Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference


Looking to expand your professional network and hear from industry leaders on how to grow your business? Enjoy COMPLIMENTARY ADMISSION to the Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference & Tradeshow on behalf of CFIB.

Event Information:
Event Schedule | Speakers | Exhibitors | Register

When: June 8th, 2016 | 8:00am – 5:00pm
Where: Mississauga Convention Centre

Hear from over 20 speakers on topics including HR, Sales, Finance and more!
Network in our tradeshow area with over 1,500 attendees and 50+ exhibitors.


Interested in becoming an exhibitor/sponsor? Click here for more information.

Mom’s mental health is my secret wealth

Entrepreneurial values emerge from many different pathways

I was asked to write a blog about how my mom’s influence brings out the best of my entrepreneurial spirit.

As far as guiding me with formal, entrepreneurial direction, it’s fair to say that my mom had a vast influence on that aspect of my personality.

She’s lovely, warm, sensible, and has a deep reservoir of empathy.

Are those the strongest attributes you’d normally associate with the cut-and-thrust world of business?

Not traditionally, I’d say.

Yet the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced I’m only seeing half the true picture of what her influence actually represents.

You see, my mom was a homemaker.

A homemaker with a rather debilitating mental illness.

Before she became a homemaker, she held down a variety of administrative and clerical jobs for large organizations in both the public and private sector.

Before that, she was an aspiring leader: she had big plans in high school to become a diplomat.

Many of her dreams were derailed by a diagnosis of bipolar disorder shortly after I was born.

Did that stop her from living a productive and full life, or acting as an inspiration to her children? Nope.

Challenges and setbacks, yes.

Uncertainty and fear, for sure.

A couple of difficult episodes along the way, definitely.

Yet for all of the periodic bouts of trauma and drama, my mom’s life story showed me how to be a tenacious survivor.

Now what does all of this have to do with the emerging entrepreneur in me?

Take a moment to absorb the meaning of some of the words I’ve used above.

Empathy. Challenges. Setbacks. Sensible. Uncertainty. Tenacious.

You might see where I’m going with this. I’ve seen those words come up again and again as I come into contact with more and more successful entrepreneurs.

My mom didn’t branch out into entrepreneurial ventures, that much is true. Yet soaking up the totality of her life experience blessed me with something far more valuable—she showed me how to pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep pushing on, even under the most trying of circumstances.

Words of wisdom for any entrepreneur, really.

Thanks for showing me that the road to success follows many unexpected paths, Mom.

Eight things that can trigger a tax audit by CRA

If you’re self-employed, your tax filing deadline is just around the corner on June 15 (unless you have a balance owing from 2015, in which case you missed your deadline of April 30—uh oh!).

You’re busy enough at this time of year, so the last thing you need is the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) wrapping you up in its auditing tentacles.

Thankfully, you may be able to avoid an audit entirely if you play it safe and smart.

In this blog, tax expert David J. Rotfleisch shows you a few areas that are likely to raise a red flag with the CRA.


auditor“Help! I’m being audited,” are dreaded words uttered by Canadians. They are especially dreaded by business owners because an audit means extra work and extra accounting costs.

Have you ever wondered what triggers a tax audit by the CRA in the first place?

Once an income tax return has been filed, it is subject to both computer and human review. Some tax returns will be audited on a random basis, but most audits are caused by what is in the tax return: the information you supplied and the way you supplied it.

Here is a list of eight “red flags” that are likely to trigger an audit by the CRA.

