Category Archives: BizCommunity

The Art of Entrepreneurship is Heading to Toronto

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Over 1200 like-minded business professionals are expected to attend The Art of Entrepreneurship, taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on October 7th, 2013.

Whether you’re just starting your own company or have been in business for years, this conference is sure to get those entrepreneurial juices flowing. Some of the key speakers on this day will include Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Guillebeau, Debbie Travis, Eric Ryan, Alexis Ohanian.

Small Businesses represent 98% of all business establishments in Ontario, this event aims to provide the entrepreneurs currently driving the Canadian economy with the tools and knowledge needed to scale their business.

SPECIAL OFFER:

The Art of Entrepreneurship and BizLaunch have partnered up this year to offer our blog readers an exclusive discount allowing you to save $50 per pass. To take advantage of this special offer, simply use promo code BIZLAUNCH32 at the checkout.

We hope to see you there!

The Art of Marketing Conference Heads to Toronto!

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Building on the success of their sold out national tour, this one day marketing conference features five internationally renowned bestselling authors and thought leaders, who will share an exciting blend of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical marketing issues.

The event offers business owners the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage and network with over 1,800 of Canada’s most influential marketers, and is developed especially to answer the most common marketing questions currently facing your organization.

Esteemed marketing experts and speakers will share information on:

  • How marketing has changed
  • What role it now plays in your customers’ buying decisions
  • Its impact on your business
  • How consumers view and interact with your brand in a crowded marketplace

Representatives from BizLaunch will be attending this one-day event, and we’re happy to be able to share an exclusive discount with you so that you can join us!

To purchase tickets, simply click here and quote code ‘BIZLAUNCH26’.

We hope to see you there!

Equity Crowdfunding 101

Crowdfunding in general—and equity crowdfunding in particular—is set to become the primary way in which small businesses will finance their launch and growth in the twenty first century. Last week we gave a brief overview of the different types of crowdfunding on offer, but today, we’re going to delve deeper into the concept of equity crowdfunding.

In a nutshell, equity crowdfunding is a new method of seeking financing that allows companies of all sizes, including startups, to raise funds through secured online platforms, giving them access to large numbers of qualified investors. Equity crowdfunding gives companies (otherwise known as issuers) an attractive option for raising funds, and provides investors with the possibility of a handsome return on their investment.

What exactly is equity crowdfunding?

With equity crowdfunding, the investors become a shareholder in the company. An investor owns shares in a company that may provide the investor with benefits such as the right to vote at shareholder meetings, entitlement to dividends out of the company’s profits (if declared), and the investors get to share in the value in the company when shares are sold. Of course this means that they run the same risks that any investor faces when owning shares in a company, in that the company may fail or its value may decline.

Equity crowdfunding offers investors and companies great new options for buying into and funding new business ventures, as up until now there has really been no precedent for non-professional investors to invest in innovative ideas and potentially yield good returns. This makes the growing popularity of equity crowdfunding particularly exciting for busuness owners and investors alike.

Who can invest?

There can be two types of investors in equity crowdfunding—accredited investors and non-accredited investors.

  • Accredited investors are those investors deemed by the securities commissions to be high net worth individuals who would not be catastrophically impacted financially if an investment in a company seeking funds through equity crowdfunding fails. Each country has its own parameters, but roughly the top 3 to 5 percent of a country’s population would qualify as accredited investors. Typically both the issuers and the equity crowdfunding portal used must confirm the investors’ qualification with the local securities rules.

  • Non-Accredited investors are the “rest of us”—the rest of the country’s population that do not meet the requirements to be registered as an accredited investor.

What is an equity crowdfunding portal?

Equity crowdfunding portals bring companies and investors together in a secure cloud-computing platform. There are portals providing investment opportunities for accredited investors and non-accredited investors. Equity portals will also vary on size of offerings and vertical industry sectors. Issuers exchanges shares (or securities) for investors’ money via a selected equity crowdfunding portal. Currently in most North American jurisdictions only accredited investors can invest in equity crowdfunding—although there are a handful of exceptions to that rule.

