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No nonsense information on small business.

Feb 27, 2012 - 1 minute read - Comments - business news

Good Money Impact Venture Challenge

Vancity is sponsoring a competition to help post-secondary and recent post-secondary graduates grow for-profit businesses that have a positive social or environmental impact.

Applicants must submit an 8 page business plan that includes a description of the positive environmental or social impact of the business. Vancity personele will judge the plans based on their merits and up to 10 applicants may be selected to move on to the next phase of the competition. All qualified applicants will get feedback on their business plans, regardless of their ranking by the judges.

The application deadline for submitting a business plan is 12:00 p.m., Friday, March 16, 2012. Finalists will be announced on Monday, March 26, 2012.

Finalists will be invited to pitch their businesses to the contest’s judges. The pitches will take place on Wednesday April 4, 2012.

Winners will be announced on April 25, 2012 at an award ceremony in Vancouver. The prizes are:

  • 1 first prize of $50,000
  • 1 second prize of $25,000
  • 1 third prize of $15,000

This contest is a good opportunity for student entrepreneurs to gain recognition for their companies. The full terms and conditions can be found on the Vancity website.

Jan 24, 2012 - 1 minute read - Comments - business news

Saskatoon Entrepreneurship Contest For Prospective Retailers

The Centre shopping mall in Saskatoon is running an entrepreneurship contest for Saskatoon entrepreneurs. The contest is eligible to Saskatoon area residents over the age of 18 who have a business plan and the financial backing to start their business. The winning business must be able to be operated at The Centre.

Prices include 3 months of rent-free retail cart space, a Web Presence Business Starter Plan from BlackSun, and a $500 signage start up among others. The winning entrepreneur will be required to participate in the media campaign surrounding the contest. In many ways, this exposure is probably the most valuable part of winning the competition.

The Centre also has a special entrepreneur contest just for kids. The kids portion of the contest is open to those 17 years of age and younger. