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 Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future

Have you ever thought about selling your farm or business? Do you know how to start?

If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. A recent Business Development Bank of Canada study found that less than 10% of all business owners in Canada have a formal succession plan. It’s a wake-up call for business owners to start one sooner rather than later.

“Generally speaking, business transitions take between 2-7 years,” says Alison Anderson, Founder, and CEO of SuccessionMatching.com, an online community of business buyers, sellers, and succession planning professionals.

 Sharing for Success - Stronger Together

Sharing for Success - Stronger Together

The Community Futures Treaty Seven organization provides training, employment and business development opportunities for Treaty 7 First Nations individuals, on and off reserve, including persons with a disability. Community Futures Treaty Seven continues to prioritize disability in their labour market programs and business advisory services.

Each year, Community Futures Treaty Seven hosts a summit and job fair that connects job seekers, employers, employment service agencies and supporters. Featured speakers raise awareness to improve understanding of the many limitations imposed by attitudes and stereotypes on the employment and economic opportunities of First Nations individuals.

 Co-branded Retail

Co-branded Retail

Cafes in department stores are nothing new. But hybrid retail is going to the next level with increasingly unique co-branding combinations. Co-branded ventures create unique customer experiences that expand the way we think about each of the companies involved. Oftentimes, the participating brands will be very different from one another, adding an element of surprise to the experience.

For example, Glossier and Rhea’s Café in San Francisco created a series of pop-up shops that combined socializing, eating and trying beauty products. Casper is an online mattress brand that partnered with West Elm, a high-end furniture retailer, to allow customers to actually try the mattresses in a bricks-and-mortar setting. Music-streaming app Spotify partnered with Uber to create "a soundtrack for your ride."

 Post-purchase Forgiveness

Post-purchase Forgiveness

Consumer expectations have been completely reconfigured by innovations such as virtual assistants, service upgrades and seamless personalization. The same consumer is also besieged by offers of free trials, slashed prices and seductive perks. As one consequence, 78% of consumers say they retract loyalty faster today than they did just three years ago (Accenture, February 2017).

Consumers now expect their brands to magically adapt to their ever-changing needs, wants and whims. As a result, the next iteration of customer service will include a form of post-purchase forgiveness whereby customers expect all kinds of products and services to ‘forgive them’ when they change their minds about the item they selected, the size they chose, or the service options they wanted.

 We Live in a Post-Demographic World

We Live in a Post-Demographic World

Businesses have to adapt to a future where ways of living, working and playing are changing rapidly. We can no longer put people in neat demographic boxes because people of all ages in all markets are constructing their own identities more freely than ever. As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income family status and more. So, you can stop trying to figure out the differences between Gen X and Gen Y because  ‘generational generalizations’ are fast becoming a thing of the past.

Here are a few reasons why it’s time to throw out the tired and traditional demographic approach to consumer behavior:

 A Revolution in Transparency is Just Beginning

A Revolution in Transparency is Just Beginning

Thanks to the radical transparency made possible by a world that is connected 24/7 in real-time, businesses exist in glass boxes. Outsiders can easily see inside. Sure, not always with 20/20 vision. But, they can see the people, processes and values at work. And, companies that are not living up to stated values and brand promises get exposed quickly and mercilessly.

Perhaps the most extreme example in 2018 is, in a word: Weinstein. In a hashtag? #MeToo. A New York Times article revealed multiple abuse allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein sparking a global conversation about patriarchy and gender. In 2017, Uber’s culture of sexism and bullying was exposed when one staffer’s blog post went viral, resulting in the ousting of founder and CEO Travis Kalanick. Meanwhile, an ‘anti-diversity manifesto’ by a Google employee shed light on the issue of gender diversity in tech companies.

 Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Commerce

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Commerce

Everywhere in the world, consumers are embracing the outsourcing of tedious retail tasks like hunting, negotiating, purchasing and arranging delivery to algorithms and smart devices. Amazon and other online retailers now offer “one-touch auto re-ordering” to save time. Financial institutions are experimenting with auto-money saving apps and AI-enabled payment cards. Even KFC is testing ‘Smile to pay’ face-recognition technology in Asia. And, personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are gaining in popularity and everyday use. The list of applications is already endless.

All of this epic efficiency is powered by a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Once the stuff of popular movies like The Matrix and Ex Machina, these technologies are now part of everyday life.

Why global trends matter to small business

As a small business owner in a rural community, you might wonder how global trends apply to you? You might also be so busy and overloaded that you simply 'switch off' anything that isn't urgent. Trends come and go, you say. Who has the time and brain space to stay on top of them?

But finding time to keep up with global trends and issues is critically important. Your customers are not just shopping locally. They're exposed to global trends, so you should be too. Doing so gives you the field vision to see what's coming before it gets there. It exposes you to different perspectives that can drive innovation. It alerts you to emerging opportunities you can capitalize on. It keeps you fresh and ensures your business doesn't become outmoded. And, it helps make you more sensitive and in-tune with different people and viewpoints.

Contact Us

Community Futures Network of Alberta
Box 753 – Cochrane, AB T4C 1A9
T: 403-851-9995
Toll free: 1-877-482-3672

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About Community Futures

Guidance, support, and financial help for small businesses. Community Futures has been helping rural Albertan entrepreneurs for over 30 years with guidance, business loans, training, and free resources.
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