  1. Claim unreasonable expenses
    The best way to ensure an audit is to be greedy with expenses claimed. The amount of any category of expense has to be reasonable, both compared to revenues and compared to other similar businesses. Claiming $10,000 in car expenses against $50,000 in sales will likely trigger an audit. Don’t claim such a high percentage unless you supply a mileage log and you’re willing to be audited.Another basic CRA review technique is to compare expenses claimed to the amount deducted in previous years. Any discrepancy will be flagged for audit. So, if travel expenses increased from $3,000 to $12,000, expect questions and very possibly an audit.
  2. Use all “rounded-off” numbers in your tax return
    The CRA likes to see exact amounts in both the dollars and cents columns. Rounded-off numbers (for example, $2,500 or $10,000) signal to the CRA that you have likely not been keeping accurate records and are estimating everything at the end of the year. It also tells CRA that you are not likely to have receipts. Put in exact amounts, such as $2,486.32 and $9,742.56, and you are less likely to trigger an audit.
  3. Forget to include a T-slip
    It’s easy to forget a T-slip, but the CRA has a matching program that will pick up any missing slips and will charge you a 10% penalty for the first time, rising to 20% for subsequent occurrences. And you will increase your audit risk:  was it inadvertent, or are you not reporting all of your income?A tax return preparation tip: compare everything on this year’s tax return to last year’s T1, to ensure that you haven’t missed anything.
  4. Certain sectors are on the CRA’s watchlist
    Restaurants, construction, and small retail outlets have been identified as part of the “cash economy” and stand a good chance of being audited.
  5. Being self-employed or an independent contractor
    If you own a business or are an independent contractor, you increase the chance that CRA will audit, either to make sure you are declaring all of your income, or that you are, in fact, an independent contractor and not an employee looking for more tax breaks.
  6. Over-paying salaries to spouse and children
    Paying spousal or child salaries is proper for services rendered and if the amount charged is market rate. But expect a CRA audit to check for services not rendered, overpaying for services that were provided, and not documenting amounts paid. This is an especially tricky area because the audit reassessment will deny the expense (or part of it) for the taxpayer, but it remains taxable to the recipient resulting in double taxation.
  7. Reporting business losses for years and years
    Small business owners can expect the CRA to come knocking if they report losses for several consecutive years in a row — why would anyone continue to operate an unprofitable business?
  8. Big discrepancies in income for your industry, neighbourhood
    The CRA compares what you report on your income tax return to the statistics for your industry, your profession, and your neighbourhood.For example, if you’re declaring $50,000 a year in income and you live in a neighborhood where the average reported is $130,000, that is a noticeable difference. CRA is going to audit to see how you can continue living beyond your means.


David J Rotfleisch, CPA and JD, is the founding tax lawyer of Rotfleisch & Samulovitch, P.C. a Toronto-based boutique tax law firm. With over 30 years of experience as both a lawyer and chartered professional accountant, he has helped start-up businesses, resident and non-resident business owners and corporations with their tax planning, will and estate planning, voluntary disclosures, and tax dispute resolution including tax litigation. and

What a single teenage mother unwittingly taught me about entrepreneurship

My mom has never owned or operated a business. Heck, until much later than is generally acceptable, my mother didn’t even have a ninth grade education.

What could she possibly teach me about entrepreneurship?

The reason my mother did not go beyond grade 9 was because she dropped out of school shortly after I was born. She tried to finish the year but, as she told the story, she came home from school to learn from the babysitter that I had rolled over (or some other accomplishment that only brand new mothers could possibly find thrilling). That was that, my mom dropped out of school the next day.

mom2Obviously, my mom had a tough road ahead of her. A single, teenage, drop-out mom! OMG, what a loser, right? Yeah, she got that a lot. No matter how hard my mother worked or where we lived (for obvious reasons, we moved around a lot), we both heard plenty of criticism from multiple sources – other parents, teachers, strangers at the mall, etc., etc., etc. People made biased assumptions about her life choices, parenting abilities, and far too much more, simply because she had a daughter who was 15 years younger than her. I could tell you that my mom had a magical Teflon coating (available for purchase on The Shopping Channel?), but that simply wouldn’t be true.

What I can tell you, however, is that my mother used people’s narrow views as fuel…and as an educational tool for me.

In a recent Shark Tank episode, Barbara Corcoran said “There is no greater motivation for an entrepreneur than trying to prove something.”

My mother felt she had something to prove and despite not knowing exactly what that something was, I was determined to help her. Together we worked hard, we studied hard and we celebrated every little victory along the way.

But having something to prove, in and of itself, does not make an entrepreneurial spirit. So to circle back to the title of this article, what can a single teenage mother possibly teach a person about entrepreneurship? Only virtually every attitude and value an entrepreneur could possibly need in their mental arsenal!

  • It’s okay to make mistakes. Even big, life-altering ones. Seriously. Just breathe and keep learning and keep going. It will be okay.
  • Ignore the haters (and there will always be haters).
  • Believe in yourself and trust your instincts. They will get you through in the rare (or not so rare) instances when you have no idea what the hell you’re doing.
  • Even if you’re running the show, understand that you don’t have to do it all on your own. Seek out those who genuinely want to help build you up. Accept their mentorship, learn from them and pay it forward.
  • It’s never too early or too late to carve out a new plan or fulfill a dream (my mom went back to high school in her late twenties to earn her diploma. That’s right, she physically attended high school; thank gawd it was a couple of years before I did).
  • Be resourceful. If there are obstacles (and there will always be obstacles), find, build, fashion or mold the tools you need to break them down.
  • Once you’ve dedicated yourself to forging a new path, it’s absolutely essential that you be brave, authentic, and unapologetic.

teach your kids to be entrepreneursFinally, perhaps the most important thing she taught me was this: if you’re going to go in, go all in. The more committed you are, the better the outcome. Yes, I’m totally talking about me here. I turned out pretty awesome….At least, that’s what my mom says.

