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In 2012, there were more than one million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.

Even better, they employed close to eight million people, and were considered the backbone of the nation’s economy.

Today, however, they face three key challenges that could hinder growth going forward, despite the existence of favourable credit conditions for businesses that need loans. These roadblocks include:

1. The rise of the machine

The digital revolution has come about due to the “explosion of e-commerce, and the arrival of new platforms such as cloud computing [that have] changed lifestyles…Businesses must adapt in order to ride the wave,” says Sébastien Lavoie, assistant chief economist at LBS. To start, he suggests, they can adopt a mobile strategy that’ll help them advertise to and reach more consumers digitally.

This is crucial since Canadian companies sold more than $136 billion-worth of goods and services via the Internet last year, up 11% from 2012. At the same time, retail sales at conventional stores grew by 4%. Read: Tech sector trends to watch

2. Export troubles

The state of the American economy will continue to influence the export capabilities of Canadian businesses. So, “it could be advantageous for [businesses] to…sell their products to neighbouring provinces, and within other regional markets,” when times are tough, says Lavoie. Presently, only 10% of businesses are exporting internationally, so national exporting is an option. Read: Outdated agreement blocks cross-Canada trading

3. Labour shortages

In coming months, only 19% of business owners in Canada plan to add full-time personnel to their ranks. However, the hiring of new employees is a significant issue for SMEs, and they need to focus on how to find and keep employees at all levels of management. Read: Can small businesses cope with skills shortage?

Also check out:

Top 10 business risks for 2014

Boutique firms should buy competition: IIAC

Small business key to recovery

Originally published on Advisor.ca

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