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Are Gen X entrepreneurs missing the mark on social media?

We hear a lot about the generational divide when it comes to digital technologies. As it turns out, this digital divide is not just a feature of individual relationships anymore. The same gap can be seen in how young and old businesses relate to the public, and each other.

Like my millennial nieces and nephews rolling their eyes at their Gen-X uncle’s stubborn ignorance of the intricacies of Tinder dating, younger businesses are far more digitally-savvy than their older counterparts as well.

Whereas I’m a proud denizen of Gen-X slackerdom prone to dismissing earnest new applications ironically (yet still ready to adopt them if convenient), the younger members of my family see nothing strange in marketing themselves in multiple ways on various platforms, collecting ‘likes’ and mutual swipes as obsessively as I used to collect vinyl records. And while I am aware that there are a few hipsters out there who might be interested in my dusty old LP collection, I think it’s fair to say that my nieces and nephews could have found a market for those old albums long ago.

Young business, like those young men and women in my family, seem to have the edge when it comes to fully embracing digital technologies. But don’t take my word for it! This is but one of the take-aways from a new survey put out by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) that’s sure to light a spark in the minds of Canada’s budding young entrepreneurs.

According to the survey, Embracing technology in a digital age, businesses less than 5 years old are more likely to think of social media as integral to their start-up, with 72% thinking of it as an important part of their business model from the get go, whereas only 48% of firms that have been around for 10 years or more feel the same.

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This could partially be explained by the fact that younger firms are extremely focused on marketing their business and are more familiar with social media tools and their benefits, whereas older businesses may be more established and already have a strong client base, and therefore do not feel the need to publicize their activities quite as much.

Like the common refrain that the youth of today spend far too much time, money and mental energy on their phones checking Facebook, Twitter and the like, some of the barriers to digital adoption, according to older firms, is that they find these digital tools too time-consuming, too costly and (surprise, surprise – for us ‘old timers’ anyway) too difficult to understand.

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Millennials view technology as a critical part of their life and work. They are constantly “on,” and connected. They tend to embrace new technologies for socializing and working, and adapt quickly. By contrast, Gen X’ers mainly use technology for purposes of convenience, such as online banking and shopping. This same disconnect regarding the purpose and use of new technologies can be applied to younger and older firms respectively.

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Not all differences can be chalked up to age though. One interesting item from the survey that goes beyond that particular divide is the type of social networking sites certain businesses use. Businesses that deal directly with consumers, such as retailers and those in hospitality or recreation, are much more likely to be using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Alternatively, businesses that primarily deal with other businesses, such as those in finance, insurance and professional services, are much more likely to use LinkedIn.

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Size matters too. Larger companies of 50 employees or more make use of social media platforms like Twitter more than smaller businesses with less than five employees (see chart). This may be due to the fact that larger businesses have the capacity to hire younger, more linked in social media experts, if needed, to set up and manage these accounts compared to a smaller business that may find it difficult to access such resources and therefore may choose to focus on just one social media platform if they choose to engage in social media at all.

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As the study reveals, 34% of respondents are not using social media at all, and while this figure has been trending downward for many years now, it shows that there’s still more that can be done to assist older, smaller firms in adopting the technologies that will keep them competitive, agile and safe from the collective eye-rolls of the younger crowd.

Join us Friday when we outline some of actions CFIB recommends policy makers take to help older, smaller firms connect with the next generation of entrepreneurs, such as providing simple, cost-effective, “off-the-shelf” digital tools for small business, creating a website of such tools to enhance digital literacy and introducing a “digital technology deduction” so a business can write-off their investment in the year of purchase.

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John Studd

With over 15 years of experience in communications, John has spent most of his career in Europe and Asia working with a long list of clients on a large number of projects. He particularly likes working on behalf of small- and medium-sized enterprises in his present role as Media Writer for the Canadian Federation Independent Business (CFIB). He’s also been a small business person himself, establishing a rather successful translation company in Prague that in its heyday employed three teams of translators.

