Becoming Eco-friendly Can Also Help Your Business

Given the rapid influx of environmental disasters occurring these days, it’s no wonder small business owners are starting to think of ways to adjust procedures and help reduce climate change. Adopting these new eco-friendly business habits will not only benefit the environment, but your commitment to these new patterns will equally leave a positive impression on your clients.

Applying greener practice will be a gradual transition, but bear in mind that these changes could end up saving you money in the long run, not to mention that it will put your mind at ease that you will be leaving a positive mark on our planet. Knowing that you are committed to making a positive change, while still being able to support self-sufficiency, can be extremely rewarding. The implementation of a company policy will also help sustain and reinforce your vision for the future, and should not be neglected. It will also show your customers your commitment to making a difference, so be sure to draw attention to your new or enhanced green practices through your facebook page, website and in-store.

Here are some tips for a greener practice:

  1. Recycle
    The classic way to go green. In addition to recycling anything and everything that can be recycled, you will also want to think green when purchasing or replacing items.  Consider purchasing recycled products as well. This could help your pocket too, since most second hand items are significantly less expensive than buying brand new pieces.
  2. Practice green methods
    Adopting a new greener routine will also help benefit the planet. Begin by avoiding using paper or any products that you might not need. With the current trend to have most documents submitted, processed and recorded electronically, consider making the switch, it might not be as difficult as you might think.  Always remember to back up your documents though to ensure that they won’t be lost.

You could equally switch to using eco-friendly paper, products and packaging. The office and staff can also remain healthy by using all-natural and biodegradable cleaning supplies when tidying up. In addition, you may want to also switch up your daily drive into work routine by considering taking public transportation. While it may not entirely be directly related to your business, getting in the habit of being fully committed to greener practices will only solidify your outlook and commitment to the planet.

  1. Improve energy consumption and efficiency
    You will want to consider switching to compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights for optimal performance. While they may have a slightly higher purchase price than standard bulbs, you can expect them to last significantly longer and use much less energy. Another good way to preserve energy is to avoid leaving lights or electronics on in the office when not in use. You can also power the office with alternative sources such as the use of solar or geothermal energy.Going green has its perks in many ways. Particularly, you can expect to differentiate yourself from your competition. It’s not only a great way to stand out, but you will also be able to help your bottom line. Saving the planet has never looked better!

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Contractor vs employee … which to choose ?!

Whenever a business looks to expand and hire its first employee, you should consider the structure of the working relationship to maximize performance and limit any liabilities. But should you consider hiring a contractor or an employee? And what’s the difference exactly?

By their very name, contractors are independent and they determine the manner which they provide services (i.e. the “when, where and how”). Independent contractors are also not required to provide services exclusively to one company. They use their own tools and workspaces to provide their services. They are subject to any contractual restriction, independent contractors may subcontract some or all of the services. A dependent contractor will resemble an independent contractor, but is an exclusive service provider, which is the hallmark of being an employee.

Employees on the other hand are dependent on and subject to the control of the employer. Employees provide service on an exclusive basis to one employer.  Employers will provide the tools and workspaces required for employees to work, and they must provide the services personally.

Business owners should be aware of the distinction between contractors and employees because if there are any mischaracterizations of the relationship, the business can suffer costly consequences.

Some considerations:

  • The worker will be entitled to certain rights regarding wages and hourly restrictions. The worker has the right to make a claim to the Ministry of Labour or a court and obtain an order for the business to pay these wages, or comply with these obligations.
  • Moreover, an employee is entitled to notice or pay in lieu of notice and additional payments upon termination. If there is no written agreement that limits the amount of notice and other entitlements upon termination, the business may be required to provide a significant payout following a termination.
  • Employers must remit premiums (including EI, CPP, and EHT) on behalf of its employees. Canada Revenue may order an employer to pay retroactive remittances and impose a fine for failing to remit on behalf of a worker.

If your business decides to hire an employee or contractor, you should consider the type of relationship you wish to have with the worker. You should equally set out that relationship in a written employment or contractor agreement; and act in accordance with the terms of that agreement.

