Over the years I've heard many first-hand stories about entrepreneurs -- whether from people I've met at work, in my personal life or through travel experiences. I've always been impressed by their spirit, drive and willingness to take risks. I've also taken notice of the entrepreneurial drive that newcomers to Canada have.
I recently read that immigrants are officially leading Canadians in entrepreneurship, according to a newly released StatsCan study. It's the first to look at the business-ownership activities of immigrants and, among the findings, it shows that of those who arrived to Canada in 2000, 5.3 per cent of immigrant tax-filers owned a private business by 2010, versus 4.8 per cent in the non-immigrant comparison group.
Getting a business off the ground takes many long hours and hard work -- but as any entrepreneur knows, it doesn't end there. Small business owners assume many roles -- from manager of sales and marketing to finance, HR and more.
The challenge can be finding time to manage these day-to-day operations and grow the business. The good news is today's entrepreneur has the advantage of evolving technology to help them gain better control of their finances and improve their operational efficiency.
Technology is reshaping the way entrepreneurs can enhance productivity, interact with customers and stay on top of their finances. Access to innovative and intuitive online and mobile applications is making it easier to make, collect and reconcile payments; sell products and services both at home and abroad; and communicate with new, existing and potential customers.
In today's digitally driven environment there's little need for paper receipts and invoices. Digital solutions are making it possible to sign, send, receive and retrieve at the click of a button, and re-focusing time on what matters -- running the business. These solutions help business owners keep pace by enabling them to act and make decisions quickly.
A good online business banking program will give you the ability to easily access and manage your business finances and cash flow 24/7. With innovations such as mobile banking, busy owners can be productive while on the go by paying vendors or employees, managing cash flow and even filing taxes right from a smart phone.
Strategies for growth
Technology can also provide access to new sales growth opportunities. Did you know that 87 per cent of Canadians are connected to the Internet and spend more than 34 hours per month shopping online? Despite the opportunity, 58 per cent of small businesses do not have a website. The product or service may be great, but it won't sell if it isn't easy for customers to buy, or worse, find online.
With the proliferation of tablets and smartphones Canadians have embraced online shopping, and 2015 saw a record 20 per cent growth of online sales year over year.
Canadians who shop online prefer making purchases from Canadian websites rather than American ones. This is a huge benefit and opportunity for entrepreneurs, as well as businesses with bricks and mortar companies, to sell online.
A consideration when planning to promote or sell your products and services online is deciding which payment types to offer. This will strongly depend on the payment methods your target customer likes to use. In addition to knowing your customers payment preferences, it is helpful to understand the payment solutions available to help maximize cash flow.
For example, web-based solutions and apps can instantly turn your tablet or smartphone into a payment terminal. Whether you're selling from a storefront, online or on the go, making it easy for customers to pay you is critical to avoid losing sales.
Also important is selecting an online payment gateway that will help manage your transactions and receipts, and provide easy historical search.
Finally, you may want to look at a payment terminal that integrates with other important software such as customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management and accounting.
Another strategy for growth is trading globally. Many newcomers have the benefit of ties to other countries to grow their business by expanding geographically. If you're going to do business outside Canada consider opening a U.S. deposit account to protect yourself against a fluctuating dollar. This can allow you to pay suppliers and receive payments in U.S. dollars without having to worry about currency fluctuations.
Technology enhancements and advancements are helping simplify the lives of entrepreneurs. By streamlining day-to-day operations with the right tools that process transactions faster and easier for you, your partners and your customers, you'll be giving your business the best chance for success.
Which online tools have you found most helpful to manage your finances and grow your business?
Share your comments below or on Twitter @RBC_Canada.
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