 


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CFIB members can now enjoy Mastercard’s BIG BUSINESS rates!

I am very proud to announce an agreement directly with Mastercard to allow CFIB members to benefit from special rates previously reserved for individual merchants with over $3 billion in transactions. This goes into effect starting April 3rd, 2017. This deal represents a 12.5% savings from Mastercard’s base “electronic” rate, and as much as 22% savings on some premium cards.  The result will be millions in collective savings exclusively for CFIB members, helping your bottom line.

If you are a CFIB member already on our plan with Chase Paymentech, the rate reduction will be automatic. If not, click on our CFIB Mastercard page to learn more, including how to access this important new benefit. Also, please let your fellow small and medium-sized business owners know that they can get these great rates too if they become a member of CFIB.  They can inquire about membership at cfib.ca/join or, if they have been in business for two years or less, they can check out CFIB’s My Startup program for new businesses.

After years of member action, research and media attention on the high cost of credit card fees, CFIB members have achieved many important victories. But we’ve never stopped in our advocacy for additional reductions. This is another great example of what can happen when thousands of independent business owners stand together.

Congratulations!

Dan Kelly, CFIB President

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Business to Business (B2B) Contracts – When do you need a lawyer?

Welcome to the fourth edition of the multi-part series on the topic of tasks you should be adding to your “start up to do list”. In past weeks we have discussed starting your small business checklistorganizing your startup, Are you sure you need to hire now?, and now our latest edition: Do you need a lawyer.

Every entrepreneur understands intrinsically – or learns very quickly – that a business is not an island. That is to say, a business cannot exist without interactions with outside parties in some form or another.

For example, a major part of running your business is receiving products/services from other businesses that will help in your daily operations. These interactions shouldn’t be taken lightly or handled in an informal manner.

While CFIB business counsellors do not offer legal advice, we are able to help set the stage for entering into what could be considered legal contracts. In fact, we previously published an article, Signing contracts and leases: how to avoid liability, here are some highlights:

A contract is a legal document; be sure you understand what you are signing, as it could be very costly to get out of and may even involve litigation.

  • Do not accept any verbal changes.  Make sure all changes are written into the contract.
  • If you are not sure what your obligations are, get a lawyer to review the contract and advise you of any concerns.
  • Check the contract for automatic renewal dates and be aware if you have to provide notice of cancellation.  Some contracts require up to a year’s notice, in writing, should you wish to cancel.
  •  Look for clauses that allow increases in pricing without written notice.
  •  Check the term of the contract and make sure there is an option to cancel without penalty.
  • Report any unscrupulous practices to the Competition Bureau at 1 800-348-5358 or online.

Do not feel pressured to sign on the dotted line on the spot. Take all precautions and due diligence to review and consult with your legal advisors, especially when you have to provide your banking or credit card information.

Our Business Counsellors hear of countless situations that could have been avoided if the above recommendations were followed. Remember, any business that presents a great deal should also provide you sufficient time for you to review agreements.

Your checklist of the week should also include the following very important topics:

☐ Be aware of the legal issues for small business
Seek legal advice to ensure you select the right business entity
☐ Do you know enough about Trademarks and Patents?
☐ Keep informed of possible fraud attacks to your business
☐ Tips for leasing commercial property

More often than not, we get excited to start our business venture and simply hope for the best. We want you to have the best.

When in doubt, contact a CFIB small business Business Counsellors. We can offer specific advice and even let you know if and when legal counsel is required.

If you have been in business less than two years, you qualify to sign up as a member through our MyStartUp.ca portal. If you have been in business for more than two years, please click here to obtain further information from our CFIB website on how you sign up today!

Share our blog with your entrepreneurial community using: #MyStartUp #SmallBizChecklist

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CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


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Tips and tools to help manage your family business

Family Day is being observed this year on February 20, 2017 (February 13, 2017 for British Columbia). In honor of the countless family owned businesses across Canada, we wanted to provide our My Startup family with few tools to get your family business off the ground.

