Study shows sales and marketing the most challenging function for Canadian small businesses

At Kingsmen Capital, we’re dedicated to helping small and mid-sized canadian businesses grow. Canadian small businesses account for 99% of the total 1.1 million employer businesses operating in Canada, making them the backbone of the Canadian economy.

Also, Canadian small businesses employ almost 90% of the country’s private sector workforce. This means that while a large percentage of entrepreneurs are successfully running their businesses, it’s safe to say that they aren’t free from certain challenges.

In this blog post, we will break down obstacles that Canadian small businesses face and outline some methods that will help owners overcome these challenges. This blog will focus on covering those business functions that are the most challenging for small business owners, followed by subsequent blogs that will define how to address those challenges.

What are business functions?

Business functions are processes that are routinely performed to ensure a business’ strategy is being executed. Generally, most small businesses have to perform two main types of functions to stay profitable and relevant.

1) Primary Functions are the core business functions that keep your doors open and need to be performed on a day-to-day basis. If you’re the owner of a barbershop your core functions would include:

  • Marketing (bring new customers into your store)
  • Operations
  • Accounting
  • Management

2) Secondary Functions are the functions that support your core business functions and add extra value to your business. Technology for a barbershop may be viewed as a secondary function since majority of the business’ activities happen at a brick and mortar location. However, technology can be leveraged to grow the business and improve retention with existing customers. Examples of technology used by a barbershop could be a website with a reservation tool and/or a newsletter to update clients about promotions and events.


What does the study say?

In a recent survey conducted by the Business Development Bank of Canada, business owners from across the country were asked how they would describe their company’s comfort level with each of the six main functions of their business — i.e. Sales and Marketing, Accounting, Operations, Human Resources, Management and Technology. Respondents were asked to score from 0 to 10 — 0 being ”it’s challenging” to 10 being “we know what we’re doing”.


What’s are the most challenging functions for Canadian small businesses?

Based on the survey described above, the top 3 functions business owners struggle with the most are Sales and Marketing, Accounting and Human Resources.

Sales and Marketing

Sales and Marketing were revealed to be the most challenging function. Businesses that purely sell their products and services to other businesses (B2B)  scored this function as 5.6  / 10, while businesses that sold to consumers and other businesses (B2B + B2C) scored this function as 6.1 / 10.


Accounting is the second most challenging function for many Canadian businesses and had a score of 6.0 / 10. Companies with revenues of less than $500,000 find it the most challenging at 5.4 /10.

Human Resources (HR)

52% of respondents said their company is quite uncomfortable with the HR function.

How can Canadian small businesses overcome these challenges?

There are a variety of online tools that can help Canadian small businesses overcome the challenge of sales and marketing. They include:

  • HubSpot CRM
  • Salesforce
  • Marketo
  • Google Analytics
  • GetResponse/MailChimp
  • Feedly

Not everyone is born with the skilled art of sales and it takes years to become a marketing guru. Start exploring these tools and adapt them into your sales and marketing function and notice a drastic change in the way you manage this vital aspect of your business.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post, which will go through each of these tools thoroughly and outline how Canadian small businesses can apply them to their daily sales and marketing function.


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