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Five common options for financing your small business

Posted on November 2, 2018 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (17709)

Five common options for financing your small business

Which method you choose depends on your company's current situation and its goals

For most small businesses, financing can be a challenge. Whether you need bridge capital to keep the business running in tough times, or structured debt for long-term growth, it pays to have a strategy for seeking out those elusive financing dollars. Statistics Canada found that just over half (51.3 per cent) of businesses requested external financing in 2014.

Equity-based financing options like venture capital often make the headlines, but less than one per cent of small businesses requested this in 2014. Debt-based financing is far more common, as is trade credit from suppliers.

Here are five financing options to turn to, depending on the type of small business you run, and its situation.


Funding yourself is a long-established and responsible way to get a small business off the ground. Bootstrappers are risk takers but also lateral thinkers. Rather than saddling themselves with debt or giving up ownership of their small company, they will use their own savings and potentially sell some assets to help finance their business in the early days.

Bootstrappers may work a side gig until they are confident that their new business idea has the legs to stand on its own. They may pre-sell products and services to help fund early-stage development. The successful ones cleave to one overarching principle: get to revenue quickly. If you’re going to bootstrap your company, the only thing that counts is the sale.

Small business loan

A small business loan is the most traditional route for those taking a debt-based approach to small business financing. Banks are often a first port of call, although they are naturally conservative, and they understand the higher risk involved with smaller operations that may have little to no credit history or collateral. This can make bank loans difficult to secure and could drive businesses toward such alternative lenders as OnDeck. Always ensure you understand the exact terms – and your payment commitments – before agreeing to a loan.

In Canada, another option is the government’s Small Business Financing Program, which provides up to $1 million in financing for purchasing or improving land, property or equipment. There are limitations though: working capital, inventory, labour and advertising are all excluded under this initiative.

Friends and family

If conditions from a financial institution are not to your liking, you could always borrow money from the Bank of Mom & Dad. Friends and family funding is a common way for small, high-growth businesses to get started, but it comes with some baggage.

It’s easy for money issues to cloud personal relationships, so small business people pursuing friends and family financing must be careful not to let emotion get in the way. Set out clear expectations around loan terms, including a percentage and payback date. Just because you were raised by those doing the lending doesn’t mean you can do away with legal advice. It keeps everyone on the same page.

Angel investors

Small business owners willing to give up some equity can go in search of an angel investor. These full-or part-time investors put their own money into early-stage businesses, hoping for future return if they succeed.

You may give up part ownership of your company to these investors, but they often bring contacts and experience difficult to find elsewhere. It also means that you aren’t saddled with loan payments that can cripple your cash flow. AngelList connects investors with startups, while Canada’s National Angel Capital Organization has a directory of potential investors.

These investors suit entrepreneurs with high-growth businesses and a clear exit strategy. Would-be Mark Zuckerbergs should apply. Owners of family-run laundromats with no plans to take over the world should look elsewhere.


If your business idea is that good, why not spread it around? Crowdfunding is a growing financing model, with $133 million raised in 2015 alone, according to a report from the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada. Consumer-focused businesses with some digital element to their products or services tend to do well with this model.

You can crowdfund using two broad approaches: reward/donation-based models, or debt/equity funding. The former are unregulated outside of traditional consumer protection and business laws. Selling equity in the company or taking loans with some promise of payback will bring you under regulatory scrutiny, but is still possible in some regions.

The Government of Canada’s Canada Business Network says equity crowdfunding is currently an option in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Conditions vary between provinces and depend on exactly how your crowdfunding process works.

The upsides to the crowdfunding model are also often its downsides: it’s highly transparent, meaning that early-stage companies still in product development can spread the news of their idea far and wide, building a community of followers. It also means that others could pilfer your intellectual property and copy your idea before you launch, so some legal protection is a must.

Small businesses pay scant attention to cash flow, to their detriment

Five tools for forecasting your small business cash flow

The type of money you raise and how you raise it depends on your small business’s current situation and its goals. One thing unites them all, though: a level head and a solid grasp of cash flow and operations will help you to project the financing you need, and to manage the money should you be lucky enough to secure it.

Source: Financial Post

Why has Company Culture Become so Important Again?

Posted on December 19, 2016 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (18532)

Why Has Company Culture Become So Important Again?


