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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Business Website vs Facebook Page

Having a website and/or Facebook page are an important part of building your brand, but do you need both? Here are a few points to take into consideration to determine whether a website or Facebook page will help you reach your target audience better.

Control

Having a website gives you complete control over your entire media brand, whereas with a Facebook page, there is a lack of control and you’re dealing with a third-party website.

Design

Your website can be designed to match your branding, making changes at your own discretion, whereas you can make minor changes and add your logo to a Facebook page, however you’re still at the mercy of Facebook’s look.

Information

Your audience has to make an effort to visit your website, whereas with a Facebook page, you’re taking your information directly to where your audience spends their time to connect with others.

Updates

With multiple website platforms to choose from, not every website operates the same making it more challenging to update your website. Facebook makes it easy to post information, photos or videos and reach your audience quicker.

Revenue

You can sell ad space on your website, setting your own rates and managing the ad to generate revenue, whereas those opportunities are non-existent with a Facebook page.

Statistics

Your website statistics are not on display for your viewers, whereas your fans or visitors can see how many likes your Facebook page has.

Contests

Contests will drive people to your website and can be monitored with your website analytics. Contests on Facebook will build your fan base and generate a buzz as your contest link gets passed around to users.

 User Comments

You have the option to allow user comments on your website. If you do allow comments, it’s important to monitor them and develop a policy for how to deal with them. You still have to keep an eye out for visitors that could cause trouble, but Facebook has an easy system to block comments and users.

Interaction

Your website has limited opportunities to interact with your audience, while Facebook has multiple opportunities to interact and communicate with your audience.

 

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Habits to Increase Your Productivity

Here are a few tips to improve your productivity levels.

  • Arrive early, stay later

Get to your most important task right away to save yourself some extra hours. Arriving early and staying late could make all the difference.

  • Plan each day the night before

Taking 15 minutes to make a to-do list and prioritize it will give you a head start on your day. Prioritizing tasks by importance is a reminder to push you forward with achieving big goals.

  • Leave the office for lunch

Getting out of your work environment for lunch can ease stress levels, refresh your creativity and help you re-focus. It’s a chance to clear your head and think about how the rest of your day should go.

  • Minimize distractions

Distractions are everywhere. Working at a computer, there is temptation to check social media and surf the internet. Set boundaries and abide by them. Minimizing distractions will increase productivity.

  • Keep your goals in sight

Keep a list of your goals where you will see them throughout the day to keep you focused and motivated to accomplish them.

  • Always try to beat the person you were yesterday

Keep track of your accomplishments, daily victories will transform your business. Be in competition with yourself.

Everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day. Break the bad habits that are taking up your valuable time. Higher productivity levels will help you accomplish your goals and lead you to a more successful business.

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Financial Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business

Some financial mistakes are minor and can be corrected on the fly, but some can easily burn the house down, so to speak. It’s a big reason why the majority of startups fail during their first few years of business. A cash flow that suddenly dries up, a huge unexpected expense, or a rapidly accumulating amount of debt have all been known to bring even the most promising new businesses to their knees.

Here are some of the biggest financial mistakes new business owners tend to make and how to avoid them.

Not Separating Business and Personal Bank Accounts

Although having one account may seem more convent, commit yourself to creating separate bank and credit card accounts for your business before you start to collect revenue. Doing this at the beginning will make it much easier to do the accounting for your business, plan for tax time and budget for unpredictable expenses that may lie ahead.

Having separate accounts will also allow a more accurate picture of your business’ financial health by preventing overlap between what you personally earn & spend and what the business is generating & costing on a monthly basis. This will also better shield you from damaging your credit if your business were to take a nosedive.

Making Big Purchases for your Business

When you start a new business, it’s understandable to want the best equipment, a fancy website and office. However, if you’re itching to make major purchases during the startup phase of your business, think these decisions over carefully. Some expenses will be mandatory depending on the type of business you’re starting, but you need to ask yourself if the expense is going to help you generate more revenue in the short-term.

Other expenses that aren’t essential to the growth of your company offer very little value to your bottom line. Make do with what you already have. Grow your business first and accumulate a higher level of disposable cash before spending on the “nice-to-haves.”

Making Big Personal Purchases

During the first year of business, there are a lot of unknown variables and unexpected learning opportunities that will come your way. The reality is that you’re going to hit roadblocks, you’re going to have failures and some of these may come with a big price tag on them.

If you purchase a car, home or any other large personal purchases and your business has something unexpected come up, you won’t be able to pay yourself next month. You can’t be strapped down with a huge amount of personal expenses. Be as minimal as possible in your business and personal life while growing your new business.

Not Saving for Slow Times and Emergencies

There is no shortage of people telling you to keep a stash of savings at hand for unexpected expenses. Call it saving for a rainy day, but there will be times when something happens and covering the cost with your credit card is a short-sighted solution that will only create more problems down the line. Most financial planners advise entrepreneurs to keep at least three months worth of expenses in an emergency fund for both their business and their personal expenses.

Not Creating a Clear Budget for your Business

If worst comes to worst, you may be able to run your business without a clear plan for the future, but you’ll have a very hard time succeeding without at least a rough budget to help guide what you can and cannot afford to spend each month. Your job is to steer your new business towards profitability, and you can only do that if you create a budget for operational, marketing and other expenses. Having a clear budget increases financial discipline and clarifies the roadmap to business growth.

Create a budget, track your expenses, save for emergencies and always think of expenses in terms of how they will generate revenue for your business.

 

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