Many local small business owners are feeling the effects of the economic downturn.

Economic Development Manager for the Town of Okotoks, Angela Groeneveld, says there are plenty of reasons businesses either choose or are forced to close their doors.

"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 says having a strong business plan is one of 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 guarantee, a business that is struggling in the first five years, doesn't have a business plan. If they've done their homework and have a really strong business plan, they can see and prevent the hurdles," she said.

She says 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.

While Groeneveld is fairly new to her position with the Town of Okotoks, she held similar advisory positions in High River and the surrounding area for a number of years.

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