Kick off the New Year with a New Strategy for Business Success

The favorable economy means it’s a prime time to focus on business growth, productivity and differentiating yourself from the competition. To ensure you’re setting yourself up for success this year, here are a few tips for improving business processes:

Paul Struthers, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Canada, Sage

The New Year brings with it new prospects, new possibilities and—often times—a new outlook on business. From entrepreneurs to enterprise executives, businesses of all sizes are looking at 2018 with a renewed sense of excitement, and it’s no surprise as to why.

According to Pierre Cleroux, vice president, research and chief economist for BDC, “Canada had solid economic growth of 3.1% in 2017, having weathered the oil price shock of the past two years. Canada’s labour market has been thriving, adding 343,000 jobs year to date, with nearly all in full-time employment.”

It’s true. Despite uncertainties brought forth by looming trade and immigration policy changes across North America, the economic outlook for Canada—and globally—is relatively positive. According to Statistics Canada, 17of 20 industries posted increases in November 2017. And just last month, the Daily Economic Update posted from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) highlighted that “the GDP numbers add to the evidence that the Canadian economy as a whole continues to grow at an ‘above-potential’ pace even as it increasingly looks to be operating at or beyond its long-run capacity.”

So what does this mean for entrepreneurs? Opportunity! Or as Cleroux puts it, “Happy days are here again for the global economy.”

The favorable economy means it’s a prime time to focus on business growth, productivity and differentiating yourself from the competition. To ensure you’re setting yourself up for success this year, here are a few tips for improving business processes:

  1. Stop chasing late payments

According to a recent Sage economic report, which surveyed over 3,000 SMBs in 11 countries, the bill for late payments worldwide tallies up to US$3 trillion. SMBs rely on a steady flow of cash to build a profitable and sustainable business. Late payments put financial hardship and administrative strain on companies. So what can be done about it? Here are a few easy strategies to implement with vendors:

  • Establish payment terms at the onset
  • Develop the right relationships and keep communication open
  • Discover the amazing benefits of automation for payment processing


  1. Get your head out of the clouds by getting your business in the cloud

The business landscape is changing nearly as fast as the technologies and services used to run it. Cloud technologies have a vital part to play not only in how companies operate today, but also in how they will function tomorrow. Gartner predicts that through 2020, cloud adoption strategies will influence more than 50% of IT outsourcing deals.

Cloud-based software programs enable companies of all sizes to do business anywhere and at any time. Where initially companies met computing needs by purchasing hardware (i.e. on-site servers and data storage facilities), the cloud has freed us from the many headaches associated with these legacy systems. Gone are the days that you should have to worry about expensive upfront investments and ongoing spending on maintenance of on-site systems. Without a doubt, almost every company today can benefit from cloud technologies.


  1. Set up HR and accounting up for digital transformation

In this digital age, the customer experience reigns supreme. But that doesn’t mean that business leaders should lose sight of their employees. The tools that back-office departments—specifically HR and accounting—use on the job has a major impact on the way the business operates. Maintain success by updating your internal technology systems and set the pace for the company-at-large by making sure your accounting and HR teams are on board and involved with the process. Remember, the benefits of digital transformation will far outweigh the challenges that come with it. Simply put, a business that cannot make time to keep up is a business that will fall behind.


  1. Modernize your people data process

The workforce is becoming increasingly global, and with it new people and payments processes are emerging. With employees requiring transparency and flexibility when it comes to accessing things like benefits and paychecks, building a high-quality foundation of people data is no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity for all companies. New HR systems and data technologies enable data integration and automate the previously error-prone manual processes while improving accessibility with cloud storage. This will ensure all stakeholders in the company have access to the most up-to-date information—improving efficiencies and minimizing confusion as well as disconnect in the workplace.


  1. Put customers first

Sometimes we’re so focused on growth that we forget to appreciate what should be our key constituents—customers! According to The Chartered Institute of Marketing, customer acquisition costs are 4 to 10 times more expensive than the cost of retaining customers. By reducing the amount of time and energy you spend tracking down that next new customer, you can actually increase your customer base. How so? Hear their pain points and champion their successes. Developing deep and lasting relationships will not only keep customers happy, it will also lead to them spreading the “good word” to friends and family.

Another good practice is to review product and customer data. What products are most popular? What similarities do customers share? From there, you’ll be able to determine better sales approaches and put into place things like loyalty programs that will keep customers coming back for more.

We may already be a few months into the New Year, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start making the necessary changes that will set you up for success. Follow these tips, and you should be well on your way to hitting your growth targets in 2018!