Networking Mistakes

Networking is a huge part of growing your business, even more so during start-up. If you don’t get out and network you could lose potential opportunities with clients, peers, and mentors to help you grow your business.

Whether you are networking at a conference, trade show or event, it is important to present yourself and your business professionally and confidently. Here are some mistakes to avoid when networking.

Not having a business card – Although we are in a technology era, physical business cards are still expected and can be a powerful touch point to boost your first impression in a professional setting.

Using DIY business cards – While not having business cards is a major networking mistake, making your own cards is even worse. Business cards are very affordable and there are many services that provide templates and custom design.

Forgetting about your elevator pitch – Often times when networking the time you spend meeting people is brief therefore it is important to have an elevator pitch to provide an overview of your business that is engaging and memorable.

Only taking to people you know – You miss out on the value that comes from networking when you stick around people you already know. Be ready and willing to get out there and introduce yourself to new people.

Neglecting to follow up – If you don’t follow up with new contacts you meet your business will probably be quickly forgotten. Whether you follow up by phone, email or social media, an appropriate follow up after networking is vital.

Being open to networking opportunities can make the difference between sustained business growth and stagnation.

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How to Build a Business without Quitting Your Job

At some point or another, most people think about starting a business but never take the first step. One of the most common reasons to not take that first step is because you already have a job. But, with the right approach it is possible to start a business while keeping your day job.

Why not quit? – There are some valid reasons to not quit your job, but the reality is you may not need your job as much as you think.

You need the money – Money is a key factor during the start-up process of a new business. If you can secure enough capital or a line of credit, you may not need your job to keep you afloat. You may want to keep your job as a safety net, but safety nets don’t always lead to better overall performance.

You’re unsure about your idea – If you don’t have a good idea yet, you probably shouldn’t quit your job. While this is a valid reason, why not spend more time developing your idea?

If you have considered any of these reasons to not quit your job, and you still aren’t convinced it’s a good idea, follow these strategies to start a successful business without quitting your job.

Be Realistic – First, be realistic about how much you can handle while still maintaining your job. There are only so many hours in the day, and you will have to commit to one or the other eventually.

Focus on the idea – You won’t be under the gun with deadlines, and you won’t be strapped for cash, so make the most of this time by developing the best business plan you can.

Networking – The wider your range of professional contacts is, the more options you will have when it comes to growing your business. You never know when or where you could meet a potential partner, client, or employee.

Take baby steps – Never rush the process of starting a new business, take your time and slowly advance your idea forward. Test the waters.

Tread carefully – If you spend too much time on your business, your professional work will suffer. Find a health balance to keep both moving along well.

Remember, there is no perfect time to start a business.

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Steps to Closing a Business in Canada

Closing a business isn’t as easy as telling your customers and liquidating stock, there is more to it. You also need to cancel your business name and close your Canada Revenue Agency and tax accounts.

Here are the steps you should follow to close your business properly.

  1. Cancel your business registration for your sole proprietorship, partnership, or voluntarily dissolve your corporation.
  • Use the Change of Business Information on the Service Ontario website to cancel your business name registration for a sole proprietorship or partnership.
  • To close a corporation, the appropriate Articles of Dissolution must be submitted to the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch, along with a letter consenting to the dissolution from the Corporations Tax Branch, a covering letter and a $25 fee.
  1. File your last tax return if you have a dissolved corporation.
  • If you have dissolved a corporation, you need to send the Canada Revenue Agency a copy of the Articles of Dissolution when you file the final return for your corporation.
  1. Close your payroll accounts with Canada Revenue Agency.
  • You need to send all CPP contributions, EI premiums, and income tax deductions to your tax centre within 7 days of the day your business ends.
  • You also need to complete the necessary T4 slips and T4 Summary and send them to the Ottawa Technology Centre within 30 days of the day your business ends.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency also suggests you complete Form RC145, requesting to close business number accounts, and send it along with your final return.
  1. Close your GST/HST accounts with Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Once you have filed all of your outstanding GST/HST returns and paid any outstanding accounts, send Form RC145, request to close business number accounts, to Canada Revenue Agency.
  1. Cancel any Municipal Business Licenses
  • If you have obtained a business license to operate in a town or city, you need to notify the municipality that your business is no longer operating and your licenses should be cancelled.

