Good business is socially responsible business

Many start-ups are well-positioned to benefit from values and ethics that are defined by “social innovation.” The new economy offers ample opportunities to make money while also making the world a better place.

In this blog from the Social Innovation Challenge, we present the case for a business model that includes social responsibility and good citizenship.


Social_innovation-cropped“Social Innovation” is a concept you may have heard over the last few years, an approach where entrepreneurs and small businesses make corporate social responsibility and philanthropy a part of their operations.

Not only is it considered good citizenship, but it’s also good business. A fair number of customers prefer to buy from socially responsible companies.

So how do you, as a micro small business, apply this concept to your offering?

  • Through financial support/investment/gift certificates for programs and events
  • Through in-kind support, including equipment, supplies, and skills
  • Through employee volunteering for tasks, projects, boards of directors, advisory boards, committees, ambassadorships

Fair enough, but what are the benefits to your business? Are there tangible benefits to you and your business? Consider:

  • Give back to the community
  • Add to brand name/awareness in customer community
  • Sales leads/referrals
  • Partnership/affiliation

And for your employees?

  • Satisfaction and recognition
  • Employee networking
  • Employee learning
  • Employee recognition

How do you achieve benefits?

  • Name on organization web site, programs, events
  • Press release, articles, media interviews and videos
  • Video story of person(s) on receiving end talking about the impact of your support –upload to web site, social media, intranet, employee newsletter, newsletter, emails and text messages, LinkedIn
  • Presentation to employees, clients, suppliers, community and business organizations by the supported group’s clients
  • Recognition on program and event material
  • Awards, prizes, swag
  • Testimonials

Simple steps can make a big difference. When you put yourself in your employees’ shoes, you’ll have a good perspective on what it’s like to work for a company that gives back.

To learn more, consider attending a Social Innovation Challenge Event in your community: or contact

View from the Summit: Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit, that is

It can be a hard journey to the top of the start-up world, so why not take a breather to connect with hundreds of other ambitious entrepreneurs at the Summit?

And by Summit, we’re talking about the Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit in Toronto. Mark your calendar for May 30‑31 and get your networking groove on for two days’ worth of expert insight, professional development workshops, and inspiring stories.


If you’re looking to share ideas, inspiration, and innovative approaches to growing your start-up with like-minded company, you’ll want to register for this can’t-miss networking event.

The Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit, presented by Meridian through Futurpreneur Canada, comes with an impressive roster of speakers this year, including a keynote address from Greg Taylor, Co-Founder of Toronto’s very own Steam Whistle Brewing.

Other speakers and events at the Summit include:

  • A panel discussion led by Herschel Segal, Founder of Le Chateau and Co-Founder of DAVIDSsTEA, along with Sarah Segal, Founder of Squish Candy
  • Interactive workshops hosted by Sean Wise, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University (also known as “the Dr. Phil of Entrepreneurship”), and Stephen Shedletzky, Head Engagement Officer at Start With Why
    There’s also a tantalizing line-up of innovative breakout sessions covering everything from culture to social media to exporting.

Don’t miss this event — it’s a milestone moment for Futurpreneur Canada, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. There may be surprises in store!

The Deets

What: Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit
Where: Arcadian Court – 401 Bay St. 8th Floor, Toronto, ON M5H 2Y4
When: May 30‑31, 2016

Interested in climbing to this year’s Summit? Buy your tickets to the Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit.


CFIB Business Counsellors: Here for You

I was digging through the archives when I found this video. It’s a few years old now but still very relevant. Check it out!


Of course, a few years ago we did not have our free My Startup program for first-time entrepreneurs. Now, If you’ve been in business two years or less, you can join CFIB through our My Startup program and immediately start calling our business counselors for help, advice, and even templates that we will help you customize (all those HR documents you need when you hire your first employee? Yeah, we have those for you.) In addition, you’ll have access to free e-learning courses for your business, pre-notification of free webinars, valuable startup advice landing in your inbox every month and even discounts, free admission and/or exclusive access to important business events in your area. You will also get access to discounts on products and services your business needs!

Join our community of 109,000 small and medium sized enterprises in Canada and find out how much CFIB can do for you.

