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No nonsense information on small business.

Jul 7, 2011 - 1 minute read - Comments - business news

Scotiabank Forecasts Alberta, Saskatchewan Economies To Lead Nation

Scotiabank is predicting Alberta’s economy will grow at an average rate of 3.8% during 2011 and 2012. Saskatchewan is close behind at 3.5%. Both provinces are expected to benefit from continued demand for their natural resources. Alberta will benefit from continue oil sands development, while Saskatchewan will benefit from further potash development and continued investment in the Bakken oil play.

Canada as a whole is expected to grow an average of 2.6% over the same time period. Ontario and Québec are expected to get off to a weaker start due to poor growth in the United States and the natural disaster in Japan, which has widened their trade deficits. Growth for these two provinces is expected to improve in 2012. Atlantic Canada’s continued soft employment numbers will be a drag on growth.

Jul 6, 2011 - 3 minute read - Comments - entrepreneurship

How To Start A Business In Alberta

Albertans have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. If you are thinking of starting a business and joining your fellow entrepreneurs, you have come to the right place. A large undertaking like starting a business can be daunting at first but if you focus on one step at a time you’ll find that things will become more manageable. This blog post will attempt to do that for you. Follow the links for a more in depth look at each topic.

  1. Think about whether you are ready to be an entrepreneur. Talk to your immediate family members to make sure you have their support.
  2. Evaluate your business idea. Does it require a new business model or are other businesses currently operating successfully using this model?
  3. If you have a new business model conduct a feasibility study to confirm your idea is sound.
  4. If your business is operating under a proven business model, conduct preliminary research to make sure that the business makes sense, given your skills and finances. Make sure it makes sense for the market.
  5. If the your initial research or your feasibility study shows that your business idea has a reasonable chance of succeeding, continue to the next step. Otherwise, go back to the idea stage.
  6. Pick a name for your business.
  7. Consult your lawyer and accountant and decide on a legal structure for your business.
  8. Register your sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. The Alberta Government has a site that will help you register your business name. This can be done at your local registry agent.
  9. Register the domain address for your website.
  10. Write a business plan.
  11. Register for a Business Account Number.
  12. Pick a bank and open an account.
  13. Apply for financing, if necessary.
  14. Apply for a business license and any other license you need to operate your business. The Alberta Government has a all encompassing website for this called BizPal It will take care of your provincial and municipal licensing needs. The site will ask you questions about your business and then suggest a list of licenses and permits to apply for.
  15. Start implementing your business plan. Depending on your circumstances, this could mean signing property leases, buying and installing equipment, building a website and generally getting your business ready to open to the public.

The process of opening your business might differ slightly from these steps, but the list includes the basic tasks that most businesses will need to complete. As you can see, when a large project such as starting a business is broken down into smaller tasks, things become more manageable. If you feel like you need more information on parts of the process or if you would like us to cover additional tasks not on this list, please leave a comment below.

Jul 5, 2011 - 1 minute read - Comments - business news

Banks Raise Residential Mortgage Rates

The Royal Bank, the TD and Laurention Bank have all increased their residential mortgage fixed rates. Rates have gone up across the various loan terms, with the 5 year mortgage rate up by 0.15% to 5.54%. The rest of the Banks will likely follow suit.

This has an impact on small business borrowing because commercial mortgage rates often move in tandem with the residential rates. While this rate increase isn’t large, it does indicate that we will be moving into a period of rising interest rates.

Jul 4, 2011 - 4 minute read - Comments - banking

Choosing A Bank or Credit Union For Your Small Business

You might think that banks and credit unions are all the same but there are some subtle distinctions between them that should have an impact on your choice of financial institution. The first choice is between Canada’s big five banks (RBC, CIBC, BMO, Scotiabank, and TD) or a credit union.

Canadian Banks

The big banks have a number of advantages:

  • A wide variety of products and services. Whatever you want to do, they likely already have a customer using the same financial product.

  • A Global reach. Many of the banks have extensive U.S. operations which could be an advantage if you are exporting or if you have U.S. locations. The banks also have a presence in other countries around the world but this varies from bank to bank.

  • A large amount of capital. Your business would have to grow quite large before a bank would start to syndicate your loans to other financial institutions to hedge their risk. For most small business owners, they can serve as a one stop shop for financing.

There are other banks in Canada that make a legitimate choice. HSBC is a large global bank with considerable Canadian operations. They can make dealing in other countries easier. Smaller banks like National Bank, Laurention Bank, and the well run Canadian Western Bank can be the right fit for many businesses. Alberta Treasury Branches is a provincial crown corporation that does a considerable amount of commercial lending. Although they are publicly owned, they are far more like a bank than a credit union in my experience. The Business Development Bank is a federal crown corporation that fills a niche in that they are willing to take slightly more risk that most banks. They partner with organizations like the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) to provide loans to young entrepreneurs. The different banks have different risk tolerances for different types of lending. For example, some banks do not like to deal with real estate developers, while others actively solicit this business. Different banks will also have varying levels of support for the Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP). Some banks welcome these government guaranteed loans, while others feel the extra administration is not worth the hassle.

