage increase plans have slightly decreased to 3.2 from the previous month's level of 3.3.
For the full CFIB Business Barometer, including detailed charts, visit the CFIB website.
Social Media Strategy for Micro-Enterprises
Using social media is not solely the purview of bigger businesses; it can also work for one or two-person enterprises. If you have a small business, you can customize a strategy that works for your market. For instance, on Vancouver Island, in the small, rural village community of Metchosin, there is a roadside stand called The Crazy Cookie House. Helen McArthur started it about a year ago by re-purposing her children’s playhouse. Since promoting the business on social media, the crazy cookie stand has appeared on local and national television and gone viral on TikTok. McArthur now sells a wide range of merchandise, including mugs, baseball caps, and T-shirts alongside her cookies. The area surrounding her stand now features pathways, garden gnomes, and a dragon called Doug H (dough). Local daycare and summer camps visit, and people from all over the world leave post-it note messages. With over one thousand Facebook followers growing daily, this micro-enterprise even draws attention from mainstream businesses looking for bulk purchase opportunities. With a simple yet creative idea and a thoughtful social media strategy, McArthur has been able to quit her day job. This is one enterprise that won’t be micro for long.
So, what are the elements behind an effective micro-enterprise social media strategy?
- Define your goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your social media presence. It could be increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, generating leads, or increasing sales. Having clear goals will help you shape your strategy effectively.
- Understand your target audience: Conduct thorough research to identify your target audience's demographics, interests, and online behavior. This information will guide your content creation and platform selection.
- Choose the right platforms: Select social media platforms that align with your target audience and business objectives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok are popular options. Prioritize platforms that will allow you to reach your target audience most effectively. The Crazy Cookie House quickly realized that Facebook was the perfect primary platform for it to build a local audience that had the potential to go national.
- Create engaging content: Develop a content plan that includes informative, entertaining, and promotional content. Use high-quality visuals, videos, infographics, and user-generated content to capture attention and encourage interaction.
- Utilize storytelling: Share stories that showcase your brand's personality, values, and unique selling points. Storytelling helps create an emotional connection with your audience and increases engagement.
- Embrace video content: Leverage the power of video content. Create product demos, behind-the-scenes videos, customer testimonials, or live streams to effectively engage your audience and convey your brand message.
- Influencer partnerships: Collaborate with relevant influencers or micro-influencers in your industry. Their endorsement can help increase your reach and credibility among their followers.
- User-generated content: Encourage your audience to create and share content related to your brand. User-generated content strengthens your relationship with customers and serves as valuable social proof.
- Engage with your audience: Respond promptly to comments, messages, and mentions. Engaging with your audience demonstrates that you value their feedback and helps build a loyal community around your brand.
- Monitor and analyze: Track your social media performance using analytics tools. Monitor key metrics like engagement, reach, conversion rates, and referral traffic. Use these insights to refine your strategy and make data-driven decisions.
- Stay updated with trends: Keep an eye on emerging social media trends, features, and algorithm changes. Stay flexible and adapt your strategy accordingly to stay relevant and maximize your reach.
Visit The Crazy Cookie House on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/crazycookiehouse), and you will see many of the points above in action.
Coach's Corner - Creating a Career Vision: A Step-by-Step Guide
Recently, I've had insightful conversations with two clients regarding the significance of having a clear vision for their careers or job positions. Both individuals are embarking on new phases in their professional lives, and I posed a fundamental question: "What do you envision your job to be like one year from now?"
To help you shape your own career vision, here is a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Engage in Self-Reflection Begin by engaging in self-reflection. Take a comprehensive look at your skills, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and values. Identify what motivates you, what you aspire to achieve, and the type of work that brings you fulfillment.
Step 2: Set Goals Once you have gained clarity on your aspirations, it's crucial to set specific and attainable goals that will contribute to realizing your vision. Break down your overarching vision into smaller, manageable objectives. Each goal should be measurable, realistic, and in alignment with your aspirations and values.
Step 3: Create an Action Plan Now, it's time to develop an action plan. Outline the steps you need to take in order to accomplish your goals. Consider the resources you will require, both tangible and intangible. Establish short-term and long-term milestones, and set deadlines for achieving each aspect of your vision.
Step 4: Cultivate a Support Network Building a support network is essential. Surround yourself with mentors, peers, coaches, and advocates who can provide valuable insights, feedback, and support as you pursue your career vision. Identify individuals who can hold you accountable, offer guidance, and help you navigate challenges and opportunities that arise along the way.
Step 5: Review and Adjust Periodically review and adjust your career vision. As your interests and priorities evolve, your vision may need refinement or fine-tuning. Be prepared to modify your goals and action plan to accommodate any changes that occur.
By following these five steps, you can create a roadmap with milestones that will guide you toward achieving your career vision. Remember, your vision is not set in stone, and it can evolve as you grow personally and professionally. Embrace the journey and stay committed to your aspirations.