Forbes Agency Council

PR, media strategy, creative & advertising execs share trends & tips


Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.



Gregg Apirian

Gregg Apirian is the managing director at Vignette, a full-service employee experience agency.


When the term “company culture” first became widely used in the 1980s and early 1990s, companies largely took a standard, top-down approach to everything. They had greater control over the public perception of their brands and the internal attitudes about their management styles. Higher-ups supplied entire companies with pre-fab thoughts about how employees should act and feel around where they worked. The suits assumed their subordinates were engaged and compliant because their feedback channels were limited to sporadic questionnaires and not-necessarily-truthful reports.

In the past 20 years, technology has effectively “flattened” every organization. Now, execs can see what employees are saying and doing, and vice versa. Everything about the way we do business has changed. And if a company must transform to keep up with the changing marketplace, then culture must also transform to support that new model.
People, in general, are more autonomous and informed than they used to be, which means companies are no longer in control of their brands. Consumers drive perception and companies try to influence and shape that perception. It’s similar with internal culture. The employee’s idea of what it’s like to work for the company controls the culture and leaks into the recruiting process, mutating the company’s DNA from within.
The Alternative Board 2016 Small Business Pulse Survey shows that 93% of entrepreneurs believe that promoting company culture is good for productivity and creativity. Business owners who identified their company culture as strong were more likely to believe that success depends on the quality of the employee experience, a focus that, they believe, increases profitability and delivers results.
But even business leaders that recognize the importance of progressive company culture initiatives might hesitate to tackle the process head-on. Meaningful change often involves a shift in foundational principles, which a company may have been operating on for quite some time, if not from its very genesis. Assumptions and attitudes about the way business is done can be stubborn conditions that can only come unstuck with real work. Executives want progress, not internal unrest. It’s important to approach culture with the right amount of force, and from the right angles.

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Traditional' Media Is Anything But Dead In Canada, PwC Report Says

Posted on June 17, 2016 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (5081)

Canadians will drive a resurgence in traditional media over the next five years as they continue to seek out shared, live experiences, according to a new forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers.


The consulting firm’s Global entertainment and media outlook 2015-2019, released Wednesday, found that Canadians continue to devote more of their dollars to traditional forms of entertainment than the global average.


Non-digital media will comprise 88 per cent of revenue from consumers in 2019, compared to 80 per cent globally.



“A key feature of this multifaceted environment is the resilience — and in some cases resurgence — of aspects of ‘traditional’ media, including the shared, live experiences that consumers still love,” the report found.


Canadian spending on live music tickets is expected to rise by 3.5 per cent, while spending at the box office is projected to increase by 3.4 per cent, outpacing overall consumer spending growth of 1.9 per cent, PwC found.


“We in Canada love to go to live entertainment and we stand out as a country that does that,” said Lisa Coulman, partner, audit and assurance, adding that part of the reason might be how many Canadian heavy hitters have succeeded in global entertainment.


“In Canada we are still willing to pay for the experience, so we still are seeing that translate into people being willing to pay strong box office prices.”


For years, traditional media outlets from newspapers to cable companies have grappled with shrinking subscriptions and advertising revenue as more consumers moved online and advertisers opt to put their money where the most eyeballs are.


The growth of media options and the convergence of digital and traditional media into a multifaceted selection both makes the distinction between media sources irrelevant and fosters more freedom and choice, PwC said.


That puts consumers in the drivers’ seat.


“Because consumers are demanding an enhanced experience and right now we’re paying for that enhanced experience, it continues to say to the content producers that they’ve really got to focus on the strength of their content,” Coulman said.


As customers seek out more personalized consumption, the emergence of digital media hasn’t resulted in consumers abandoning traditional experiences, PwC added.


“Consumers are engaging readily with content experiences that they can’t get easily elsewhere: hence the enduring appeal of shared, real-life experiences like cinema, live concerts, and sporting events – all of which have not just survived the growth of digital and social media, but have been reenergized by it.”


At the same time, cord-cutting is not happening as quickly as previously expected, partially thanks to “TV everywhere” services and other innovative offerings from cable companies.


Canadian cable penetration is forecast to fall about one percentage point from 80.1 per cent in 2012 to 79.2 per cent in 2019.