Credit Unions

Credit unions can be a good choice as a service provider for your small business’s financial needs. In general, credit unions have the following advantages:

  • A local focus. Because lending decisions are often made in the same community as the business is located in, they often understand the market better and this can work in your favour.

  • Better customer service. This varies from location to location but I think in general, credit unions provide better customer service. Banks can provide excellent service as well, like that I get at my own branch, but I think staff turnover is generally higher and the focus is more on the bottom line. This may change as credit unions merge and grow larger.

  • Membership has its benefits. Credit unions are owned by their members and the well run ones pay a dividend back to their members every year. This doesn’t amount to big money but its nice to get something back.

I encourage anyone who is looking for a financial institution for their small business to shop around. Consider what I have discussed above but also ask other business owners where they have their dealings and how happy they are. If you have a restaurant, talk to other restaurant owners. There can be regional differences in how the banks approach the risk they see in certain industries. Talk to people in your community. As a closing note, if there are lenders reading this blog, please feel free to comment below or email us with your comments on this post. We’ll respect your anonymity. Your voices would certainly be a valuable addition to this discussion.

Jun 23, 2011 - 2 minute read - Comments - business news

FuEL Awards Promote Entrepreneurship In Canada

The FuEL Awards are sponsored by Rogers, TD Bank, KPMG, File Mobile, Profit Magazine and Impact. They are looking for Canada’s future entrepreneurs. They will select 20 applicants who they deem Canada’s Future Entrepreneurial Leaders. These 20 applicants will:

  • win a national award

  • be featured on the FuEL website and in the December 2011 issue of profit magazine

  • receive a one day consultation with KPMG

  • be given a chance to be FUEL Entrepreneur Of The Year and attend QuantumShift at the Ivey School of Business

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • be resident in Canada and born in or after 1982

  • be headquartered in Canada

  • have significant operations in Canada

  • be Canadian owned

  • operate independently (no subsidiaries or divisions)

The judging panel will be made up of members from the Impact Entrepreneurship Group. The evaluation will be scored based on the following criteria:

  • product or service innovation: 25%

  • community building/social responsibility: 15%

  • job creation/employment practices: 15%

  • commercial results/potential: 25%

  • total votes: 20%

The public will be able to vote on the FuEL Website until August 7, 2011. Entrepreneurs can either apply or be nominated. The application deadline is July 15, 2011. Winners will be announced November 14, 2011. While the prizes are not a lucrative as some of the other business contests that are going on this summer, if you fit the criteria, it is probably a good idea to apply. The publicity from being shortlisted or winning Entrepreneur Of The Year could help your company to the next level of success.

Jun 22, 2011 - 3 minute read - Comments - entrepreneurship

How To Start A Business In Saskatchewan

It’s an excellent time to start a business in Saskatchewan. Whether you are in Saskatoon or Regina, Prince Albert or Yorkton, Maple Creek or Tisdale, the prospects for starting a successful business are as good as any time in recent memory. Starting a business can be a daunting task. Like all big projects, things are more manageable if you break them down to a series of smaller tasks. This blog post will attempt to do that for you.

  1. Think about whether you are ready to be an entrepreneur. Talk to your immediate family members to make sure you have their support. You don’t want to enter into a new business with along a reluctant spouse.
  2. Evaluate your business idea. Does it require a new business model or are other businesses currently operating successfully using this model?
  3. If you have a new business model conduct a feasibility study to confirm your idea is sound.
  4. If your business is operating under a proven business model, conduct preliminary research to make sure that the business makes sense given your skills and finances. Make sure it makes sense for the market.
  5. If the your initial research or your feasibility study shows that your business idea has a reasonable chance of succeeding, continue to the next step, otherwise, go back to the idea stage.
  6. Pick a name for your business.
  7. Consult your lawyer and accountant and decide on a legal structure for your business.
  8. Register your sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.
  9. Register the domain address for your website.
  10. Write a business plan.
  11. Register for a Business Account Number.
  12. Pick a bank and open an account.
  13. Apply for financing, if necessary.
  14. Apply for a business license and any other license you need to operate your business. The Saskatchewan Government has a all encompassing website for this called BizPal It will take care of your provincial and municipal licensing needs. The site will ask you questions about your business and then suggest a list of licenses and permits to apply for.
  15. Start implementing your business plan. Depending on your circumstances, this could mean signing property leases, buying and installing equipment and generally getting your business ready to open to the public.

The process of opening your business might differ slightly from these steps, but the list includes the basic tasks that most businesses will need to complete. As you can see, when a large project such as starting a business is broken down into smaller tasks, things become more manageable. If you feel like you need more information on parts of the process or if you would like us to cover additional tasks not on this list, please leave a comment below.