How to Identify Your Target Market

When you start your business you might think you know exactly who your target market is. In reality, detailed analysis must be conducted to determine exactly who will purchase your product or service. Not everyone will be a customer and you should not target everyone- you should specialize and target a specific audience.

When identifying your target market, you must first understand your niche in the market (link): What makes your business unique compared to your competitors? What sets you apart and makes you more likely to attract and retain customers?  Research your competitors and analyze their customers; this will give you an inside look at the industry.

Looking beyond your competitors is also essential. Conducting market research will help you to not only identify your target market, but will provide you with information on the number of potential customers or clients in your area. Keep in mind:

Successful businesses have extensive knowledge of their customers and their competitors. Market research is the process of gathering information which will increase your awareness of what your potential customers look for.  (“Guide to Market Research and Analysis” from www.CanadaBusiness.ca)

Market research includes circulating surveys, gathering statistics, information on local income levels, etc.

Your business plan is another resource to assist in identifying your target market. It will help you to define all aspect of your business, including identifying your ideal customer. A good business plan will include:

  • Income level
  • The characteristics of your ideal customer
  • Population in your target area

Schedule a consultation with your local small business enterprise centre consultant to help you deconstruct your data. This will assist you in creating an outline of your target market to assist in creating a successful branding and marketing campaign.

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Rules to Charging Provincial Sales Tax on Online Sales

One of the most common questions about Canadian e-commerce is – ‘if I sell online to people in other provinces, do I have to charge and remit their provinces sales tax?’

The answer to this question is ‘Yes’, however it is complicated by the different rules in each province.

Here are the general tax rules to determining what taxes apply to your online sale;

  • If you are selling goods or services in your own province, the tax rules for your own province or territory apply.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province, you would charge the GST/HST rate based on where the orders are being shipped to.
  • If you are selling goods or services out of province to Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon (which have no provincial sales tax), you would charge only GST (5%) on the sale.

Note that you would not charge GST on taxable goods and/or services being shipped to other countries.

As an e-commerce business accepting and shipping orders across Canada, the taxes you would be collecting and remitting on your online sales are as follows;

British Columbia – GST 5% and PST 7%

Alberta – GST 5%

Saskatchewan – GST 5% and PST 6%

Manitoba – GST 5% and PST 7%

Ontario – HST 13%

Quebec – GST 5% and QST (Quebec Sales Tax) 9.975%

New Brunswick – HST 13%

Nova Scotia – HST 15%

Newfoundland & Labrador – HST 13%

Prince Edward Island – HST 14%

Northwest Territories – GST 5%

Nunavut – GST 5%

Yukon – GST 5%

In your home province, registering for PST is mandatory if you are selling taxable goods and/or services. With that being said, you should register as a Provincial Sales Tax Vendor with each province you will be doing business with and will be expected to collect and remit the sales tax accordingly.

For more information visit Canada Revenue Agency – http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/cmm/gst-tps/menu-eng.html

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6 Strategies that Drive Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs can easily become overwhelmed in today’s ever changing business climate. It’s important to stay focused on your businesses goals amongst changing circumstances. Here are six points to keep in mind to clear your path to business success!

  1. Know your Competition

It’s important to identify your competitors and also understand the rival product or service they offer. This knowledge will help you market your product or service better to stand out.

  1. Research new Products & Services

With the world constantly evolving, there is always something bigger and better. Find new and improved products or services that will help you serve your customers and needs better. Look for tools that will help your business run more efficiently.

  1. Save your Money

During the early stages of business, there is bound to be a few rough patches. Get into the habit of saving money and living more conservatively. Most entrepreneurs keep a three month reserve aside for any unforeseen circumstances.

  1. Start Small

Tackle your niche market before you expand into a larger market. Niche marketing can be extremely cost effective if your business can meet the market’s unique needs. There is much more risk when you try to market your product or service to a larger target audience.

  1. Always be Adapting

Whether you’re adapting your marketing plan, simplifying a product or responding to new trends, pay attention to customer feedback. Listen to your customers, because after all they are who you’re trying to please. Be all ears.

  1. Respond to Change

In business, change is inevitable. As an entrepreneur you need to be prepared to accept change and adapt your business accordingly. It’s important to understand where you start is not likely where you will end up. Be flexible and versatile, don’t be left behind.

 

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Starter Company PLUS Program Opens

The Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre, in partnership with the Government of Ontario, is pleased to announce the launch of a new program available to residents from Cornwall, SD&G and Akwesasne.

Starter Company PLUS offers the successful applicants unparalleled assistance to start, grow or purchase an existing small business. Assistance includes training, business skills development, mentoring from local business leaders and all-important access to capital. The program is open to residents 18 years of age and older.

“The Starter Company PLUS program will partner entrepreneurs with experts who will help them develop the skills needed to launch and sustain a successful business,” said Candy Pollard, Business Consultant with the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre.  “Training and mentorship are the core of the program, but participants are also eligible to receive up to a $5,000 grant.”

