NAFTA Tweaks And Your Business

As a small business owner, NAFTA is likely coming up more and more often in your thoughts these days.  What is it about?  What does it mean to Canada and what does it mean to your business?  In particular, how would a “tweak” affect you and your business?

 

What is NAFTA?

NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement which was signed over 20 years ago – well before many entrepreneurs were old enough to care or recognize it as relating to their business.  In the first 5 years of NAFTA’s existence, the agreement had helped produce over 1.8 million new jobs for Canadians

 

 

What Does it Do?

While there was some controversy at the time, since its enactment, NAFTA has positively affected Canada by bringing strong economic growth, job creation, better prices and better selection in consumer goods through the reduction of tariffs and duties on products and services which flow across the Canada, U.S. and Mexican border.  In fact 1 in 5 jobs in Canada are linked to international trade.

 

How Does NAFTA Impact My Business?

Canada has benefited more than any other nation from NAFTA.  Canada’s GDP has grown at a faster rate than either Mexico’s or the U.S since 1994.  If you export and import goods across any of the North American borders, you currently benefit from minimal tariffs and duties being assigned to your goods and services.  If NAFTA was not in effect, or were to be “tweaked” too much, there could be tariffs on products imported and exported.

 

How Could A Tweak Affect My Business?

NAFTA’s major goal was to eliminate tariffs and barriers that would help reduce the taxes that are put on imported and exported goods.  Canadian businesses take full advantage of the tariff elimination because they’re typically able to produce more for less.  If NAFTA goes through any changes which result in increased tariffs or duties to Canadian goods and services going in and out of the U.S., there could be downstream impacts to small business and the Canadian economy and the U.S.

 

Free trade across North America has been extremely beneficial to all countries involved in the enactment of NAFTA. Therefore it stands to reason, that any tweaks will do more to improve the flow of goods and services and further reduce barriers to doing business across North America.  While it may seem like an uncertain time for small business, history strongly favors Canadian businesses having the ability face challenges and thrive.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

5 Things Your Business Doesn’t Need

“You have to spend money to make money” seems to be a quote that many business people are fond of saying.  While it’s often true, a lot of small business owners saying this are often stretching their budget needlessly.  Whether you’re just starting your small business, or things are humming along, it’s important to allocate money wisely. You may not realize it, but you probably don’t need to be spending your money on certain items:

 

All New Stuff

When you’re in the beginning stages of starting a business, it’s tempting to purchase new furniture, clothes or maybe even a new computer. Be patient, use the equipment you already have and set your concentration on marketing and developing great products first.

 

Advertising

Advertising is something every small business feels the need to do. Often however, entrepreneurs become enamoured with their own marketing ideas when a more measure, strategic approach is needed.  Be sure not to fall into this trap by thoroughly researching what is driving sales and making sure that informs your marketing strategy.

 

Expedited Shipping

Let’s be honest, you can probably afford to wait another day or two for that box of inventory and supplies. Think about the money you’ll save by avoiding high shipping charges when you just wait an extra 48 hours. Unless you absolutely need them the next day, pocket your money on this one.

 

Buying or Renting Space You Don’t Need

If you can work from a desk in your basement, do it. It may not be glamorous but just think of the money you’ll save on rent!

 

Promotional Items That Don’t Translate into Sales

Personalized t-shirts are cute, but will they sell and make a good profit? Will they convince your customers to buy more of your products now that they have a t-shirt with your business on it? Promotional items can work, but you must select the item(s) carefully, be mindful of your budget limits and have a plan for placement and distribution, even if it’s just on your website.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Millennials and Small Business

Millennials at Work

Ah those tech savvy, free-spirited millennials. If you don’t have a millennial already working for you, then you probably will soon.  While generation Y, is inundated with student debt and the prospect of a recession strained economy, they are the backbone of many companies rising companies and present incredible potential for small businesses.  Millennials exhibit many traits that can be an asset to any small business plus they are attracted to many workplace features that small businesses can offer them.

 

Put Me In Coach

Millennials love to be coached. Millennials want to be guided, trained and know as much as they can about something. They’ve been receiving feedback and advice on everything they’ve been doing and have done since they could walk – the outcome is simple; they thrive on frequent communication and collaboration. A recent Microsoft survey says that 65% of millennials prefer to communicate face-to-face with their managers. This face-to-face preference and desire for personal interaction is a well liked facet of small business.

 

Customization is key

Not too surprising, millennials love customization in their personal life and workplace as well. The drive for personalization for millennials also manifests itself for their desire to use their own technology devices in the workplace. If you want to attract top talent, business owners need to think about the technology that will enable their employees to do their best work; not just get the work done. Small businesses can be a great fit for millennials as you can be agile and adjust their roles and responsibilities to suit each employee’s skills and interests.

 

Work-Life Integration

People talk about flexibility or unlimited vacation schedules, but its about much more than the sum of hours people work. Millennials want to bring their authentic selves to a workplace that reflects who they are. Today’s younger workforce has an independent mindset; they’re drawn to a company with a strong mission statement and even stronger values. Millennials gravitate to organizations that trust them to deliver – that’s where they thrive and put forth exceptional quality.  As small businesses continue to increase their hire of millennials, they will also need to adapt to the way this workforce operates in order to get the most out of them.

