For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to write a “day in the life of a counsellor” blog-post. You’d think that would be easy, right? Well, not so much. You see, there’s no typical day when it comes to helping people. Oh, I know there will be calls and e-mails, but the topics, the complexity –that all varies.
Today alone I’ve talked the ins and outs of payment processing, provided guidance on terminating an employee, looked into the issue of commercial vehicle checks in Quebec, e-mailed template human resource documents, updated a web-post, and talked to a non-member about the benefits of membership – and it’s not even lunchtime!
As counsellors we get to talk to business owners at all stages of their business-owning life – from start-up, to barely clinging on, from looking to grow, to looking to retire. But our interactions with members can be abstract – a question about financing here, a concern over occupational health and safety compliance there. It’s rare to get the opportunity to really follow along with a business.
Back in March, 2016, I got a call from a brand new business – so new, they hadn’t even opened their doors yet! But that wasn’t for lack of trying; unfortunately they were tied up in a serious amount of government red-tape. The province was asking for a form to be completed, but the information they were requesting wasn’t relevant to the business. With our help, the member discovered that a communication error between the town and the province had prompted this erroneous request.
In the seven months since that initial call, I’ve spoken with the member five times – I’ve helped him apply for an EI ruling on behalf of his spouse who works at the business; we’ve discussed ways to get the message out about the services they offer; batted about the pros and cons of paying his spouse salary v. dividends; reviewed payroll set-ups, including remittances to CRA and Employment Standards regulations; and, how to go about finding an accountant.
Each call gave me the chance to catch up on how the business is doing. For a counsellor, hearing about the successes helps us deal with the calls we receive from business owners who are seeing their hopes and dreams fall apart. It’s full of highs and lows, but there’s nothing so rewarding as helping a out a small business owner.
And that, right there, is a day in the life of a counsellor: helping business owners deal with the unknown by wading out there with them, offering advice and guidance when they need it, and stepping back when they’re confident to carry on. At least until the next problem shows up!
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Emma Speagell is a Bilingual Business Counsellor working in the Atlantic Region. Since joining CFIB two years ago, Emma has helped members with a range of issues from CRA audits to Occupational Health and Safety compliance to finding the right financing program to allow a business to expand. Prior to joining CFIB, Emma worked as a bilingual retail sales auditor and payroll administrator for a family-run retail business which allowed her to witness how small business works from the inside.