Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why people become entrepreneurs

You’re frustrated, tired and stressed. You’ve realized that your boss is only interested in squeezing more work out of you and that your career prospects in the company are almost nil. You have always dreamed about making it on your own and taking control of your destiny – your own success and failure.

You’re not alone! There are thousands of others who have decided to take the plunge towards entrepreneurship, and in these times of uncertainty more and more people have also decided to take matters in their own hands.

Here are a few more reasons why people decide to become business owners:

1. Becoming financially independent

Although a majority of new businesses fail within the first three years, those that succeed can become very profitable. Starting your business is the first step towards gaining financial independence and achieving the security that you want. Being an entrepreneur allows you to get an income stream that is dependent on your efforts and not on the whims of others.

2. Better career prospects

Sometimes people become frustrated as they feel that their career path is not going the way they want. By starting their own business they’ve decided to take control of their personal and career goals. Alternatively, sometimes entrepreneurs see a better way of doing things in their industry and act on it, providing much needed innovation that is lacking.

3. Looking for personal achievement

There are those who are interested in setting big challenges and striving towards it. These entrepreneurs are goal-oriented and gain satisfaction from accomplishing big things. This is a common trait amongst many entrepreneurs – especially motivated by risking everything on their ideas and overcoming big challenges.

4. Pursuing their own ideas

Certain people see opportunities in areas that are often missed by others -entrepreneurs can see new markets, create new products or improve upon a service. Whatever the reason is, the opportunity to innovate and create is what drives them. Their satisfaction comes from the successful creation of a business and validation of their ideas by the market.

Even though entrepreneurs work more hours, have higher stress and sometimes lower pay than non-entrepreneurs, many have a greater feeling of satisfaction in their work. There are many reasons for starting a business, but a true entrepreneur is someone who gets excited by setting big challenges and works towards overcoming them. Also, the act of building a lasting company is a validation of their ideas, and they gain a deep sense of pride from its successful implementation. So if you’re ready to jump in to the chaotic world of entrepreneurship, know that you’re part of the few that are willing to take charge of their destiny.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Awesome gifts for the entrepreneur on the go!

With the holidays around the corner, it’s time to do some late Christmas shopping. Trying to come up with the right gift for the entrepreneur in your life is difficult as their needs are more practical. Take a look at the list below to help you choose something that your favourite tycoon can appreciate.

A solar-powered electric gadget charger: This is an excellent gift for someone who carries a lot of gadgets – (i.e. iPhone, camera, tablet). So, instead of carrying multiple bulky chargers to charge them while travelling, you can just take one. And it’s all powered by the sun!

The GPS navigator: A great gift for the frequent traveller! They will never get lost on their way to the important business meeting and the best ones can be used for many countries. You should be able to find a good one in electronic retail stores.

Bluetooth headset: With many cities banning talking in cell phones while driving, it makes sense to use a hands-free headset so you can speak on your cellphone while in the car. Not only is it safe, they also look cool. If your favourite entrepreneur lives in their car, make sure they stay safe with this headset.

Smartphones: Regardless if you choose an iPhone, a Samsung, or Blackberry – a smartphone is a great tool for the entrepreneur on the go! They can respond to emails, store files and access the internet while still talking on the phone...This multi-purpose tool is perfect for someone who needs to keep in touch with their business while travelling.

Personal assistant service: A small business owner rarely has any free time between managing their business, making sales calls, dealing with client issues and overseeing employees. It’s no surprise that many of them do not have time to manage their personal affairs such as picking up the dry cleaning, cleaning their house, or groceries... By getting them a personal assistant or concierge you help them with the most valuable commodity – time. With the free time, they can focus on their business.

iPad: One of the most groundbreaking technological gadgets made, Apple has created this for both the business and regular user. Light, powerful and filled with features that the most jaded technologist would love, it’s a great alternative to lugging a heavy laptop. And its compact shape makes it perfect to be used for client presentations and poring over the reports at night in your hotel room.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Setting goals for the new entrepreneur

Setting goals is very important for a business – especially a new one. As an entrepreneur you have so many fires to put out that it’s easy to get lost in the wrong things. By setting long term, quarterly and daily goals, it can help you focus on the priorities that will help your company grow. Your goals set your priorities and serve as a tool to measure your company’s progress .

Setting corporate goals require everyone’s input and should be communicated clearly to everyone. It provides your employees a benchmark to evaluate whether they’re on track and moving forward towards business growth. Without a measurement of progress, it can be difficult to determine what needs to be changed or improved upon.

To set goals for your company and yourself, here are some tips to follow:

1. Create long term goals and break them down.

As an entrepreneur, you need to provide the company vision and to do that is through providing long-term goals. Start by listing your long term goals and then work backwards by breaking these down into more manageable quarterly, monthly and weekly targets. Do you want to make $500,000 in one year? Then break your annual goal into quarterly objectives – $125,000 every 3 months. You should then break this down even further into monthly and daily goals.

2. Goals must be specific and measurable with a clear timeframe.

Like everything in business – you must be able to measure progress. Determine what metrics will be needed to see if you’re on track. For example, to achieve an increase in sales revenue, you must have your sales team make 200 calls/day, send out 7 quotes a day with 2 hours talk time.

3. Your goals should be achievable and realistic.

Make sure that the goals you create for yourself are attainable. Don’t aim so high that you don’t believe that you will achieve them. For example, if your company has never reached a target of $100,000, then setting a goal for a million dollars in revenue will not be believable. You must feel that you and your employees have the knowledge, skill set, and resources to successfully get there.

4. Review your goals regularly.

Make sure that your goals are communicated to all your employees and that they understand how to accomplish them. At the end of each month, review your annual goals to see if you’re on track or if you’ve lost your focus. Do not be afraid to change your goals if you find that they are not achieving your aims.

By defining your goals, it will help both you and your employees to work towards a shared outcome as well as manage expectations. Without these goals, employees may feel lost and lose their focus. Setting goals is like creating a roadmap for your business to progressively grow... Each step you take should be towards the success of your business.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 3 challenges for a start-up

For many entrepreneurs, starting and growing a business is an exciting adventure – until you come across almost insurmountable obstacles that can break up your company. After speaking with a few entrepreneurs, investors and executives, here are some of the challenges that business owners face when growing their companies.

Not having partners to help share the load

There have been very few successful companies that have been started by just one founder. And those that have succeeded always attracted a good team who were there from the beginning. Why can’t a single founder start a company? Many entrepreneurs say it’s because starting a company on your own is just too much for one person. With daily pressures and multiple areas that you are responsible for, there are not enough hours in the day to deal with them. Even if you could do all the work yourself, you would still need a team behind you to vet ideas, strategies and opportunities. By working with partners you will be able to share the workload and be able to bring the final product to market quicker.

But most importantly, having multiple founders allow the team to help support each other through the most challenging times. When going it alone, trying to manage the daily stress will be difficult. Having a team around you to lighten things or spread the load is immeasurably beneficial.

Losing focus and spreading yourself too thin

This can be a big problem for companies who want to do everything for everyone. If your start-up is growing quickly, it is common for many founders to start adding new markets, and expand too quickly through acquisitions. Don’t try to solve problems that are not part of your niche as this will pull you away from what brought your company success in the first place – your core market. What you should do is tightly define who your target is, focus on what you can offer them and create an action plan that solves their problems.

Not enough cash

Cash is king. You’ve heard this before from various people, however, in a business environment it speaks volumes. How much cash do you have until you hit your next milestone? If your company is an idea, then how much money does it require to create a product/service? If you already have a product, then how much cash does it take to launch? So when you set your financial goals, make sure that you’ve accounted for how much cash it would take to get to the next step. Without sufficient cash flow, any downturn can end your business before it has a chance to fly.

With proper planning and foresight, you’ll be able to overcome any of these challenges and be well on your way to success!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How cloud computing can help your business

Technological advances have provided opportunities for small businesses that have previously been very expensive and only available to big companies with large IT departments. A great benefit for cloud services, which is any infrastructure, platform or software service that is Internet based, is that you can start your company with minimal upfront resources and can scale up as your business grows. For a business owner, cloud computing allows you to:

• save money,

• scale your business,

• increase your services

• and minimize risk.

