Tag Archives: business

Building a Business You’re Passionate About

We all want a fulfilling life where we make a difference. If you’re a small business owner or thinking of starting your own business, chances are, you don’t want a 9-to-5 venture. You want something you can sink your teeth into and make a difference. It’s the ultimate dream. But how can you ensure you are building a business you’re passionate about?

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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”.

 

Crowdfunding: An Introduction

By Stefanie Neyland with research by Oscar Jofre

You may have heard a lot about crowdfunding recently, and you may be wondering what it’s all about. If you’re not quite sure exactly what it is, have no fear—you’re not alone. The truth is that crowdfunding is a relatively new concept, and many entrepreneurs are only just beginning to learn about it and how it can be leveraged to start or grow their business venture.

So what is crowdfunding? On its most basic level, it’s the aggregation of small amounts of capital from a large group of people, usually via the Internet, in order to fund a business, project or organization. There are four main types of crowdfunding:

Equity-based crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding is considered by most to be the holy grail of the crowdfunding phenomenon that’s sweeping the globe. For the past 24 months there has been a frenzy of tweets, blogs, articles, and news reports about how entrepreneurs and small businesses can access capital via equity crowdfunding. Investors receive a stake (usually common or preferred shares or units) in the company (the issuer), with the idea being that the investor is either looking to make a return from dividends or capital gains on the growth in value of their stake in the company. In a nutshell, it’s a 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.

Donation-based crowdfunding

With donation-based crowdfunding, contributions go towards a charitable cause. For example, you may pay for a charity in a poverty stricken area to receive much-needed medication for its inhabitants. In donation-based crowdfunding, funds are collected from a community for a publicly disclosed initiative but there is no financial return to the people putting money in. The return for contributors is usually the satisfaction that comes with helping others in need.

Lending-based crowdfunding

With this type of crowdfunding, investors are repaid for their investment in a business over a period of time and receives a stipulated return (interest) for the use of their money.

Reward-based crowdfunding

With reward-based crowdfunding, contributors receive a predefined product or service in return for their funds provided to the company or individual. A contributor advances funds with the promise of receiving a prescribed reward at a later date (i.e., paying now for the development of a new smartphone and receiving the phone after it is developed, manufactured, tested and shipped).

Whether it’s in Canada, Brazil, Chile, China, Italy, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Russia, Sweden the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands or the United States, Equity Crowdfunding is changing the global landscape to give everyone—the ‘crowd’—an opportunity to invest and contribute in a variety of initiatives.

To learn more about how crowdfunding—and more specifically, equity crowdfunding—could help you start or grow your business, download our free eBook, ‘Equity Crowdfunding 101’ via the Free Tools section of the BizLaunch website.

 

Spring Clean Your Office and Boost Your Productivity

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By Jessica Filigno,  Home and Office Organization Expert and Founder of Jessie’s Interiors

It’s that time of year again! Spring gives us another opportunity to start fresh and reclaim our spaces. Office organization can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, spaces for you to focus on. Since office clutter has a direct impact on how effectively you work, it’s important to spend some time creating a system that works for you—but don’t be overwhelmed! Set aside a couple of hours every week to tackle one task at a time and you will immediately feel more focused and calm in your own space. Concentrate on clearing off your desk by keeping only what you really need in eyesight. Try to tackle that paper clutter by creating systems that work for you when you need them; focus on ease of accessibility and giving every action a flow. When spring cleaning your office, think about your daily tasks and organize around them.

For more inspiration, follow these tips to help tackle your office organization.

1. Digitize what you can

Digitizing paper, photos or any loose material in your office will help to keep your desktop clutter-free and organized. Make sure you organize your online folders accordingly so you know where the documents are when you need them.

2. Create an ‘in and out’ mail system—and follow it

Go through your ‘in and out’ mail system once a week to ensure nothing is overlooked. This system can include bills, receipts, report cards, etc.

3. Organize your email and computer files

Organize your email and computer files into general folders. Check online to see how you can customize your email to make it easier for you to retrieve the information you need, when you need it. If you receive a lot of unwanted mail, take the time to unsubscribe from any additional content. This simple step can save you a ton of time searching through emails and will help you gain control of your inbox.

4. Clean off your desktop

In order to keep your desktop clutter-free, only have the items you use on a daily basis within arms reach. Try going vertically, using shelving systems, to store items larger items you may need. Categorize your items into separate boxes or file folders—just remember to label everything!

5. File important papers

Filing important papers right away clears not only your desktop, but also your mind. Insurance paperwork, birth certificates and passports should always be stored somewhere safe and out of a child’s reach. If you need a document, take the time to put it back right away.

6. Reclaim your command centre

A quick trip to Staples is all you need to get your command center back up and running. Start with a sturdy three ring binder then add tabbed dividers as needed, labeling accordingly. You can also opt for labeled portfolios to help store emergency contact numbers, takeout menus, gift certificates or postcards.

7. Tame those cables

Those unruly cables, cords and wires seem to always be a visual eyesore in the office. Luckily, there are a ton of products on the market to help you tame your cables and increase your desk space.

