You might think that running a small business is nothing like it used to be. Almost 20 years ago there was no Facebook or Twitter and no such thing as search engine optimization or e-commerce. Although, the fact is, many of the concerns that kept small business owners up at night in 1994, or 1924, are still making them toss and turn today.

Be where the customer is

Location, location, location used to be the key consideration for retailers and remains a mantra today, though often the ideal place might be at the top of a list from a web search.

Regardless, it’s still about having your offering where customers are going to see it. This can be easier said than done on a limited budget.

"The fact is, many of the concerns that kept small business owners up at night in 1994, or 1924, are still making them toss and turn today."

Hire the right people

What our parents’ generation thought would be a highly-automated economy still relies heavily on human resources. In fact, it could be said that the ability to attract and retain the right people is more important in today’s economy than it ever has been.

One difference is that some of the talent pools available a generation ago are no longer there. Some businesses have had to access programs like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to meet short-term staffing needs.

An effective TFWP is only one part of a flexible labour market that ultimately aims to match Canadians with the evolving needs of business. Training initiatives like the proposed Canada Job Grant are another vital element.

"Since the beginning of time, the most successful entrepreneurs have been those who know what they do well, and who stay away from what they don’t know."

Focus on what you know

Since the beginning of time, the most successful entrepreneurs have been those who know what they do well, and who stay away from what they don’t know. Some degree of taxation/regulation is needed, but almost any business owner you speak with will tell you the current levels are excessive, and hinder a small firm’s ability to grow by doing what they do best.

The more things change...

Yes, a lot has changed since 1994. Back in 1994, I would never have thought I would be tweeting daily. 

Even though the details have changed, the concerns of today’s entrepreneurs bear a striking resemblance to those I worked with two decades ago. They are resilient, hard-working, customer-focused, and eager to face the next challenge.