Can you dig it?
Talbot St. has worn a lot of styles - from dirt to brick, to pavement featuring streetcar tracks to ultimately what we have now! The time has come for the work to continue improving both the street and what lies beneath. As our City continues to grow and evolve so must the infrastructure!
Phase three of the Talbot St. Reconstruction continues the work that was completed in the West End in 2018 and will bring the section of Downtown from Mary St. to Ross Street up to the standard set in the west end with incredible railway-themed touches, increased parking, and upgraded light standards - in addition to the necessary work to the replacement of Sewers, Watermain, Utilities below.
During construction, sections of the road will need to be closed to vehicular traffic from March to October to complete the work safely and in a timely manner. Construction will be phased and include tight schedule deadlines and financial penalties to ensure it is completed quickly. Pedestrian access will generally be maintained with minor disruptions. The construction will be completed in two stages beginning in March with an expected completion in October.
For more information regarding this project, full details and plans are available on the City of St. Thomas Website.
For our small business community that calls Talbot St. home, this project is, on the one hand, very welcome. There is an excellent understanding that this is essential work that needs to happen, and better if it is planned than an infrastructure failure. The finished streetscape will also be an incredible upgrade with a fresh look to accent the historic downtown area. However, there is also some genuine and reasonable concern that the construction will impact visitation to their businesses. And that's valid too.
The great words of a classic film, "If you build it, they will come," raises a great argument with the caveat that folks need to KNOW that something has been built so they CAN come. And this is the principle we are going to touch on here. Because yes - your foot traffic is likely to be impacted. So what can you do about it?
Keep your customers in the loop about what to expect.
Stay Positive with your customers, but also be authentic.
Give your customers a reason to visit.
Keep communication up
Make new friends
Don't ignore your financials.
This is an incomplete list - there will be more ideas that surface over the coming months - the key is to remember that you aren't alone, and your neighbours will be experiencing at least one of the same external factors that you are - lean on one another and lean on us too.
Marketing Plan Must Haves
When we are reviewing business plans, next to financials the marketing plan is generally the next most common element that has us asking for more details and clarification. Whether you are submitting for a grant or loan funding or just creating a plan to help guide the growth of your business; a Times Square billboard isn't required for success but a comprehensive marking plan is key.
Simply stating "will use social media" isn't an adequate plan - which platforms, how often, what type of content, budget allocated are all elements to consider and include in your plan.
We've outlined a few places to start building the framework for your plan below:
We all like making that sweet, sweet cheddar, and many people think of revenue as the life blood of their business. But it’s not the full story of having a successful business.
No matter what size or stage your business is in here are 3 things you need to focus on:
You can have lots of revenue and still not have any money left in the bank at the end of the day. There are so many businesses that do this to gain market traction, including Amazon and Facebook. I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t Amazon. Nor do you want to be! They aren’t profitable.
Get your business expenses under control so that after all the dust settles you have some profit that you can take home. The key to actually making a profit is…
Set good prices
Do you honestly know how much it costs you to deliver your goods or services? Including your labour? Or are you just basing your prices off what your competition charges? Are you really going to that they did the math?
Get your calculators out and add up every penny that goes into your offerings. Know how much it costs and make sure you are actually turning a profit on each product.
I don’t have to tell you how hard you need to hustle to sell a product. It’s hard to land a customer, so it is important to think about additional revenue streams, complimentary products, or a slick way of getting your customers back for more of the same thing.
Bonus: How to reign in your expenses and actually make a profit
Most people make purchase decisions by looking at their bank account balance and businesses are money eating monsters.
Every month, look at how much money came into your business bank account, and how much went out. Make it a habit to pay yourself something every month. Even if it is just a small amount. Transfer that money out of your business bank account and you will spend less money on the business AND start paying yourself. Twofer!
Stop running your business blind to the numbers and start making a PROFIT today.
Need specific advice about your business? Book a free meeting with a local business advisor.
As a small business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities. You wear a lot of hats and have multiple tasks in the air on a daily basis, so it can be challenging to focus on the bigger picture. But January is a great time to widen the lens and examine what your bigger picture for the year ahead looks like. To work towards business growth in 2023 and beyond, setting SMART goals is essential.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting goals that meet these criteria will ensure that you’re taking meaningful steps towards achieving success for your business this year. Let’s dive into what each of these elements mean for goal setting.
Specific and Measurable
Specific goals are more likely to get accomplished because they provide direction and clear objectives that you can work towards achieving. They should also be measurable so that you can track your progress throughout the year. For example, if one of your goals is to increase website traffic by 10%, then you will be able to track how close you are to reaching this goal at any given point in time by tracking website visitors or other key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help keep you motivated as you move closer towards achieving your goal!
