Many small business owners are feeling the effects of the economic downturn, some right here in the Okotoks community.

Angela Groeneveld, Economic Development Manager for the Town of Okotoks, says there are several contributing factors to business closures in Okotoks, much the same as the province.

"There's some different costs that have been added that they're adjusting to. If you're not adapting and diversifying your business is number one. Number two is the cost of operating a small business, and third, does your customer have the disposable income? Do you need to get creative on your price points, maybe packaging things differently, maybe marketing differently? Know your customer, and make sure you're serving them," she said.

Groeneveld adds having a strong business plan is one the keys to success in small business, particularly to plan for financial gaps that may occur in the first five years.

"The common denominator that I'm coming up with, is that I can almost guaruntee, a business that is struggling in the first five years, doesn't have a business plan. If they've done their homework and a really strong business plan, they can see and prevent the hurdles," she said.

She adds businesses needing to adjust to the increased labour and operation expenses on top of a changing consumer market may be experiencing the squeeze, with some choosing to permanently close their doors.

Groeneveld is fairly new to her position with the town, and brings experience as a business facilitator and coach for the Southern Alberta region.

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