Interested prospective entrepreneurs are invited to visit the CBEC website for an outline of this new program and to find application information.   CBEC staff will work with approved entrepreneurs to create a learning plan, schedule necessary training, and ultimately create a business plan, start-up budget and a 2 year financial forecast.

Eligible entrepreneurs include those purchasing an existing business, starting their own, or expanding their already existing business. In order for a business expansion to be eligible for a grant, concrete growth goals must be established – ideally including the hiring of staff.

Depending on the readiness of the applicant, they may remain in the training module for weeks or months. They may be matched with a mentor or receive advice/coaching/training from the mentoring group as part of the training process.

Once training is complete, the applicant is eligible to apply for funding of up to $5,000. No funding will be provided to the participants during the training module.

Starter Company PLUS is expected to be very popular,” said Candy Pollard, Business Consultant with the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre.  “Local entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of this program should apply as soon as they have solidified their business vision in order to ensure the best possible chances of being accepted.”

Starter Company Quick Facts

  • Entrepreneurs in Cornwall, SD&G and Akwesasne, can apply to the Starter Company PLUS program by submitting a program application to the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre.
  • To apply, participants must be an Ontario resident, 18 years of age or older, and no longer attending school.
  • Successful applicants may receive up to a $5,000 grant to help launch/purchase/expand their business.

For more information or to fill out an application, please visit our website: www.businessenterprisecentre.ca

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5 Ways to Boost your Cash Flow

  1. Re-evaluate your prices.

Could you be selling your product or service for more? If your prices are too affordable, you may not be taken seriously. But if your prices are too expensive, you could lose business. Find that happy median, a price point that will help boost your cash flow without losing sales.

  1. Replace old equipment and inventory.

Whether you’re dealing with equipment or inventory, if either one is obsolete, not working or not being used, it should be replaced or eliminated completely. Selling your old equipment or having a blowout sale on products that don’t sell as well is another easy way to boost your cash flow.

  1. Re-negotiate long-term contracts.

Many suppliers and service providers are willing to work with you if you have been a loyal customer. Even if they aren’t willing to make changes to your account, you may discover add-ons and extras that you no longer need, improving your cash flow by cancelling those services.

  1. Incentives for early payment / penalties for late payments.

For many businesses, invoicing can be a painful process. If you find it hard to keep your clients accountable and loathe having to follow up when they’re late with payments, consider implementing an incentive and penalty program. You’ll save yourself time and resource costs.

  1. Improve your marketing.

Any improvements you make to your business will ultimately lead to better cash flow. Improving your marketing will reduce your cost-per-lead, boosting the value of your customers and opening up markets for your product or service.

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Five Key Small Business Website Elements

Incorporate these five important website elements to build an online presence that brings customers directly to your business.

  1. A powerful home page

Your website home page is the first thing your customers will see. Make sure they are getting a good first impression, clearly communicating your brand, what your business is about, and a navigation menu that directs users to other important pages on your site.

  1. User-friendly navigation

Your navigation menu should include logical categories that make it easy for users to find information. Poor navigation is one of the most common reasons people abandon a website. Whether your menu expands across the top or in a sidebar, it should contain relevant information such as; what products or services you offer, the costs, where you are located and your hours of operation.

  1. Search features

Include a search feature in addition to your website navigation menu so customers can use keywords to find the information they need. When customers type a keyword into the search box, they will be presented with relevant information so they don’t have to manually search for it.

  1. Access to help

Customers often want to connect with a human, include a contact us page with information such as; phone number(s), email address and your location so they have the option to meet with someone face-to-face to discuss business.

  1. FAQ page

Include a page of frequently asked questions and their answers on your website to make it easier for customers to find the detailed information they need.

A small business website can be an affordable and effective way to reach and expand your online customers and potential customers. These five elements will drive customers directly to your business.

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Top 15 Business Ideas for Students

Student Entrepreneurs – Looking for a summer job? Why not start your own business! Besides making money over the summer, starting your own business means you’ll have the satisfaction of being your own boss and having business experience looks great on your resume, particularly if you plan a career in business.

Here are 15 business ideas that are low cost and easy to operate over the summer months.

  1. Pet Sitting
  2. Cleaning Services
  3. Delivery Service
  4. Grass Cutting
  5. Hauling Service
  6. Gutter & Siding Cleaning
  7. Garden/Landscaping
  8. Interior/Exterior Painting
  9. Tutoring
  10. Sports/Music Instructor
  11. Handmade Products
  12. House Call Geek
  13. Exterior House Cleaning
  14. Catering Service
  15. Car Detailing

With the Summer Company Program open for applications, what better time to brainstorm some summer business ideas.  Be sure to check out https://www.ontario.ca/page/start-summer-company-students for more information on the program.

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