Marketing Audit for your Small Business

A marketing audit is a thorough review of your marketing plan, objectives, strategies, and current activities being executed in your small business. The goal is to pinpoint your marketing strengths and weaknesses to identify areas for improvement.

Here are some reasons to consider doing a marketing audit for your small business.

  • Realign your marketing activities with your goals.

Most business owners are caught up with daily responsibilities that they lose focus of their long-term goals. A marketing audit is a way to return to your business plan and your marketing plan to ensure that your daily tasks are executing support for your business goals.

  • What isn’t working for your business.

A marketing audit helps owners explore marketing activities being implemented, while determining if those activities are successful. This is a time to make judgement calls on marketing areas where your business is underperforming. Then make the decision of how to improve activities to achieve greater success.

  • New ideas and different strategies.

Conducting a marketing audit requires a significant amount of research into your business. The research process is an excellent way to discover new ideas to try in your business. This will help you develop new marketing activities that have potential.

  • In-depth insight in your competition.

Successful marketing requires in-depth understanding of your market, your target audience, and your competition. A marketing audit is a great way to find who your competition is. Exploring the strengths and weaknesses of your competition can improve the way you approach your audience.

  • Save you money in the long run.

Conducting a marketing audit on a regular basis helps maximize your marketing investment, helping you focus on the activities that work best for your business. If you don’t check this often, you may be wasting time and money on marketing activities that aren’t producing results.



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Turning a Hobby into a Business

There are many factors that go into the success of a small business, one being the passion an entrepreneur has for their business idea. The more interested you are in your business, the easier it is to manage the challenges and put in the necessary time to become successful.

Consider the following questions to determine if your hobby has the potential to become a successful business.

  1. What is the actual product or service you sell?

Keep an open mind and think beyond the obvious when you are considering what product or service you will sell that builds on your hobby. For example, if you were selling jewellery, offer a class that teaches others how to make jewellery.

  1. Is there a market for what you are selling?

Now that you know what your will be selling, you need to determine if there is a market for your hobby-turned-business idea and if it has a solid chance for success.

  1. What are the financial implications of starting your business?

Starting a business requires financial investment up front, plus the costs to keep the business running while you start to make profit. Do your research to find an accurate idea of what it will cost to get the business started and create a plan for getting necessary capital.

  1. Can you start the business on a part-time basis?

It can be difficult to determine if a business idea has potential. Working at it slowly part-time has many benefits. It gives you a chance to explore being a business owner without losing financial security, minimizes mistakes, and allows you to avoid some pressure.

Once you have considered each of these questions and you are ready to turn your hobby into a small business, take the steps to officially launch your business.


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Business Income Tax Return

Here’s what you need to know about completing and filing the T1 Canadian income tax return as a business.

Whether your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership, you use the same income tax return to file your business taxes that you use to file your personal income taxes in Canada – the T1 income tax form. If your business is a corporation, you have to file a T2 income tax return.

You are declaring all your income using this form, being income from a job and a business or income from more than one business.

You will need; your business number, social insurance number, a copy of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Business and Professional Income Guide, and all your business records.

Steps to fill out your T1 Canadian income tax form:

  1. Fill out the Identification section of the T1 income tax form.
  2. Figure out your total income to calculate your business income. To do this you will need to fill out a T2125: Statement of Business or Professional Activities form, which is included in your T1 income tax form package. A T2125 form must be filled out separately for each business.
  3. Use the appendix of the Business and Professional Income Guide to find your business’s industry code. Then fill out the identification section of the form.
  4. Use your business records to complete the Income and Expenses part of the Statement of Business or Professional Activities income tax form.
  5. Go to the Total Income section of your T1 income tax form. Near the end of the Total Income section titled “Self employment income” enter your gross and net business, professional, or commission income on the appropriate line.
  6. Back at the top of the Total Income section; enter all your other income on the appropriate lines. When you’ve finished working through this section, you’ll have calculated your Total Income, including your business income.
  7. Continue filling out the rest of the T1 income tax form.

After following these steps, you will have completed your business income tax return and it will be ready to be filed.

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Making Your Elevator Pitch Unforgettable

Whether you’re starting a new business, trying to make new contacts, or looking for new customers, your fate begins and ends with a great elevator pitch.

Your Elevator pitch needs to capture the essence of your business, but cramming your business plan into a few sentences can be difficult, even more so when you want to stand out and make a great impression.

Here are a few essentials for making your elevator pitch unforgettable;

  • Don’t lead with an introduction

A basic introduction like; “hi my name is… I work for…” is boring and predictable. Find a unique way to lead your pitch that is compelling and interesting to your audience.

  • Use an emotional appeal

A great alternative to a straightforward introduction is an emotional appeal. What does your business address and what emotions go along with them? Create a statement that immediately conjures a memory, and an emotion that goes with it.

  • Add something strange

Find some detail that makes your business stand out. What makes your business different compared to others in the market? Is it your approach, your target market, your goals? Don’t let your pitch go in one ear and out the other.

  • Have facts ready

If you want your audience to consider doing business, provide them with factual information. Do your research and have some facts ready before you make your pitch. It will ground your idea in a sense of reality.

  • Get your audience involved

Rambling about your business won’t make it memorable, get your audience involved. Ask questions that require a response. Find ways to get them directly engaged and make it unforgettable.

  • Don’t rehearse excessively

It is crucial to practice your elevator pitch, but over-rehearsing your pitch could ruin your chance at leaving a good first impression. Practicing too much may make you sound plain, try to make the conversation natural without leaving out important details.

With the right strategies you can make your elevator pitch unforgettable.

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Rules to Choosing a Business Name

A winning business name is a name that draws business itself. Creating your business name is one of the many important things you will do in the start-up process of your business. Work through these five rules for choosing a business name:

  • Memorable

Your business name should be easy when looking to find it in a phone book, directory or online. The name should be something that is easy to remember. Unique is good but difficult spellings are a bad idea.

  • Visual Element

What do you visualize when you read or hear your business name? Is there a clear image that comes to mind right away? Incorporating a visual element to your business name with help customers remember it.

  • Positive Connotation

Connotation is something with emotional meaning. Create a name with positive connotations that are associated and suitable to your business.

  • Informative 

Your business name should give potential customers some clue of what you do. This also makes it easier to remember and find your business in phone books and directories.

  • Short and Sweet 

It is important to keep it short for promotional purposes. For example; fits well on a business card, looks good on a sign or an ad, will serve well as a domain name and show up well in search for online business.

So, have you come up with your winning business name that follows these rules?

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Daily 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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How to Raise Your Rates without Losing Clients

Here are some tips to help you raise your rates without losing existing clients or turning away potential ones.

  • Be Confident

It’s not “what should I charge?” but, “is this worth my time?” You are worth the amount you are charging.

  • Do your Research

Review the market research you did when you started your business. What does your competition charge? What’s your unique selling proposition? Make your clients aware of the value.

  • Stick with Hourly

Clients often ask for “all-inclusive”, meaning they want to know how much it will cost up front. Use your standard hourly formula and include the anticipated number of hours.

  • Move Up Incrementally

Gradually increase your rates without shocking your customers with a new rate.

  • Apply New Rates to New Clients

As you incrementally raise your rates for existing clients, apply your new rates to new clients right away. This is a great way to improve income without harming existing client relationships.

  • Always Keep Clients Informed

Make sure there are no surprises; keep your clients in the loop. Give them advance notice, in writing, about any rate increases.

Many small business owners undervalue their products or services which can harm the longevity of your business. Be confident of the value you bring to the table, and seek the right clients for your business.


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