Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | February 29, 2020

small business negotiation

Here are some small business articles and blog posts we liked this week. We hope you enjoy!

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56 businesses you can start from home

By Samantha Garner | February 22, 2020

home-based business ideas

Many entrepreneurs run home-based businesses. These self-employed entrepreneurs work alone, or have a few employees. Home-based businesses usually don’t have a storefront, street advertising signs or customer parking. Home-based entrepreneurs, despite the name, may have an office, studio or workshop, depending on their business. This sort of business has several pros, including greater schedule flexibility, no dress code, potential savings on expenses such as childcare, and availability of tax deductions. And with the prevalence of online productivity and collaboration tools, running a business from home is easier than ever.

Sounds great, right? If you think starting a home-based business might be ideal for you, here are 56 small businesses you can start from home, either full-time, or on the side:

  • Social media influencer
  • Video creator/editor
  • Copywriter
  • Travel writer
  • Personal trainer
  • Tutor
  • Home inspector
  • Financial planner
  • Bookkeeper/accountant
  • Photographer
  • Event planner
  • Visual artist
  • Blogger
  • Computer repair
  • Make-up artist
  • Freelance journalist
  • Personal assistant
  • Editor
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Wedding planner
  • Bicycle repair
  • Social media management
  • IT consultant
  • Marketing consultant
  • Grant writer
  • Alterations or sewing
  • Hairstylist
  • Manicurist
  • Personal shopper
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcriptionist
  • Massage therapist
  • Bed & breakfast
  • Daycare
  • Clothing designer
  • Dog walker/pet sitter
  • Pet groomer
  • Dog trainer
  • Online reseller
  • Jewelry designer
  • Gardening
  • Video game review writer
  • Ceramicist
  • Music instructor
  • Purse designer
  • Notary public
  • Language instructor
  • Home organizer
  • Home cleaner
  • Interior decorator
  • Business coach
  • Personal chef
  • Caterer
  • Woodworking

As always, we strongly recommend proper research and planning when starting a small business. Entrepreneurs starting a home-based business should be especially wary of scams and opportunities that sound too good to be true. Also, investigate any licenses and permits your home-based business may need before getting started.

Check out these posts for more information and advice about home-based businesses:

How to identify a work-from-home scam
You should sell these! How to start a business selling your handcrafted work
Perks and snags of internet or home-based businesses
Home-based business permits and expenses
Small business permits and licenses in Canada
Tools to help entrepreneurs stay productive

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Auditions for Dragons’ Den start soon!

By Samantha Garner | February 15, 2020

dragons den auditions 2020

Dragons’ Den auditions are starting soon! Starting in Toronto on Saturday, February 29, the audition tour will be open to the public, as producers hit the road visiting Canadian cities coast-to-coast in search of the country’s best business ideas in need of a Dragon investment. Visit their site to see all the cities and dates, and to apply!

Some helpful audition preparation tips can be found here.

This is a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to come down and pitch their business concept for the chance to appear on national television. A Canadian favourite, Dragons’ Den gives aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of wealthy Canadian business moguls – the Dragons.

Good luck, and we hope to see you on TV soon!

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Elements of a value proposition

By Samantha Garner | February 8, 2020

small business feedback

The value proposition is the reason why customers turn to one company over another. It solves a customer problem or satisfies a customer need. Each value proposition consists of a selected bundle of products and/or services to create value to a specific customer segment.

Values may be quantitative (e.g. price, speed of service) or qualitative (e.g. design, customer experience). The following are examples of some of the elements of a value proposition.


Some value propositions satisfy an entirely new set of needs, for which there was no similar offering. This is often technology-related, but not always. Cell phones, for instance, created a whole new industry around mobile telecommunication. One non-tech example is the creation of ethical investment funds.


Improving product or service performance has traditionally been a common way to create value. The computer industry has traditionally relied on this factor by bringing more powerful machines to market. But improved performance has its limits. For example, computers keep getting faster, with more disk space and better graphics, but it hasn’t produced corresponding growth in customer demand.


Tailoring products and services to the specific needs of individual customers or customer segments creates value. In recent years, the concepts of mass customization and customer co-creation have really taken hold. This approach allows for customized products and services, while still taking advantage of economies of scale – a decrease in costs after an increase in output.

“Getting the job done”

A lot of value can be created simply by helping a customer get certain jobs done. Rolls-Royce understands this very well: its airline customers rely entirely on Rolls-Royce to manufacture and service their jet engines. This arrangement allows customers to focus on running their airlines. In return, the airlines pay Rolls-Royce a fee for every hour an engine runs.


Design is an important element, but difficult to measure. A product may stand out because of superior design. In the fashion and consumer electronics industries, design can be an especially important part of the value proposition. And in today’s always-online world, the importance of photo-worthy design can’t be ignored!


Customers may find value in the simple act of using and displaying a specific brand. Wearing a Rolex watch signifies wealth. Eco-friendly materials in everything from clothing to reusable water bottles signifies that a customer values the environment. What does your product or service say about your customer?


Offering similar value at a lower price is a common way to satisfy the needs of price-sensitive customer segments. But low-price value propositions can be important for the rest of your business model too. No-frills airlines such as Southwest, easyJet, and Ryanair have designed entire business models specifically to enable low-cost air travel. Another example of a price-based value proposition can be seen in the Nano, a car designed and manufactured by the Indian conglomerate Tata. Its surprisingly low price made the automobile affordable to a whole new segment of the Indian population.

Increasingly, free offers are starting to permeate various industries. Free offers range from free newspapers to free email, free mobile phone services, and more.

Cost Reduction

Similarly, helping customers reduce costs is an important way to create value., for example, sells a hosted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application. This relieves buyers from the expense and trouble of having to buy, install, and manage CRM software themselves.

Risk Reduction

Customers love being able to reduce risk when purchasing products or services. For a used car buyer, a one-year service guarantee reduces the risk of post-purchase breakdowns and repairs. A service-level guarantee partially reduces the risk undertaken by a purchaser of outsourced IT services.


Can you make products or services available to customers who previously lacked access to them? This can result from business model innovation, new technologies, or a combination of both. NetJets, for instance, popularized the concept of fractional private jet ownership. Using an innovative business model, NetJets offers individuals and corporations access to private jets, a service previously unaffordable to most customers. Mutual funds are another example of value creation through increased accessibility. This made it possible even for those with modest wealth to build diversified investment portfolios.


Making things more convenient or easier to use can create substantial value. With iPod and iTunes, Apple offered customers unprecedented convenience searching, buying, downloading, and listening to digital music.

What combination of elements can you combine to create an outstanding value proposition?

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2020 labour/employment standards by province

By Samantha Garner | February 1, 2020

Note: This post first appeared on April 2017. We’re re-posting it here with updated links, to help your small business keep on top of the latest from your provincial government.

canadian employment standards by province

There are many rules when it comes to your employees’ working conditions, ranging from work hours, overtime and meal breaks to Sunday closings, whistleblower protection, and mandatory retirement. Of course, minimum wage and minimum daily wage requirements, statutory holidays, equal pay policies and severance pay also apply.

All employers have to comply with these legal employment standards. These employment standards differ by province and by industry. Be aware of your required standards as an employer so you can any difficulties during CRA’s employer visits, and to avoid any legal issues.

Check out the Government of Canada’s Labour Program website to find federal minimum wage requirements for experienced adult workers and youth/specific occupations.

Canadian employment standards by province

To get up to speed on your provincial employment standards, visit one of the following websites:

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