It is good business practice to create a code of conduct to ensure that everyone understands the expected behavior towards each other and customers.

A Code of Conduct is set of rules/norms that are established for family members/employees to comply with. It is expected that everyone would have a full commitment to conduct business in a professional and respectable manner and strive to create a trust-worthy authentic environment.

A Code of Conduct will support the dos/don’ts on how your company culture will unfold the business vision, mission and objectives. The Code of Culture speaks to:

  • Commitment and expectations of those considered to be managers
  • Commitment and expectations of employee behaviors
  • What is considered to be respectable and professional behavior
  • What unethical behaviors are not tolerated
  • Company Policies and Procedures

Family being the closest to us by relationship, setting professional boundaries can ensure that your communication is both respectable and effective, documentation is effective and avoids confusion.

Setting the right company culture from the start is a win-win situation for all individuals working at your business. Regardless of your size of business, it is a tool that sets the level of excellence you are expecting from all your staff.

As a CFIB member and a CFIB My Startup member, you have access to a Code of Conduct template by using your membership ID and password here.

Have you considered structuring your team using the RACI method?

Recently, in completing my Business Analysis program, I became familiar with a business tool I believe can help small business. It’s called the RACI matrix and it is a method to understand the different roles in a team and to ensure everyone is aware of their own responsibilities. Understanding the roles given to each individual will reduce any risk of incomplete work.

RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. In your next meeting with your family members, consider categorizing your family in the following categories and decide who is:

  • Responsible: Individual tasked to complete a task.
  • Accountable: One who ensures tasks are completed.
  • Consulted: A subject matter expert that is called for advice.
  • Informed: An individual that requires continual updates on progress.

While this matrix is a tool often used for projects and has elaborate methodology, having these assigned roles will maximize your chances at starting a successful venture.

Often times when you’re starting a family business, “the all hands on deck” approach may get confusing and that can lead to a loss of time, resources and duplicate work in some cases – even worse no work gets accomplished as no real accountability can be measured.

Each individual assigned to your business, needs to have clear, consistent, and achievable tasks.

Do you have a clear direction for your business?

After you have developed your team, consider the following: using the GRPI method to further understand if your team has all the necessary tools to complete the tasks you need for your business operations.

GRPI is an acronym for Goals, Roles, Processes, and Interpersonal and it’s used to assess the effectiveness of your team.

Goals: Have all goals been communicated clearly.
Roles: Using the RACI method, do you have clear roles assigned.
Interpersonal: How the team communicates with one another, especially with respect and trust.

The above factors are straight forward. For this reason let’s take some time to provide further details on Processes.

Processes: What are the steps that need to be taken to complete tasks, projects, etc.

Your business requires constant goals and tasks, and accomplishing each to keep the business alive. A process can take shape in many different forms and can be communicated in the following methods:

  • Establishing a channel of communication (Email, Skype, Phone etc.)
  • Specific time for meetings (daily, weekly etc.)
  • Creating a procedure manual that has clear instructions
  • Identifying what resources are available for all staff
  • Everyone should be encouraged to provide feedback on improving any of the above

Just like the RACI methodology, the GRPI has further layers that can be researched online to help you with your startup.

These tools are used for projects, however your startup can be seen as a project – as you plan, review, and monitor and execute your plans for your product/services.

Do you have a specific tool/methodology that has helped your business? Tweet us at #MyStartUp

Remember, as a CFIB or My Startup member you have access to our EI Family blog, number of webinars to help you manage your startup and access to our Business Counsellors.

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CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


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Are you sure you need to hire now?

Welcome to the third addition of a multi-part series on the topic of tasks you should be adding to your “start up to do list”. In past weeks we have discussed starting your small business checklist and organizing your startup. Let’s continue with the next part “Are you sure you need to hire now?”.