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Naming Your Business

At the onset of launching your business, you will have already identified the type of industry you would like to enter. You will have likely established the product or service you would like to sell as well, in addition to its structure. But coming up with a name that corresponds with the vision you have established for your business can be a bit challenging, especially since the name is the first thing people will see. It’s your one chance to let the vision for your business shine. Before registering your name, spend some time considering many names. Getting other people’s opinion will only help strengthen your decision. Once you’re confident in the formation and the character of your business you can then proceed to think of possible names.

Some things to keep in mind when selecting a name:

1. Should be reflective of your brand.
Ensure that people can identify the type of industry or have a general idea for the product or service you’re going to be selling. You can do so by including key words relative to your industry in your name so people will have a better idea of your business. Keep in mind that the name you choose shouldn’t just be one that appeals to you, but should also appeal to your target customer.

2. Be creative.
You can consider making up words that do not exist currently, so that you can coin the word to your business, or you can alternate existing words to have new forms of spelling or meanings. Ensure that the name coincides rightly with the vision set for your business. Were you looking for something a little bit trendier? Maybe conservative? Fun? Professional? These are all things you will have to consider when selecting your name.

Remember never to rush the process of selecting a name for your business. Take your time and alternate between different names to identify one that will best suit the vision you have for your business.

Always search up existing business names. Take advantage of search engines like Google and Yahoo to test the market. Not only will you gain better insight into the names that are currently being used, but you will also be able to better identify other competitors in your sector.

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Small Biz Café Milestone!

We’ve reached another milestone with the Small Biz Café! In commemoration of our 150th blog post, we’d like to say thank you yet again for your continued support and interest. The topics for our blog are carefully selected to reflect the interest of our clients. We strive to provide you with interesting and engaging articles we hope you enjoy reading weekly. Join our discussion and let us know which topics you would like to see covered.

Here’s a highlight of some of our favourite posts since launching the blog.

1. Pricing your Products (Published August 14th, 2013)
How do you determine the pricing of your products? How can you establish the right amount to meet your bottom line without pushing away your customers? To identify the best price suitable to your business, consider the cost of supplies; how much will it cost you exactly to make your product?  You will also want to factor in your competitors’ prices. You will need to look at the cost of the product without your markup- naturally if the product’s prices are higher; you will want to mark-up the prices accordingly. Ensure there is a market for your products in your area. Factoring in industry trends and demographics should provide you with the appropriate pricing.

2. The Virtual Business (Published July 24th, 2013)
Being accessible virtually anywhere is paramount for any small business. You will want to access your information (such as databases, accounting spreadsheets and inventory records) at all times in case of emergency. Always use a secure internet connection, reliable WI-FI connection, password protected programs, virus protection and the appropriate mobile device for maximum performance.

3. Handling Negativity on Social Media (Published December 12th, 2012)
Social media is fundamental for businesses… it encourages active engagement and provides great exposure, but putting yourself out there can also be a perfect platform for negative criticism to arise. How you deal with this negativity will speak wonders of your business. Remember to respond immediately and offer a solution. Never delete the comment but address it as soon as possible.

Thank you again for following our page! We look forward to continue bringing you articles on current business and entrepreneurship topics.

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Including Hashtags in your Social Media Marketing

Whether you’re active on social media for personal reasons or for business, if you’re looking to attract attention- hashtags are one way to do to so. Since their initial appearance in 2007, hash tags have become one of the best ways to discover new content and put yourself out there on an international level. Whether they are used on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram or Vine, this current trend is a great way to connect with others and lead to an increase in revenue.

You’ve likely encountered hashtags as of late since they are practically everywhere. But for those of you who are just starting out, hashtags are a word or a group of words that will follow the pound (#) symbol (for example #summer). You can hashtag your brand so that users worldwide can showcase their purchases from your product or service. Highlight and repost those reviews for optimal results and active engagement.

We’ve written blogs in the past regarding hashtagging on Instagram and Twitter, but recently Facebook has adopted the method as well. When you hashtag on Facebook, your post is visible to people who will be interested in your business: a great way to target your niche market.

