Flock Free Nation

No nonsense information on small business.

Mar 24, 2014 - 2 minute read - Comments - websites

More Than Half of Canadian Businesses Still Don't Have A Website

According to a recent study released by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)1 only 45.5% of Canadian businesses have a website. Among small businesses, only 41.1% have a website.

ComScore reported that e-commerce spending in Canada increased by 10% to $22.3 billion. The number of transactions were up 17% and 50% of Canadians used the internet to purchase a good or service online.

What do all of these numbers mean? The internet is a very important tool for consumers. If Canada follows the trend set by the United States and Great Britain, this will only increase.

Even if your product or service doesn’t lend itself to being sold over the internet, 74% of Canadians have used the internet to research a purchase that they eventually physically went into a store to purchase.

With services like Hover to register your domain name and Squarespace to build and host your website there really isn’t an excuse to not have a website. A simple one page website that lists your location and store hours is better than nothing. This can be had for less than $150/year. Those of you that have more complex needs may need to spend more to hire a website developer to get you the site you need. This is no longer something than can be ignored.

The world continues to change. I haven’t looked in the Yellow Pages to find a business in years. I’ll bet I’m not the only one. Don’t get left behind.

  1. They are responsible for the .ca website domains. [return]

Mar 10, 2014 - 3 minute read - Comments - government banking

New Guidelines For The CSBFP

The Canadian Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) has been revamped by Industry Canada. The changes will go into effect April 1, 2014.

The CSBFP is a a program whereby Industry Canada provides a level of insurance against loan losses to banks and credit unions. The idea behind this is that these lenders will be more willing to lend money to startups and existing businesses if they can be protected against loan losses.

To qualify for this program, the business must have less than $5 million in revenue per year. Eligible loan purposes include:

  • equipment
  • leasehold improvements
  • real property (real estate)

The maximum about of financing continues to be $500,000 per borrower. Leaseholds and equipment can be financed to a maximum of $350,000 per borrower. The maximum loan guarantee is 10 years. If a loan is amortized over more than 10 years, it will be uninsured past the 10 year period if payments continue.

Interest rates remain the same. Lenders can charge a maximum of prime plus 3.0% or the residential mortgage rate plus 3.0%. The insurance premium remains the same at 2.0% of the loan amount.

Program Changes

Lenders were unable to charge loan fees. With the new changes, they will be able to charge loan fees, provided they do not charge fees in excess of what they would charge on their other business loans. These fees cannot be financed as part of the loan.

Lenders had been restricted to financing a maximum of 90% of the cost of eligible assets. Under the new program, they will be able to finance up to 100% of the cost of the eligible assets. It is important to note that while they will be able to finance assets at this level, they are under no obligation to do so. Lenders can finance assets at any percentage of cost that they are comfortable with.

These loans had required extensive documentation of purchases by way of receipts and proof of payment. This documentation is still required but the lender will only need to prove expenditures for the amount of the loan outstanding at the point of default when making a claim for loss. The effect of this will be that the lender needs to worry less about documenting every cent. Lenders may deem the receipts for small items financed under the program as being no longer necessary.

Appraisals will be required when assets or a service intended to improve the assets are performed by a person who is not at arms length from the borrower.

Personal guarantees used to be limited to 25% of the loan amount. This restriction has now been removed and the lender can require personal guarantees from the shareholders in an amount equal to 100% of the loan amount.

The Bottom Line

The net effect of these changes is to make the program more attractive to lenders. The number and amount of loans financed under this program has been falling in recent years. Industry Canada would like to get banks and credit unions lending to more businesses by making this program more attractive to them.

The program still remains a viable option for borrowers. It can be more costly than regular financing due to the premium but it might provide an option to get financing in situations where the lenders would not provide a loan without the added protection of the loan guarantee.

Full details of the program will be available on the Canadian Small Business Financing Program’s website on April 1, 2014.

Feb 15, 2014 - 1 minute read - Comments - government legal

Saskatoon Business Licensing Now Online

Saskatoon business owners can now renew their business licenses online. New business owners can also apply for their business license through this online service. This convenience comes at no cost. Business license fees have not increased.

The website has some issues but it works. It doesn’t seem to work well with Safari or Chrome. You’ll want to use Firefox. Load times are quite slow but be patient. It will eventually render the next page.

This is a nice, convenient service. Hopefully the city’s website redesign will address some of of the compatibility issues.

Jun 13, 2013 - 1 minute read - Comments - business news

Empower Business Program Opens For Applications

The Empower Business Program, which is run by Saskatoon Ideas Inc. and is supported by BHP Billiton as its title sponsor, has opened to another 10 aspiring entrepreneurs. The program provides mentoring to First Nations and Métis entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan.

The program will provide mentoring to assist to assist in all parts of starting your business. They will help you determine your business model and a plan to implement it. They will assist in marketing as well as financial, market and competitor analysis.

If you meet the requirements and are planning to start a business or have recently started one, this program is well worth applying to. You’ll get a lot of assistance in starting your business that you might not be able to easily get elsewhere. The program can be delivered remotely over video so if you are rural Saskatchewan and can’t make frequent trips into the city, you should still apply. The deadline for applications is August 16, 2013 so you’ll want to move quickly.

The application process is simple. There is a short application form in Word format that can be found at the the Ideas Inc. website

Nov 28, 2012 - 1 minute read - Comments - entrepreneurship

Ideas Inc. and BHP Billiton Launch Empower Business Program

Ideas Inc. and BHP Billiton have teamed up to create the Empower Business Program for Saskatchewan First Nations and Métis entrepreneurs. The program will help entrepreneurs get the resources and training they need to start and grow their businesses.

The program is taking applications from December 1, 2012 to January 31, 3013. Interested entrepreneurs should visit the Ideas Inc. website or send an email to empower @ saskatoonideas.com. If you are thinking of starting a business and you qualify for the program, this would be an excellent way for you to get help in getting your business of the ground.

Nov 21, 2012 - 1 minute read - Comments - government

BC Reviews PNP Options For Business Immigrants

The BC PNP has two options through the business immigration stream – the Fast Track nomination option and the regular process. As of November 15, 2012, the government is suspending the Fast Track option as it reviews the effectiveness of the program.

Under the Fast Track option, business applicants who had obtained a PNP-supported work permit and had arrived in BC could request immediate nomination for permanent residence if they posted a $125,000 bond with the Province. The bond would be refunded once the applicant met his or her obligations under the program.

Under the regular process, there is no performance bond and applicants are only nominated once they have established a business.

Since 2007, 26 Fast Track nominees have completed their performance agreements compared with 261 business applicants who have gone through the regular process.

BC PNP Business Stream Nominations Since 2007

Although BC is suspending the Fast Track option while the review is being conducted, this will have no impact on the regular process in the business immigration stream. This change will have an impact on some immigrants, but for the vast majority of immigrants under the business stream of the BC PNP, BC remains open for business.