2023 Small Business Year in Review

December 19, 2023

Back in January, a member of the Directwest team wrote an article that summarized some of the challenges businesses in Saskatchewan could expect to see over the year. Now that the year is nearly over, it’s the perfect time to enter the way back machine and check to see how our customers are faring with the identified challenges as we enter a new year.

2023 Business Trends:

45% are short on staff and/or struggling with staff retention.

At the beginning of 2023, business owners were still feeling the effects of the pandemic altering what was important to their employees. Businesses were seeing employees look for work from home perks, job flexibility, and learning/growth opportunities which was causing some staff to leave for greener pastures.

Has this changed?

Business owners are still struggling with being short on staff and employee turnover with 43% of our respondents declaring this as one of their top customer challenges at the end of 2023 as well.

  • 36% are short on inventory.

The impact of supply chain issues was a big concern for businesses at the start of 2023. COVID-19 was still impacting our local supply chains due to the restrictions in place in other countries world-wide.

Has this changed?

While we’re seeing less businesses struggle with inventory concerns, it’s still an issue with 28% of our survey respondents. COVID-19 has had long-lasting impacts on shipping across the world, and issues such as the Russia-Ukraine war will continue to cause concerns with inventory control.

  • 29% are concerned with cash flow issues.

Fuel and shipping costs were driving concerns of cash flow for many Saskatchewan business owners at the beginning of 2023.

Has this changed?

Fuel and shipping costs are still major drivers of concern for business owners in the province, with 27% still stating cash flow as a top challenge for their business. While these costs are driven by external forces, it’s important for businesses to evaluate their profit margins and ensure their core services remain profitable due to high external costs.

2023 was a challenging year for businesses in Saskatchewan. Despite some improvements, businesses still face concerns with staff retention, inventory shortages, and cash flow. As we move into 2024, it will be important for business owners to continue to seek new avenues to promote their business as a great place to work and bring in new, talented employees. Additionally, diversifying product ordering wherever possible can help mitigate supply chain and cash flow issues and ensure that businesses are able to meet customer demand.

We’ll also see new challenges start to emerge in 2024, with 32% of our customers declaring that they are having trouble keeping up with product demand (due to being short on inventory and a surge in local shopping) and 31% stating that increasing revenue is a key challenge due to the increasing costs in other areas of their business.

We understand that being a business owner can be a daunting task, especially when faced with these challenges and concerns. We know marketing is one of the first things to ‘go’ when money is tight, but if it’s still on your to-do list and you could use a hand, our team of experts is here to help. Let us take some stuff off your plate and handle effective advertising campaigns that will help you grow your business and fight back against these challenges. We wish you and your business the best as you move into 2024.

-Danny Loughren is a Marketing Manager at SaskTel/Directwest