People and technology: a Canadian business owner’s best investments

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Why focusing on employees and digitization can grow and scale your business successfully

The writing isn’t just on the wall. It’s already in print. From the World Bank to financial services companies like UBS and PwC, the reports are on the same page: Global economic growth is expected to slow down in 2019. Closer to home, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) predicts the nation’s economy is likely to grow at about 1.90% in 2019, falling just a hair short from the previous year’s 2.10%.

But fret not, this is not a call for alarm. Instead, examining your business and assets while the getting is good allows you to be more objective and preemptive, thus ensuring success when trouble does come knocking. And while labour and technology are expected to continue their reign as the biggest challenges for small business owners, some long-awaited good news is here.

 

Skilled labour is elusive, but technology can help

It’s no secret Canada’s working population is dwindling. Like many developed countries, Canada is seeing lower birth rates among those aged between 15 and 64, which makes up more than 65% of the nation’s workforce, growing just 0.40% between 2011 and 2016. For now, all signs point to a mass retirement without equal replenishment in the next 10 years.

In the same BDC annual report, almost 40% of Canadian business owners say it’s difficult to find the help they need, resulting in over 50% indicating the limited supply of qualified human capital will, in turn, limit their investments since they will not be able to grow the business as planned.

In Western provinces and territories where construction is one of the major industries, 2018 also presented new challenges with the steel and aluminum tariffs. TSheets learned that business owners are planning to withstand the levies by loading employees with additional responsibilities and hoping to complete more work in less time, among other countermeasures.

The workarounds, however, sound more like a sure way to chase away good help. Upon closer inspection, the TSheets survey reveals how the lack of digitization, from manual data entry to using pen and paper to track labour, is probably preventing employees from doing their best work and keeping the business from better productivity and profitability.

 

Businesses are finally moving on digitization

In the last decade, businesses in Canada, big and small, have been slower in welcoming technology. Despite the knowledge reaching critical mass, the number of businesses to adopt digitization has always been lower than expected. But a separate TSheets study finds business owners are well aware of the benefits technology can bring:

  • More than half of respondents say technology will benefit overall economic growth.
  • 60% believe AI will have a positive impact on the quality of life in the next 10 years.
  • 1 in 3 says automation and AI will narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.

Until recently, however, few were executing. But the tide is finally turning. 43% of the respondents in the BDC report indicate a shift to new technologies in 2019, by committing to invest in intangible assets (such as marketing and branding, employee engagement and operational software) versus tangible investments like buildings and equipment.

In another BDC survey, businesses that integrate with technology and create technology-friend environments were found to be:

  • 52% more likely to enjoy higher profit growth.
  • 62% more likely to have higher sales growth.
  • 70% more likely to export their goods or services.
  • 329% more likely to have adopted another technology.

 

Retain and delight with your employees and technology

With unemployment at its lowest, competition in attracting and retaining the best talent is fierce. Having the right technology in place can ensure business success. But it can also set up your employees for success, as they’re able to do their best work without worrying about tasks like tracking time or submitting timesheets to get paid.

From support to design, sales to data and product delivery, the collaboration between your employees and technology threads through every aspect of your business. Together, they will delight your customers.

By investing in people and technology instead of trying to make hay while the sun is shining, your business will thrive no matter the weather.