This allows the entrepreneur to compete as a much larger company while still remaining small. Some of the benefits of cloud services for your small business go beyond just hosting your website and you will be able to take advantage of a myriad of services that allow you to run your business more efficiently. Some of these advantages are:

Price: One of the major advantages of using cloud services are savings in operating costs. You can reap the benefits of lower operating costs by not having any in-house IT infrastructure such as:

• expensive servers,

• networking equipment

• or even the need to hire IT staff.

In the past, businesses had to manage their own internal computing resources, which created huge overhead costs that were insurmountable barriers for small business owners. However, with cloud computing and the myriad of services that you can choose from such as:

• marketing automation,

• project management,

• accounting

• and CRM applications,

Business owners can now lower the upfront costs of running their businesses and provide great value for their customers.

Scalability: One of the benefits of cloud computing services is the ability to purchase services according to your business needs. Many cloud service providers offer a pay as you go pricing, allowing you to manage upfront costs. You only pay for what you need, and as your business grows so does your usage. There is also is the option to integrate their services with other platforms through open APIs.

Flexibility: Cloud services allow you to automate a lot of your operations, freeing you to focus on your business. You can try new business strategies with minimal risk quickly and see if it works. You will be able to work more efficiently and at a lower cost without having to be tied down to services that you don’t need.

For your small business to grow, you need to be able to scale quickly and at low cost. Cloud technology allows you to do that without the need to have an expensive in-house IT team or hardware. With cloud services, you can be more competitive against larger companies by being flexible, responsive and accessible.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Register your Canadian Trademark in the U.S.

We may be in Canada, but nothing stops us from celebrating U.S. Thanksgiving!

Did you know that registering a trademark with the Canadian Trademarks Office protects the rights for that trademark in Canada only? That means that while your trademark is legally protected in Canada, there may be no legal limits to prevent a U.S. company from infringing on your trademark in the U.S.

Now you can protect your intellectual property in the United States by registering your Trademark in the United States with On November 24th and 25th will be offering $100 off all U.S. Trademark application filings. Simply enter the Promo Code CCUSTMTNX2011 in your shopping cart. has established a strong relationship with a U.S. Trademark Agent, providing you with the same quick and personal customer service experience, while maintaining compliance with all United States Trademark requirements.*

Click here for more information and to place your order. If you have any questions or need help with your order, please call 1-866-906-2677.

* cannot guarantee that your Trademark Application will be approved. Please note that does not provide legal advice to clients.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to get publicity for your small business

As a small business getting publicity is difficult when you don’t have the big budgets and resources of your larger competitors. So what do you do to get that PR buzz and that word-of-mouth that drives traffic? Here are some steps you must take to get the buzz:

Make sure you have something to talk about

Even though you think that your company, product or service is the best out there, what’s important is the perception of your clients and media. You have to make sure that the media perceives your product or service to be so unique that it stands out from the crowd.

Journalists are always looking for something new or a unique angle to a story that hasn’t been covered before. Here are some ways that you can get journalists to cover your company:

• You have just launched a unique, breakthrough product or service that isn’t found anywhere else. This product stands out because it kicks ass and you’re so proud of it that you’ll give any reporter a free product for them to try for their story.

• You can tie your product or service into the latest news trend of the day. Try to tie in your product to trends such as organic or environmentally friendly issues. Or link it to highly political situations... So whenever you notice a trend coming up, figure out how does your company fit in with it?

Pitch your story to the right person

Do your research before you start sending our press releases. Find out what the editorial calendar is for a particular publication. Determine which topics are going to be covered in the next few issues and tailor your pitch towards their schedule. Find out which reporter or editor is responsible for your industry and approach them only. You should also approach media that cover only your industry, product or business.

Some ways to find the right contact in a media outlet are:

• Read their masthead

• Do a search on their website

• Contact the media outlet by phone

When you pitch the reporter, add reasons as to why your business should be covered by the media outlet.

Follow up afterwards

Just like sales, you must consistently follow up with your contacts. If they have expressed an interest in covering you, make sure that you keep in touch with them and provide them with as much information they need. Send them a thank you note once you’ve received media coverage. The more organized and responsive you are to a reporter’s needs; you’ll be favoured with a higher chance of getting a story published.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Benefits of CRM Software

Having customer relationship management (CRM) software offers you a lot of advantages in running your business. As a small business, you need to take advantage of every tool that will help you deliver great service to your customers and using a CRM can provide that. Choose your CRM software wisely, however with the right choice, you will be able to jumpstart your business’s ability to maintain long term relationships and eventually drive sales. Some of the benefits of having a CRM are:

1. Creating a customer database: A CRM will allow you to create an in-depth database of your customer. You will be able to track everything from their purchasing habits to their personal interests. It will allow you to predict when the customer is ready to buy and being able to personalize any contact with them.

2. Automating marketing tasks: You can automate many of your marketing tasks such as reminders, documentation or email newsletters, saving you time and effort. It also allows you to keep all your marketing communication templates in a central place and use them to send to clients during any transaction. And finally, you can keep track of your marketing campaigns, evaluating their effectiveness and also measuring long term customer value.

3. Make strategic decisions quickly: You will be able to access data and make strategic decisions without wasting time. CRMs allow you to build dashboards that give you a snapshot of where your business is at any point of time.

4. Strengthen your customer relationships: A CRM allows you to communicate with your customer at all times, choosing the right message to send at the right time. By improving your customer communications, you strengthen your relationship with them and increase customer retention. A big advantage for CRMs is the ability to create personalized communications with thousands of your customers more efficiently.

5. Customer service operations are more efficient: Your customer service functions will improve as you can provide better service. You will also be able to keep track of any customer service issues and follow-up without losing track of where you are. With a CRM, sales, marketing and customer service can now be integrated as each department would be able to obtain a deeper picture on a client, thereby targeting and servicing a client according to their needs.

A CRM allows you to keep track of your customer data throughout the entire purchasing lifecycle. This gives you a great snapshot of what is happening in your company in real-time, helping you make the best strategic decisions quickly and profitably.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Prepare your Shareholders Agreement

Protect the future of your corporation with a Shareholders Agreement*

One of the first steps after forming your corporation is to decide how your business will be operated and managed. For corporations that have 2 or more shareholders, ground rules should be laid out from the start to ensure that your business maintains good corporate governance. These rules are generally set with a Shareholders Agreement.

So, from November 9th to the 11th is reducing the price of our Shareholders Agreement from $99 to $50 for our valued customers.

Visit our Contracts Page from 9 am on November 9th to 5 pm on November 11th to get your Shareholders Agreement for only $50. The agreement is prepared through our online Easy Contracts system, which builds the document based on the information entered by you. It’s quick, easy and all online!

Click here for a detailed checklist of the information you’ll need to prepare your Shareholders Agreement. Make sure you have all the necessary information to complete the agreement before you begin.

If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 1-866-906-2677, we’d be happy to help.

* Please note that the Shareholders Agreement provided through our system is not intended to replace the services an attorney who can review your particular circumstances and advise you accordingly. We are not a law firm and do not offer legal advice or legal services. This Shareholder Agreement should not be taken to be appropriate for all circumstances. Please note that this Shareholder Agreement cannot replace a lawyer or their advice, particularly in complex or intricate situations or where opposing interests may exist. Contracts are in English only.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How an accountant adds value to your small business

Many business owners see an accountant as someone who keeps track of accounts payables and receivables, and makes sure that the business taxes are paid. However, a good accountant can be so much more. They are like a business partner, where they help your business become more financially efficient and take advantage of tax laws.