7 Tips for Strategic Networking

Summer is almost here! This is the time of year you’ll notice more and more announcements for franchise, trade shows and networking events.

In that regard, I had a chance to speak with Leigh Mitchell – President and Founder of Women in Biz Network, about some tips and tricks for any start-up business. Check out the expert advice and bask in the golden tips that have helped make Leigh successful:

  • Tip 1: Free vs. Paid Events
    There are many events you may wish to attend that can range from free to hundreds of dollars. As you look carefully into each event, ensure that you review the agenda, the speakers and the scheduling carefully. When it comes to networking events, you want to attend quality events that will not waste your time or money. Events you may wish to avoid are those that make unrealistic promises such as “Grow your business by 100k in 1 month.” In this day and age, you want to ensure you obtain value along with practical information/guidance that you can put to use immediately.
  • Tip 2: Mind Your Time
    Find out who will be in attendance at the event: will it be starts-ups, franchises, entrepreneurs? Find out if this will be a good use of your time. If there is a main speaker and there are questions being asked, listen carefully. If you have a solution to a question being asked, approach that person after the event is finished and introduce yourself and your service/product. If you are going to approach someone you heard ask a question with an offer to help be sure it isn’t salesy or awkward. Not all events are worth your time and not all events will have the target market you’re searching for. Ensure you do your homework about potential attendees.
  • Tip 3: Be Authentic
    While it is important to have a set of questions in your mind to get your conversation started in a networking environment, you don’t want to come across as rehearsed. Many people have rehearsed their “60-second” pitch and polished it well. When you are authentic, you gain trust. Those who trust you will want to get to know you and your business. This entails having a sense of your emotional intelligence when speaking with individuals. Learn to read body language. Speak at length about your business; however, be sure to take time to listen to those you meet.
  • Tip 4: Be Strategic (business card, booth etc.)
    When attending a networking event, do not give your business card to anyone and everyone. Be specific: who are you interested in meeting? What key connections do you need today to take your business to next level? The main individuals you may be looking out for include potential clients, suppliers, partners and/or investors. Filter the individuals you meet. Do not believe you always need a trade booth – remember: less is more when you are starting your business.
  • Tip 5: Follow Up
    While many folks are looking to make that right connection, it’s always wise to “date before you marry.” Often, many people want to follow up quickly and have a “coffee” to see how you both can make a business connection. Be cautious with your time. Perhaps you may have an office or other space where an individual can visit you. Do not jeopardize your time: if an individual visits your location, you can manage the expectation. Networking is about building business relationships over time.
  • Tip 6: Make it Easy
    As you attend a few networking events, you will begin to meet a variety of business owners and other individuals. Find a tool that can help you manage those you meet. A couple of great tools recommended by Leigh are: www.YouCanBook.Me and There are many resources on the internet that make it easy to manage your contacts. Find what is reasonable in terms of cost vs. the value you will get out of it.
  • Tip 7: Connect with Your Competitors
    More often than not, we avoid speaking with our direct competitors because we feel we are striving to access the same target market. However, work with your competitors. Although you may have similarities, there will be areas where you easily excel with your strengths and areas that your competitor may have resources to assist you. Share the network pool. Collaborate with your competitor and avoid the instinct to steer clear, as this can create surprising opportunities. We all have our niches that we cover well.

As always, be professional and have social media platforms that connect with your customers as well as your business colleagues. Ensure you have a LinkedIn profile, with a professional headshot. If you do not have a photo, people may shy away from connecting with you – social media is about sharing yourself.

Making the right connections takes time. Keep your eyes wide open and your ears attentive, to ensure you do not miss the right business opportunity.

About Leigh Mitchell

Leigh Mitchell is a passionate educator, speaker and social marketer with 20 years of marketing and community development experience. Her career has led her to successfully work with major brands such as GM Canada, Microsoft Canada, TELUS, Johnson & Johnson, Maple Leaf Foods, TD Canada Trust, Staples Canada and Random House. Leigh has been featured on CBC Radio, Canadian Living Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star, and has been a featured speaker at the #SocialforGood Conference, Blissdom Canada, The Wellness Business Summit. She has also served as a judge for UPS and Microsoft Small Business Contests.

