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

As of July 2015, the world’s population was 7.3 billion. There are currently over three billion internet users and of that 2 billion with an average of 5.54 active social media accounts per user (Source: brandwatch). Social media users rose by 176 million between 2015 to 2016 (Source: brandwatch). Popular social media platforms have become a significant marketing asset for companies and although some would like to avoid the inevitable, it is no longer optional for businesses.

With an in-depth knowledge of this distinct communication channel, businesses may reap the benefits to which social media provides. Such benefits include: increased customer engagement, informal market research via customer comments, community formation, search engine visibility, sale acquisition and the ease of connecting with new audiences. Creative and effective campaigns have the power to foster strong communities and thus, have the potential to create a strong brand presence in a matter of a few months.

But what happens when campaigns don’t go according to plan? The backfire caused by social media disasters can be all too painful, public and may indeed harm the future success of your brand. As internet and social media users, we have all been witness to the dangers of the social media environment. An “oopsy-daisy” can be viral instantaneously and result in a social media disaster which may harm a company’s image, reputation and following in less than 12 hours. Frequently (or Many times), a recovery plan is in our back pocket for every scenario except for social media. If we’re not active social media users or have a weak social media presence, are we deemed safe from the dangers of the social media environment? No. Hence, an effective social media recovery plan is of the utmost importance in protecting your brand against the power of virality and social sharing.

In the  webinar, Social Media Street Smarts – Build a Plan to Grow & Protect your Brand, Kevin Smith, Chief Marketing Officer for Selectcom  informs, educates and directs small-medium businesses on the most effective way to successfully approach, build and influence your social media audience. As well, he discusses the imperative topics of social media recovery planning, the impact of recent social media disasters and provides important takeaways for your business.

Grow your social media street smarts by watching this webinar here: https://youtu.be/NDDcbYrChbw

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Kevin Smith is the Chief Marketing Officer at SelectCom.  Previously he was the Chief Story Architect for TheStoryArchitect.com, 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

 


Coping with on-the-job injuries: Protect yourself and your employees

May 8th to May 12th is North America Occupational Safety & Health Week and CFIB is honouring this week with a webinar aimed to help business owners protect their business and their employees.

As a business owner, you are confident that you’ve taken every measure possible to protect your employees from workplace injuries.  What if, despite your best efforts, a workplace injury occurs? Are you prepared for the short and long-term implications?

An effective Return-to-Work Program already in place can save you thousands of dollars while ensuring your employees are healthy, safe and productive even after an injury has occurred.

If an accident or injury occurs at your place of business, you need to limit the impact of the accident for your employee and your bottom line. Fortunately having an effective Return-to-Work program in place, before an accident happens, can help you achieve both of these goals.

This is why CFIB has developed a comprehensive Return-to-Work Program to help you reduce the cost of an injury on your employees and your business. In this free webinar, we will share this plan and give you the tools you need to adopt and implement it at your place of business.

What you will learn in this webinar:

  • Proactively protect your business – How being prepared for a workplace injury can save you a lot more than workers compensation premiums.
  • Return-to-Work Plan – How to set one up at your workplace and we review the elements it should contain.
  • Employee Care Package – What documents are needed to communicate with your employee and their health care providers after a workplace injury?
  • Modified Work Offer – How to use our templates to create and customize a modified work offer for an injured employee.

This webinar is 30 minutes in duration, plus 15 minutes Q&A.  Registration is free but capacity is limited. Please sign up via the preferred link below:

Coping with on-the-job injuries: Building a return-to-work plan that protects employees and your business
May 9, 2017 at 1pm EDT

Coping with on-the-job injuries: Building a return-to-work plan that protects employees and your business
May 11, 2017 at 1pm EDT


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.