Social Media Street Smarts – Build a Plan to Grow & Protect Your Brand

Engaging with customers over social media is a fantastic way to enhance your brand, and make authentic connections resulting in more business. To do so effectively you’ll need to ensure that your employees and contractors can speak on your behalf, follow your brand values, and convey your sense of personality and tone.

You’ll also need to be able to give them guidelines of what they should and should not do.  Regardless of how much you prepare them, you don’t have control over the internet and how it responds. What you can do is prepare in advance for when a social media disaster strikes.  In this webinar, we will cover how to build a social media policy, and what to do when a social media disaster strikes.

CFIB is pleased to introduce Kevin Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at SelectCom.  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.

This webinar is 45 minutes in duration, plus 15 minutes Q&A.  Registration is free but capacity is limited. Please sign up via the preferred link below:

Social Media Street Smarts – Build a Plan to Grow & Protect Your Brand

Tuesday May 16th, 1pm EDT
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1480562058143449345

Wednesday May 17th, 1pm EDT
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8519520050444498177


Six Reasons to Buy an Existing Business by Alison Anderson*

Are you interested in becoming your own boss? Did you know that people who buy a business are statistically more successful than people who start a new business?

For the past decade, I have worked with entrepreneurs at all business cycles, I have met with hundreds of business owners, written business plans, conducted market research, and provided counsel throughout their startup process.

Over the past five years, I have focused on businesses looking to sell and people looking to buy a business. I have tracked pain points and successes, and these are my top six reasons why entrepreneurs should consider buying an existing business.

  1. Mentorship – The existing owner is sometimes willing to stay on for a period of time to mentor the incoming owner. Starting a business can be overwhelming, but an existing owner can help you increase your chances of ordering properly for busy seasons, maintaining current clients with a warm handshake introduction, and making sure important documentation such as GST, corporation, and deduction filings are done well and on time.
  2. Financing – Many existing companies have three or more years of profitable financials, which makes it easier to secure financing whether you are going to a traditional bank, government organization or looking for venture capital.
  3. Cash flow – An existing business already has customers and ongoing cash flow. Launching startups usually takes longer to set-up, open and find customers. Therefore, buying an existing business will provide you added security with both your company and personal cashflow.
  4. Established Name – A book of business and a good reputation in the community is called “goodwill”. People are creatures of habit; if they have gone to the same barbershop for 20 years, they will likely keep going after there is a new owner. Make sure you get the company’s phone number and domain name in the purchase agreement.
  5. Current Staff – only one out of ten startups make it past the second year, and many of these fail after they try to grow and add more staff. Onboarding can be tricky. Having existing staff in place that is already trained in their position can dramatically increase the odds of having a successful business.
  6. Market Position – Already own a business? Acquiring your competition is a great way to rapidly increase customer base, market share, resources, and equipment.

Take the first step to buying a business; join us for this Free webinar: 7 phases of buying an existing business or franchise.

*Article originally published on Alison Anderson’s LinkedIn account.

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Alison is the CEO and Founder of a company called SuccessionMatching.com, an online platform that matches buyers and sellers of businesses and farms. By analyzing data from the website and working with thousands of entrepreneurs, Alison has developed strategies and resources to help buyers and sellers overcome the pain points and set up successful transitions.


Fraud – Protect yourself

March was dedicated to Fraud Prevention across Canada, but you can protect yourself all year long. Below are some highlights for the month. Check out these and more on the My StartUp blog.

Email messages to ignore

Fraudsters subject lines have become better, more believable.  They have gotten very good at having you believe their note really is from your bank, the RCMP or the Canada Revenue Agency.  For the best way to avoid falling for their line, read Your account has been closed! (and other messages to simply ignore).

Is someone stealing your refunds?

Retail establishments are one of types of businesses that suffer from return fraud. This might be a customer wanting to return a stolen pair of jeans, or they may say they never purchased from your online store but their credit card was charged. Check out our story to find out the key to minimizing return fraud.

Don’t let tabnapping or phishing leave you on the hook!