An experienced accountant is very valuable as they can help you make the right business decisions by providing strategic and financial advice while reducing your risk for your company. An accountant can be someone who wears many hats for your business, such as:

Business analyst: An accountant is trained to identify specific business challenges and provide solutions. By understanding your business and industry they become valuable as they can provide you with advice on the best financial strategy to take. They will help you create accurate financial information which will help you in analyzing your business performance. You can also assess what you have achieved as well as provide accurate forecasting for future growth.

Financial operations: An important part of an accountant’s job is to set up an accounting system including providing you with financial analysis and data. But, most importantly, your accountant can provide you with financial advice that can help you manage your business better - such as budgeting and cash flow forecasting.

Tax advisor: No matter how good you are with your company’s financial operations, there will be times when you will need the help of an expert. By taking advantage of an accountant you can be better prepared to deal with the complexities of small business taxation. They would be able to provide your business with advice and help restructure your business operations so that you can minimize your taxes and increase your profits.

A professional accountant adds tremendous value to your business through finding ways to:

• save money,

• lower your tax rate,

• increase profits

• and provide you with the financial information so that you can grow your business.

They can also help you analyze the numbers and use them to make more strategic decisions. Unfortunately, many small business owners fail to realize that working with an accountant is one of the most important business decisions that they should make - and not only during tax time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to hire a web designer

Is your company about to design a new website or planning to revamp your existing one? Finding a web designer to do it can be a challenging process; with so many to choose from. However, before you start looking around for one, you should already have a detailed understanding of what your website will be like. Take the time to plan your requirements for the site including the business goals. Some other questions that you should ask are:

• Is your website going to be powered by a Content Management System (CMS) such as Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla?

• Do you have a site map ready?

• Do you know the style including branding, logos and colours that your website should look like?

• What is your project deadline?

• And finally, how much are you willing to spend on your website?

Once you have created your brief, you can then start choosing a designer. Here are some of the points that you should consider:

Portfolio: A designer’s portfolio is the best way to gauge their experience and skills. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions about their work that is represented and make sure that it can be verified. Ask for client references and find out:

o what their professional relationship was like;

o was there open communication;

o was the project done on time and to satisfaction?

Also, choose the portfolio that has work similar in scope to your project. For example, if you’re looking for a Wordpress site, make sure that the designer you choose has done multiple Wordpress projects.

Style: Each designer has their own creative eye. This creativity can be seen in their designs - see if they are flexible in all their work, or does their work show the same, repetitive style?

Communication skills: For any project to be successful, there has to be clear communication channel both ways. Make sure that your requirements are understood clearly by the designer, and secondly, that the designer can communicate clearly any changes or problems that may occur during the course of the project. It’s better to over-communicate than make assumptions that could be wrong. There should be a process where both of you can easily update each other during the course of the project including having regular meetings. There also should be multiple ways to communicate with your designer, when reaching them is critical.

Are they knowledgeable: A consultant should always tie their services to the needs of your business. They should spend the time in learning how your business works, what you offer, and what kind of clients you work with. With that knowledge, they can design a site that will reflect your business and not what they think it should be.

How much does it cost? Get a full breakdown of the costs in creating your site. Features such as a blog, email newsletter system, ecommerce functionality and others should be listed in the quote including time taken, resources used and any sub-contractors hired. Understand their billing process – will they bill you monthly, or are payments based on milestones

Your website is essential to the marketing success of your business. By interviewing potential designers, you’re more likely to pick one that:

• Is skilled to do the type of work you want,

• Communicates and listens well,

• And is budget conscious.

By keeping these tips in mind when searching for a website designer, you should be on your way to starting a successful website.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Protecting your small business from hackers

It’s not only the large corporations that are targeted by criminals, but also small businesses such as yours. This is because small businesses do not have the resources that they require to protect their IT infrastructure. Here are a few reasons why you should improve your IT security especially if you’re a small business:

You need to protect your customer’s credit card information. There is even a greater risk of fraudulent activity as a majority of credit card transactions are online.

Manage your brand reputation. By having the best IT security in place, you protect your business and customers and, most importantly, maintain your reputation as a secure place to do business.

Protection from viruses /spyware. Another potential risk is viruses, which can create chaos on your business. Many viruses can shut down entire computer networks and even email systems. Once a virus has infected your computer, it will start sending emails to anyone listed in your address book, harming your reputation. This threat alone should be enough of an incentive to improve your IT security.

Once your infrastructure is compromised, the cost to purchase new software and hardware or even to manage crisis communications can be high. It doesn’t matter if the threat comes from an employee, a virus or a hacker, there are some easy ways to prevent and avoid these events. Here are some tips in protecting your company:

1. Get a reliable host service for your website and database. Make sure that they are reliable and have a good reputation. Ask for client testimonials when vetting vendors.

2. Verify that all your employees are using the current and up to date browsers. One of the easiest ways viruses and spyware can infect a computer is by exploiting weaknesses found in the browser.

3. Make sure that an anti-virus program is installed on all computers. This includes your servers. Keep the program current at all times.

4. Manage all your passwords at a single place using a password manager. And ask your employees to create passwords that are random. Do not use easily remembered passwords such as family names, pet names and such. Ask your employees to not keep the passwords where they are easily accessible.

5. Monitor internet usage. As employees could inadvertently come across malware or phishing sites allowing their computers to be hacked.

6. Protect your Wi-fi connection. Password protect your connection and make sure that your hardware is modern.

These are some steps that you can take to prevent unauthorized security breaches and will provide you with a solid foundation to protect yourself from basic malicious attacks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Can social media help with your small business?

Social media has quickly become one of the best ways for a small business to compete against bigger players in their industry. For a business, creating a social media strategy not only allows you to create a personal connection between your brand and your customers - it also gives you the opportunity to:

• Build customer loyalty

• Create great customer service through interaction

• And lower your customer acquisition costs in the long run.

A recent survey by Michael Stelzner, provided interesting data that was shared in the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report . What was found that small businesses who follow a social media marketing strategy received two times more qualified leads than those of businesses that didn’t.

As you can see, social media helps bring your brand in front of your potential customers much more easily than any other marketing strategies and at much lower costs. To be successful in your social media efforts there are certain things you should follow:

Offer valuable content: Determine what your prospects need and try to fulfil it with great content. Will the content that you offer help them solve their problems? For example, for fans of your Facebook page, you can offer discounts, contests or exclusive promotions that reward them for their loyalty.

Be consistent: Make sure that your communications are frequent and connect with your customers on a regular basis. If you haven’t updated your Facebook page over time, don’t be surprised if your prospects start leaving.

Be visible on multiple social media platforms: Don’t just depend on one social media platform for your customer outreach. People are all over the web, having profiles on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter all for different purposes. So, make sure that what you post is unique to the platform you’re on.

Along with strengthening your brand, social media has another advantage thanks to Google. It helps in your search engine optimization strategy. With the Panda update, Google has declared that social media activity will play a large role in how a website will rank in search results. The more people share your content through social media and link back to your website, the more Google will look favourably upon you.

Customers are looking for more than just a transactional relationship with their favourite brands. When you create an atmosphere that allows your prospective client to connect with your company by voicing their opinions and suggestions through social media, you gain their trust. This trust translates easily to higher revenue as it makes lead conversion easier.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to hire for a start-up

Your start-up has finally got financed and, flush with money, it’s time to hire great employees. Now what? How do you know what makes a successful start-up employee? Many entrepreneurs realize quickly that they need a strong team, but finding talented people is a difficult process. Most likely, finding exceptionally talented employees becomes even more challenging as they rarely leave their current jobs for a start-up and are always in demand. Here are some rules that start-up founders offered on how to recognize a potential recruit may be great for your company :

1. They have worked for start-ups before. Applicants that have worked for start-ups are used to the chaos and speed of execution. They are self-managed and are used to working with little resources.

2. Have some small business experience. A small business is very different from a start-up where resources are more readily available. However, having small business experience is just as valuable as a start-up because they are used to having more responsibility and can work independently.

3. They work on side projects. People who work on side projects relevant to their careers or passions are ones you want. It's because they are willing to experiment and learn from hands-on experience.

