Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | December 3, 2016

Small Business Founding TeamAnother week of entrepreneurship is coming to a close, and we thought you would enjoy these small business blog posts (and one news release) that we found informative and insightful this week:

Did you read anything interesting around the internet today? Let us know in the comments!

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

How do entrepreneurs pay themselves?

By Samantha Garner | November 26, 2016

break_even_analysisWhen starting a small business, entrepreneurs have a lot of things to think about, money-wise. Should you buy or lease your location? Do you have to rent equipment? When will you break even? Should you look for angel investment, or take out a small business loan?

Paying yourself is something you may also be curious about but embarrassed to ask. But fear not – our GoForth Expert is here to help! Check out what Samir Dandekar has to say about paying yourself as a small business owner. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s straightforward – it just involves a little planning.

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

7 healthy tips for the workplace

By Samantha Garner | November 19, 2016

healthy-tips-for-the-workplaceAccording to Health & Safety Ontario:

Unhealthy lifestyle practices … contribute to absenteeism, health insurance claims, presenteeism, short- and long-term disability, depression, and accidents. While these habits may be ones that the employee brings to the workplace, work-related stress can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and may in fact encourage unhealthy habits.

Reducing stressors and encouraging healthy habits in the workplace is not a trivial concern. Taking actions to create a healthy workplace can mean less lost revenue due to absenteeism, fewer accidents, and lower worker’s compensation costs. Not to mention, employees are more likely to stay more engaged and productive when they feel respected and taken care of.

So, how can you create a healthier environment? Here are seven healthy ideas for the workplace:

  1. Instead of pizza and pop at your next lunch meeting or presentation, have healthier options on offer such as sandwiches, fruit, and flavoured water. If you offer snacks on a regular basis, ensure you have healthier options there as well.
  2. Ensure that employees have ergonomic workstations, including proper chairs and computer monitors at the correct height. Some workplaces even use standing desks. For suggestions, check out the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s website.
  3. Look for ways to offer flexible working schedules for employees, to reduce the stress of long commute times or not being able to attend to important personal business.
  4. Offer incentives and deals to encourage physical fitness to your employees. This can be a discount on gym memberships, a monthly yoga class, or team charity cycling events.
  5. Check in with your employees regularly to make sure they are maintaining a healthy workload. Avoid piling work on someone without making sure it makes sense first.
  6. Offer opportunities for continual learning and training so employees can upgrade their skills and feel a sense of ownership over their careers.
  7. Foster a culture that doesn’t expect “presenteeism” – working while sick. Ensure that your policies around sick days are fair, and employees have a chance to seek medical attention without feeling guilty.

Still not convinced? According to Health & Safety Ontario, for every dollar Canada Life Insurance spent on its fitness program, they saved $3.43. Sounds like a good investment to us!

Do you have any corporate wellness tips you’d like to share?

Topics: Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Does your family business have a succession plan?

By Samantha Garner | November 12, 2016

family-business-successionNote: This post was originally published on May 9, 2015. We’ve updated it with more recent statistics from the PWC Family Business Survey.

According to the PWC 2016 Family Business Survey, 43% of Canada’s family-run businesses don’t have a succession plan in place, and only 12% of family businesses survive to the third generation. 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 »

12 tips for a great small business website

By Samantha Garner | November 5, 2016

small-business-website-tipsThese days, it’s almost impossible for a small business to be successful without a website. But with all that goes into making a website, how do you know what specific things to look for?

Your small business’ website is how your customers will find you and serves as a major point of interaction with many of them. To help you get the best website experience possible, we asked some entrepreneurs just like you to share their tips for a successful small business website.

Here’s what they told us:

  • Design your website to be search engine friendly. If you don’t know how to do this, get help.
  • Keep everything up to date.
  • Make it easy for customers to get in touch with you. (Oh, and respond promptly when they do!)
  • If you’re going to be offering e-commerce, make sure to choose your provider carefully to avoid customer service and security issues.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile and different screen sizes.
  • Your site should be consistent with your branding and company image.
  • If you’re having your webpage designed by a third party, take your time choosing that design agency or person. Check out their previous work and make sure you can all work well together.
  • Autoplay videos are annoying for many people. Videos on a site can be great, but it’s better to allow the visitor the control over playing them.
  • Test your site! Make sure the links work, the pages load, the text is legible, the colours match, and it’s easy to get around.
  • Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the web accessible to people with disabilities — make sure your website meets WAI’s accessibility standards.
  • Be sure your website can handle traffic loads.
  • Keep your website relevant, keeping in mind what your visitors will be looking for (hours, services, prices, contact info, etc.). Resist the urge to write too much!

What do you think your fellow entrepreneurs should know about a successful website?

Topics: Small Business Tips and Advice | No Comments »

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