Don’t miss the next instalment to our Introduction to Crowdfunding series, “How to Prepare for Equity Crowdfunding”.

 

The Art of Successful Networking

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Regularly attending industry-related events is critical to any business’s success. Entrepreneurs can meet new customers, suppliers and mentors at such occasions; and the key to getting the most out of these important relationships is to cultivate them through inexpensive, simple and highly effective networking techniques.

If you’re attending any conferences, trade shows or seminars before the year’s end—The Art of Small Business is one event that’s on our calendar this month—then here are five easy tips to help you network successfully.

1. Prepare your 30-second commercial

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Write, edit and rehearse a short summary of what your business does, who you serve and why people love to deal with you.

2. Take notes

Write down the gist of your conversation with a new contact on the back of their business card. Refer to your chat when you follow up.

3. Focus on one objective per event

Contrary to popular belief, your goal isn’t to hand out as many business cards as possible. Your goal for any business networking event should be to meet one supplier, meet one colleague or meet one prospect.

4. Keep it short and sweet

Don’t engage a new business contact for ten minutes. Give them a brief introduction to you and your business, and let them do the same. You’ll have time to expand on what you do during post-event follow up.

5. Follow up

What you say isn’t as important as what you do. Within a few days, be sure to contact each person to arrange a coffee, informal meeting or phone call to explore a business relationship.

Networking is an important aspect of any business. By attending industry events, joining mastermind groups and socializing with like-minded business owners, you’ll find that your creativity, productivity and passion for your company will soar.

Try and keep abreast of conferences going on in your field, and if you want to put your newly-discovered networking tips into practice, join us at The Art of Small Business event on October 21st, 2013 to hear experts such as Michael Gerber, JJ Ramberg, Chris Guillebeau and Mitch Joel talk small biz.

For this this year’s inaugural event, we’re partnering with The Art Of to share a preferred rate for the conference with our small business community. Use promo code BIZLAUNCH26 and save up to $100 off your full-day pass.

We hope to see some of you there, but for those who can’t attend, we’ll also be live tweeting from the event using hash tag #TheArtOf.

Nominated for the Small Business Influencer Awards!

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BizLaunch is thrilled to have received two nominations for the Small Business Influencer Awards. Produced by Small Business Trends and Small Biz Technology and brought to you by Blackberry, the Small Business Influencer Awards honour companies, organizations, apps and people who have made a significant impact on the North American small business market.

“We are excited to see the small business market getting the support it deserves,” says Andrew Patricio, Founder of BizLaunch. “Thank you to Susan Payton of Egg Marketing & Communications for nominating us!”

In her nomination Susan writes, “BizLaunch helps companies like VISA, Staples, Deluxe, Bell and Purolator connect with small business owners by developing seminars, webinars and educational content.” She goes on to say that BizLaunch “Helps small businesses succeed. By providing useful and relevant resources at no cost, the brand is a trusted source of information.”

Most recently, BizLaunch has been working with ATB Financial, the SBA in the Caribbean and the Summer Company Program to provide a variety of resources for entrepreneurs.

Andrew Patricio, also received a personal nomination for his contributions to the small business industry. As an internationally recognized small business expert Andrew has travelled the world training small business owners. He also helps larger corporations understand how they can connect with small business owners in meaningful ways.

If you know someone who should be nominated for a Small Business Influencer Award please visit http://influencers.smallbiztrends.com/ . The nomination period closes July 15, 2012. If you believe that BizLaunch and/or Andrew Patricio should win, stay tuned to find out how you can vote!

Is ‘Once Upon a Time’ Enough to Build a Business?