If you’d like to connect with Leigh Mitchell, click here.


Cesar Gomez
Business Counsellor

What did mom teach you about entrepreneurship? Tell us!

Many entrepreneurs have an inspiring story about how much their moms or another significant and strong female in their lives have meant to them — My StartUp wants to hear yours as we celebrate Mother’s Day with an open call for blog submissions.

Do you have a story about how your mom or mother figure has lit up your entrepreneurial spirit? Did she give you some fantastic advice that you’d like to pass on to others? Or perhaps you are a mom, and your kids have inspired you. Share your story to help inspire other entrepreneurs, many of whom are just starting their businesses.

Here’s a template that will help us help you get your mom-centric blog published. Make sure you give some attention to these details and be sure to send us your blog by May 6th.

Suggested deets Notes about the deets
Your first and last name
Your company name
Bio (plug yourself!) A short bio of you or your company accompanied by your website and social media links (if you have them).
Photo of you (or your biz) Your photo and/or a company logo and/or a throwback pic of you and your mom. Ideally a high-resolution jpg file, no more than 5MB size; also accept png or, if you’re feeling creative, a gif
Blog ·         No more than 500 words

·         Theme must be on moms (open to interpretation) /entrepreneurship

·         Links that provide context or additional information are encouraged

·         Any promotional messaging you’d like to include about your start-up

·         My StartUp reserves the right to edit blogs for accuracy, grammar, spelling, and brevity

Selected stories will be posted during the entire month of May.

Email your blog submission and relevant attachments (no bigger than 5MB!) to

Your mom will be so proud!


Breathing innovation into bureaucracy: an Enterprise Toronto event

https___img_evbuc_com_https%253A%252F%252Fcdn_evbuc_com%252Fimages%252F19567091%252F105561988337%252F1%252ForiginalMany of the best ideas come from unlikely environments.

The sugary drink Tang was popularized via the space program.

Apple Computers came from little more than a garage, inspiration, and elbow grease.

McDonald’s French fries were perfected using the equivalent of a potato bazooka that cut them evenly into consistent, fine pieces.

The point is that innovation can strike at any moment in counterintuitive places.

For example, when you hear the word “bureaucracy,” you probably don’t conjure up images of cutting-edge risk-taking. If anything, you’re probably thinking quite the opposite: boring, reactive, timid.

Here’s your chance to challenge a stereotype and learn how a former start-up entrepreneur brought his creative mojo to help usher in a culture of public entrepreneurship in the bureaucracy.

Enterprise Toronto is hosting an event on May 9, 2016, featuring Gabe Klein, the author of Startup City.  Gabe was appointed as the Director of Transportation in both Washington DC and Chicago and made his mark on many innovative projects.

Remember: innovation knows no boundaries and bright ideas are highly transferable. If you’re in the market to learn how public-private collaboration can get results, this is an event for you.

Check out the full event line up.

Thrive Summit in Missisauga: Save $25 with your CFIB Discount

CFIB_ThriveAd.pngJoin over 150 professionals and small business owners on April 4th at the Centre for Health and Safety Innovation for the Thrive Summit Conference.

Learn how to improve your finances, set new goals, prioritize healthy living (including stress management) and promote work-life balance. CFIB’s Executive Vice President Laura Jones is speaking about “Decoding Leadership” at the event. Save $25 with CFIB when you get your Thrive Conference Ticket! Use coupon code: CFIB25 Please note: lunch tickets must be purchased separately. Registrants will receive a copy of “The Productivity Project” with their registration!

Over 20 members of the Thrive team (including productivity expert and bestselling author Chris Bailey) will leave you inspired and energized with sessions based on Thrive’s four pillars:

  1. Learning and leadership
  2. Community and compassion
  3. Healthy living and spirituality
  4. Financial well-being and fun

Workshop topics include: 

  • Wealth generation
  • Business benefits of co-working
  • Health and stress management
  • Email marketing
  • LinkedIn and social personal branding
  • Business planning
  • Writing workshop with yoga and much more!
  • For full conference details, please see the Thrive Agenda.