From Surviving to Thriving: 10 Tips for Small Business

Staff ShopBlog

“You need more than an idea to run a business.” — Arlene Dickinson


You’ve likely heard the saying, “Small business is the backbone of the economy.” It’s more than a saying, it’s the truth. According to research published by Statistics Canada, “In 2022, businesses with 1 to 99 employees comprised 98.0% of all employer businesses in Canada.”

Small businesses are important to our communities as well. These are not only local employers, they are product and service providers. Not only that, but they often live in the communities they serve, so by supporting local businesses, you are also supporting your friends and neighbours.

While small business is crucial to our economy, we unfortunately see a lot of them fail. We hate to see this. According to a study by CBInsights, 86.8% of all Canadian startups make it to year two, that percentage drops significantly for year three. There are lots of reasons why small businesses fail. Perhaps there is no appetite for the products or services, or the business runs out of money. Whatever the reason, we hate to see this happen. This is why, as a successful small business, Staff Shop leaders want to share their insights into what it takes to run a thriving business.

We asked CEO and Founder, Jennifer Ménard-Shand, and COO, Alison Hernández to each share some of their top business tips that have contributed to the success of Staff Shop. We hope that these insights will help you take your business from surviving to thriving!


Jennifer’s Tips

  • It Takes a Village

One of Jennifer’s most important tips is to build a winning team and collaborate daily because there is power in community and no one makes it alone. “Be humble and vulnerable enough to ask for help – we were designed to do life together. It’s much more rewarding and honourable to celebrate as a team vs alone on a pedestal.”

  • Be Authentic

Be true to yourself and share your journey with others. You might think that in order to run a successful business you need to pretend to be someone you’re not to avoid being canceled, but First Nations-French Canadian-Christian leader Jennifer has proven that being genuine and authentic inspires others to do the same – which celebrates diversity and cancels racism. 

  • Create and Foster a Healthy Culture  

“We have a responsibility to bring our best selves to work and be willing to lift others up around us through humility and grace. We exercise “FHOGG Time” at Staff Shop – creating a safe space to share Forgiveness, Humour, ‘Oops,’ Gifts or Gratitude. It’s freeing and inspiring to learn valuable lessons, build trust and grow without fear.”

  • Focus on Solutions and Gratitude

Rather than fixating on your problems, try focussing on solutions and gratitude to move your teams, and business forward. Great leaders are grateful optimists. If you’re always stewing in the problems, you’ll have a hard time seeing the solutions. When pessimism presents itself, look for the silver lining. Say thank you out loud for something you value. Every day is a blessed day – an opportunity to be alive, making a positive impact.” 

  • Define Your Top 5 KPIs

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. As a business owner or executive leader, take the time to establish the most critical KPIs that require your constant attention to measure the health of your business. In order to thrive and grow, it’s important that you test and measure such KPIs over a period of time until they must evolve. “From your brand to cashflow and everything in between, implementing the top 5 highest level KPIs and sub-KPIs like a flowing pyramid, is not an easy exercise yet the key to building an A Team and scaling successfully. From there, be nimble and embrace all vital changes required to shift from surviving to thriving.”


Alison’s Tips

  • Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Health

Remember to take time to book health and self-care appointments in your work calendar to normalize making these things part of your everyday life. Book these appointments well in advance so that you won’t make excuses later that you’re too busy with work. It’s so important to prioritize your health and well-being.

  • Maintain Your Personal Brand

“Be attentive to your LinkedIn profile, your general online presence on social media, and take the time to consider how you want to be viewed. Have you done the work to define your personal values and your mission statement, your purpose on this earth? All of these are part of the way you should represent yourself, from the way you sign off your emails to the type of language you use in meetings and negotiations. No matter where you go in life and who you work for, your personal brand goes with you.”

  • Audit Your Typical Day and Optimize

Take an audit of how you spend your time on a typical work day and highlight areas that could be optimized. Are you making the best use of your time while doing certain tasks? Can you delegate or automate any of your tasks? Critically auditing your tasks, the time they take, and the ROI is a good practice to maintain at least once a quarter.

  • Stay Informed and Educated

Keep yourself informed on what’s going on in the business and financial sectors, as well as major world news. Subscribe to newsletters from some business and news organizations and listen to podcasts to stay current on trends and issues that matter to you and your business. Not only does this help you make good business decisions that are socially and economically relevant, but it help fuel more meaningful conversations beyond the typical sports-and-weather small talk. Good conversation = growing your network!

  • Go Paperless

Put down the pen and paper! It is time to go paperless with your business practices. Take advantage of software and online tools to help you run and maintain your business. Beyond being good for the environment, this enables you to pick up and work from anywhere, even on the go! It’s very freeing and once you are able to leave that notebook behind, you’ll realize just how much it held you back.


Find your Roy

Unless you’re a sole proprietor, you likely have a business partner or employees that you delegate tasks to. One tip that both Jennifer and Alison can agree on is to make sure you find the right partner for your business. They compare themselves to Walt and Roy Disney. Jennifer dreams up the castles and Alison builds them. Together they have created a business that is thriving, because they each have a role to play, they lean on each other’s strengths, and they’re aligned at the core. 

We also recommend that you read our previous blog, “Finding Your Yoda: The Value of Mentorship,” to learn about how coaches, mentors and accountability partners help shape you for success.

Overall, we would encourage you to stay curious and humble, be coachable, ask questions and learn from others’ successes and from those who already paid the price in failures we can all avoid.

All the best! 


Contact Us

As always, we invite you to join us or hire us. Jennifer is also available for speaking engagements, if you’re looking for someone to tell a powerful and impactful success story.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney


“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney



Staff Shop Inc. is a privately held Canadian-Indigenous-Women owned staffing and consulting firm servicing Canada I USA I Caribbean as an award-winning diverse supplier, certified with CCAB, CAMSC, WBE & WEConnect International.

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