As a professional speaker and storyteller, Linda Lord talks for a living. As with any service based company, describing what she does, exactly, has been a challenge for the entrepreneur now in her 16th year of business. “I bring hope to people so they are better able to handle life’s circumstances.” It is one of those businesses that just saying, “once upon a time there was a woman who could tell a good story and therefore started a business,” isn’t enough. It would make Michael Gerber cringe, but Lord has found a way to make Once Upon a Time enough.

“I have been very fortunate that clients have referred me to others. I tried advertising once a long time ago, but saw zero return for my investment. What I do is create a personal experience, so the best marketing tool I have are those I have helped, telling others. Stories bond people in a special way. Each workshop or speaking engagement allows me to create a safe community where we explore what it means to be human.”

Lord continues, “Like any other business, I solve problems. From the platform I provide a learning experience that supports individuals in their personal growth. I used to call myself a human agriculturalist and storytiller, which was clever enough, but I still had to explain what I do. Clever branding and creative wordsmithing may make great copy, but if people don’t know when to call you, then I believe I have still failed in getting the message out. It is my task to connect the words and the message to create hope for the future. ”

As a storyteller, Lord knows how important it is to choose the right words to deliver messages. As a business owner, she knows that stories can also bring businesses to life and create community between staff and clients.

Lord provides a few tips for those who want to incorporate stories into their marketing message:

1. Listen to your staff and clients’ experiences with the intention of providing support and assistance.

2. Know very clearly the benefit you bring and be able to express that to your clients.

3. Be willing to experiment with the stories you tell until you find one that personally connects you with your potential clients.

4. Remember how powerful stories were to us as children and recognize that same power is available to us as adults in business.

Linda can be reached at: http://www.lindajlord.com or lindalordonline@yahoo.ca, linda@lindajlord.com

How to find a business idea from your personal experience

Grain is a custom woodworking business founded by entrepreneur, Tom Gelinas of Windsor, ON as a result of his own experience. “It really started when I began purchasing furniture for myself. I quickly realized that everything I was buying was being imported from oversees, and often the quality reflected that. I knew that I could build something better. I had been woodworking for many years and had honed my talents by constructing built-ins and kitchens. This had built my understanding of wood and finishing. After gaining experience while apprenticing with a Master Craftsman, I was ready to offer my customers something we could both be proud of.” As with many successful business owners, Gelinas saw a gap in the marketplace and filled it with his unique and top quality products.

Gelinas offered that working with wood had always been his passion. “We manufacture custom cabinets, custom trim, dining room tables, side tables, and built-ins. There are three key things that enable me to stand out among of my competitors. Specific joinery that I use to build a quality cabinet that will last. These techniques are not commonly used among my competition. The material that I use is thicker and stronger than current standards resulting in a quality product. My business is customer focused in that we offer one point of contact; me.” Gelinas personally sees to the attention of detail from the customer to the finished product.

Although only in business for a few months, Gelinas is already seeing that he was correct in assessing his market and filling a need in the woodworking sector. You may see some opportunities to bridge a gap in business, too, but be cautious and use the following questions as a template to assess the viability of your idea.

Is the market real?

Customer analysis – Surveys or attempting to answer: Who the customer is? What do they want to buy? What price are they willing to pay for that?
Competitor analysis – Which else is in this market? What are they doing for the customers? Are they supplying a similar substitute for what idea you have in mind? Is this industry growing or shrinking?

Is the product/service real?

Is this industry growing or shrinking?

Can I be the best at this market?

What are the risks?

Are there any barriers to entry?

Financial risks?

How can you create barriers so imitation is not prevalent?

Is it worth it?

Is it an attractive industry?

Regulations that you would be subjected to?

Gelinas notes that being in business for yourself, even with a great idea, can be taxing, but he adds, “I love creating and building. It is really inspiring to see a customer say they love what I have made them. Truly rewarding.”

Name: Tom Gelinas
Business Name: Grain Woodcrafting
Website: www.grainwoodcrafting.com
Location: 1428 Argyle Rd Unit 4, Windsor, Ontario