It is clearly recognized by most business leaders that the Canadian economic recovery will be predicated on the continued success and growth of small business within Canada. The ongoing challenge for SMBs continues to be access to capital to support this growth.
The Toronto Board of Trade (TBOT) and TELUS recently recognized October as Small Business Month by launching a new state of the art video conferencing centre at the TBOT offices and hosting a member education event which included an illustrious panel of leading innovators and thought leaders of SMB.
Given the economic uncertainty and the credit crunch that has been on the front pages this past month, there were several messages from the panel discussion that had value for SMB’s and the industry alike.
The first message shared by Carol Wilding, President, Toronto Board of Trade (www.bot.com) was that you don’t have to be large to be tech-savvy or have use of high tech applications such as video conferencing.
Video conferencing has evolved significantly over the past ten years, and TELUS and the Toronto Board of Trade have created a business centre environment where these technologies are available on an hourly basis.
The high tech business centre enables small businesses to present themselves in a professional manner, reduce travel costs, and expand their business without requiring individual large cash investments.
The second message was that telecommunications based collaboration tools can help drive down operating costs, and increase revenue opportunities. A demonstration by Tony Lourakis, President, Complete Innovations (www.completeinnovations.com) of their GPS based fleet management system highlighted the significant short and long term payoffs that can be achieved by improving dispatch efficiencies.
TELUS demonstrated their hosted text to voice solution for delivery of email. Dan Goldberg, VP, Small Business highlighted how these types of advanced technology solutions can improve organizations productivity in a fast paced business environment.
The third message delivered from panel member Arlene Dickinson, Star of CBC’s hit show “Dragons Den” (http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/) stated that technology investment needs to focus on business benefits, not just features and functions. Features may catch your attention, but the additional costs may not have any business value.
It is the cost benefit analysis of technology investments that result in improved efficiencies, increased sales opportunities and reduced costs that will drive improvements to the bottom line.
The fourth message was that technology can be a powerful ally, but the small business owner does not have to know everything. It is important that small business owners are aware of the business allies that can provide value added technology services and advice relative to the next generation technology solutions that will provide the short term payoff.