You may be at that stage you need to hire employee, are you ready?

I came across a business owner within my network that wanted to hire an employee as an assistant, because they felt that was the right and reasonable step. Unfortunately, hiring your first employee may not be the walk in the park that you’re hoping for.

Word to the wise: You must truly understand your business situation if you are at a stage that you need and can afford to hire an employee. Employees are not hired when you are more than capable of handling the work load on your own. Employees are hired when you need support the handling of multiple tasks and can benefit the business in providing someone experience, upgrade skills and empower the employee’s career.

Often times, we may believe that hiring employee is a sign of growth, however there are major responsibilities that come along with this stage in business. Especially understanding that you, the employer, are providing wages that in turn will be used for mortgage/rent, family care, and/or savings for employee’s future. Be conscious that it is your time to hire.

Here are few heads up:

  • When your employee earns wages, you must pay your employee consistently on a pay period you have selected. Failure to pay or in consistent manner can result in claims under your provincial Ministry of Labour.
  • More than just wages, you the employer must be prepared to compensate employees for vacation pay, public holiday pay and/or termination according to your provincial obligations.
  • You must submit sources deductions (Employment Insurance, Income Tax and Canadian Pension Plan) to the Canada Revenue Agency, regardless if your business has made a profit – no delays or excuses.

Having documentation is must:

Having proper documentation is crucial when dealing with employees. Job Descriptions are particularly important as they set the expected performance, the standard or level of satisfaction of a job, and contain clear instructions.

Often time, I hear from small business owners that they do not think they need a job description for two reasons;

  1. They are too small.
  2. All employees do the same job.

That may be the case, however you can’t expect a specific outcome or behavior if it has not been properly documented and explained to employee.

A moment to reflect:

Make a proper assessment of your situation, ask yourself:

  • Am I in a position to handle my work load on my own?
  • Do I have sufficient knowledge of the ministries that protect employees?
  • Do I have sufficient resources to provide necessary training?
  • Can I trust that someone else will have access to my place of business?
  • Do I have enough cash flow to justify hiring employee?

We have created the following checklist to ensure you are on the right track.

This week’s topic is: hiring employees

☐ Have you registered your payroll account through the Canada Revenue Agency?
☐ Have you learned rules, regulations and considerations when hiring employee?
☐ Do you need a job description? Click here.
☐ Do you need to create an internal employment manual?
☐ Do you have a business counsellor?

Remember, my entrepreneur friend, you are not alone. Become a member today by signing up at MyStartUp.ca and speak to your regional business counsellor for further information, insight and direction.

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CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


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Building a Sales Driven Organization

When it comes to building a business many owners focus on their operations, customer service,  and financial processes but the sales process is often left open to interpretation. This typically happens for one of two reasons, either because there is a belief in the organization that every sales event is different and therefore we cannot put a process around it, or the belief that sales people have to sell “their own way” to be successful. These beliefs then lead to inconsistent results and the inability to forecast accurately. If businesses want to break out of this inconsistency they need to commit to developing their sales process.

The first area that a business needs to look at is their strategy. What is the market vertical they are currently after, what kinds of problems does their product or service solve and what makes them different from all of their competitors? Too many sales people and business leaders cannot articulate the answers to the questions listed above. If we do not look and sound different from our competitors we end up being commoditized and then it is a race to the bottom on price as that is the only thing that separates us.

We also need to look at the structure we have in place for the sales team. Do we have a mapped out sales process that everyone in the organization agrees to? Have we created an account management plan? How about a prospecting plan? Are we tracking our conversion rates on such things as first contact to first meeting, first meeting to second meeting or are we just tracking our total sales. If the organization is able to create a playbook for the sales team that includes these elements it becomes a game changer and creates accountability for the team. Great professional coaches know that executing the play is the key to success. If the team executes the plays the score will take care of itself.