We’ve learned not to open e-mail attachments or click links from unknown sources – but what about e-mails that look legitimate? When fraudsters pose as a company, brand or e-mail address you recognize, it’s called phishing. Our article gives you the help you need to prevent phishing.

Each of these articles was written by a CFIB Business Resource Counsellor. Our counsellors help members with advice, counseling and support in dealing with governments and small business issues at no charge. Simply call 1 888 234‑2232.

Not a member yet?

Find out more:

In business two years or less? Sign up for My StartUp and get your six month introductory membership FREE!
In business longer than two years? Learn more about joining CFIB.


Free Webinar: The 7 Phases of Buying an Existing Business

For the first time in Canada, we have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. There is $1.9 trillion worth of assets looking to change hands.  Additionally, finding the right business with good market share, proven cash flow and a veteran staff already in place can increase the odds of long-term business success.  This is why SuccessionMatching.com, The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Futurpreneur have partnered to bring you an informative FREE webinar on the topic of buying a business.

This webinar, presented by Alison Anderson of SuccessionMatching.com in partnership with the CFIB and Futurpreneur, will cover everything you need to know and ask before buying a business, including:

  • 6 reasons to buy an existing business
  • The three types of succession planning
  • Timelines and Expectations
  • Resources and financing options available to buy an existing business

Please join us for this free 30 minute webinar plus 15 minute Q&A by clicking the link to the date you prefer below. Come armed with questions!

The 7 Phases of Buying an Existing Business
April 25, 2017 @ 1pm EDT
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7704455378716349442


Free webinar – Credit/Debit Card Acceptance: Choosing the Best Option for your Business

Choosing a merchant service provider can be a daunting task for any small business owner. Every day, merchant processing companies are competing for your business, which often leads to high-pressure tactics and unfulfilled promises of huge savings.

At CFIB, we have received thousands of calls from our members looking for guidance. To help you make an informed decision, and avoid making a costly mistake, CFIB has developed a webinar that can save your small business a lot of time and money.

This webinar will provide you with the tools you need to make knowledgeable decisions, including:

  • What makes a good (or bad) service provider
  • How to choose a payment processor
  • What to look for before signing a merchant contract. How to spot the common warning signs that indicate an unacceptable merchant contract
  • An overview of  the rules and measures that make up the Credit and Debit Card Code of Conduct, and how they protect your business

Join us for this free webinar, open to CFIB members and guests.

Credit/Debit Card Acceptance: Choosing the Best Option for your Business
April 18, 2017 @ 1pm EDT

Credit/Debit Card Acceptance: Choosing the Best Option for your Business
April 20, 2017 @ 1pm EDT


Start saving on Mastercard rates today!

Great news! CFIB members are now eligible to save on Mastercard transactions — 12.5% on Mastercard’s “Electronic” rate for Core card transactions, and as much as a 22% on some premium cards.

Why? Because you’re a CFIB member!

Now, CFIB members get the same rate with Mastercard as Canada’s largest merchants. We have used the bargaining power of our 109,000 member base, who collectively generate over $3 billion in Mastercard sales annually, to negotiate exclusive savings on the “interchange” rate charged by Mastercard to payment processors.

How do you get the deal?

If you’re a CFIB member with Chase Paymentech on CFIB pricing – do nothing! Chase Paymentech will automatically pass 100% of the applicable savings on to you.

All Other Payment Processors

The CFIB member special Mastercard rate is available to with many payment processors in Canada.

  • If you would like to explore your options and see how much you could save with CFIB preferred pricing from Chase Paymentech, call them directly at 1 888 317-9535 for a free, no-obligation analysis.

Or

  • Contact your payment processor and confirm that they will offer the CFIB special Mastercard rate. See the list of confirmed processors. You will need to provide them your CFIB member ID.

For more information, visit cfib.ca/mastercard or contact us at 1 888 234-2232 or cfib@cfib.ca

Not a member yet?

