May 19, 2020

Small Business Tips for the Holidays

small business
tips and advice
Sage 50 Accounting
Bizclik Editor
5 min
Small Business Tips for the Holidays

Sage Accounting 50--Canadian Edition Vice President and GM Nancy Harris knows a thing or two about managing a business through its peak activity time of the year.  Whether you're in retail, manufacturing, production or a variety of other industries, a small business can feel overwhelmed during the holiday season. Check out the following facts shared by Harris to see tips and advice on how to get through this busy time. 

Learn from your past experiences – Whether your business is a start-up or well-established, you have undoubtedly felt like you were drowning under a large workload or faced a considerably complicated or chaotic situation at some point.  How did you or your team perform?  What were your or your team’s strengths and weaknesses?  What was executed well?  What could have been improved?  Analyzing similar past experiences is a great starting point to plan for a busy time.

Be ready to go with the flow – Everyone knows that the key to managing a difficult task successfully is planning. However, it is even more important that the plan developed is flexible enough so that a last-minute change doesn’t render the entire strategy unviable.

Don't leave for tomorrow what can be done today – Spare yourself the added stress by handling those tasks, which you believe can be pushed off, sooner than later.  Even if you can’t complete a task immediately, starting the process by compiling documents and information, such as accounting records and employee information for tax season will get you ahead of the game after the busy season.

Budget-friendly hiring – Busy times often call for extra help. Even if you are doubtful whether you need to hire during that time, include the headcount in your annual budget.  If you require additional staff, you will have the means to employ them; if you don’t, you can save that capital for an emergency or invest it in another area of your business.

Shape up your workspace – Whether you run a shop or a warehouse, a clean, top-performing facility will not only help smooth the transition to a hectic period, decrease the chances of setbacks and facilitate everyone’s jobs, but also give a good impression to transient customers. Clean thoroughly, organize, perform maintenance on tools and machines, and dispose of outdated and damaged products/items. 

Manage your inventory efficiently – One of the biggest hindrances our customers told us they used to experience during busy times was an ineffectively managed inventory. Although having a system in place that ensures smooth operations is important year-round, it becomes critical during demanding times. Automated inventory systems are the most time- and cost-effective solution to help you streamline inventory management, and there are plenty of affordable options on the market. Furthermore, these tools offer many additional advantages.

Take the example of the B.C.-based Feelgood Treat Company, maker of a full line of super premium dry and frozen treats for cats, dogs and horses. Last summer, this small business embarked on the daunting task of launching six new products and optimizing its current lines. Feelgood not only relied on its Sage accounting solution to ensure the correct number of ingredients and final products were always available to meet the new demand, but the company was also able to better understand sales trends, control costs/margins more accurately and offer better pricing for their customers.

Research best practices – Knowing how other businesses in your industry handle certain situations can be a source of inspiration in determining how to manage your own operations. Look for case studies or success stories online, or talk with business owners within your network. Business associations and your local chamber of commerce are also great places to search for and obtain information on best practices.



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Go mobile – Whether your company has embraced mobility by providing devices to employees or it follows the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, increasing the level of connectivity among your staff can speed up your processes. Smartphones and tablets are not only cheaper and easier to carry and use than laptops, but also offer the ability to communicate anytime, anywhere. Busy times can call for fast action and reaction, and mobile devices offer that ability like no other.

Motivate and reward your staff – Your employees are the nerves and muscle of your business. Without your workforce, your business would not exist. Communicate with them on an ongoing basis and demonstrate that you understand and appreciate the integral role they play; motivate them before busy periods; recognize their hard work; and reward them for their efforts during and after the rush.

Plan for after-the-storm activity – If your business offers products that are popular during a particular time of year, you know that the end of the madness never coincides with the last day of the season. In an era in which mobile shopping is becoming increasingly popular, many customers realize the product they receive is not what they expected and may return or exchange it. Plan to keep your seasonal staff at least a week or two after the end of the season, and have enough variety in your inventory to satisfy product exchanges.


Nancy Harris is vice president and general manager at Sage 50 Accounting–Canadian Edition. Nancy is responsible for driving the strategic and product direction for Sage 50 Accounting–Canadian Edition and oversees key functional areas including sales and marketing and research and development. A primary focus of her role is strengthening relationships with and cultivating an exceptional customer experience for Sage’s small business customers, partner channels, accountants and bookkeepers. 

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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