Another key ingredient in building a sales driven organization is staff. There was a recent article in the Globe and Mail about how difficult it is to find good sales people. Most people do not consider sales a profession and the experiences people have with so called professional sales people is less than memorable. Sales is one of the few professions where typically you get paid for performance yet it is surprising that very few people in this role invest in themselves to improve their skills. If you are going to develop a sales team make sure you are bringing people on who understand that their key to success is to bring in new accounts. These people should embrace failure and have the persistence to get back in the game when faced with rejection. If you are looking to hire this kind of person ensure that your hiring process has the right interview questions, involves some kind of competency assessment and definitely involves talking to their past managers.

The final area that you need to consider is the skills that the team possesses. When they get face to face with a prospect what is their sales process? Do they have a process? An A player will be able to demonstrate a repeatable process which spends more time qualifying a prospect than trying to pitch them something they may or may not need. If the sales team you have spends 70% of the time talking, sends quotes out without being able to accurately forecast their potential to close, or has a close rate under 30% you may want to consider skills training.

If you are dedicated to creating a sales driven organization you need to have your strategy, structure, staff and skills in alignment. Once you do exponential growth is a realistic possibility. Mark Cuban may have said it best when he said “Sales cures all.”

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1017banman100219-copy-cropped2An expert in the field of sales management and sales development, Chad has been working in the professional field of sales for the past 15 years.   As a dedicated lifelong learner with a Bachelor of Education degree, Chad appreciates the value of training and has firsthand experience with the success it can bring.  His passion for taking talented people and giving them the skills they need is evident in the interactive experience he brings to his events.  Using Sandler Training he brings real life solutions to real life problems that all sales people and sales managers face on a daily basis.

Visit Chad’s website or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 


Small Business Ideas

Free Online Courses for Independent Business Owners

As an entrepreneur, you are continuously learning and developing new skills. If you have employees, you probably encourage them to do the same.

Regardless of whether your organization would like to further understand marketing, management or even human resources., CFIB’s got you covered through their partnership with Vubiz.

CFIB’s Vubiz partnership allows you to invest in yourself and your employees with FREE online training.

The Vubiz courses give you 24/7- online access and allows you to complete the courses at your own pace from your desktop, tablet or smart phone. The Vubiz dashboard even allows you to create your profile, select from variety of courses and review your completed courses.

I’ve had the opportunity to take few of these courses such as:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Health and Safety Certificate
  • Strategic Management
  • Hiring, Managing and Terminating
  • Introduction to Leadership
  • Interviewing
  • Selecting Top Talent
  • Job Candidate Interviewing

I found these courses to be straight forward, the platform to be easy to use and I learned so much great insight such as:

  • What questions are acceptable (and not) during interview
  • What if an employee doesn’t wish to sign their performance evaluation
  • What rules to follow when terminating an employee
  • Download few templates related to the topic Education is lifelong!
  • Check out the learning center today! You will need a membership number, so if you’ve been in business two years or less, why not sign up for CFIB’s free 6 month membership through the My Startup program! If you have been in business for longer than two years, simply sign up for a one-year CFIB membership.

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CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


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Free Webinar: How to Leverage LinkedIn for your Business

While there are various social platforms, many CFIB members have asked us how to best leverage their LinkedIn accounts to promote their business, obtain new clients and build relationships. Now valued CFIB members, CFIB’s My Startup members and guests will have your chance to ask the experts at Microsoft and LinkedIn!

In this webinar, Microsoft together with LinkedIn will discuss the differences between leveraging Social Media for your personal brand and utilizing Social Media as a strategic tool for your business.

This free webinar will explore:

  • How to create the optimal Personal LinkedIn Profile
  • LinkedIn Engagement: Company Pages, Groups, Social Selling and more
  • How to amplify your content on Social Media (i.e. content on your website or blog)
  • How to use LinkedIn to acquire new customers

Please join CFIB, Microsoft and LinkedIn for this free 30 minute webinar, followed by a 15 minute Q&A. Simply click on the date of your choice, below.

