Retirement Readiness Calculator

retirement calculator for smb owners

SMB owners are notorious for ‘kicking the can down the road’ on the subject of retirement readiness.

Too many priorities?

This worksheet is a useful tool to get a sense of where you are now, and where you need to be:

Please note that this is provided for information only, and is not to replace the work of a Certified Financial Planner…just to get you thinking about retirement, so that you can be inspired to kickstart your business.

What’s Your Business Worth?

business value calculator

A key component of the net worth of any SMB owner is the value tied-up in their business.

While most people have a good idea of their personal net worth, its easy to overlook the potential sale value of their business.

This calculator (presented for information purposes only) will give you a sense of the value of your business on the open market:

Use this information to build the value in your business!

Great Service Doesn’t Just Happen – It Needs to be Managed

How bad service can kill your business

SMB’s often make the mistake of thinking that they have ‘great service’…usually because the business was built from scratch, often as service as a core value.

But, when the business grows, the ability to manage service as effectively as in the ‘old days’ can too-easily slip away.  Without a service-management structure in place, the gradual degradation of the original hallmark service that helped build the business is a likelihood.

How can you tell if this is the case with your business?

  • Take a look at your client list, and identify how many recent purchases were made from clients on your client roster from 5 years ago.  Any shrinkage above 10-20% is an indicator that even 5 years ago, you delivered so-so service.
  • Repeat this for each subsequent year.

As important, get a sense of what’s going on in your organization that you no longer have control over.  If you have drivers on the road, remote offices, call centres, etc, its possible that you’ve lost a measure of control over the quality of service that helped build the business.

The form below will give you a good sense of the key dimensions of what you’ll need to deploy a service quality management program in your SMB.

Deploy this survey form (below) to each of your staffers to get a sense of what’s really going on related to the delivery of service in your company:

We’re happy to talk about this important issue:

Will Your Customers be OK?

economy - customers paying their bills

Despite the good news of the eventual easing of inflation (A Little Good News) viewable on the horizon, this doesn’t mean that your customers will emerge unscathed.

Jennifer Dowty has published an excellent article in this morning’s Globe and Mail (The consumer is about to be squeezed: What TD is now forecasting for housing, interest rates, and the loonie.‘) – I recommend that you read this article if you are a leader of a small or mid-sized business in Canada.

Dowty summarizes TD’s outlook over the next two years as being characterized by a contraction in consumer spending, a rise in unemployment, stagnant growth, while prices will stabilize somewhat.

Have you planned a sustainable path through this environment? We can help.

Let’s talk.

A Little Good News

Good news on the inflation front

While we’re still struggling with inflation, there’s more good news on the horizon, from no less of a source than the Bank of Canada (October 26, 22 Monetary Policy Report):

“While inflation has come off its peak, it remains too high. As the economy responds to higher interest rates and as the effects of elevated commodity prices and supply disruptions fade, the Bank expects inflation to fall to about 3% in late 2023, then return to 2% in 2024.

Now is a good time to start detailed cash flow planning for the next couple of years.

Let’s talk:

Aligning Payments With Customer Expectations


Payment methods are something that SMB’s sometimes take for granted.

Too often, it’s a quick check:

  1. Do we accept major credit cards? If yes, proceed to 2
  2. Do we accept debit? If yes, get on with business.

…and that’s the problem.

Times are changing, and quickly.

Customers have come to expect services like subscriptions with free-trials, buy-now-pay-later, loyalty-point program integration, and location-of-service/time-of-service payment systems.

If you haven’t considered at least these items, it’s likely that you’re falling behind your customer expectations, and possibly losing either the initial or the subsequent sale.

Benefits of a well-aligned payment system include:

  1. Higher average basket – research indicates that smaller payments ease the financial burden of making a high-dollar purchase
  2. Higher conversion rates – 30% of consumers indicate that payment flexibility is a deciding factor
  3. Ability to expand customer base – BNPL has been widely accepted by GenZ and GenX.
  4. Improved customer experience, by offering an additional payment option.
  5. Improved customer loyalty – happy customers are likelier to return
  6. Increased web sales – by easily integrating with Apple Pay and Google Pay

We have payments specialists who can get your payment system up to speed, so that you can take advantage of these benefits.

Let’s talk:

5 Questions About Product Sampling

Sampling works

You know product sampling: it’s largely what clogs the aisles when you visit Costco.

But it goes beyond that:

  • It’s the free trial of a service, before you buy
  • It’s the base price that relentlessly upsells you to premium
  • It’s the free coupon that encourages you to visit a restaurant

“Does it work?” 

Roughly 35% of customers who try a product or service will buy it.  That’s way more powerful than advertising your service or product, which has comparatively dismal response rates that are (well, you know what they are).

