Adhering to international or national standards may have many benefits for your small business including being able to compete against larger companies who may already have standards in place.  

What is a standard?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines it as "a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose."

Standards can be applied to products but they can also include many of your processes. Want to improve your environmental footprint? You may want to explore standard CAN/CSA ISO 14001. Interested in having your business become more socially responsible or how about certifying your business' quality management systems? Want to make your clients feel more secure about the information they are sharing with your business?  How about ensuring the health and safety of your employees? There are standards for these things and so much more. Decide what objective your business is trying to achieve and then search to see which standards would be able to help you reach your goals.

Could your small business benefit from conforming to your industries' standards?  

Your business' participation is voluntary (unless the standard is mandated by the government), but it may be an excellent marketing tool to be able to assure your clients that your products and processes meet a certain level of quality established in a particular standard.

Other benefits of implementing standards may include:

  • Increased sales — some suppliers or businesses only want goods and services which conform to specific standards (especially if you are bidding on government contracts)
  • Improved processes — may help you improve customer satisfaction, training, operations
  • Reduced costs — by improving efficiency and productivity in different areas of your business
  • Reduced risks — by improving the quality and safety of your products and processes
  • Increased participation in international markets — many international agreements require that products, services and processes be certified

Establishing a standard within your business can seem like a daunting idea, but a step by step analysis of your processes may lead you to find efficiencies, make training easier as staff will follow established procedures and reassure customers of the consistency and quality of your products and services. It may also help when exporting goods as some countries require that imported goods meet international established standards.

Give your business a leg up by reassuring clients and staff that your products, services and processes measure up to the highest standards! Visit our Standards page to learn more about Canadian and international standards and where to search for the one or ones that are right for your business.