How small businesses can give back this holiday season

By Samantha Garner | December 19, 2020

customer satisfaction measurement

It’s no secret that this holiday season will be a tougher one for many people than before. But small businesses have a unique opportunity to help their communities this year. Here are some ways small businesses can give back this holiday season, whatever your budget.

  • Support other businesses as often as possible, both personally and on behalf of your small business.
  • Donate, whether it’s monetarily or via the goods your business makes or service you perform.
  • Show your employees a little extra love, whether it’s more holiday time off or gift cards to use at local businesses in the new year.
  • Investigate charity events your business can sponsor or participate in.
  • Consider giving away a service or resource that you might normally charge for. As an example, your photography business may post a series of “Photography Lighting Hacks” videos on YouTube or Instagram. This could have a ripple effect – maybe another small business just needs great, well-lit product photos for their website but can’t afford to hire a professional.
  • Signal boost other businesses. Make a point of highlighting the other small businesses in your area or indirect competitors in your industry. Word of mouth is a powerful thing!
  • Give referrals to other service providers as often as possible.
  • Collaborate with other businesses to offer bundled services or products. This can help promote related businesses and perhaps introduce them to potential customers who weren’t familiar with them.
  • Show your gratitude. This one might sound overly simple, but sometimes just hearing that someone out there cares can go miles in sustaining an entrepreneur’s determination.

Do you have any other suggestions that we might have missed?

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | December 12, 2020

business trends

We hope you are finding ways to unwind and recharge this holiday season. Here are some interesting small business articles we wanted to share.

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Top 10 entrepreneurship myths

By Samantha Garner | December 5, 2020

10 entrepreneurship myths

The world of entrepreneurship often seems very different to those who have been in it for a while, compared to those just starting out. Here are the top 10 entrepreneurship myths as told to us by Canadian entrepreneurs – what do you make of them?

Myth #1: Entrepreneurship is an extraordinary phenomenon – only a few will make it big

Contrary to what you see in your newsfeeds or read in the media, every one of us has the entrepreneurial potential to act. Successful entrepreneurship is not reserved for Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. Every one has the ability to create a small business venture that solves problems and creates gains for their customers, and the world around them.

Myth #2: Start-up success depends more on the entrepreneur’s talent than on the business that they choose

Talent is great, but the kind of business you choose has a powerful effect on your chances of success. The odds that you will make the Inc. 500 list (the top 500 fastest growing private companies in America) are 840 times higher if you start a computer company than if you run a hotel. Overall industry health, and the degree to which the business is able to satisfy its target market’s pains, are just as important as your talent and experience.

Myth #3: Starting a business is easier than working for someone else

Yes, you can make your own rules and often set your own hours, but the job of a small business owner is no less demanding than that of an employee. Think about it — you’re often the only one to handle every aspect of your business. You’ll need to handle things you may not have experience in, like hiring and firing employees or making sales calls.

Myth #4: Entrepreneurship will make me rich!

The data suggests that getting rich is possible, but unlikely. In fact, seven years after starting a business, only one-third of owners have a company with positive cash flow greater than the salary they left behind. And remember, most start-ups – over 70% – don’t make it. Instead of focusing on the pie-in-the-sky dream of wealth, be realistic about the fact that you may operate at a loss before you begin to turn a profit – how much of that are you comfortable with?

Myth #5: The best time for new business start-ups is when you are young and energetic

There’s something to be said for life experience. Self-employment is growing fastest amongst young Canadians aged 15 to 24, and Canadians 55 years of age and older. These “Maturepreneurs” account for 25% of Canada’s self-employed workforce. Hey, Colonel Sanders started KFC at age 65 with his first social security cheque as start-up funds. There’s no time like the present!

Myth #6: Entrepreneurs are risk-takers

The image of entrepreneurs given in the media is exaggerated. Although giving up a steady paycheque may be a risky move, it may also be one of the few truly outlandish moves you will make in your career. Successful entrepreneurs only take what they believe to be carefully calculated and managed risks, often trying to influence the odds by getting others to share the risk with them or by avoiding the risk completely. Collaborating with others and building a team to take on the business opportunity means you’ll be spreading the profit around, but you’ll also be sharing the uncertainty and risk.

