Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | May 16, 2015

Happy Victoria Day long weekend to our fellow Canadians! We know your minds are turned to barbecues and beer, but why not take a moment to read some small business blog posts we thought you might find interesting? You never know – maybe some great business ideas will percolate while you’re relaxing this weekend!


Topics: Entrepreneurial Inspiration, Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Does your family business have a succession plan?

By Samantha Garner | May 9, 2015

family-business-successionAccording to the PWC 2014 Family Business Survey, only about 20% of Canada’s family-run businesses have a strong succession plan. We think: yikes!

Why is a succession plan necessary?

We get it – if you plan on working in the business for the rest of your life, it’s hard to have the “after I’m gone” conversation with your family members. It makes people uncomfortable and it’s hard to talk about. However, it’s critically important to have a strong plan for who will take over the family business once your time is up. Otherwise, the business you’ve worked so hard to build could face major disruptions to customers and suppliers – and harm the business overall. It’s not enough to assume your eldest child or favourite niece will take over and run things the way you’d envisioned. A well thought-out plan, laid out on paper, will make things clear for everyone, all to the benefit of your family business.

How to create a succession plan for a family business

  • Start early. Most experts in the field of succession planning say that five to 10 years before your planned exit is not too early to get things started. The longer you can spend planning the succession, the smoother the transition will be. This long lead time gives the successor a chance to get knowledge and experience of the whole business, try their hand at leadership, develop their own relationships within and outside the business, and gain the trust of others who might be less than enthusiastic with the impending change of leadership.
  • Write down your vision for the business. Where is your business headed? What do you want it to achieve? What steps are necessary to get there? Remember that your business is a business first, and decisions must be made to ensure its success.
  • Come up with a shortlist of successors. Related to the first point, who has the skills and passion to lead the family business in the right direction? Is it your daughter with the list of ideas for e-commerce and social media marketing, or your nephew who wants to uphold tradition and keep the business the way it is? Analyze each candidate honestly to arrive at your decision. Try to keep your emotions out of it during this process (we know it can be hard!).
  • Keep an open mind. You may find that the best person to pass the torch to isn’t a family member at all – it happens! Remember, the goal is the success of the business. Family members may feel slighted over this, but keep the channels of communication open and remind them that they still have to all work together to keep things moving forward successfully.
  • Have a chat. Don’t work in a vacuum – involve your family in this process early. Get to know what people think of the whole situation, and what their own goals are. Making your intentions known about how and when you wish to exit the business gives family business members information on which to base their own career decisions.
  • Seek outside help. Formalize the succession plan by getting professionals such as lawyers and accountants involved. There may be legal or financial implications for you to consider when creating a succession plan for your family business. Poor succession planning is likely to be more costly than involving professional help.
  • Write it down. Make sure your succession plan is written out and detailed. Present this plan to the whole family so that everyone knows what’s supposed to happen and when. Having a well thought-out and communicated family business succession plan will help make the transition as smooth as possible.

For more on succession planning and exit strategies, read a previous blog post: What’s your out? Why an exit strategy is important.


Topics: Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

What can entrepreneurs learn from boxing?

By Samantha Garner | May 2, 2015

small-business-lessons-boxingAfter years of providing small business training to Canadians, we can still be pleasantly surprised by the ways people think of entrepreneurship.

Take, for example, Robert Tuchman’s recent post in Entrepreneur: Knockout Personal Branding Strategies From Mayweather and Pacquiao. Boxing may seem worlds away from entrepreneurship, but boxers can create brands just like businesses do. Here’s an excerpt:

Be authentic. One of the things people love about Pacquiao is that he seems genuinely likeable . . .  A lot of that has to do with his authenticity . . . and combining massive achievement and talent with that sort of likeable persona can be key in drawing fans to a brand.

Check out the full article. Whether or not you’ll be tuning in to the big match tonight, or even if you aren’t a boxing fan at all, we think you’ll find some great advice for branding your small business.


Topics: Entrepreneurial Inspiration, Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Six statistics about small business and entrepreneurship in Canada

By Samantha Garner | April 25, 2015

How are Canadian small businesses doing? Here are six facts about the state of Canadian entrepreneurship:

  • On average, 150,000 new small businesses are created in Canada each year, but only 51% of new businesses survive five years.
  • 98% of businesses in Canada with employees have fewer than 100 of them, 55% have fewer than five employees and 75% of all businesses in Canada have fewer than 10 employees.
  • There are 950,000 self-employed women in Canada, one third of all self-employed people in the country.
  • Entrepreneurship is the number one choice for Canadians who want more out of their careers. One third of Canadians (32%) like the idea of being their own boss, and one fifth (20%) want to start their own business within five years.
  • By the end of the 2000s, approximately 19% of immigrants were self-employed, compared with 15% of those born in Canada.
  • Small businesses account for 77% of all private jobs created in Canada.
Industry Canada. (2013). Key Small Business Statistics.
Industry Canada. (2012). Key Small Business Statistics.
Statistics Canada. (2012). Business Register.
Royal Bank of Canada. (2011). RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook.
Statistics Canada. (2011).

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Can you turn your hobby into a small business?

By Samantha Garner | April 18, 2015

hobby-based-small-businessWe’ve talked recently about your own work experience being a source of new small business ideas. On a similar note, your hobbies are a good source of business ideas too! In fact, it’s estimated that about 60% of new business ideas are related to the entrepreneur’s hobby.

The perks of hobby-based small businesses

One of the main reasons we have a hobby is because we love it, whether it’s gardening, restoring antiques, weightlifting, or pottery making. That can mean we’re passionate about it. And passion is one of the elements of psychological capital needed to run a successful business — why spend your time on a business you don’t like? It’s a pretty safe bet that you also know quite a lot about your hobby, which will be an advantage if you choose to make a small business out of it.

Considerations about hobby-based small businesses

Passion is fantastic, but turning passion into profit takes serious work, and a serious understanding of how to run a business. You may know a lot about your hobby, but you know it from a hobbyist’s point of view, not an entrepreneur’s. You may be able to compose, shoot and develop the perfect photograph, but can you source suppliers? Negotiate contracts? Find tax breaks? Ask yourself if you’ll still enjoy your hobby once the more stressful everyday components of entrepreneurship are mixed in.

Entrepreneurship is a lot of work, and starting a small business doing something you already enjoy is a huge motivator in getting up every morning and doing all that hard work. You can turn your hobby into a small business, but make sure that you have a good foundation of small business knowledge and skills too – that’ll help turn your great business idea into a successful business.


Topics: GoForth Institute Small Business Training, Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

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