Attainable and Relevant
Your goals should be attainable but also challenging enough to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s wise to set realistic expectations to avoid becoming overwhelmed or discouraged when something doesn't go as planned. Additionally, make sure the goals are relevant to where your business currently stands and where it could potentially go in the future. For example, if your current customer base is primarily local customers, then setting a goal of increasing international customer numbers might not be feasible or relevant right now.
Lastly, all goals should have an end date attached so that there is an element of urgency and motivation behind achieving them by a set time frame. Without a deadline in place it can be easy to procrastinate, leading to decreased productivity levels over time. So make sure all of your goals have an end date attached!
When setting goals for your small business this year, remember to keep them SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound—so that they are achievable yet still challenging enough for growth! Doing so will help ensure that 2023 is a successful year full of progress towards achieving bigger and better things!
Every year, millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions with the intention of improving their lives. However, more often than not, these resolutions fail to become a reality. Why is that? The answer lies in the fact that many New Year’s resolutions are vague and lack structure—two elements essential for achieving success. Instead of relying on New Year’s resolutions, it is much more effective to set goals for yourself instead. Let’s explore how goal setting is a smarter way to achieve success in your business and life.
What Is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is an organized process by which you identify what you want to accomplish and then break it down into achievable milestones. By breaking down a goal into smaller tasks or steps, you can track your progress and stay motivated as you work towards achieving your desired outcome.
Why Is Goal Setting Better Than Making Resolutions?
The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they are usually too vague or too lofty. For instance, “quit smoking” or “get healthy” are admirable ideals but lack specificity and tangible steps required to achieve them. On the other hand, when you set goals for yourself instead of making resolutions, you can more easily create an action plan for attaining them since each step along the way will be clear and measurable.
How Can I Start Setting Goals?
The first step in goal setting is to identify what it is that you actually want to achieve; this could be anything from launching a new product line to increasing customer engagement on social media platforms. Once you have identified what it is that you want to accomplish, break it down into smaller milestones that are easier to tackle one at a time (e.g., if launching a new product line was your goal then developing a pricing structure might be one of your initial milestones). Finally, create an action plan with deadlines so that each task can be completed within a certain timeframe—this will help keep you motivated and on track towards achieving your ultimate goal.
So, while making New Year’s resolutions may seem like an easy way to improve aspects of your personal or professional life—it rarely works out that way in reality due to the lack of structure associated with them. However, by utilizing goal setting instead of making resolutions, small business owners can more accurately identify their objectives as well as create actionable plans for attaining them over time! With this approach not only will owners be better equipped for success but they will likely find themselves more motivated and inspired along their journey!
As a small business owner, it’s important to set achievable goals. The end of the year is an opportune time to review your accomplishments and create new objectives for next year. While these goals should be realistic, they should also challenge you and inspire you to do more. Here are three steps to creating meaningful goals to support success in the New Year.
Step One: Evaluate Your Past Year Performance
Before moving forward, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate how your business has performed this past year. Make a list of all your successes and any areas where improvement is needed. Consider any trends from the past year, such as increased website traffic or decreased customer satisfaction ratings. This information will be helpful when creating your New Year’s resolutions since you already have a strong foundation of where your business stands today.
Step Two: Set Specific Goals
Once you’ve evaluated your current performance, it’s time to start setting specific goals that will help push your business forward in the New Year. These goals should be ambitious yet attainable so you can measure progress with each passing month or quarter. For example, if one of last year’s accomplishments was increased website traffic, an appropriate goal for this upcoming year might be increasing web conversions by 10%. By making these SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) goals part of your plan, you can ensure each goal is both meaningful and realistic.
Step Three: Break Each Goal into Actionable Steps
The final step is breaking down each goal into manageable action items so you can easily track progress over time. For example, if one of your goals is to increase web conversion rates by 10%, an actionable step could include optimizing images on landing pages. Once all the individual tasks are identified and prioritized within an action plan timeline, it will be much easier to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments along the way towards achieving each goal by the end of the year.
As a small business owner, the best time is always now to start thinking about which objectives need to be met in order for success in the upcoming year. Following these steps—evaluating past performance, setting specific goals, and breaking down those goals into actionable steps—will help develop an achievable plan to keep momentum going all year. With proper planning and consistency over time, small business owners can rest assured knowing they are taking their businesses in the right direction no matter what challenges may come their way this upcoming year!
But you don't have to wait for December to set new goals! If you feel you need to sit down and reevaluate, reach out to one of our advisors for support!
It's Time to Ditch Hustle Culture
If there is anything business owners and entrepreneurs have been told in recent years it’s that success can’t be found without immense suffering. You can’t be successful without working 24/7. How do you plan to reach your goals if you want to, dare I say, take a vacation? Work/life balance? Not a chance!
