Writing a job description

By Samantha Garner | March 17, 2018

When you’re ready to hire your first employee, the job description deserves careful attention. A good job description will give prospective hires a clear idea of what you’re looking for, and will attract people you have in mind. A bad job description, on the other hand, can lead to confusion and wasted time.

Here are some of the key features to have in mind when writing a good job description:

  • Job Title
  • Job Purpose
  • Duties & Responsibilities
  • Relationships & Roles
  • Qualifications/Requirements
  • Job Location
  • Salary/Wage
  • Hours & Days of Work
  • Equipment to Be Used

Take some time to enter in as much info as you can in each of these sections. You can build upon the above features if you like – they are key in creating a strong foundation to work from.

Read more: Hiring Your First Employee

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Running a successful family business with non-family employees

By Samantha Garner | March 10, 2018


Approximately 80% of all businesses in Canada are family-owned and operated. It’s a popular form of small business, but of course, not all of those businesses are solely staffed by family. In fact, family businesses often experience a high turnover rate of employees outside of the family.

How can your family business maintain its welcoming and inclusive dynamic and extend it to non-family employees as well? How can you avoid an “us vs them” environment? Here are some tips:

  • Make every employee – family or not – feel welcomed, appreciated, and part of the team. Happy employees who love what they do are more likely to band together.
  • All employees should pull their weight, but family employees might be watched a little more closely than others. Make sure that everyone is responsible, respectful, and does good work.
  • Avoid hiring family members who are unsuited to their role. This prevent you wasting time and money, and it’ll demonstrate that you don’t play favourites.
  • Don’t have different rules or expectations for family and non-family employees. Showing favouritism to family members or keeping them more in the loop than non-family employees will only breed resentment and damage morale.
  • Squash tensions before they arise. Make sure all employees know they can come to you with any issues, even if it’s a question about your cousin’s use of the best parking spots. Treat all issues with respect and sensitivity.

Visit GoForth Institute’s Entrepreneur Library for more tips on managing your family business!

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Is your investor right for your business?

By Samantha Garner | March 3, 2018


Approaching venture capital or angel investors is never easy, and getting interest in your small business can be exciting. However, not all investors are created equal. It’s vital to ensure that your potential investor is actually a good fit for your business – and will help rather than hinder.

Here are some things to look for in a potential investor:

Attitude – Do they have a real interest in helping you build a successful company?

Reputation – Research, research, research. What are they like? Who have they helped? What do people think about them?

Experience and education – Can they offer real experience or a strong, relevant education?

Their commitment – How busy are they? Do they actually have time to work with you?

After your potential investor has gotten to know your business, you can ask certain questions to get to know them better. Here are some examples:

  • What do you think of our business model? What have we missed? What are we doing well?
  • Have we missed any competitors in our analysis that you think may be a problem for us?
  • What would you change about the way we’re doing things? Why?
  • How strong is our team? Who or what are we missing?
  • How much do you think our company is worth? How much would you be prepared to invest?
These questions will give you insight into your small business from objective third parties. These answers can make a real difference in your business’ future. And don’t feel weird about asking – a good investor will be willing to answer!

Take your time and carefully research their background and track record. Nobody’s expecting you and your investors to be best friends, but there should be good chemistry between you. If there isn’t, keep looking.

Good luck!

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Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | February 24, 2018

small-business-technologyFrom leadership lessons to not-so-obscure technology, here are some of the business articles we enjoyed this week. Let us know in the comments what you think, or if you’ve read anything you’d like to share!

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The components of a great business location

By Samantha Garner | February 10, 2018

best small business location

Several things go into the perfect small business location. We’ve identified seven of some of the most important things to keep in mind when analyzing your small business’ proposed location:

1) Accessibility

How easily can your customers drive to you, or get there by public transport? Your location must be easy to find — customers have only so much patience for getting lost. Include directions on your website, with a map.

In many cases, lack of parking will be a complete turn off for customers. Make sure you figure this out before you commit to a location.

Also, provide wheelchair access as well as child-friendly features if necessary.

Think about your employees, too. Is the location miles away from anywhere? If so, you may have trouble tempting prospective employees if you don’t have good transit access.

2) Competition

What businesses are nearby, and how directly do they compete with you? Often, being near a major competitor can be good for your business — as long as you’re confident in your abilities to compete. In fact, if a competitor has already set up shop in a particular place, then it’s usually a good sign that customers will come. However, you’ll need to work extra hard to attract and retain customer interest.

3) Business Environment

Is your business environment a busy downtown core? A popular shopping centre? A rural area? Consider the types of businesses nearby and the customers they may attract, volume of traffic they bring in, proximity to your location, etc. Also consider the potential for growth in the area. If businesses seem to always be closing down, it might be a great area for your location. Spend some time monitoring a prospective location’s business environment to help find out if you could succeed there.

4) Physical Layout

The layout of your location has to be conducive to a smooth working environment. You may have some equipment or machinery that has to fit inside the location, or inventory that you need to store there. How will customers and employees get around? Will the layout help or hinder them? Check out our tips for assessing the physical layout of your potential location.

5) Site Availability and Regulations

There are regulations to keep in mind with almost any small business location. The site must also be available to get in the way you have in mind — renting, leasing or buying. (More about that here.)  Zoning regulations, municipal licences and taxes have to be considered too. Check with your city or town’s website or band office for more on local zoning bylaws, licences, and taxes.

6) Costs

Costs will depend on the location. Downtown rent is almost guaranteed to be higher than a similar-sized office further away. Sales royalties paid to the landlord, landscaping, water, power, fuel, security and storage fees are other costs to take into account. What about leasehold improvements – construction you’ll need to undertake to be ready for business? This construction is sometimes paid by the landlord (or owner) of the building, sometimes by you and sometimes shared.

7) Resources

What resources that you need to run your business? Research municipal services like police and fire protection, public transit and sewer and water supplies. Also consider your proximity to suppliers, raw materials and customers are. It’s a good idea to check out other resources you may need like postal service, telephone and internet service, banking, and security services.

How did you decide on your small business’ location? Let us know in the comments!

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