Canadian entrepreneurs say the most important pieces of advice that they would give to other entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses are: 1) develop an effective business plan (44 per cent); 2) manage your time well (43 per cent); and 3) engage in networking (38 per cent), according to the 2011 RBC Small Business Survey conducted by RBC and Ipsos Reid.
"With many competing priorities, it can be challenging for any small business owner to know where to focus their attention," said Mike Michell, national director, Small Business, RBC. "These survey results tell us loud and clear that planning, networking, and managing your time should be at the top of every entrepreneur's agenda."
Entrepreneurs suggest that other business owners who want to grow their businesses should also:
- Seek help/advice (28 per cent);
- Aggressively solicit clients/business (25 per cent);
- Conduct market research/planning (25 per cent); and
- Get financial advice before starting our business (23 per cent).
"This is great advice coming from small business owners considering the challenges that they expect to face over the next year," said Michell. "The expertise of peers and professionals can help take your business to the next level."
The study also found that the top three challenges business owners say that they will face over the next year are:
- finding clients/developing market (60 per cent);
- maintaining sufficient cash flow/maintaining growth (47 per cent); and
- work life balance issues, like working long hours (35 per cent).
"Lessons can be learned from these challenges," adds Michell. "Finding clients, as well as retaining them, is an ongoing challenge for business owners at every stage, and critical to the life and success of any business."
The creation of a business plan should help you identify your customers, your market, the competitive landscape, and other important aspects of your business.
- Leverage your business plan to help identify what your true priorities are, and start each day with a plan to effectively manage your time.
- Ask for advice from people who are already working in your line of business, as many of them are usually willing to share industry information or serve as sounding boards for your ideas.
- Leverage technology to communicate to potential and existing clients, using websites and social media.
These are some of the findings of an RBC/Ipsos Reid survey conducted from July 29 to August 8. This online survey of 1,400 entrepreneurs, who were either self-employed or owned their own small business, was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An unweighted, probability sample of this size, with 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.