What happens when these business owners and entrepreneurs take this advice? They do it. They work 24/7, sacrifice hobbies, family time, anything else that brings them joy. They lose sleep, they may skip meals, and before you know it, they are burnt out. Productivity dips, numbers drop, and it feels like all that work has just gone down the drain.
How can working hard lead to burnout?
Working hard is one thing. Working beyond your limits is another. Hard work and dedication is needed when being a business owner or entrepreneur, that’s a given! Burnout occurs when individuals OVER work themselves and essentially bite off more than they can chew.
This usually happens in the early stages, when staff and funding is limited and the main goal is to get things off the ground and turn profit. Business owners and entrepreneurs often do most, if not all, of the work; marketing, sales, finance, etc. Doing several jobs all at once is time consuming and because of this, individuals often have to sacrifice things that can alleviate stress and help prevent burnout, such as family time and hobbies. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
So, what is the solution?
Simple - asking for help. It can be hard as a business owner or entrepreneur to ask for help. You may like things done a certain way and fear others cannot replicate or you may feel a sense of failure because you can’t manage what you initially thought you could. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a good thing! Business owners have to be level-headed and understand the ups and downs. The ability to understand where things may be going wrong within your business or personally is key.
Take some time to analyze day to day tasks. Figure out what is consuming the majority of your time, what is driving profit, what your strong suit is, what tasks are being left on the back burner, and what your weak spots are. Once you break this all down, it’s time to find the help you need!
Well, where exactly do I get this help?
Hiring extra hands is the best way to alleviate yourself of tasks that may be adding a bit too much to your plate. A cost effective method of help is hiring a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants are pretty much jacks (or jills) of all trades. They can aid with everything from email to payroll to social media. Virtual assistants can even help you access what is on your plate and help you better organize and assign your tasks for optimal performance.
What are the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant?
Where do we even begin?! Hiring a virtual assistant poses many benefits.
Long gone are the days where you have to run yourself into the ground to be successful. Working with a virtual assistant can help take daunting tasks off of your plate so you can focus on what’s most important - YOU. Say goodbye to hustle culture and HELLO to balance!
Meet us at the Market in 2022
Since 1878, the Horton Farmers’ Market has been an integral piece of our local culture.
It is a is a best-in-class market destination that promotes civic pride, shapes local culture and supports the regional economy by providing access to high quality food producers, craftspeople and artisans. Each season, the market strives to source all our vendors and products from within a 60km radius of the market, ensuring our community has access to the very best fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats, cheese, and hand-crafted items our region has to offer.”
In 2021, the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation took on the management of the Horton Market with the following objectives in the first year:
How did we do in our first year?
If you are interested in learning more about the Horton Farmer’s Market contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 226-377-0064.
What about TikTok?
I get asked in almost every marketing appointment whether or not small businesses should invest time into TikTok. My answer is well, it depends.
Tiktok can be an incredible tool if it applies to your market, product, and available resources.
The platform saw immense growth in user base throughout the pandemic. What was formerly a dancing app for Gen Z has become a vast layered system with an incredibly accurate algorithm. It isn't something that can be blown off and ignored as an option, but one needs to carefully consider and test the waters before diving all in on TikTok as a miracle marketing strategy.
For small businesses with a strictly local market, breaking through to a valuable following on TikTok might be a challenge as the algorithm intentionally tries to show you clips from creators you have a topical interest. Whereas on Instagram you can follow local hashtags - it's easier to focus on a localized market. Shopping tools available through Meta products also limit the amount users need to leave the platform also cut barriers for users to purchase.
For individual users and influencers, a base of followers can be beneficial regardless of geography and lead to brand collaborations. The app can be particularly profitable in the US because of the TikTok Creator Fund. But it doesn't necessarily generate sales and when it does it can be a wild ride of viral videos, sell-outs, and expensive restocks only to sit on inventory because the algorithm isn't connecting the buyers anymore.
TikTok can be an incredibly valuable tool if you do a little bit of prep work in advance.
Ask yourself some questions like:
Is my audience purchasing products like mine because of TikTok?
Do I have time for this? Can I make time?
What skills do I need?
Am I already using Reels on Instagram? Is there content that I can repurpose?
What are my goals for using TikTok?
Are my products accessible enough to justify the additional work?
How would I prepare or handle a viral video/sell-out situation?
If you do decide that TikTok is where you want to pour some of your marketing strategy check out some additional resources below:
8 Ideas to get your small business started on TikTok
TikTok for Business in Canada
If you have questions about using TikTok (or Social Media in general!) for your small business, don't hesitate to reach out - I'd love to connect about your marketing strategy!