4. Possible overseas experience. This would be an interesting point to consider for two reasons. Firstly, people who have worked overseas are more willing to take risks. And secondly, they are at ease working outside their comfort zone. Two qualities that an employee must have in working for a start-up.

5. Always hire for your company culture. As a small start-up, you may be fast paced, chaotic, no rules, work hard and stay up late. If someone who is used to a larger company and a structured environment, they will immediately leave within a few days. So, make sure that the person you're hiring can fit in your start-up seamlessly.

6. Look for problem solvers. In a start-up environment, there are very little resources. So, when there is a problem, an employee must find a solution, and fast! The right employee won’t run away from this challenge and won’t let go until it’s solved. It’s this attitude that you need to hire for.

7. If you’re a young start-up – hire smart generalists. This advice came from Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot. A start-up in its early days should always hire “smart generalists”, those who can do everything and can pick up new skills as they go along.

8. Check references. Always ask the applicant for three or more references. Then pick up the phone and call them! References are the best way to determine whether a candidate would be a great fit for the company. And sometimes, you may find out new information that couldn’t be found during the interview.

There is nothing more frustrating than hiring an exceptional employee and realizing that they aren’t a good fit a month later. You not only lose time but also money – a valuable premium for any start-up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What to look for when hiring a salesperson

In today’s competitive business environment, generating sales is absolutely essential for any small business. With a worldwide chaotic economy, making sure that you're generating strong sales is critical to your company’s survival. Companies have failed because they have a poorly executed sales plan. Marketing can drive brand awareness, but to generate sales revenue, you need to build a strong sales team.

So, how would you build a strong sales team? What are the qualities that you should look for when evaluating a potential sales recruit? To answer these questions, many sales managers agree that the top three qualities that are top predictors of success in a salesperson are:

• Passion
• Learning
• Drive

The salesperson’s attitude and passion

The first quality to look for is to find recruits who have a passion for sales. Sales is a hard job and the ones who succeed are those who consider the position more than just a job. Highly successful sales people tend to view their position as problem solvers, as opposed to just a salesperson. These people will go out of their way to build relationships with clients and work hard to solve their clients’ problems. A passionate sales team who are committed to making an impact on their customers make it easier to grow your business. By finding people who have a desire to be in sales, those who believe in helping people, you will be ahead of the game than the companies who hire sales recruits who are looking for a job.

Always willing to learn

A good sales person always tries to improve themselves. Look for those who have taken certifications, classes, seminars that help them improve their knowledge in the sales industry. They pay close attention to new ways to approach clients, cold call tactics, client relations and any other skills that help them become better salespeople. Top salespeople always look for a better way – taking the best and adopting the lessons that work.

Look for motivation or drive

Like any superstar, top performers work hard. They stay back an extra hour, making the extra cold call or setting an appointment. They make sure that the product is delivered and the client is happy. In short, they do whatever it takes to get to the top.

When creating a sales team - if you make the wrong hire it can hinder your sales progress. However, by hiring the right people you will be able to supercharging your company’s success.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 $1 Incorporation Sale!

Small Business Week is over, but starting your business has just begun!

If you missed out on our first $1 Incorporations promotion, is offering another chance to take advantage of this great deal.

For one day ONLY, is offering $1 Incorporations.

On October 26th from 9 am to 5 pm ET,you can incorporate your business online with us for only one dollar.*

Click here for more information on incorporating your business.

Please note that this promotion is offered for orders placed on October 26th between 9 am and 5 pm ET only.

*Plus government fees. Click here for details on government fees for all Canadian jurisdictions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Make Your Small Business Eco-Friendly

You may think that making your operations eco-friendly is going to be time consuming and costly, but surprisingly going green can lower your operating costs in the long run.

Going green is all about maximizing efficiency and conservation, and minimizing consumption - concepts that small businesses like to hear. You can do the environment and your business good by making a few small and simple changes in your operations.

Conserve Energy

Between office lighting, computers, phones, printers and heat, offices consume a huge amount of electricity which results in hefty bills each month. But did you know that there are programs offered by Hydro companies that provide incentives for going green? The Small Business Lighting Program provides qualifying businesses with up to $1000 worth in free energy efficient lighting and equipment upgrades. Companies like Hydro One offer the Electricity Retrofit Incentive Program, which provides rebates to companies that have adopted energy efficient technologies.


This seems like a no-brainer, but many companies still do not take the time to implement recycling programs for their business. Recycling doesn’t just mean paper or water bottles, ink and toner cartridges can also be reused and office equipment can be refurbished. As well, eco-friendly office supplies such as paper made from recycled or post-consumer content is available from most office suppliers.

Reduce Waste

This is the simplest way to go green, and to reduce operating costs. Encourage employees to only print when necessary, to print on both sides of paper, and to recycle all used paper. Digital communication and computer backups enable us to work electronically rather than leaving a constant and unnecessary paper trail.

Lead By Example

It’s one thing to implement an eco-friendly business model, it’s another thing to actually abide by your rules. Make sure that you introduce the new ideas to employees formally and provide easy ways for them to take part. Eventually, these ideas can be implemented as policies for all employees, and your business will be well on its way to going green!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

5 Ways Small Business Can Use Social Media

Social media is hard to avoid these days – everyone seems to have at least one account on a social media website. So when marketing your company – whether big or small – you have to go where the people are. You may think that only big name companies can be successful on websites like Facebook or Twitter, but social media is the ideal platform for small businesses running marketing campaigns on tight budgets. Here are 5 ways small businesses can use social media successfully to market their companies.

Customer Service:

Social media is all about connecting, engaging and interacting with customers and it puts customer service on a whole other level. Facebook and Twitter gives users the ability to post or tweet comments or questions directly to you, which allows for a more informal and real-time approach to helping customers. Asking for customer feedback, suggestions or comments will help to start the conversation flowing if you’re finding interaction to be one-sided. And, it’s important to respond to ALL customers, whether positive or negative. Keep the communication honest and open and your customers will appreciate the effort.


For small businesses, networking is a great way to generate leads and find prospective customers. Social media sites liked LinkedIn make it easy for small businesses to network professionally from the comfort of their computers. Connections are made first through people you already know but from there you can find mutual connections, follow companies, join discussions, and take part in Q&As. All of this gives you a continuously expanding professional network at the tip of your fingers.


For small businesses that are wary of the enormous costs associated with traditional media like print, radio and television, social media gives you an inexpensive and measurable alternative. And again, because everyone is already using social media, it’s become the best place to advertise. The Facebook and LinkedIn advertising platforms are web based, easy to use, and cost effective. Your budget is up to you, you can start, stop and modify your ads at any time, and you only pay when someone clicks. On top of that, you can easily measure the results of your campaigns through metrics that allow you to analyze impressions, clicks, click through rates and spend while your campaign is running.

Inbound Links:

If you’re thinking about using social media for your business, chances are you’ve got a website already. Inbound links are links from external sites that bring traffic to your website. The more your website is linked on outside sources, the more traffic or referrals you’ll get. Plus, inbound links help increase your ranking in major search engines if the inbound links are relevant and of good quality. So posting information to your blog which links to your website, then posting to Facebook and LinkedIn, and tweeting it on Twitter can create direct clicks, shares, or re-tweets – all of which contributes to inbound traffic to your website.


Get your name out there! I’ve said it twice and I’ll say it again – go where the people are. You might find social media intimidating (“what if no one ’Likes’ us?”) but it’s all about interacting and building relationships, no matter how many people are watching. Don’t expect major results over night and don’t try to compete with the big guys, but stay active online by posting relevant, interesting and fun information on a regular basis and eventually you will have built your own community within the larger social media framework.

Since social media is still relatively new to most people and seems to be constantly changing, it’s a good idea to keep on top of the latest trends and to pay attention to what other businesses are doing. Regular research helps to keep your business in the know when current social media platforms make significant changes or when new platforms are released. A good way to stay on top of the trends is to subscribe to RSS feeds from reliable tech news sources such as Mashable or Social Media Examiner. Tech blogs and Twitter trending topics can also give you an idea of the latest in social media development.