Join CFIB now via the appropriate link:

In business two years or less? Join CFIB’s MyStartup program.
In business longer than two years? Join CFIB.


Domain Name Fraud – Should I respond?

You have finalized your business and marketing plan and you’re excited because you’ve purchased and registered your domain name, say at .ca. Now, imagine you start receiving emails from a company located outside of Canada suggesting they will purchase similar domains that sound like yours but at .com, .org, .net, .biz etc.

Now, here is the catch; the company is strongly encouraging you to purchase these alternative domains directly from them, or they will start selling them to someone else. Of course from a marketing perspective you are obviously concerned as it could affect the branding of your company. Yes, this happens, and yes, any small businesses are exposed to getting this type of email.

The scare tactics begin

I received a call late last year regarding one of our members in the contracting industry that had received this email and did not know what to do. At first, he said, he ignored it. However, the threats became too real when the mysterious sender began using scare tactics in their messaging – such as a “date to respond by”.

Whatever you do, don’t fall for these kinds of tactics.

Yes, it’s true there are benefits to purchasing extra domains for your business so you can create a forward option that will re-route someone to your main site. For example, it can be a great help when your business name has a variety of spellings. However, keep in mind that purchasing a domain should not come with threats.

If you receive this type of email:

Step 1: Do not communicate with the company in question

Step 2: Report it to the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre

Step 3: Always register domains with a trusted source, like the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

False renewal notices

The Competition Bureau has also created a “Little Black Book of Scams” which outlines another potential scam to your business: some domain registry companies are sending false renewal notices.

Here is what they recommend:

  • Check that the renewal notice matches your current domain name exactly. Look out for small differences—for example, “.com” instead of “.ca” or missing letters in the URL address.
  • Check that the renewal notice comes from the company with which you originally registered your domain name.
  • Check your records for the actual expiry date for your existing domain name.

Read more by clicking here.

And, if in doubt, remember that CFIB counsellors are here to help our 109,000 members with any small business questions or issues that you may have. Simply call 1 888 234-2232. Not a member yet? Join CFIB now via the appropriate link:

In business two years or less? Join CFIB’s MyStartup program.
In business longer than two years? Join CFIB.

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Cesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years, and writing for CFIB’s My Startup program for 2 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.


Canada’s underground economy — are you contributing?

Have you ever paid someone to replace your kitchen counters in cash? Or, paid for a haircut in cash and didn’t notice whether or not GSH/HST had been applied? Or, hired someone “under the table” to conduct home renovations? Well, you might be contributing to a problem that costs the government billions in unpaid tax dollars each year. The underground economy (UE) is a serious problem, and for years, has been a consistent issue in Canada.

It may be tempting to pay for certain things in cash because we think that saving a few dollars here and there can’t hurt; however, we fail to see the larger impact of what happens when we do. The underground economy is a form of fraud and is considered an illegal economic activity. The Canada Revenue Agency, defines the underground economy as being any activity that is unreported or under-reported for tax and GST/HST purposes[1]

In June 2016, Statistics Canada released a report estimating the value of Canada’s underground economy to be $45.6 billion in 2013 — equivalent to 2.4 per cent of Canada’s GDP. The research also highlights that four sectors accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total estimated underground economy: residential construction, finance, insurance / real estate, and retail trade. Participation in the underground economy hurts all Canadians, including responsible citizens and businesses that pay the correct amount of tax.

So, here’s what you can do to help level the playing field for persons who pay their taxes:

  • As consumer: be sure to hire responsible businesses by asking questions and doing research. Any reputable business will abide by the rules and not accept under the table transactions. Get a written contract and copy of payment for your records. These will give you the protection you deserve and the peace of mind you need.
  • As business owner: report your income accurately with the CRA — taking short cuts when reporting your income could result in penalties, fines, and even jail time. The best way to ensure that you are reporting income accurately is to keep your sources of income organized and know what the CRA expects you to claim.