On the advertising side, digital revenue is expected to grow by 10.7 per cent over the forecast period, slower than the global average of 12.2 per cent. But growth in non-digital advertising is expected to grow by a much slower 0.6 per cent, though it is still projected to make up about 55 per cent of Canadian ad spending in 2019.



80/20 Rule

Posted on June 16, 2016 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (10712)

Customer retention is key to long term profitability and growth. The old adage that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients.
Converesly, it only takes 20% of your effort to maintain a client while it takes 80% of your effort to find new customers. Client acquisition is a costly and time consuming process. When quantified, acquisition has a direct result on earnings.

So why isn't more effort focused on retention? Is it complacency or negligence? Are we exposing ourselves to not celebrating our achievements by ignoring those who have contributed to our success? Maybe so! Attention to account management and relationship management are worth the effort. Growth may be in site, you may already have the answer in your client base. Attention to your base and listening to client needs and wants may uncover business you are qualified to help with that your customers never knew you addressed.

Enhanced your customers experience, it may lead to an enhanced bottom line. Remember the 80/20 rule.


Greg is a Management Consultant that can help with customer audits and relationship management. www.ogilvieyoung.com

We need to make Canada a nation of salespeople

Posted on May 25, 2016 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (15901)

Scott Stirrett is founder and executive director of Venture for Canada, a not-for-profit that connects top Canadian university graduates to work at startups.


Supporting, developing and training more Canadians to be great salespeople is an essential and underappreciated component of expanding the Canadian economy. It’s also an area where our country has room for improvement. In recent reports, both the Lazaridis Institute and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce found that Canada lacks expertise in sales.


Indeed, the majority of the Canadian population would benefit from further sales training and support – in almost any role, one must persuade others to buy into a vision, project or initiative. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, more than 50 per cent of graduates will be in such sales-focused positions at some point in their careers.


With that in mind, sales is particularly important in building companies, with entrepreneurs constantly pressed to sell investors, customers and potential employees. While Canada is great at producing many small startups, we face challenges at scaling companies. To develop more Hootsuites, Shopifys and OpenTexts, we must develop more talented individuals who are skilled at selling. With the provincial and federal governments looking into how we can better scale Canadian companies, it is essential that strategies for developing more sales talent are part of the conversation.


Most postsecondary institutions offer minimal formal education in the field, and so to address that shortage Canada needs to provide more encouragement, training and support for recent graduates to pursue careers in sales. There are some excellent programs and courses available (such as those run by our partners at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University), but more needs to be done across the country to embed sales into secondary and postsecondary curriculums. All disciplines, including the sciences and humanities, should be thinking about equipping their students with the essential sales skills that are needed in the work force.


Beyond more sales training, we also need to refrain from furthering the negative image of the “used-car salesman,” and instead recognize the importance and value of sales, encouraging more of our most promising youth to become the great salespeople of tomorrow. We need to turn the image of the seedy salesperson on its head, and replace it with one of the change agent working to tackle complex problems through mobilizing and engaging others.


At Venture for Canada, I have seen firsthand the lack of sales skills in the Canadian economy. Nearly 40 per cent of the positions startups ask us to help fill are in sales. We need to do more to give young Canadians the sales training they need to succeed, as well as to promote a culture shift in which being a salesperson is viewed as an honourable, creative and important profession.


As Daniel Pink wrote in his bestseller To Sell Is Human, selling is an essential aspect of the human condition, something we should embrace, rather than stigmatize. We need to be a nation of salespeople, and to be unabashed about promoting our country, products and people all over the world. Providing further training and encouragement for Canadians to refine and develop their sales skills would yield significant benefit for our society, from helping our startups to scale up, to empowering our next generation of social innovators.



Brain Injury Association - Golf Tournament

Posted on May 16, 2016 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (19134)

We look forward to seeing everyone from last year along with new entrants.  It is going to be a great event!  For all of you hole in oners we have two special prizes this year, that of a boat and a Harley davidson.  This along with a wonderful array of silent aution items will have everyone delighted.

If you haven't signed up to date, contact us before the June 17 tee off.  Also some great spots for hole sponsorship left.  Come showcase your company at each hole tee off.

It's going to be a great day at Glen Arbor so join us!