When it comes to social media the key is to watch what other people are doing, stay on top of what’s current and, most importantly, have fun with it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why a small business needs an ecommerce site

In the era before the internet, it used to be that small businesses would market their services locally through networking or word-of-mouth. Their marketing strategy was to provide great customer service, and grow organically until they could buy advertising in tv, radio or even print newspapers.

Today it may still be a good way to market, however, with the ease of creating an online presence, there is no excuse not to have your own website or an ecommerce store. It is a given that every brick and mortar retailer MUST have an ecommerce website, a social media profile on Facebook and a blog. If you don’t, it is reflected in your dwindling sales.

The internet has created so much efficiency that it has affected every aspect of your business, from:

• merchandising,

• pricing,

• marketing,

• promotions

• and even sales!

The true power of the internet is that you can automate one-on-one interactions to many people without having to lift a finger. This allows you to provide personal service to thousands of people from your location, without having to increase your staffing needs or even in some cases, technical know-how.

Some other advantages in having an ecommerce site are:

Level the playing field between large and small businesses. With the right technology, you won’t be able to see the difference in service or performance.

It saves you money. Keeping operating expenses down is a main factor as to why you should start an online store

Reach more customers around the world. With a storefront in your neighbourhood that is already doing business, why would you even want to have an ecommerce website? Opening a brick and mortar store restricts you to your local area that you target. However, with an ecommerce site your market expands beyond your neighbourhood. You now have options to target any country that you want to... Done well, a business could double their profit margin just from their online business alone.

Track everything your customer does online and on your store. The internet allows you to get a deeper understanding of your customer’s purchasing habits, all the way down to the individual client. All this data can be used to create brand loyalty, upsell more products for a higher profit margin and get into new markets.

By selling online, your company size doesn’t matter. All that matters is the shopping experience and whether the product is great! As mentioned before, ecommerce creates a level playing field where small businesses can compete effectively against the big boys.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Financing Options for Start-ups

One of the biggest challenges for many start-ups is to find money to keep the company running. Break even point has not been reached and with expenses exceeding sales revenue , a CEO will soon need to look for financing options.

Where you get your financing depends on:

• what kind of business you are starting and industry you’re in,

• how much money you need to raise and

• what you will use the money for

Here are some of the financing options:

Family, Friends and Personal Savings

Personal savings are one of the easiest ways to finance your business. This option may be the best option in the earlier stages of the business, especially when you don’t have a product or clients. You don’t have to answer to any outside investor who only cares about how soon they are going to make their money back and not about the company. This may be your only choice if you aren’t able to attract investors. Family or friends can also be an alternative source, however be careful if they invest in your business. Is it worth losing the relationship if your business fails?

Angel Investors (early stage)

Angel Investors are investors who invest only in early stage start-ups and have been known to invest between $15,000 to $500,000 for equity in your business. Angels mostly invest once a business has been proven and has made some revenue. In certain industries, angels invest as a group, especially when they see a great opportunity.


Incubators became popular during the dot-com boom, where they provided office space, access to mentors and IT infrastructure in return for a percentage of a business. They have become very popular recently, with an increasing number of incubators popping up around the world. Incubators work very closely with entrepreneurs by mentoring them in every aspect of the business from sales/marketing to operations. This is why many successful start-ups come from incubators. However, the success of an incubator depends on the experience of its board of directors and investors.

Venture Capital

Venture capital has become a popular option for many start-ups, however it is difficult to get financed by VCs . They are very selective in the investments they make, investing in as little as 1 start-up for every 100 proposals they receive. Due to the fast returns expected, VCs look for high growth potential start-ups that can provide them with a quick exit and a return on their investment in a short amount of time. If you feel that your start-up has a lot of potential for a VC, the best way to get in front of a venture capitalist is to network and get introduced by a mutual acquaintance.

Business Loans

Approaching a bank for a business loan is a standard path to fund a start-up. However, with the financial chaos affecting economies, many banks have become extremely risk averse. Although the benefit of getting a loan is that you keep ownership of your business – getting a loan will depend on things such as:

• the type of business that you run,

• the industry you’re in,

• and your credit rating.

However, if your business plan is solid and shows the loan officer how quickly you will produce revenue and break even, you may be able to get financed by a bank. In many cases, businesses use credit lines to manage their cash flow, and business loans to make large purchases such as equipment.

Most businesses will use a mixture of financing instead of depending on just one source. For example, as a start-up you might invest your own money for market research, then pitch investors to invest in the early stage of the company and then obtain a loan from the bank to purchase equipment. Once your company has grown, you may approach venture capitalists to finance your expansion into a larger company.

Monday, October 17, 2011 celebrates Small Business Week

Celebrate Small Business Week and find your perfect business name with! is offering FREE name pre-searches to all our customers from October 17 to October 21.

A name pre-search provides a preliminary search through the NUANS database to provide results that show an “exact match” the names you are submitting to register or incorporate your business. By checking the availability of your name before conducting a NUANS search, you can save time and money spent on multiple NUANS reports!

Click here to find out more about name pre-searches and to order your FREE report.

Please note that your order must be placed between October 17 and October 21 ONLY to receive the promotion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Business Plan and why you need it

As a business owner, you have to be aware of and work with so many variables – like creating a compelling product, building a great team, generating sales and keeping your customers loyal. Writing a business plan helps you as it will guide you in understanding how your company operates. The process of writing a business plan, will help you learn how to forecast any challenges, understand what resources you would need and even manage your own company more effectively.

What does a business plan consist of?

First and foremost, when writing a business plan - you should be aware as to who your audience is. Depending if you’re pitching a VC or asking your banker for money, you should tailor the plan to what they are interested in. In general, every business plan are composed of these sections:

Executive Summary: Placed in the front of the plan but written last, this allows the reader to quickly understand whether want to read the rest of the plan or not. It will provide them with a concise idea of what your business is, where the opportunity lies and how you plan to solve it.

Description of Business and revenue model: This is a deeper analysis in your business. What is the problem you’re solving, how are you providing a solution, and how can the business be sustainable over the long term and make a profit.

Industry Description: What industry are you competing in? Do you research and find out who the main competitors are and why are they failing or doing well. Present your company in a way that outlines how you plan to capture market share.

Market Research: This is a deep analysis into defining who your customers are and whether they are interested in your product or service. By doing your market research, you may find out that your potential customers may want something else entirely.

Operating Plan: How are you going to deliver your product or service to your customers? Make sure you account for every detail including customer service, manufacturing, sales and human resources.

Management Team: For any business, it’s the management team that will make or break the company. Include a summary of each team member’s experience, what their responsibilities are and how they will help the company succeed.

Financial Analysis: The most important aspect of any business plan, the financial analysis will show others if your company is going to make a profit. It will outline when you will break even and how long will it take to profitability.

Tips on a successful business plan

When you are raising money for your startup – it’s your business plan that will grab the attention of potential investors. Make sure that you have no spelling or grammar mistakes, it is printed on good quality paper, and most importantly, your financials are solid. Mistakes in your plan will make a poor impression to anyone who’s reading as they will wonder if you will make same mistakes in running your company.

As mentioned earlier, understand who the plan is for. If your plan is for your partners or employees then it would reflect more on the operations side. Likewise, a plan written for a loan officer, they will be very interested in your financial analysis. Did you make realistic projections? Will your potential sales revenue cover the loan payments over time?

Your business plan is one of the best methods to show investors that your company is worthy of their investment. By keeping your plan clear and realistic you will be able to show them that you can make it happen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What to look for in a business partnership

Just like a marriage, a business partnership is a joining of two people working towards a common goal, sharing the same values and vision before it can move forward. These partnerships however, can take a variety of forms, ranging from joint ventures to long term commitments. Here are some tips on what makes a strong business partnership:

Sharing a common vision: It’s extremely important to define where you envision your business to be. Ask yourself questions such as; what type of clients do you want and what kind of service/product you’d like to offer? If your vision of the company is different than that of your partner, you will encounter problems down the road. To avoid this, sit down with your partners and discuss where you see the business heading. Ask yourself, what drives you and excites you about the business? Do not leave the table until you’ve come across an agreement.