How to Leverage LinkedIn for your Business
February 14, 2017 @ 1pm EST

 How to Leverage LinkedIn for your Business
February 15, 2017 @ 1pm EST

Seating is limited so make sure to reserve your spot today!


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All I want for Christmas is a lemonade stand! At six years old, Mimi has a business plan.

Red Tape Awareness Week 2017  is wrapping up and, as in previous years, we celebrate by announcing the Golden Scissors award winners (awarded each year to a public servant or elected official who did the most to cut small business free from the tangled web of red tape restraining innovation, job creation and economic growth across this nation). On CFIB’s My Startup blog, however, we concentrating on another good news story!

We published a story on Wednesday about two young Ottawa-area girls who set up a lemonade stand beside the Rideau Canal only to be tangled up in government red tape. Now, our business counsellor extraordinaire, Cesar Gomez, will tell us about his niece’s foray into the business world via lemons and lemonade!

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cesar-lemonade-stand-resizedIt was a balmy October, day when the Gomezs got together to have our annual Thanksgiving dinner. After having an amazing meal, our conversation turned towards Christmas and what Santa might bring the children.

My six year old niece whispered into her mother’s ear what it was she wanted most: a lemonade stand.

It was a proud moment for me. I love the spirit of entrepreneurship and it warmed my hear to hear my six-year-old niece was already thinking of her first business..

A week later, I talked to my niece about her next steps Here’s how she broke it down for me:

  • She gave me exact details of what her business card should look like
  • What colours her logo and overall design should be
  • She set the price for the lemonade stand
  • She would get started by selling to family
  • She named grandma as her business partner, since she had tasted her lemonade before
  • loyalty-card-with-captionShe knew she wanted to have a loyalty program, in her words: “Just like some cafes that you get a stamp and every 4th coffee is free… I want my customers to have that as well.”
  • She made plans to have security cameras in the future to ensure her staff is safe; and,
  • We would launch her business on Christmas, at the family dinner

She thought she would get a side table, where she could promote and offer her lemonade. We surprised her by giving her a real lemonade stand. We also provided her with a branded apron, along with posters, business cards and cups.

It was another important business lesson: surround yourself with people that believe in you!

And the result?

Never underestimate a small idea. She made $34.00 in one night, thanks to some pretty impressed customers. It was hard not to be. The marketing was on point: excellent promotion, attractive posters and this a six year old with big vision and a big heart.

Where do we go from here?

“Next time lets have a basket of cookies for our customers,” said my niece already thinking ahead .

From a lemonade stand to a restaurant, from a farm to a factory. We can all be entrepreneurs.

All it takes is an idea and the drive to follow through. You can achieve only what you believe you can.

Happy New Year!

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CesarCesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping members with their questions on compliance. These questions can range from employment standards to health and safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar via LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @josuegomezg.


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Government red tape trips up kids’ lemonade stand

There’s nothing like a cool, refreshing glass of lemonade to quench your thirst on a hot day.

And it can be a great lesson in learning the value of money, hard work and running a small business too. At least, that was the idea when two young Ottawa-area girls set up a lemonade stand beside the Rideau Canal this past summer. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, the young entrepreneurs were quickly introduced to something Canada’s small business owners are all too familiar with: red tape. A mere two hours – and an impressive $52 – after opening, a National Capital Commission (NCC) officer informed the girls and their father that the median they’d set up their stand on was NCC property and they would need a permit to do business there.

Thankfully, this red tape story had a happy ending, with the NCC issuing a special permit for the lemonade stand, on the condition that one day’s worth of proceeds be donated to charity.

Looking for ways to get the young people in your life interested and involved in entrepreneurship? Check out VuKids an online series of business skills and financial literacy courses for kids created by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in partnership with Vubiz and M is for Money author Teresa Cascioli.