Getting to the Customer

Market research is vital to succeeding in business. Who will need your product or service? Is there a demand for it? Once you've answered these questions, you need to establish how you're going to distribute, what price to charge and how you're going to promote your service or product. Marketing begins with customers' needs and you should design a strategy to fulfill those needs.

Marketing Budgets

Setting funds aside for marketing is an essential part of running a successful business, but how can you get the most of your money is the question?

Keeping up on your target market can be time consuming. It may be more cost effective for you to hire someone to research the changing needs of your customers and watch what your competition is doing, allowing you to concentrate on running the business. If you don't keep up with current trends and keep your prices competitive, you may find yourself losing customers.

Advertising and Promotion

You need to decide how you will advertise and promote your product or service. What medium will you use to advertise? There are dozens of ways to inform potential customers about your business; you need to decide which is the most cost effective for you. Whether it's a Social Media campaign, mail drops or a national television ad, the important thing to ask yourself is whether you will generate enough profit from this campaign to more than cover the costs. Some forms of advertising are low cost, like something as simple as a sign on the sidewalk in front of your business or on the side of your vehicle.

Advertising isn't the only way to reach your market. You can promote your business in other ways: sponsor charity events, hold a contest, and speak on the radio or at seminars. You can even maintain a mailing list of clients for current promotions and specials, just being cautious of the current privacy laws in effect.

Marketing Companies

There are a lot of agencies that specialize in advertising and promoting businesses. They have the expertise in this area, and will learn about the intricacies of your business. If you do decide that outsourcing is right for your business, ensure you find an agency that meet all your needs.


Payroll Deductions

Payroll isn't simply a matter of multiplying hourly wage by hours worked, or even issuing regular cheques for salaried employees. There are numerous  factors that figure into a single pay cheque. You need to know the regulations for overtime and vacation pay, and how to make deductions for income tax, employment insurance and federal and provincial pension plans. You will also need to be aware of worker's compensation costs that cover your employees in case they are injured.

Your Payroll Plan

There are numerous software packages that make payroll easier, and work well for small to medium sized businesses. As your company grows a decision may be required to hire an accountant or outsource your payroll. The advantage of using a software package or an accountant to handle your payroll is that all of your finances will be consolidated.  

Outsourcing Payroll

There are numerous companies that provide payroll service as their principle business. They are very thorough and you can be confident that everything will be accounted for and will be in full compliance with all federal and provincial regulations, no matter how complex your payroll structure is.

Deciding on the payroll structure that is best for you and your employees is a critical step. Ideally, you want to maximize your administrative efficiency, while minimizing costs. It pays to investigate all of the options in order to implement a payroll plan that will work for you now, and into the future.  

Remember that Bow Valley Credit Union is here to provide the advice you need and to help your business grow from a start-up to a self-sufficient operation. Reach out to one of our Account Managers who will help you get on track to meeting your goal.


Managing Cash Flow

Having a positive cash flow simply means having more money coming in than going out. A positive cash flow is critical to the operation and success of your business, and is a key indicator of a healthy, well-run business. Unfortunately, especially in the beginning, maintaining a positive cash flow can be difficult.

There are two basic keys to maintaining a positive cash flow. First, you need to know how much cash is coming in and when, and secondly, you need to know how much cash is going out and when. The trick lies in balancing your income against your outlay. To do this, you need to be aware of some important factors. Is your business seasonal? Is your payment cycle in sync with your collection cycle? Are you managing your assets and inventory properly by purchasing only what you need, when you need it? In order to keep your finances running smoothly, you'll need to constantly evaluate all of these things and be prepared to change your practices as necessary.  

Getting Paid

Unless your customers pay immediately on receipt of goods or service-if you run a café for example-then you may be in a position where you are extending credit. In this case, you'll need an effective system for monitoring and collecting receivables, and you'll require a clearly defined collection policy. All of your customers must be aware of your collection policy and you must be willing to enforce it in the event that a receivable becomes overdue.

Financing Resources

There are also financing options available that can help you maintain a positive cash flow. Operating loans can help you cover your regular costs in advance of collecting the receivables to pay them. The lender will use a percentage of your accounts receivable as collateral against an operating loan. Operating loans are not one-time loans, but are set up with a lender as a series of pre-approved, short-term loans with a maximum limit, saving you the hassle of having to constantly negotiate new terms. Many new businesses require operating loans, but as your business grows, you'll ideally be able to operate without them.

Remember that Bow Valley Credit Union is here to provide the advice you need and to help your business grow from a start-up to a self-sufficient operation. Reach out to one of our Account Managers who will help you get on track to meeting your goal.

Other Resources

There are many resources available to someone starting a business. Whether you want to begin a small business out of your home or start a multinational corporation, there's plenty of free information at your fingertips.

The internet is an invaluable resource to anyone in business. You can find out about consumer trends and get up to date market analyses, which will be able to help you plan your business and assess your market. Learn how to obtain funding for your project from the government or private resources.

Another great advantage to using the internet in starting your business is that many of the legal registrations and applications are available online. Filing forms electronically can save you time.

One thing to be careful of when researching online is that you focus your search on the right region and get the information that's relevant to you. The internet is international, so what applies in one province or country, may not apply in another.

Government agencies have information packages available to help you as well. Contact them and they can forward you the tools you require. Remember that Bow Valley Credit Union is here to provide the advice you need and to help your business grow from a start-up to a self-sufficient operation. Reach out to one of our Account Managers who will help you get on track to meeting your goal.

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