Know what you bring to the table: Make sure that your partner has a skill set that is complementary to yours. By having an honest discussion on both your strengths and weaknesses, this will help you understand if both of you can create a successful partnership or require someone to fill in the gap.

Create both individual and company goals: Start creating company goals and then your individual goals. Your individual goals should support company goals. By measuring and holding each other accountable in achieving them, you should have no problems in being committed to the long term success of the company. It is also important that you meet on a weekly basis to review the status of your goals and discuss any challenges that may have come up.

Nip problems in the bud quickly: Like any marriage, partners will argue. To make it a successful partnership, what’s important is how you resolve those issues. Instead of letting a problem or an issue affect you or fester, make sure that you immediately discuss them with your partner. By meeting regularly to discuss this, everyone can address their concerns, create a plan to solve it, and find a resolution quickly.

Create accountability: This is the most important aspect of any business partnership! One of the major issues between partners is a lack of clarity around job responsibilities. Without clearly defining your tasks and responsibilities, there will be some confusion on who is actually running the business. So ask yourself these questions: Are your tasks and responsibilities clearly outlined? Do you know what your job is, what you’re responsible for and how you’re measured? All tasks should be clearly defined and assigned. Make sure that they support the long-term company goals and should also include clear metrics that measure the success of the job. This will measure your progress and help you be accountable to yourselves, to each other and to the business.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Creating a contract - protecting yourself and your business

In business, a well designed contract protects you from any unknown variables, much like an insurance policy. You pay for the policy, hoping that you’ll never have to use it. More specifically, a contract helps you manage and avoid potential risks. Due to the unpredictability of the business world, smart professionals create contracts to reduce any unnecessary costs and minimize all risks.

Why should you use a contract?

A contract is a legal document used between multiple parties to outline a business relationship. The contract becomes valid only when the parties involved agree to the terms and conditions by signing the document. It should detail the:

• expectations of the stakeholders;

• the relationship between all parties;

• the nature of the transaction;

• and the next steps of the relationship including any recourse in case of disputes.

It is often used for:

• During the hiring of freelancers/vendors/suppliers

• During the purchase of goods or services

• Real estate transactions

• Business partnerships

• Non-compete, non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements

With a contract between parties, all issues can be outlined in detail, thereby avoiding any problems that may happen in the future.

Things to be aware of in creating a contract

Don’t be vague, make sure the contract is detailed – The ideal contracts are detailed and focused. Make sure that the terms and conditions are simple, specific, and that avoids any uncertainty. The more specific you are in your expectations or terms, it becomes very clear on what is to be done by all parties and by what time.

Identify all concerns you have – Make sure that all your concerns are outlined and are answered. You don’t want to find out the hard way in a situation that could have been avoided.

Understand the laws – Make sure that you know your provincial and even local laws that can affect the contract. This is especially true for any real estate transaction where the laws change by province. It is best to consult a lawyer who is knowledgeable about your industry and can advise you on the proper stipulations.

Review the contract with a lawyer - Never sign the contract until you’ve gone over it with a lawyer. Many people make the mistake of only going to the lawyer after the agreement has been signed or when a problem came up.

A contract is meant to be used as a way to protect yourself and facilitate any business transaction. It creates a common platform from where all parties can move forward in consummating a business relationship. It also is used to protect yourself from any harm or legal problems and can be one of the best decisions you’ll make for your business.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Small business financing - tapping into Ottawa's R&D tax incentive program

SRED is known as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit program. According to the Canadian Revenue Agency – the SRED program is meant for the businesses that conduct research and development in Canada. It is the largest source of funds from the government in regards to R&D programs that supports industrial research.

In terms of the amount of credit received, the SRED program offers:

• For a Canadian controlled private corporation (CCPC), they can earn a 35% federal credit on their first $3 million in R&D expenditures.

• For large companies that exceed certain taxable income or capital limits, the federal credit drops to 20%.

For a small business, this means that you can claim up to 65% of your engineering team’s overhead – especially those involved in R&D. As an example - if you spend $2 million in salaries for your R&D team, you receive $1.35 million refundable tax credit, when the overhead rate is included in the calculation. So when you are considering outsourcing your R&D, consider that the government will pay YOU money to keep the intellectual research in-house!

What qualifies for the tax credit?

To determine whether your company qualifies for the tax credit, ask yourself these questions:

• Do you deal with challenges of a technical nature – software, hardware or industrial.

• Did you spend money to solve the technical obstacles?

If you said yes to both questions, you qualify for the credits. They can also be claimed on any work that meets these criteria:

• Experimental Development- to create or improve materials, products or processes.

• Applied Research- to advance knowledge with a specific application.

• Basic Research – to advance knowledge without a specific application.

• Support work for the above.

As you can see, the scope of what can be claimed is broad and could probably apply to most Canadian business.

Tech company start-ups know that they can file for the SRED claims, and for many, these refunds help them get through to the early stages of the company. Almost all of a start-up’s expenses can be claimed for R&D credit and are highly encouraged. This doesn’t mean that engineering, architectural, and programming firms cannot apply for the SRED credit, even if they are under contract from clients. They should be filing their claims immediately if they have been contracted to provide R&D services.

Check the Canadian Revenue Agency site, as it has all the information regarding contracting for services, including contract requirements. The best way to determine if you qualify is to download one of their industry specific guides that will outline the SRED application process.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is owning a franchise right for you?

In the last few years, the popularity of the franchise business model has skyrocketed. Many people are attracted not only by its proven business model but also the ease in owning one. While the success rate for franchises is somewhat higher than owning independent businesses, there is still the possibility that an individual franchise won’t succeed. So, before purchasing a franchise opportunity, ask yourself these six questions:

Are you ready to run your own business?

As an entrepreneur, you can be expected to work more than 60 hour weeks, doing all the dirty work; such as mopping floors, emptying the garbage and handling upset customers. If you are willing to put in the work in the early stages, and see it through, you have a higher chance of success.

Are you willing to completely follow the franchisor’s system?

The most important part of a franchise’s success is the brand consistency that customers find from one franchise to another. By being a franchise owner, you are following a particular system determined by the head office. If you’re an entrepreneurial person, think twice before purchasing a franchise as you may not like to conform to a formula and may chafe against the restrictions.

Are you able to afford it?

Understand what your financial requirements are going to be and then double it! One of the major causes of failure for franchises is being poorly capitalized. Do your research – ask your franchisor what your start-up costs will be, including any detailed expenses such as equipment financing and rent. You will not only need money to open your franchise, but also to manage it until it becomes profitable. And for some franchise businesses, it may take up to a year to break even.

Does the corporate headquarters have a history of success?

You should do your research into the owners of the company, including their business background and successes. Work with an accountant and review the finances of the franchise. Is it solid? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as it’s their support and experience which will guide your success.

Do you like the franchisor’s staff—those people with whom you will be working?

A chain is only as good as its weakest link. Which means that you should investigate the staff that provides support for your franchise. Make sure that you’re comfortable with them and are able to build a good relationship.

Is your family behind you?

This applies to all entrepreneurs – starting a business, be it a franchise or an independent, will require a lot of sacrifices. Especially in your personal life. For this reason, communicate clearly to your family that you will be busy, and set some boundaries. They will need to be supportive of your decision and are willing to compromise.

Finally, hire the expertise of professionals, such as an accountant and a lawyer. By creating a team, you’ll be well prepared to face any challenges that may come upon you. By evaluating the franchise you want to purchase and your own strengths and weaknesses, you’ll have a pretty good picture whether you’re ready to take the next step in owning a franchise business.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to manage work/life balance as an entrepreneur

Choosing the life of an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It can become hectic, with the line between family and work being non-existent (including those who run home-based businesses). Maintaining a healthy balance between your home environment and work can be difficult, especially when you are always “on”. Especially when clients, suppliers and employees are able to reach us at all hours. You can get so bogged down with work that you will forget what it is like to have free time and can neglect your family and friends!

