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 – 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


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.


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!


Fraud is everyone’s business!

Although March is dedicated to Fraud Prevention across Canada, CFIB is committed to fraud prevention year round.

Did you know:

  • one in five small businesses has been victimized by fraud?
  • small businesses, on average lost $6,200 to scammers last year per incidence?
  • small businesses spend an average of $2,900 on fraud prevention per year?
  • more than half of business owners impacted by fraud say the stress and hassle associated with fraud is worse than the financial losses?

That is why CFIB wants to create awareness about small business scams and provide you with fraud prevention tools that you can use. Visit our webpage www.cfib.ca/BeFraudFree for a collection of our extensive fraud prevention materials. Including….

  • Our research report Fraud – A big threat to small business that shares findings on how fraud affects the small business owner. Be sure to check out our infographic that features some of the report’s findings.
  • A free credit card fraud prevention poster that we encourage business owners to print out and share with their staff to limit payment fraud. We believe the key to preventing fraud losses is knowledge, awareness and staff training.
  • Videos we co-created with the RCMP on credit card fraud and small business phone scams.

CFIB cares about your business. If you have questions about fraud or want to help improve fraud prevention in your business contact our team of Business Counsellors by calling 1 888 234-2232 or by emailing us at cfib@cfib.ca

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Jocelyn Rhindress is the Regional Team Leader of Business Resources for Atlantic Canada. In her more than six year career with CFIB she has answered thousands of member inquiries. She grew up in a household supported by a small business and understands the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship. Jocelyn thoroughly enjoys finding answers, solving problems, giving advice, and supporting members. She is proud to be a part of CFIB where she promotes the vision to be the most courageous, connected and influential voice committed to the growth of Canadian Entrepreneurs. 


Just say no to third party delivery on three separate cards

There is an old saying “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. This brings to mind an inquiry I had from a member in the auto parts industry.  The member called me after receiving an order from outside of Canada asking for a large order of parts to be drop shipped to Mongolia. The buyer had requested to pay for the order with three separate credit cards. Understandably, the member was too excited about the size of the order and the dollar figure associated with the sale to think in a sufficiently rational and pragmatic way.

I had to tell the member not to engage with the purchaser on the order. This is a scam I have heard about many times before, and usually after the member has already lost a lot of money, and the equivalent in inventory as well. Having an order delivered to a third party is a typically fraudulent move, and paying with three separate credit cards is no less common a ruse.  In almost every case I have ever heard of, the credit card charges are charged back to the issuing credit card provider. The vendor is not only left with a big hole in their bank account but with just as many goods missing from their inventory as well. While this particular member was not all that happy with what I told him, he had just been saved over $100,000.00.

So beware, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. At the very least, it warrants a second thought.

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Nancy Forsyth is a Business Counsellor with CFIB and has been serving its members for over 28 years.

Fraud is a serious concern for Canada’s small business owners. In fact, one in five has been a victim of fraud in the last year. And the threat is not going away. As part of Fraud Awareness Month, we invited our Business Counsellors and others to share some cautionary tales about common scams and to provide tips on how our members can further protect their businesses.


Protecting your business

We have arrived at the seventh and final edition of our multi-part series on the topic of tasks you should be adding to your “start up to do list”. In past weeks we have discussed starting your small business checklistorganizing your startup, are you sure you need to hire now?, when do you need a lawyer? the importance of small business accounting advice and organizing your family business.

This week’s topic: Protecting your business

Often, people will mention to me that their business is like their baby. Not only that, but often their business location is like a second home. You spend countless hours planning, executing, strategizing and re-strategizing your business to achieve optimal success and end up being the first one to come in and the last one to leave.

To ensure your efforts are not in vain, you want to protect your business. Of course there are practical security measures that you could have in place. However as a business owner you may not know what’s up ahead that can make your business vulnerable.

Protecting your business is an intentional effort to identify risks that could delay, harm or derail your business from achieving its goals. Be proactive. We do not have a crystal ball to know what tomorrow may bring. Taking measures to protect your business will remove the stress if and when an emergency occurs.

So what are you protecting your business from?

  • Potential scams and fraudulent situations
  • Fines and penalties
  • Natural disasters
  • Records management
  • Weather conditions such as severe storms

Identifying the risks is an activity to expose what could potentially weaken your business and finding a solution.

Here is your final checklist. Take some time to share it with your business friends and hashtag #MyStartUp #SmallBizChecklist

☐ Emergency preparedness: Is your business ready?
☐ Not sure which permits are related to your business? Click here for BizPal.
☐ Are you aware of the rules of playing music at your business?
☐ Have you read through the countless tips that our business counsellors have written on fraud prevention?
☐ Click on Email marketing to learn to avoid the spam box with these do’s and don’ts.

This is Fraud Prevention Month. Stay tuned to read more blogs on how you can protect your business!

If you have been in business less than two years, sign up today for six months free membership to CFIB through the CFIB My StartUp program.

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Cesar Gomez-Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six 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.