Got your own entrepreneurship stories, advice or tips? Email them to us! We would love to share them on the My StartUp blog.


Small Business Public Holiday Checklist: Victoria Day/ National Patriots’ Day

Victoria Day is recognized as a national public holiday, except in a few provinces. To help you understand your obligations, we have compiled a list of all provinces and their requirements.

As we noted in a previous posting about the Christmas holidays, not following these rules can lead to a potential violation of employment standards, possible audit/inspection, and disgruntled employees. To avoid any issues and ensure you are prepared, please use this Public Holiday Checklist

1.  Are you provincially or federally regulated?

Follow the links below to understand which holidays are observed by your province/territory and how you should compensate your employees according to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) (this information has been provided by CFIB Business Counsellors and/or government websites).

Public Holiday: The following jurisdictions observe Victoria Day on May, 23, 2016

Public Holiday: In Quebec, National Patriots’ Day is observed on May 23, 2016

The following provinces do not observe Victoria Day or other holidays on May 23, 2016

2.  For those provinces that observe the Victoria Day holiday, contact your municipality or town about the following:

Can your business type/industry operate during the holiday?

3.  Are you clear on public holiday rules you should follow?

Yes – keep record of:

  • Public holiday taken by employees
  • Rate of pay for day (according to information from ESA)
  • If a day in lieu was provided (according to information from ESA)
  • Do you have a written agreement with employees (according to information from ESA)?


  • If you’re a member, contact your Business Resources Regional Office at 1-888-234-2232 or email If you are not a member, and have been in business two years or less, sign up today for a six-month free membership!
  • Also, contact your local employment standards office and check with city/town bylaws

CFIB has a partnership with Payworks. Payworks is an organization dedicated to providing you with payroll solutions and can offer solutions on holiday pay. To learn more, visit Payworks to see how they can help you.

What can a Business Counsellor do for you? Only everything!

CFIB Business Counsellor Business Counsellors at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business are an integral asset for small business owners. Whatever the concern or query, chances are good that their insight, expertise and resourcefulness can point you in the right direction. These Business Counsellors are on the front lines of everyday issues facing small businesses and they know their stuff.

In this blog post, CFIB Business Counsellor Jean-Marc Usher walks us through some typical aspects of his day-to-day work.


One of the pillars of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is our Business Resources department.

CFIB has around 20 full-time and part-time Business Counsellors in all provinces. Except for two of our pan-Canadian counsellors, most Business Counsellors specialize in one specific province.

So what does a quick glimpse into the life of a Business Counsellor reveal?

On a day-to-day basis, we speak with and listen to business owners on a wide range of business issues, from human resources management inquiries, to education on government regulations and compliance. We are trained to assist business owners with their questions about the daily challenges that come with running a business, such as finding out which permit, regulation or information they need in order to make informed decisions.

Our approach is unscripted: we listen, we find out the issue, and we try to solve it. Problem-solving is a big part of the role, as most small business owners wear multiple hats and are often too busy to go sleuthing. For instance, “Just what is considered a compliant first aid kit?” Or “Do I have to collect PST when shipping an order to British Columbia?”

Many of our most frequent calls are about:

  • Provincial Employment Standards Act
  • Federal Canadian Labour Code
  • Small business human resources management
  • Workers compensation
  • Health and safety
  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Employment Insurance
  • Regulations and red tape issues (at all three levels of government)

For business owners, it tends to be lonely at the top. Some businesses are wary to call a government agency about a particular issue for fear of triggering an audit; speaking to your employees about your struggles may leave you vulnerable.

As Business Counsellors, we can be an outlet for our members, who often go through tough times from an unjustified audit, or from a new regulation that threatens the very existence of their business. Often, by contacting CFIB Business Resources to raise an issue, members have actually sparked lobbying campaigns.

One of the most memorable (and still ongoing) campaigns in the payment processing industry was initiated by CFIB members calling their Business Counsellors. Based on these calls, we’ve surveyed our members, created action alerts, and our lobbyists were able to put pressure on the government in order to influence change. Today, thanks to the effort and persistence of our lobbyists representing concerned business owners, the government introduced a Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry.

