Success can happen even more unexpectedly than failure for many small businesses. What begins as a one- or two-person operation can change overnight as more products and services are sold and the volume of demand starts to grow. The only downside is not having enough talent on hand to keep up with that demand.

In one of Salesforce’s most recent e-books, Best Practices to Grow Your Business, the authors note that some growth happens organically -- in other words, seemingly by itself -- but in other cases requires strategic planning. That may be where Canadian firms need to step up their game.

In late November, the Conference Board of Canada released the results of a survey which showed only 29 percent of companies here have a robust workforce-planning process. At the same time, the report notes challenges such as a falling unemployment rate, an aging workforce, and skill shortages that worried 80 percent of respondents.

“Canadian organizations need to more proactively compete for talent,” the report’s author says. “Strategic workforce planning is an important business-planning tool that can help organizations ensure they have the right people in the right place at the right time and at the right cost.”

Room To Plan

Of course, “strategic workforce planning” might sound like something only a large organization can do, but even small business owners need to think through their future needs.

In fact, Best Practices to Grow Your Business suggests freeing up time to focus on growth, scaling up and getting support from the right people are all essential steps towards success. Technology can help in all these areas. Consider the following:

  • Cloud computing has made it possible for software to run anywhere, anytime, on any device, allowing decisions to happen more quickly than ever before.
  • When information is centrally stored and managed, it becomes easier to see how it’s growing -- and how many people will need to help make use of it.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) and analytics tools can provide greater insight into who your customers are, and identify the skill sets you need to hire for in order to best serve them.

Tech Should Support The Team

Think of technology not only as a way to support the growth of the business in terms of more customers and revenue, but a means to empower your firm’s future dream team. That’s just one best practice, but for more on connecting to customers, investing in relationships and a list of detailed resources specifically aimed at SMBs, download and read Best Practices To Grow Your Business in its entirety. It could be one of the most important things you do to get a head start on 2015.