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Simple CRM Solutions

It’s the first month of a New Year and – like many small business owners – you’re probably considering how you can make 2017 a year of explosive growth.  When it comes to growing your business one of the most important instruments is the management of your pipeline and your customer relationships.  CRM (customer relationship management) software is built for that exact purpose.  Unfortunately, despite the appeal of such technologies, the idea of implementing a CRM system can often be overwhelming for small business owners.  As well, the costs of many systems can be prohibitive.

 

Fortunately, the Bullfrog team has done some research and found ways to achieve all of this without breaking the bank or spending countless hours trying to figure it all out. Below are 3 simple CRM solutions that can help you augment the CRM capabilities of your small business.

 

 

Insightly

Used by approximately 350,000 small businesses in 100 countries, Insightly is a powerful but simple CRM solution specifically designed for small business use. You can promptly access information about a contact including their background, email history, and any specific dates you may be searching for. Offering integration with Gmail, Google Drive, Outlook, Office 365 and social media accounts, Insightly allows you to capture a screenshot of conversations with your customers. With prices ranging from $12 – $99, Insightly is easy to use, set up and navigate whether you’re a CRM novice or an expert.

 

Nimble

Just like their name states, Nimble is all about helping your small business find smart and easy ways to track and develop contacts with current and future customers. Like other CRM systems, Nimble provides all the functionality you’ll need to manage information and relationships across multiple touchpoints. Instead of searching through your contacts social media profiles, Nimble automatically identifies them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – so no more scrolling for hours. Nimble offers one plan at $25 per month per user with an unlimited number of customer contacts.

 

Zoho CRM

This CRM system gives you all the tools and applications needed to capture leads from your businesses website, tracking sales activity, managing email marketing and accessing customer information without having to scroll or manually search it. Just by dragging and dropping your customization means that you’ll be able to easily make changes which is huge if you’re not super tech savvy or don’t already have a dedicated IT employee. Zoho CRM works with Gmail, Google Docs, Contacts, Calendar and Tasks and has plans starting at $0 – $100 per user per month.

 

When used correctly a CRM system is a powerful business tool.  In just one location, you’ll be able to manage all your touchpoints with current and future customers, discover their unique preferences, and use that information to build customer loyalty and generate more business in 2017!

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Your Superbowl 2017 Party

Tips for Your Superbowl Party
The countdown is officially on for the Super Bowl, and between your snack foods and your game day guest list; you think you’re ready, right? Where’s everyone going to sit? Is the TV large enough? Preparing for the Super Bowl doesn’t have to be this stressful; in fact, the preparation can be just as fun as the game itself! Here’s how you can get your home ready to ensure you and your guests can watch all the commercials and touchdowns.

 

Refreshments Preferences

Most Super Bowl parties will have your typical finger foods and beverages, but be sure to check for any allergies or special dietary needs of your guests in advance. Ask them before hand for any suggestions or alternatives, making sure there is enough for a few people to ensure no one is feeling isolated. Offering a variety of beverages, and set them up in an area away from the television. There’s nothing worse than missing a touchdown when someone is standing in front of the screen grabbing a snack.

 

Gather Guests in Alternate Rooms

Even though the bulk of your guests will want to be in front of the television watching the game, there may be some guests who just thoroughly enjoy the company and camaraderie of the group environment but wish to be in a separate space. If the weather is nice, set up entertaining spaces outside or even in an adjacent living room if you have the space. Music, board games, a separate television where guests can mingle and have conversations.

 

Ask for Assistance

As enjoyable as entertaining may be for some, the preparation and everything beforehand can be a big task and can be stressful sometimes. If you’re planning on hosting a large party, delegate friends and family to help with food, décor, and setting up so it takes some of the stress from your shoulders. To cut back on the work and cost of food preparations, ask that guests each bring a main dish, side dish or drinks. The more help you get, the quicker everyone will enjoy a great time once the game begins!

 

The Super Bowl only happens once a year, so prepare your home for it and enjoy the big game! Use these tips and make this year’s Super Bowl party the best yet!

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Your Business Winning Touchdown

Just because you can’t fork over $4.5 million dollars to get a 30-second ad in this year’s Super Bowl doesn’t mean you can’t piggyback on the huge popularity and the hype when the Super Bowl rolls around. Here are some ways to get your brand out them during this seasons game.

 

Offer Super Bowl-related Promotions

Come up with intriguing promotions and tie them to the big event. Restaurants and bars who want to draw in a crowd offer meal and drink specials – both in advance and on the actual game day.  The trick is to make your promotion stand out from the rest of them. Big ideas will generate free publicity and big results.  Come up with something unique and you’ll get customers talking and remembering you.

 

Use Social Media to Engage with Super Bowl Fans

Everyone knows platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even Pinterest offer limitless ways for businesses to gain exposure. Football fans across the country will be talking about what’s going on in the game using hashtags like “#Superbowl2017”.  You can capitalize on all the hype promoting game-related products and information on social media.  This will generate traffic leading up to the game and encourage people to follow your social channels.

 

Create Your Own Super Bowl Commercial

If you don’t have millions to spend on a Super Bowl ad, you can still create game-related amusing, eye-catching graphics and videos and run them on social media and your website to generate attention.  Whatever you do, make sure you’re spending your time and money on promotions that offer the best bang for buck. Even if you’re not a Super Bowl advertiser, the event is large enough to be a huge marketing opportunity any business can capitalize on!

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

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