So what can you do to maintain a great work /life balance? How can you juggle your work and keep it from interrupting your family or social life? Our tips will help you maintain that balance while also helping you grow your business.

Manage your time

The most important part in managing time is not being able to schedule your hours, but in how to set priorities. Your work/life balance depends on what your life goals and passions are. Once you know what your priorities are, you must then analyze those items that compete for your attention. Decide what you want to focus on and discard what is not important in your life.

Be ready to communicate your expectations to people - which sometimes requires you to say “No” to certain activities. You have to help them understand that being an entrepreneur means working long and crazy hours. Have a discussion with the people close to you and plan for re-scheduling conflicts.

Make a schedule for your day - end your day at the same time, and try to stick to it. It’s not always easy as there is always work to be done. In some days, you might find yourself fighting fires with no one to help you, and you’ll be up late into the night. You must have strong self-discipline as there is no one who is going to be looking over your shoulder telling you what to do.


Although doing everything yourself makes financial sense when you start out in your business, you should consider hiring contractors, consultants and employees when the time is right. Micromanaging is a straight path to not only stress, but also making mistakes which can affect your business. The benefits of delegating outweigh the risks and costs, so giving others the responsibility of doing minor tasks from writing a blog to your accounting, you’ll focus on what you’re good at – which is growing your company.

Focus on your health

No matter how busy your schedule is, always make time for fitness. Even if it means going for a long walk around the block, just do it on a regular basis and get your heart pumping. A good workout:

• Helps reduce stress ,

• Allows you to maintain a routine,

• And focuses your mind.

Be it going to the gym or playing a sport, physical activity helps your body create endorphins which is known to keep people’s mood up.

Being unreachable

Running a small business means dealing with all kinds of issues and putting down fires. Your employees, suppliers and clients are constantly vying for your attention by phone and email. To avoid being overwhelmed by the constant barrage of emails and calls, unplug yourself from any communication device at certain times of the day and focus on getting your work done. Block out some time during the day to respond to emails or voicemails.

Get a life

It’s very easy to get sucked into the life of an entrepreneur. You are passionate about your business and you work hard to make it successful. In the first few years, you may need to work around the clock to get your business off the ground, but it will catch up to you, leaving you with high blood pressure, broken relationships and more.

To keep a balance, you must be able to walk away and spend time on things that you enjoy. As much as you put your focus on work, put the same on your recreational activities. Don’t forget about the most important relationships in your life – keep your lines of communications open between your family and friends so that you’re not isolating yourself from them.

Being an entrepreneur requires you to make many sacrifices; however, you have to realize the bigger picture –you want to be able to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. If you don’t pace yourself and schedule regular fun time, you’ll definitely burn out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What is the best business advice you’ve received?

Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we’re not as perfect as we think we are. In those cases, we have to get our answers elsewhere, usually from our mentors, family, board of directors or even clients. We’ve asked the small business community what was the best business advice they’ve received and implemented in their small business careers.

Wisdom comes from failing, learning from it and moving on. The most successful business person knows that sometimes the accepted decision doesn’t always work. At that point it’s best to understand the situation you’re in and go with your gut – and the experience of others.

Here are some good ones to take to heart:

Brian Carter – Sr. VP, Sales at Global Spec Electronics

This too shall pass. The challenges that you face are temporary, and that change is the only constant thing we have.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Know your priorities and leave the unimportant stuff alone.

Think (and act) two levels up from your current role. Always think bigger than your job and you are here to help your boss make money.

Don't take business decisions personally. You are here to make money, so all decisions are geared towards that. Do not get emotionally attached to anything in your business as the time may come to let it go.

Dean Ekman, PMP - Deputy Director, Division at CTSC

The best business advice I have ever received can be summed up as:

Do the right thing - whether it's related to legal concerns, contractual obligations, best business pactices or ethics - you can't go wrong.

Don't confuse "business" and "personal" - it keeps everything cleaner in the long run. Keep everything separate.

Remember why you're in business - if you say it's because you're "doing it for the greater good", or "because someone has to" or "it's thr right thing", that fine - so long as you never lose sight of being in BUSINESS - that means making (and collecting) enough money to make payroll and rent, invest and expand and (dare I say it) make a profit.

Adam Drake, CFA - Owner, Highland Investment Advisors

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

I have this quote posted in my office. It’s a simple reminder to always act with integrity and work with people of integrity.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pre-search your business name for FREE with

On September 19th and 20th is offering FREE name pre-searches to all our customers*.

A business name “pre-search” provides a preliminary search through the NUANS government databases** to provide results that show an “exact match” of the names you are thinking of using to register or incorporate your business. By checking the availability of your name before ordering a NUANS name report, you can save time and money spent on multiple NUANS reports!

Click here to find out more about name pre-searches and to order your FREE report on September 19th and 20th ONLY.

*Please note that the pre-search is offered to Canadian individuals and entrepreneurs developing names for the corporations or businesses, it is not intended for search houses or other company formation professionals to use repeatedly. reserves the right to limit the number of pre-searches.

** Please note that NUANS does not include the Quebec provincial registry, which can be viewed here.


Faites une pré-recherche du nom de votre société gratuitement avec!

Les 19 et 20 septembre, offre à tous ses clients l’utilisation gratuite de son service de pré-recherche de nom.*

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* Veuillez, s.v.p., noter que la pré-recherche est offerte aux individus canadiens et aux entrepreneurs désirant nommer leurs corporations ou sociétés et n’est pas destinée à être utilisée à répétition par les boîtes de recherche ou autres professionnels en établissement d’entreprises. se réserve le droit de limiter le nombre de pré-recherches.

** Veuillez, s.v.p., noter que la base de données NUANS n’inclue pas le registre des entreprises du Québec qui, lui, peut être consulté ici.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reasons for creating an advisory board for your business

One common problem that entrepreneurs face is the problem of finding a group of peers who understand the challenges of running a business. Sometimes, with the constant battles of putting out fires, solving problems on a daily basis that they sometimes forget they need to take a step back from the business and deal with larger strategic issues. This is where an experienced board of advisors can come in and provide a sounding wall to vet ideas and strategies that will benefit the business.

Advisory boards are such a great tool that no small business should be without one. It’s like having a group of experienced consultants working for your company, those who can provide you with their:

• independent perspectives,

• experience,

• special skills,

• and network of connections to your company.

Is creating an advisory board right for me?

Although there are numerous benefits to having an advisory board, it does take a lot of planning and determination to create one. As an owner, you must be aware of confidentiality issues – to be able to trust that your advisors have your best interests at heart and not divulge company secrets. Likewise, you must be ready to communicate the issues that your company face, such as operations, employee problems and even opportunities. Without open communication from both yourself and the board, it will be very difficult for your business to benefit from this collaboration. Of course, when you recruit for an advisor, the person you want has to be capable of handling sensitive issues and confidential information.

For your advisory board to be effective, you must create guidelines in these areas:

Responsibilities – You should create a formal job description for everyone involved in the board. By clarifying their duties, there will be no overlap and misconceptions on their duties. When you recruit, be aware of what your organizational needs are, so you have the right expertise available.

Meetings – You should outline the frequency, length and location of your meetings. Remember, your advisors are also busy, so you should leave some flexibility in meetings to accommodate their schedules.

Compensation – Be clear on how you plan to compensate your advisors. Will you compensate them for attending meetings? And how will you do it – with cash or stock? You should be upfront about this – remember that your advisors are helping you out of their busy schedule.

Having an advisory board is a huge benefit to your small business, provided there is a clear direction and is supported properly by yourself and your company. It will allow your small business to compete against larger competitors by working with talent that might not otherwise be available.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Researching your business opportunity

The success rate of a new business getting past its third year is low. To increase your probability of success, you must ensure that the business opportunity that you explore is financially viable, has a market and that the idea is suitable for your personality. Before you take the plunge, take the time to do some research into the opportunity and see if it’s a right fit for you. . Here are some tips that will help you determine if your business opportunity is going to be successful.