  • The product’s merits are no longer in doubt: it’s proven (it works/it’s delicious/it’s beautiful/it fits/etc)
  • The consumer is now pre-disposed to look for your product the next time that they’re considering a purchase in your category
  • The risk has been removed (whatever the perceived risks were, the value proposition of the purchase has been accepted: the sales process has effectively ended)
  • Roughly 80% of buyers indicate that ‘pre-buy opportunity’ was a critical decision factor in their purchase
  • Up to 65% of buyers indicate that they would buy again – indicating that the customer lifetime value of sample-accepting customers is quite high

“What should we offer as a sample?’

While that depends on what you sell, we advocate guidelines that include:

  1. Something of value that indicates that you respect your customer
  2. Something that won’t break the bank to offer (ie you can offer many samples at relatively low cost)
  3. Something that will consistently reflect highly on you at point of redemption (ie your system won’t break if too many are redeemed)
  4. Something that can be offered to highly targeted buyers

Examples include:

  • Realtors provide a ‘complimentary market assessment of your home’.
  • Renovators provide a ‘complimentary quotation’
  • Restaurants provide a coupon for a complimentary appetizer or dessert
  • Dentists provide complimentary tooth whitening for new customers

“To whom should we offer the sample?”

Obviously, that depends on your business plan, and your ideal prospect profile.  We advocate the delivery of great, high impact samples, to highly defined homes/neighbourhoods (prior to going city wide or wider).  This assures higher redemption rates and lower marketing costs.

“How should we deliver the sample?”

While there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ delivery, we advocate for being as personalized as possible.  If you can deliver your sample to the door (or directly to your prospect’s hand) – do so, it’s better than an anonymous digital ad, and better than a mailed-flyer.

“If I’m stuck for inspiration, what should I do?”

Walk the aisles at Costco, and just stand back and watch the sampling process in action.  Note the item on offer, who is offering it, the location of the sampling station, the traffic flow around the station, the take-up rate of the sample, and note the number of people who later in the store actually buy the product being sampled.

Let’s talk:



3 Big Small Business Challenges

Fitness Studio

I was driving home today while listening to the local traffic-specialist radio station.

They interviewed a local fitness studio owner who was incredibly, courageously candid about her situation:

  1. fewer customers
  2. tough to restart the business after lockdowns
  3. customers aren’t spending as much

None of these will be a surprise to any small business owner, but it’s still tough to hear.

If you find yourself in this situation, we can help by:

  • developing new markets (yes, we can even do it for fitness studios)
  • developing new services (yes, even fitness studios have more potential than exists just within their walls)
  • developing new revenue streams
  • providing financing
  • helping you take some pressure off by restructuring your financing

If you, or anyone you know is experiencing the ‘big 3’ challenges facing small businesses – we should talk.

Contact us here:

Strategies for Uncertain Times

Strategies for Uncertain Times

There’s no doubt that we’re in uncertain times:

  • Inflation is up, but it seems to be declining
  • Unemployment is down, but layoffs in certain sectors are increasing
  • Demand is up, but supply chains can’t keep up
  • Small business is ‘critical to the economy’, yet 45% of online sales are dominated by Walmart, Costco, and Amazon
  • Stock markets are recently up, but are way down YTD

So what’s the best strategy for a small business to maintain sanity – and prosperity – going forward?

There are 2:

  1. Drive out all risk from your business: reduce your debt, don’t take on more, defer capital purchases, conserve cash, optimize every aspect of your operation
  2. Look at your markets differently: who are you serving and why? Is there another market that you could serve that is nearby, or accessible digitally, that would be interested in your product or service? Find a way to reach them.

We’re happy to speak with you about any of these issues, to make your business more profitable – quickly.

Pivoting to a New Market

pivoting to a new market

I walked into a small business (a restaurant) near my home yesterday, and was saddened to see that I was the only one there.

While the restaurant may have been going gangbusters during lunch – it kinda had the vibe that they hadn’t really seen a customer in a while.

I asked the owner about their specialties – and ordered one as I enjoyed an early-afternoon coffee.  The owner and I chatted more, and it was just a few minutes before the ‘business is slow’-laments came.

We talked about the loss of traffic, then the shrinkage of average spend, followed by more loss of traffic, followed by missing their rent last month, followed by a piling-up of bills.

They’re drowning.

Yet, the restaurant is bright, cheerful, and the food is good.  What can they do if their relied-upon foot traffic has tailed-off, and shows little signs of life?

Pivot to a new market.

The idea of pivoting to a new market is pretty simple: take your core strengths, and find ways to leverage them to benefit new buyers.

The core strengths of restaurants are (in no particular order):

  1. They have a production facility (kitchen)
  2. They have some degree of market awareness (former customers, passers-by,  etc).
  3. There is some demand for their product (in this case, food) in other sectors and by certain user-groups (eg: providing coffee and catering services to local offices)
  4. There is demand by a bulk-buyer of product for at least one item that they have a unique control over the quality process, and can meet (at least in theory) any level of demand from their existing plant (eg: restaurants can look to commoditize the production of a single item – a specialty sauce for example – and make it available for sale by high volume food retailers, high volume fast food retailers, etc.)

Thinking about a pivot?

Let’s talk!