Pain or Progress – pick one

Times are Changing

The Alberta Treasury Branches publish regular reports on business issues in Alberta.  The April edition of ATB Business Beat features a survey of Alberta SMEs and finds a growing sense of optimism about the economy getting better. In fact 49% believe their business will be better off 6 months from now.   The ATB Economy Index “shows small and mid-sized business are more optimistic that they have been in in a long time.”

Interesting that only 9% think oil prices going up are a factor. It seems to have settled in that waiting for prices to rebound is not a sound business strategy.  The new economic reality of “Lower for Longer” commodity prices is now the “New Normal.”

Cautious Optimism

I think this evolving optimistic mindset can best be described as “cautious optimism.” That is because only 30% who believe the economy is improving overall. In the boom of Q1 of 2014, 89% expected the economy to be better or the same.  In Q1 of 2018 that sentiment is held by 81% perhaps because expectations are likely lower and more realistic.  Still and all that is not bad given that we are not yet out of the recession as cash flow and finding good people are the biggest “keeping you up at night” concerns for SMEs.

There are 16% who attribute their optimism to the expansion and growth of their own business. Another 7% feel their optimism because of “changes we have made to our business.”  Only 10% of SMEs surveyed believe their business is getting worse. That means 90% believe their business will be better off or the same 6 months from now.

Positioning for Growth

This engaged group of progressive businesses who are actively positioning for growth and committed to making growth happen are the operations that GO Productivity is most interested in.  Because we can help those businesses make it happen.

The ATB survey found that operations and management takes up the most time for 30% but only the most difficult for 8% yet the most important for 17%.  Process, systems and operational improvement using Lean and Six Sigma approaches can dramatically improve productivity, reduce costs and waste and get better margins.

Pain Points

With cash flow being a top-of-mind critical factor it is not surprising 33% of SMEs see Sales and Customer Acquisition as the most important place to spend time.  Sadly this is the most difficult use of time for 19% and only 18% say they are putting the time into this as a priority.

Human Resources and Labour results are also interesting.  While 11% say it is the most important use of their time and 20% say it’s the most difficult to do, only 7% say they are giving it a priority time commitment.

Time to Get “GOing”

The survey sums up the context and consequences of this dilemma up accurately “While a focus on operations is understandable, expecting long-term considerations like talent acquisition and business development to sort themselves out is not a recipe for successOur survey results suggest that more SMEs need to care out tome to work on the businesses instead of in it.

It’s your business but if you want some help to make it more profitable, more competitive, more effective, and more innovative to grow your business sustainably with better margins, GO Productivity is here for you.

The ARC (Assessment, Roadmap and Coaching) program is where to start.  We will help you Assess where you are at and clarify your growth aspirations.  We will work with you and co-create a plan for growth and an actionable Roadmap to get you to your destination.  We even stay with you to help you stay the course through Coaching and mentoring.

For more information on the ARC, contact us at or call 1.844.245.8278 to get started.

Read more posts about: Innovation, Leadership, Management, Operations, Productivity