8. Look up!

One of the best ways to maximize storage in a small place is to think vertically. Wall shelving is a compact storage system that is an effective way to save valuable floor space, and can also serve as a focal point in your office. Be creative with the colors and sizes and add items such as candles, frames or keepsakes to help personalize your space.

9. Restock items

Now’s the time to restock the products you need and organize them accordingly. Remember to keep supplies and often-used items stored separately. This keeps less frequently used items from taking up valuable desk space.

10. Evaluate your lighting

Whether you work in a home office or cubicle, the quality of lighting in your workspace can make a big impact on your productivity. Ensure your desktop is well lit since you may be reading for several hours at a time. But remember: nothing is better than opening up your windows after a long, cold winter!

About Jessica:



Jessica Filigno—a Toronto-based professional home and office organizer—is an active member of theProfessional Organizers in Canada (POC) and specializes in residential organization, helping to eliminate clutter in her clients’ homes. To find out more, visit Jessie’s Interiors.

Do I Need to Update My Business Plan?

A Business Plan

For most small business owners, the business plan is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to raising capital to get a startup off the ground. However, writing—and regularly updating—your business plan will reap benefits far and beyond just investment.

The business plan is something of a pain point for many an entrepreneur. Business owners often struggle to develop one when launching a new venture, and the last thing they want to hear is that once it’s finished, they will need to create a new one every year to assist in the ongoing success of their organization. However, time-consuming as it may seem, there are sound reasons for developing an annual plan that serves to monitor and manage the ongoing operation of a business, five of which are listed below.

1. It helps you see the wood for the trees

Developing an annual plan forces you to take an objective, critical, and unemotional look at the facts of your business; what’s working and what isn’t. In short, it forces you to arrange your thoughts and ideas in a logical, sequential order.

2. It allows you to strategize

It requires you to consider the gaps in your business based on a realistic assessment of your existing resources—as well as your personal skill set—allowing you to plan to bridge those gaps.

3. It helps you set goals

An annual plan will be a powerful communication tool that encompasses your goals, objectives and strategies to achieve success. it can also help you reach those goals by providing the appropriate linkages—internally and externally—to make sure your objectives are met.

4. It’s your working action plan

A thorough business plan serves as an operating blueprint for the year, and allows you to simulate reality and anticipate pitfalls long before they occur.

5. It helps you know what you need to do financially to survive every month

It helps you base decisions on numbers, rather than going with your gut instinct.

As with so many aspects of running a business, annual plans are part science and part art; part prediction and part taking actions based on calculated risk. When you sit down to flesh out and structure your ideas, goals and visions, you’ll find that any obstacles you may face will become apparent and will force you to be more creative and more innovative in order to overcome them.

 

To download a free business plan template, visit the Free Tools section of the Bizlaunch website or click here. You can also attend next Wednesday’s free webinar, ‘The Secrets to Writing a Good Business Plan’, at 1pm Eastern. Register here

 

Turn Site Traffic Into Sales

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Do you need to get more leads for your business? Are you looking for a way to send web traffic to a specific page to do something, such as buy a product or sign up for your mailing list? If so, you need a landing page.

Landing pages are used to do one thing: get visitors to your site to take action. And that’s how they bring your business new leads. Today, we explain what a landing page is, how it differs from your home page, and how you can direct traffic to it.

The Difference Between a Home Page and a Landing Page

Many business owners believe that as their homepage is designed to convert traffic, that’s all they need—but they’re wrong. Your home page, unless you sell a single product, is for any and all traffic, who must, at that point, determine where they want to click next. Landing pages make it even easier by honing in on that thing they’re specifically interested in, and therefore, they increase the likelihood of conversion.

Using a landing page to sell your products or services is a great way to put all your attention onto a single product for the benefit of your customer. Show that you understand his or her needs, and that you can provide an effective solution.

How to Bring Traffic to Your Landing Page

There are several ways you can direct traffic to your landing page, such as:

  • A Pay-Per-Click ad (Google AdWords, Facebook ads)
  • Banner or graphic online ad
  • Link in email
  • Link in blog post

When considering which channels you want to use to help potential customers find your landing page, keep in mind your target. Where are they looking for information on brands like yours?

If you want more tips on converting visitors into sales through landing pages, then attend our free webinar, “Landing Pages That Sell” on November 19th, 2013, at 1 pm Eastern.

We hope to see you there!

 

Infographic Highlights The Concerns of Small Business Owners in Ontario

You regularly find yourself lying awake at night worrying about saving for your retirement. Cash flow is your biggest challenge. You’re a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to your business, and you have no plans for expansion or growth in 2014.

Does this sound like you? If it does, the good news is that you’re not the only one. A recent study by one of Ontario’s most trusted credit unions, Meridian, revealed several interesting tidbits of information―chief among them that work-life balance, staff management, cash flow and marketing are the top challenges facing small business owners in Ontario today.

Meridian Infographic

If marketing your business is a top concern for you, consider signing up for our upcoming webinar.

An attractive and informative website that’s easy to navigate is undoubtedly one of your best marketing tools, and on Tuesday November 12th from 1-2pm ET, the experts at Deluxe Corporation will be showing you how to get the most out of yours in ‘Put Your Website to Work’.

Sign up for the event here.