If someone offers to provide services to you for cash, or you suspect an individual or business has not reported all their income or GST/HST, you can contact the CRA through the Informant Leads Program

[1]http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/undergroundeconomy/

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Michelle Auger is Coordinator of the National Affairs team in Ottawa and has been with the CFIB since August 2015.  Michelle holds an Honors Baccalaureate in Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa and is fully bilingual. An avid runner and cross-country skier, Michelle spends much of her free time exploring the Gatineau Park.


Don’t let tabnapping or phishing leave you on the hook!

By now we’re all aware of the dangers of opening e-mail attachments or clicking links from unknown sources – but what about e-mails which appear to be legitimate? When fraudsters pose as a company, brand or e-mail address you recognize, it’s called phishing. A play on the word fish, the perpetrators are fishing for someone to fall for their scam by sending e-mails (usually with a link to a website) purporting to be from a reputable company. They’re hoping to trick people into giving out personal information or making payments.

How to prevent phishing:

  • Make sure you have a spam filter on your e-mails
  • Look for tell-tale signs such as typos, grammar errors or poor image quality
  • Check the e-mail address – businesses and organizations don’t use hotmail or gmail accounts
  • Don’t assume people or businesses are who they say they are
  • Don’t give out personal/business information unless you’re absolutely sure of who you are dealing with.
  • Trust your instincts – if you’re not comfortable, contact the company directly to find out if the message is legitimate.

Now, look at your browser – how many tabs do you have open? And how long have they been that way? Using code, fraudsters can change the content and label of an open but inactive tab to look like the log-in for a bank, an online store, or even your e-mail provider. When you click back to the tab and find the log-in screen you assume the session has timed out and so you log back in – giving your personal information to the hackers. This is called tabnapping and it’s a more sophisticated version of phishing.

How can you stop it happening?

  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer – and keep it updated!
  • If you’re not sure of the legitimacy of a log-in site, close the tab, open a new one and type in the address of the site you wish to visit.
  • Keep an eye out for transactions in your name that you did not make.

Keep anti-malware software installed and updated, and always second-guess before sharing personal information to help protect you and your business from cyber crime.

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Emma Speagell is a Bilingual Business Counsellor in the Atlantic Region, where for the past three years she has helped members with a range of issues from CRA audits, to Occupational Health and Safety Compliance, to finding a financing program to help grow their business. Emma enjoys being a helping-hand and a listening ear to our members, and loves hearing their success stories!


Is someone stealing your refunds?

When we hear of fraud we mostly think of counterfeit cash, or scam calls. We tend to forget about return fraud, and that is because we don’t necessarily notice it. Let me tell you, I have worked a lot in customer service and have witnessed my fair share.

Return fraud?

Retail establishments are one of the three business establishments that suffer from this kind of fraud (alongside banking and health & property insurance) (Canada, 2008). A customer may want to return a stolen pair of jeans, or might say they never purchased from your online store but their credit card was charged. If you fall victim to return fraud, you may have to face chargeback’s. The key to minimizing return fraud is to be aware of all transactions made face-to-face and online:

  • If an authorization is declined for the full amount, request another form of payment.
  • When processing a refund, process it on the same form of payment it was previously purchased on.
  • For any credit or debit return, compare the signatures on the back of the card and on the receipt.
  • Make sure your return policy is visible to customers at the cash, and is pre-printed on your receipts.
  • Accept store exchanges or make store credit part of your policy.
  • For online purchases made to your shop, ensure the address is accurate.

Who can help me?

You can submit a fraud report to your local police or to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. For chargeback’s you can contact the FCAC for guidance. However CFIB does provide help to its members who need assistance.

Train your staff

Make your staff aware of the following:

  • Organizing your receipts (weekly).
  • Train your staff on inventory; make sure it is done daily.
  • Comparing signatures when processing a payment or a return.
  • Accept only signed cards.

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Cassandra Beaugé joined CFIB’s Ottawa team as the National Affairs Assistant in 2016. Behind every small business hides a human who may need help but doesn’t know where to begin. That’s why Cassandra enjoys giving a hand in Business Resource. She enjoys reading and is a fan of the WWE!