Myth #7: Entrepreneurs are completely independent as their own boss, leaving more time to do what they want

Contrary to popular belief, being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you no longer have to answer to anyone. Although you may be the boss, you will have to answer to employees, customers, suppliers, investors and partners. You may also experience pressure from your community and there may be certain social obligations associated with your businesses. Don’t get caught up in daydreams of having more free time than ever before. In fact, 35% of self-employed people in Canada work over 50 hours per week compared with less than 40 hours per week for most employees. All the more reason to get the best small business training you can!

Myth #8: Entrepreneurs shouldn’t waste time writing a business plan if they’re not looking for funding

A business plan is an important step you can take in your business. This detailed road map of sorts forces you to think of things that will be important down the line. Every section of this plan, from analysis of the competition to understanding your target market, will give you confidence about how the business must be run to be successful. If you’re starting a small art gallery, knowledge of art is a great starting point. But consider the best marketing options; will you need to hire in three years? or will you need to expand in the future? Putting together your business plan on paper reveals things that you need to know, which will help you come up with solutions to potential problems ahead of time.

Myth #9: If I share my business ideas with anyone, they might steal them

Many believe that keeping ideas secret prevents another from stealing your business idea and starting the business themselves. The business idea is the cheapest part of a business – ideas are plentiful. If you share your ideas and resources with others to co-create a business opportunity, you gain access to their expertise, network of people, and resources.

Myth #10: Entrepreneurs instinctively know what their customers need and want

While we’d like to believe that entrepreneurs are oracles with the ability to see all and know all, that’s simply not true. Only your customers know what pains and problems they have a desire to solve. Engaging with customers, understanding them, testing your potential solutions with them, taking feedback, and testing again is a more direct path to success than creating and perfecting – a product or service first, only to find out your solution is off-track. A very costly mistake.

The reality of entrepreneurship can be difficult, involving lots of hard work and sacrifice. But fear not! Studies show that entrepreneurs with education in entrepreneurship and previous entrepreneurship experience have an 80–90% chance of success with a new business.

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How to market your business with a limited budget

By Samantha Garner | November 28, 2020

marketing on a limited budget

Whether you’re just starting your small business or are trying to keep money coming in the door during these difficult times, you’d probably love to not have to shell out the big bucks for marketing.

Luckily, GoForth’s CEO and Founder Leslie McGeough has some tips to help! As one of our GoForth Experts, she was asked how to generate awareness of a new business on a limited budget. A few of her top tips were:

  • Get creative with social media. For example, post a behind-the-scenes Instagram video, or do a Facebook Live Q&A.
  • Partner with related, complimentary businesses to offer bundled services.
  • Investigate influencer marketing.

Click here for more of Leslie’s list of affordable marketing ideas!

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What accounting records do you need to keep?

By Samantha Garner | November 21, 2020

most important accounting records canada

In Canada, entrepreneurs must keep accurate financial records of all activities for their company for six years.

Along with your financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow forecast), you must keep records for all the individual accounts that make up those statements.

What are the most important accounting records to keep?

In Canada, the major accounting records that you must accurately keep are:

  • Accounts Receivable: Who owes you money, how much do they owe, and for how long have they owed you?
  • Accounts Payable: Who do you owe money to, how much, and for how long?
  • Inventory: How much inventory did you buy, when did you buy, and how much did you pay? How you account for your inventory will affect your cost of goods sold.
  • GST/HST and Provincial Sales Tax: All businesses with an income over $30,000 per year are required to collect and submit on behalf of the federal government a goods and services tax (GST) and, depending where your business operates, provincial sales tax (PST) or harmonized sales tax (HST).
  • Payroll: Total salaries paid to employees, payroll taxes and deductions.
  • Fixed Assets: What you bought, how much you paid, and when you bought, along with depreciation amounts.
  • Cash: Cash inflows and outflows should be recorded to maintain proper control of cash.
  • Other Records: Including insurance, leases, investments.

Looking for a software solution? Ask your accountant for their advice on which program would be best for you and your business. However, keep in mind that outside accounting advice is still important to small business success. Accountants see loads of businesses in different industries and can help you understand and manage the financial health of your company. They also remove some of your own stress by making sure important financial details aren’t overlooked. Win-win!

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