Some things to keep in mind when using the hashtag feature:

1. Always capitalize the #FirstLetterInEachWord – this will make your hashtag more readable and will further drive your point.

2. Try to not to include too many words in your hashtag—it will be much more beneficial for you to concentrate on specific words that will apply to your business. You will notice that in doing so you will have an easier time reaching your target market.

3. Ensure that they are relevant– while it may be tempting to hashtag everything that comes to mind, you may end up sacrificing your credibility and professionalism.

If you aren’t quite comfortable with using hashtags, try checking out some of your own favourite businesses to see how they are working with this technique, or contact the Business Enterprise Centre for more assistance.

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Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)- What you need to know

All business owners should now be aware of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL). Currently effective as of July 1st, 2014, Canada’s new legislation requires business owners to request permission to send e-mail marketing messages to their clients. Continue to do so without their consent and you could be looking at major penalties of millions of dollars.

Legitimate complaints are turned over to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which may investigate the situation to determine if the messages violate the policies set by the CASL. Small businesses are not excluded from these laws either: any commercial enterprise that does not comply with these guidelines will be subject to all major penalties.

Prior to delivering any e-mail marketing, it should be made clear that the recipient has consented to receive marketing information. You must receive recipient permission prior to sending them electronic marketing communications including e-mails, text messages and even social media. Businesses should clearly identify themselves in each message and the unsubscribe button should be visible on the page.

The new law forbids:

  • Any electronic marketing message sent electronically, including e-mail address, social media and text messages, without the consent of the recipient.
  • Webpage destination change resulting in the user being sent to a different destination without his or her consent.
  • Any use of false or misleading depictions to promote products or services
  • Collection of e-mail addresses without consent

To ensure you comply with these new standards, be sure you understand the difference between implied consent and expressed consent. Under implied consent, a previous relationship exists and it is not explicitly articulated. Expressed consent must include your identifying information, a defined purpose for communication and a mutual understanding of the business relationship.

Expressed consent is now the norm in Canada and businesses will have to make the adjustments to cater to these new requirements. Avoid any unnecessary legal battles or burdens by ensuring the relationship is clearly defined and acts in accordance with the new guidelines.

For more information visit:

http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

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Mastering Guerilla Marketing

If you’re thinking of cost-effective marketing techniques, guerilla marketing should be on your list. Coined in 1984 by Jay Conrad Levinson, this form of advertising won’t require a large marketing budget. But don’t let the low cost fool you- despite its small budget, it will certainly pack a punch.

 Guerilla marketing is a strategy that uses low-cost, unconventional tactics for ultimate exposure.

Instead of investing money, you will need to invest time, creativity and flexibility to create a series of memorable strategies that will resonate in the mind of your viewers. It’s a great way to get you noticed and stand out from the competition. You will be regarded as fun, different and creative: something all businesses try to capture.

It can be summed up in one sentence: if it isn’t newsworthy, it isn’t guerilla. So mastering the method is paramount. It is all about taking an unconventional method to entice your viewers with elements of surprise. They will be propelled to spread the word to reach potential customers.

Guerilla marketing can often be seen in public areas such as street corners, or bus stops. Think of a creative way to advertise your product by utilizing the space to compliment your brand.

McDonald’s used this method by creating an ad for their Real Fruit Smoothies. The glass of a transportation stop was transformed into the look and texture of a strawberry, creating a 3D effect. The advertisement was enjoyed by many: several even stopped in front of the ad to take a picture. Its power to get your noticed is really undeniable.

These strategies are not uncommon amongst major corporations, but are surely not limited to their use only. Small business can equally reap the rewards of these low cost advertisements. Bear in mind that transforming a space should be entertaining for your viewer as well. While it may require a certain amount of risk taking, if done effectively, it can be extremely beneficial for business.

If you were interested in guerilla marketing, stop by the Business Enterprise Centre and sign out our copy of Jay Conrad Levinson’s book “Guerilla Marketing”!

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