CFIB has a knowledgeable and experienced legislative team, yet there’s something especially powerful about a call from business owner. They have their ear to the ground, and their experience running a business and the barriers that they encounter gives us the right ammo to take necessary steps involving government. Often we hear our small business owners saying “If we only knew you existed before, I would have joined the Federation sooner!”

So give us a try! If you’ve been in business two years or less, you can join CFIB at for a free six month trial membership today! Been in business two years or more? Join CFIB at

No more leaving that government-related question, concern or letter at the bottom of the “to-do” pile when you have a CFIB Business Counsellor in your corner!



Jean Marc Usher has been a bilingual Business Counsellor with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for the last two years. Jean Marc enjoys reading a variety of material on business, economics and new technology. Jean Marc is passionate about business and entrepreneurs.

What it’s Really Like to be a Mompreneur – Seven Tips for a Brand New Mom

patiencebabeNobody can describe what it’s like to be a mom and run a business until you’re knee-deep in the trenches.

Rewind to February 20, 2016, when my little girl Patience Grace was born (and boy am I ever thankful for only three hours from first contraction to birth!). The pain was unlike any pain I’ve endured in my life: excruciating, exhausting and tiresome. Mommyhood began in the wee hours of the morning. I credit my quick birth to countless nights watching Youtube “home birth” videos and listening to my gal Ava Curtola’s soothing meditations for mamas.

My big focus these days is on a powerful women’s conference called The Awakened Woman we’re hosting in Bali this November, along with our #WeTalks events. Being a new mom is not an easy job, especially when running a few businesses. I’ve cried more in the last 10 weeks than I have in the last five years. For this I am grateful, because amidst the tears there are profound lessons I’ve learned that I want to share with new moms, especially those who are doing it alone, like myself, and those who run their own businesses.

Here are seven ways you can embrace the best of both roles.

  1. Meditation is key. Without this, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had a quick birth nor would I be able to keep my mind from racing all the time. It allows me to become quiet and focus on those desires I want to create.
  2. Have patience. Babies remind us to live in the moment; be here in the now. All we have is the present, so instead of trying to rush the baby to feed or get frustrated, be still and calm. Exercise patience always. When your energy is frazzled and scattered, the baby picks up on this and will only feed into that feeling for you and generally make things harder for you. Be mindful of the moment.
  3. Have a sense of humour. Laugh at the baby when she is fighting to fall asleep and making those ungodly sounds and faces.  The funniest thing I’ve witnessed from my baby so far was as I was breastfeeding and she wasn’t latching on. I peeked under the cover and find that my nipple is squirting milk all over the place. It got in her hair, on her eyelashes and all over her face. These are the moments you cherish when spending time with your little one.
  4. Master the Art of Receiving. All my life, I have been great at giving others support, advice and encouragement, and now more than ever is the time for me to practice the art of receiving. First, you must ask for the help. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed asking for help. Trust me, it is not a sign of weakness. If you do not learn to ask for help in the beginning, you will have a breakdown like I did in the third week. In order for a mom to keep her sanity, especially doing it alone, it requires help and support from your community, so ask for it with joy and sit back to receive.
  5. Slow things down for the first month. I know I did. What’s crazy and cool at the same time, though, is that my baby has completed three live events and taken a 400 km road trip since she was born. This is what’s possible.
  6. Relax and get to know your baby. You’ll be glad you did. Get her on a schedule because when she is sleeping, this is when you can power out those emails and make those phone calls. Again, this may be an area that you ask for help.
  7. Don’t stop living your life. Remember that this baby is a beautiful addition to what you are already doing. Refrain from staying home and inside, not socializing. I find women who do this tend to lose their zest for life and oftentimes, I hear they lose who they are because they are not doing things that bring them joy and happiness. Take time away from your baby. This is crucial to your success and your sanity. You must remove yourself and take breaks away from your baby and not feel guilty. If you don’t do this and you are with baby 24/7, you are setting yourself up for a breakdown. If I can offer any advice about your business prior to having the baby, set yourself up for success. Hire a virtual assistant or someone who can handle your admin tasks, which will help you immensely.

One thing is certain: I definitely have a new appreciation for moms.


Melissa Mackey is the founder of Ignite Me Now, a personal growth initiative. Mackey is an award-winning motivational speaker, coach and serial entrepreneur. After a devastating break-up, she knew something had to change in her life. She realized her entire life was a show and the desire for other’s approval and acceptance had to end in order for her to experience true happiness. This is when she began sharing her story and diving deep into personal development. She now runs events, masterminds, and retreats, when she is not coaching to help people tap into their potential and ignite their happiness. She is committed to making a difference in thousands of lives to inspire them to be the best versions of themselves.

