Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Canadian Small Business Resources

When we started our small business five years ago, we came across some excellent resources. From where to start your research to how to start your small business, we appreciated all the help we got from these amazing sites! Here are a few of my favourites:

Service Canada: This site works great because not only does it have tonnes of information on starting a small business, but it also has forms and applications you need to get started. It gives you information on how the government can help you with your small business as well.

Canada Business Network: Another useful government website that talks about how to get permits, licences, find grants and financing, service standards for  Canadian small business and more. It has checklists and guides for starting your own business as well as business planning tools. 

Canadian Bank Websites: One of the biggest tasks you will undertake when starting your own small business is writing the business plan. The Canadian bank websites have excellent tools that you could use:

            TD Canada Trust
            BMO Bank of Montreal
            Royal Bank of Canada

BDC: So much useful information on this site! You can go through it yourself to see how much they have in their article bank. However, my favourite is the Ask a Professional section. Every month they have a different consultant that answers questions on different topics. For example, this month’s topic is Tips on driving qualified traffic to your website. There is also an archive of previous questions that you could refer too. This is an excellent free resource for Canadian small business owners.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce: This is a good site to go to if you are looking for available loans for your small business. They help you seek financial help at different stages of your business cycle. The have local chambers who help you stay connected with others small business owners in your community. The site offers resources as well for planning and expanding your business.

There are so many more brilliant resources available online for your Canadian Small business. But these have been my favourite go-to ones. Check them out and and post your comments below! 

Holiday Greetings From Zak's Corner!

Do you have the personality to be an Entrepreneur?

Some say being an entrepreneur is in your genes. Could it be true, just the same way you are born a salesman?  Recently, I came across a book called Instinct by Thomas L. Harrison. You can read up on Mr. Harrison’s background and related works here. I haven’t finished reading the book, but the premise so far is that you have to take inventory of your personality traits. Once you have completed that portion of the exercise, you are to determine which are inherited traits and which have to be further developed. Combined is what I assume makes you a successful entrepreneur. Through out the book, you will find exercises that help you with the process.

I don’t know about genetics and their role in you being an entrepreneur. Maybe I will form a firm opinion after finishing the book. However, I do believe that different personalities suit certain professions. There are quizzes you can take to help you determine if you are suited to be an entrepreneur. Obviously, you will not base such a big decision on a personality quiz, but its interesting place to get the ball rolling. Here are some quizzes I came across:

Quiz: Are You Tough Enough?

Quiz: Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurial potential self-assessment had an interesting article on 4 Personality Traits All Entrepreneurs Must Have. It talked about how you can break down the basic entrepreneur personality traits into four categories.

The Dreamer: Unlike daydreaming, The Dreamer proposes a dream that should be in every entrepreneur’s heart. He/She dreams big and has a purpose that is bigger then the materialistic components of life.

The Thinker: Asking questions is The Thinker’s job. Where the dreamer dreams, The Thinker asks practical questions that help make the dream possible. They work well together to make a business successful.  

The Story Teller: Telling their dream to others and looking for motivation defines this trait. It’s essential to have positive encouragement at any stage in your business, especially when you are starting something new.

The Leader:  Every Entrepreneur has to be a leader. Taking ownership and responsibility, the Leader takes all of the above traits and moves the business forward.

Another article I read on the subject was from called The 9 Personality Types of Entrepreneur. It’s a little different as it doesn’t discuss what personality you should have but talks more about how your personality impacts your small business. It discusses in brief, 9 types of personalities and how that determines the way you run your business. For instance, The Improver focuses on using their business for the betterment of the world. It then gives you a little blurb on the negative impact of this personality type. I.e. how this might make you more of a perfectionist and over critical, especially with your employees.  It even gives you an example of a famous entrepreneur.

Research is essential when you are thinking of starting your own business. You have so many questions that need to be answered but you could end up dealing with information overload! Take it one step at a time and ask yourself, is this really for you? Find your answers before taking the big step. I assure all your research will be worth it! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

An Introduction...

Hello readers,

My very first post on Zak's corner and I'm Über excited! A little bit about myself. I’m a co-founder of a gifts & novelties e-boutique called Finest Expressions. I started this small business venture in September, 2007 and I've worked with my partner into making it what it is today. I thoroughly enjoy having my own small business and spend every day, striving to make it even more successful.

There is a myth that running your business means only perks such as being your own boss, sometimes working out of your home office, telling people what to do, etc. I still have people ask me if I change out of my pyjamas when I’m working from home! It does have perks; there is no denying that fact. However, running your own business is not easy. Research a little and you will learn that everyone can’t do it successfully. About 96 percent of small businesses (1–99 employees) that enter the marketplace survive for one full year, 85 percent survive for three years and 70 percent survive for five years. There are lots of factors that have to come together to run a successful small business. For example, your personality, type of business, skill sets, your vision, resources available etc.

When you start your research before opening your small business or at any point during your business life cycle, it could become overwhelming. It took me sometime but over the years I learned to effectively research and narrow in on a few good resources for my small business. My experience has taught me where to look for guidance and how to apply it to my business.

After five years of running my own successful online boutique, I felt that it was time for me to give back to the small business community. To share with you what I have learned and hopefully it will help you make informed decisions for your small business. The objective of this blog is to assist you, an aspiring small business owner, freelancer, artist into making business decisions that work for you. Even if you are an existing small business owner, I hope the blog will help with your everyday queries.

I don’t have an MBA or any extensive formal business training. What I’ve learned is through my experience running my own business. I’m not an expert. I have made mistakes and probably will continue to make new ones. But I try to learn from them as best as I can. My intentions are to give you practical and useful advice that will help you.

I will post a weekly round-up of resourceful articles and blog posts. So you will find an interesting mix of information to work with all in one place. I will cover various topics for your small business including administrative, marketing, sales and human resource management.  From how-to blog posts to tutorials, I hope to give you a motivating blend of reading that you will enjoy while gaining practical business knowledge.

So let’s enter the exciting world of small business and entrepreneurship!