Navigating the economy

Everton McLean
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Entrepreneurs Scotiabank director says small businesses need solid plans

Small businesses are starting to see some bright spots in the future, but if they want to capitalize on the improving economic situation they'll need a proper business plan, says David Wilton, director of small business at Scotiabank.

Wilton, along with Kyle McNamara, managing director and head of small business at Scotiabank, recently wrote a book called "Get Growing," which gives advice on how to develop small businesses.

David Wilton

Small businesses are starting to see some bright spots in the future, but if they want to capitalize on the improving economic situation they'll need a proper business plan, says David Wilton, director of small business at Scotiabank.

Wilton, along with Kyle McNamara, managing director and head of small business at Scotiabank, recently wrote a book called "Get Growing," which gives advice on how to develop small businesses.

Wilton, who was in St. John's Tuesday promoting the book at Chapters, said one of the most important things small business owners can do to come out of the current recession on top is establish a strong business plan.

With the economy showing signs of recovery, he said, small business owners need to have a business plan in order to navigate the changing economy properly.

"We've come obviously through a period of time when economics have proved a real challenge, not only for small business, but for large corporations as well. But we're beginning to see a glimmer of hope," said Wilton. He noted a recent Scotiabank survey showed 72 per cent of small business owners are either not concerned about the economy at all, or are only moderately concerned, compared with 28 per cent who are very concerned.

That's not to say real challenges don't exist, he said, but business owners expect to hang on to see better times soon.

"The challenges they're facing are in the area of sales, keeping and finding new customers ... closely related is cash flow," said Wilton.

"Cash flow is really the lifeblood of a small business."

With all the turmoil in the marketplace, a strong yet flexible plan is necessary, said Wilton. But not everyone is making one.

"There's a very high number who don't have a business plan," he said, about 35 per cent.

He said a website has been set up at www.getgrowingforbusiness.com to help small business owners or entrepreneurs who don't have a plan yet to build one.

Meanwhile, Wilton said another key point in his book is the benefit of having a trusted set of advisers to help guide business owners.

"Be very deliberate in finding people in your back court, people you can trust," said Wilton.

He said the national economy is heavily reliant on small businesses, which make up about 90 per cent of all businesses in Canada and employ 60 per cent of the workforce.

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Scotiabank, Chapters

Geographic location: St. John's, Canada

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  • don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    It will take a lot more than a business plan for small businesses to make a go of it in Newfoundland and Labrador. The red tape, the incompetent bureaucracy, the fact that every community has its own town council and its own by-laws, tax rates, building and zoning regulations etc. I recently attended a business seminar on the mainland and was astonished at the development opportunities and success stories I was exposed to at the seminar. There was one case study about two immigrants who formed a development company which just got the green light to build a 1300 acre housing development in Halifax, Nova Scotia. No ordinary Newfie business person would ever get the money or the approvals to develop a 13 acre housing development without going through hell and high water to do it! There was another case study about a fellow from Newfoundland who tried for years to obtain a taxi license from the Public Utilities Board without success. He gave up and left Newfoundland. A few months later taxi licenses were deregulated in Newfoundland. In the meantime, buddy from Newfoundland got into the taxi business on the mainland less than 2weeks after leaving the rock. He now owns and operates over 190 taxi cabs in three provinces! What is wrong with Newfoundland? Well, if you're politically connected or related to the family of the big shots in charge, you can get government contracts at 60% profit on the dollar, approvals from any municipality or government department without any problem, millions in loans and grants, mountains moved and the dead raised! If you're just any ordinary Newfie, every road block, stone wall, regulation and barrier will be thrown in your way until you quit trying. Good Luck trying to be a success in business in Newfoundland! You'll need all the luck you can get! But, luck is not going to be enough, that's the problem.

  • don
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    It will take a lot more than a business plan for small businesses to make a go of it in Newfoundland and Labrador. The red tape, the incompetent bureaucracy, the fact that every community has its own town council and its own by-laws, tax rates, building and zoning regulations etc. I recently attended a business seminar on the mainland and was astonished at the development opportunities and success stories I was exposed to at the seminar. There was one case study about two immigrants who formed a development company which just got the green light to build a 1300 acre housing development in Halifax, Nova Scotia. No ordinary Newfie business person would ever get the money or the approvals to develop a 13 acre housing development without going through hell and high water to do it! There was another case study about a fellow from Newfoundland who tried for years to obtain a taxi license from the Public Utilities Board without success. He gave up and left Newfoundland. A few months later taxi licenses were deregulated in Newfoundland. In the meantime, buddy from Newfoundland got into the taxi business on the mainland less than 2weeks after leaving the rock. He now owns and operates over 190 taxi cabs in three provinces! What is wrong with Newfoundland? Well, if you're politically connected or related to the family of the big shots in charge, you can get government contracts at 60% profit on the dollar, approvals from any municipality or government department without any problem, millions in loans and grants, mountains moved and the dead raised! If you're just any ordinary Newfie, every road block, stone wall, regulation and barrier will be thrown in your way until you quit trying. Good Luck trying to be a success in business in Newfoundland! You'll need all the luck you can get! But, luck is not going to be enough, that's the problem.