Like Melissa on Facebook:

Follow Melissa on Twitter:

See Melissa on Instagram:


Women and entrepreneurship: a risk worth taking

My StartUp’s Mother’s Day themed month of May is the perfect time to turn our attention to a new report on entrepreneurial women and risk.

The report, a joint effort from BMO, Carleton University and the Beacon Agency, reviewed the entrepreneurial landscape in Canada for women in the context of risk, innovation, and financing.

According to A Force to Reckon With: Women, Entrepreneurship and Risk, women entrepreneurs in Canada have difficulty securing funding from financial institutions because they are mistakenly seen as risk-averse and unable to generate the same economic growth as men.

Other points of interest from the report

  • The number of women entrepreneurs in Canada has increased by 15% since 2007 (more than doubled since 1996).
  • Stats from Industry Canada’s 2011 Survey on Financing of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises showed no significant difference between male- and female-owned businesses in terms of economic growth.

“We know that women entrepreneurs are eager for information that can help them make sound decisions around risk,’’ said Clare Beckton, executive director of Carleton’s Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership, who co-authored the report. “We’ve also identified that they are unaware of some of the existing credit available to them.”

The key takeaways?

  • Women entrepreneurs as risk-averse is a stereotype.
  • More than two-thirds of female-owned companies report capturing a larger share of their existing market through innovation.
  • Businesses with majority female ownership report the highest instance of average yearly revenue growth of 20 per cent.

Read the full report at:


A proud Canadian company, BarkBuilder is CFIB’s newest Privilege Program partner. BarkBuilder is a simple and flexible solution to build and host your website or online store, no matter your level of sophistication, or the unique needs of your business.

Get all the bark without the bite!
CFIB has worked with BarkBuilder to create two simple, but highly flexible and powerful solution packages exclusive to CFIB members.

Absolutely Free

$250/year | $25 monthly
A basic, yet flexible website solution providing you with six web pages to use however you like.

An all-in, unlimited website solution including full e-commerce capability, for a low, flat fee.

Either way, you get a simple, incredibly versatile and professional looking website that is securely hosted and supported with the level of service you have come to expect as a CFIB member.

See what all the barking’s about…
It is BarkBuilder’s goal to completely change the landscape when it comes to the way that businesses manage their website. The result is much more than just a pretty website

  1. Complete Design Control: Use one of their themes or build your own. Control layout, fonts, colours, images, code and more. And, responsive design templates mean your website automatically optimizes its design when viewed on mobile devices.
  2. Robust Technology: Take control of one of the most powerful content management systems in the world for businesses.
  3. Hosted & Secure: No need to find a third-party server to host your website. BarkBuilder takes care of everything and hosts it at their secure Canadian data center.

Visit our Small Business Savings & Discounts page for more info!


Win the B2B Social Media Game

In the world of social media, your business has seven seconds to convey your story. Can you pass the test?

Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. Vine. Snapchat. Every week there seems to be a new social media network to be a part of.  How do you decide where to put your focus in order to connect with customers?

In this free webinar for CFIB members and guests, we’ll help you develop your B2B social media strategy by answering the whos, the whats, the wheres, the whys and the hows of social media. You’ll learn which networks to focus on, what tools to use, and how to craft a B2B social media strategy in a way that supports your brand and your business goals.

CFIB is pleased to introduce Kevin Smith, owner of The Story Architect.  Kevin has spent over 14 years in enterprise sales and marketing, and after thousands of pitches, he has perfected the art of storytelling. He specializes in using story and strong visual elements to craft and deliver powerful messages that get attention and results.

You will have an opportunity to ask Kevin your social media marketing questions towards the end of the webinar.

Simply click the date preference of your choice to sign up now. Space is limited.

Win the B2B Social Media Game

Tuesday May 31st, 1pm EDT UPDATE: This session fully booked

 Wednesday June 1st, 1pm EDT


Kevin Smith is a Story Architect.  In his career in sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, and politics, Kevin has done over 10,000 pitches.  As the Chief Story Architect for, Kevin helps start-ups, small businesses, and social enterprises unleash their story to secure customers and investors, by helping them understand what their core customer story is and then helping them get their story to market.  His services include branding, messaging, marketing strategy, SEO, Content and Social Media marketing, presentation and pitch design, web design, lead generation, sales coaching and business development.  Kevin is also an educational workshop facilitator at MaRS, a volunteer advisor at the RIC Center, HumberLaunch, and UTM i-CUBE, as well as a frequent speaker at Small Business Enterprise Centers.  He previously worked at Dell for 14+ years in enterprise sales and marketing.