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 MyStartUp.ca for a free six month trial membership today! Been in business two years or more? Join CFIB at CFIB.ca.
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.