 

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Do’s and Don’ts for Your Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch – Do’s

  1. Start with a great hook. It’s crucial to attract your audience’s attention quickly. Start with a statistic, quote or question that frames the conversation and leaves your listener wanting to know more.
  2. Structure your value proposition. Once you’ve delivered the hook, jump into the details and specify the problem your business will solve.
  3. Have qualitative data to back your claim. After you’ve structured your value proposition, back your claim with data or a statistic.
  4. Spotlight the key differentiators. Point out what is unique about your idea, product or service that makes you stand out from the crowd.
  5. Give the audience a takeaway. If you’ve delivered an effective elevator pitch, your listeners will want to learn more. Hand out your business card so they can contact you.

Elevator Pitch – Don’ts

  1. Don’t wing it. An elevator pitch should come across as spontaneous, but it is crucial that you practice it.
  2. Don’t oversell it. Overselling your benefits and using words like “life-changing” can paint your pitch as unrealistic.
  3. Don’t go too heavy on the data. It is important to back up your claims, but don’t bury listeners with too much context.
  4. Don’t ignore competitors. You don’t need to list all of your competitors, but highlighting your differences will help communicate why your idea, product or service is better.
  5. Don’t forget the call to action. If you finish your pitch without giving listeners a way to contact you or find out more, you could miss out on opportunities.

 

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Top 3 Most Common Business Structures

There are many steps you need to complete in the first few weeks of planning, but one of the first things you will have to determine is the type of structure or ownership your business will have. You need to decide this in order to register your business to legally operate in Ontario.

There are different forms of legal structure you can choose from however, the most common forms of ownership are Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships and Incorporation and each have their own advantages and disadvantages…

 Sole Proprietor – This is where the business and the owner are the same legal entity.

Advantages:

Owned by one person
Low start-up cost
Minimum regulations

Disadvantages:

Unlimited liability
Difficult to raise capital
Credit is dependent on the owner’s personal credit

Partnership – A partnership is where two or more individuals share ownership of the business.

Advantages:

Ease of information
Easy to start
Shared management
Shared work duties
Shared financing

Disadvantage:

Partners often have conflicts
Liable for all debts and obligations
Partnership agreement is required

Incorporation – A new separate legal entity is established.

Advantages:

Limited legal and financial liabilities
Tax advantages
Continue its existence
Ownership is transferable

Disadvantages:

Expensive to start
Closely regulated
More complex record keeping
More administration

If you are unsure of the type of ownership you should consider, you should discuss your options with a business consultant at your local Business Enterprise Centre, and seek legal advice.

 

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5 Ways to Boost your Business’ 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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How to Register for a BIN Number Online

There are many steps to complete when opening a small business in Ontario. One of the steps which solidify your business operation is obtaining a Business Identification Number (BIN). Depending on a variety of reasons (including your location), many business owners choose to register online. Registering online is a convenient and easy process.

So what is a BIN number and why do you need it?

According to Canada Revenue the Business Identification Number (BIN) is a 9-digit number used by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services to identify provincial business accounts and should be used for communications with the Ontario government about your business.

A BIN number is obtained when you register your business name through Service Ontario. Registering a business name is an important step to complete early on. Service Ontario offers an online search and registration function which individuals registering as a sole proprietor or partnership can use. Business Name registration costs $60. At this time you will receive a Master Business License (MBL), which will have the BIN number. A BIN number can be used as proof of a legal business name /operation and will be necessary to open a business bank account.

For more information on BIN numbers or to register, please visit Service Ontario.

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