1. Do your market research.

This is the first and most important aspect of your research. Is your product or service something that you would use in your life on a daily basis? If not, then why do you want to get into that business? Remember, your clients want to buy a product that will help them solve their problems. At this stage, you should contact a few prospects and provide a demonstration and get their feedback. Take a deeper look into the market; are there a lot of competitors? How are they doing? Is there space for another competitor such as you? By finding the answers to these questions, you’ll determine if your new business has a market opportunity.

2. What is your business revenue model?

Or in other words – how are you going to make money? Take a detailed look at your business - do you know clearly how the cash is going to come in and how much your prospects are willing to pay? Are the profit margins so low that you can barely make a living from the sale? If you don’t understand where the money is coming from, then you shouldn’t be getting into this business.

3. Know your numbers

Starting a business requires you to not only understand if your clients will buy from you, but also knowing how much it will cost to deliver that service. Once you know the numbers (and you should have already identified how much your clients are willing to pay for your product/service), you will be able to determine whether there is enough of a profit margin for your business to grow. A good tip to determine your start-up costs is to outline all the steps you need to take in order to deliver a product to your client. Then list the equipment or services that you will need. This list should indicate how much those start-up costs are going to be.

4. Seek professional advice

Get some advice from experts and other entrepreneurs related to your business. Do your research on the internet, try to find a forum, or an association that is in your industry and try learning as much as you can. Understand potential challenges or any barriers to entry that new businesses face, any rules or regulations, and as many costs that may be related to your business. It would be wise to spend the money in hiring experts such as a lawyer and an accountant to help you.

Starting a business is very exciting, however, if you haven’t done your homework, you’ll soon find out how stressful it can be. Always seek advice from experienced people and use it to your advantage. It’s best that you make the right decisions early than suffer a major loss down the road as a result of selecting the wrong business opportunity.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Business Planning: An important step towards starting your business

As an entrepreneur, you juggle a lot of balls.

From managing employees, sales, financial and operations, it’s easy to get lost, trying to put out the daily fires. If you don’t take a step back and take a look around, you may have realized that your business is not what you had originally started.

This is the point when you realize you should have sat down and spent the time in creating a business plan. Not just something that you’ve jotted down in the back of an envelope, but a document that maps out your long term strategic plan for your business.

Creating a business plan is important as it not only provides you with a compass – guiding you in the right direction, but also reducing the stress and frustration in reacting to situations on a daily basis, because you know the path you are on. A business plan also allows you to:

• Be visionary –identify where you’re going and keep you on track towards your goals;

• Execute with confidence – you know what your tools and resources are going to be and can handle any potential surprises;

• Be fiscally strong – you’ve already laid the groundwork for your financial health, knowing your expenses and profit margins.

What’s a business plan?

A business plan is a document that outlines how you are going to achieve success in your business and a step by step process on how you’re going to get it done. However, you have to realize that the information that you put in your business plan depends on who your target audience is.

Here are the items you need to keep in mind when writing your business plan:

1. Know your audience

Tailor your plan to your readers’ requirements. If the plan is to raise funds, then you must indicate how your potential investor would make a return on their investment and how long it will take. However, if you are communicating your future plans for the company, then the goals of the plan are different. Always remember to tailor the material to your audience.

2. Identify your customers

Use the plan to delve deeply into outlining who your customers are. Why would they want to purchase from you. What are their pain points? How will you solve it for them? Understand the size of your potential market and how it will grow over the next 5 years. By answering these questions, you will uncover if your business is sustainable for the long-term.

3. Who are your competitors?

You also need to know the size of your competitive market - how will you differentiate yourself? What kind of challenges will you face when you go against them? It’s important to know your competitor’s strength and weaknesses so you can exploit them to your full advantage.

4. The design of your plan

If your plan is a document, make sure that your plan is easy to read, well organized and looks professional. If you are doing a PowerPoint presentation, make sure that your key points are clearly stated and easy to read.

5. What is the ROI?

Most business plans are written with the goal of raising financing. So, know your numbers! You should be aware of how much money you’ll need to raise, what your profit and operating margins are and how you’re going to make money. If you’re looking for funding from investors, then you need to communicate clearly the return of investment that they will get. How long will it take for them to make back their investment and more? What will make them confident that you will succeed in this business – so that they know they will not lose their money? They also would want to know if you are prepared for all contingencies and can protect their investment from failure.

Finally, a plan is not written in stone. Due to changing market conditions or new opportunities, you may have to react quickly and adapt. You should review your plan every quarter, just to see where you are against your milestones and address as necessary.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Small Businesses are Important for the Canadian Economy

Are you considering starting up or working for a small business? If so, you will be making a strong positive contribution to the Canadian economy. In recent years, small businesses across the country have played a crucial role in stabilizing the often volatile economy in Canada, and there are a variety of reasons why.

Small businesses are job creators. They have helped to create thousands of new jobs in Canada. According to statistics published by Statistics Canada in July 2008, small businesses alone have accounted for 37 percent of new jobs in the private sector between 1997 and 2007. Since 2008, these figures have shown a steady increase.

As of July 2011, 98 percent of all businesses in Canada are now considered as a small business, with 48 percent of the work force being employed by them. According to the July report, there are currently more than 2.4 million small businesses across Canada, a number which will surely increase over the next few years.

Employees of small businesses currently account for more than two thirds of the employment in five major industries:

• Non-institutional health care (89 percent);

• construction (76 percent);

• other varied services (73 percent);

• food and accommodations (67 percent),

• and forestry (67 percent).

These statistics are more than likely to increase, especially if the state of the Canadian economy improves. In addition to contributing to the increase of the country’s employment rates, small businesses are also an integral part of the GDP. Some statistics to consider - in 2006, small businesses made up roughly 23 percent of Canada’s GDP. This figure varied from one province to another, and it peaked at 27 percent in both British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.

Two years later, Saskatchewan’s small businesses accounted for 35 percent of the GDP, while BC placed second with 32 percent. Not far behind in third place was Quebec, with a 30 percent contribution. One of the main reasons why Quebec’s small businesses have made such a significant contribution to the GDP can be attributed to the fact that more than 56 percent of Canada’s small businesses are located in Quebec.

Although small businesses in Canada are important, there is quite a bit of work left to do to make it easy for businesses to succeed. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) has released its new report which highlighted four key areas:

• better labor laws,

• reduced taxes to help businesses grow,

• a reduction of red tape,

• and better spending on services for small businesses

Their conclusion is that the government needs to be more involved in order to make it a balanced economic environment for entrepreneurs. With the chaos in financial markets, the strong hand of the government is required to provide a stable platform so that many businesses can succeed. A private/public partnership is required in order to address each of these issues, one that benefits both owners and employees.

Small businesses are currently on the rise, and it is expected that many more will be established across the country in the coming years. Consequently, the more small businesses that exist, the great their contributions to the GDP as a whole will be. So, if you considering starting a small business of your own, there is no better time to do so than now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

$1 Incorporations from

On September 7th and 8th is offering you the chance to incorporate your business for only $1*. That’s right! Instead of the usual $99 service fee, we will save you time and money by providing $1 incorporations to celebrate Labour Day.

This offer is for 48 hours only!

Please visit or call 1-866-906-2677 for more details.

* Plus government fees and optional products and services.


Le 7 et 8 septembre, vous offre la chance d’incorporer votre entreprise pour seulement $1*. Vous avez bien lu! En célébration de la Fête du Travail, nous vous offrons notre service d’incorporation d’entreprise pour $1 au lieu des $99 habituels.

Cette offre n’est valable que pour 48 heures!

S.v.p., rendez vous au ou composez le 1-866-906-2677 pour obtenir des renseignements supplémentaires.

* Frais du gouvernement et produits et services optionnels en sus.