Here are some easy, no - or low-cost ways to jumpstart your business in 2013.

Organize – Organize your work space, your accounting, your ideas, your schedule. Organize your filing system, your computer desktop and your mail and e-mail systems (set up folders to organize incoming mail) and last, but not least, learn to organize and manage your time. Scheduling and organization is crucial for efficiency.

Create a process and cement the strategy – There’s always a lot of talk about developing a business strategy, but figuring out your strategy before determining your objectives is like putting the proverbial cart before the horse. First, determine your sales targets by developing some long-term objectives and aligning them with the vision you have for your company in six months, one year, five years, and so on. From there, you can work backwards and develop a process to achieve those objectives, ensure their relevancy with your overall strategy, and lock ‘em in. (But don’t be afraid to modify it as you go along.)

Start small and experiment – Do you have a great idea that you’re confident about but a little nervous investing all the money or rolling it out 100<>percentage<>? Test the service or product on a small segment of your clientele and adjust according to their feedback.

Network – There’s a reason why there are thousands if not millions of networking groups both on- and off-line across Canada; they work. Members of professional networks like the CEDEC Small Business Support Network (SBSN) can help you stay on track by providing objective input. Knowledge and ideas are shared; new innovations sometimes spin out of other people’s comments and insight. People within your network are also great for providing feedback and you can learn from their mistakes. Contracts, partnerships and joint ventures might be in the offering and others in your group might be able to introduce you to someone you've wanted (or needed!) to meet.

Leverage professional expertise – Maybe you should pick the brain of a fellow retail store owners over coffee about how they addressed a similar challenge or how they added new life to their business. Or, offer your accountant a free lunch in exchange for feedback on a few ideas you've been throwing around. Join a professional on-line community like LinkedIn and sign up to discussion groups within your industry and learn what others in your field are up to. Follow professionals in your industry on Twitter or Facebook. In short, the real or on-line world is crawling with expertise and, in general, people are more than happy to share what they know. Professionals can also provide you with industry benchmarks that you can use to set ambitious yet feasible targets.

Never stop learning – If you think about how much a child learns in the run of a day for years on end it’s pretty astounding. Once we reach adulthood, however, for some reason many of us have been conditioned to think that we've accomplished some goal, reached the finish line; “I’m an adult now; I've done all the learning, passed all the exams. I’m accomplished and finished.” Not true.

Flexing your brain muscles will keep you sharp into your 90’s and will help you grow your business – but you must actively seek out those learning opportunities. “Learning is not achieved by chance,” says Kim Wilson, Development Agent at the Chateauguay Valley Community Learning Centre. “It must be sought for with ardour and tended to with diligence.” There are many ways you can learn throughout your career or life. You might take advantage of what a mentor can teach from their experience; you might take a few after work classes at an Adult Education Centre; or you might profit from learning offered by organizations like the CEDEC Small Business Support Network.

Believe in luck – “Luck,” said Roman politician and philosopher Seneca, “is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” More often than not, the concept of superstitious luck has nothing to do with getting ahead; those who encounter good luck are those who actively seek out opportunities to win. They’re experimenting with new products or processes, targeting new markets and capitalizing on the resources they have in front of them. As Canadian humourist and economist Stephen Leacock said, “I'm a great believer in luck. And I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

The CEDEC Small Business Support Network can help you directly with three of the above (networking, leveraging professional expertise, and learning opportunities) and indirectly with the rest. All you have to do is stop in at one of our networking sessions or workshops or give us a call to learn more.

Contact the CEDEC Small Business Support Network at or 1.888.641.9912.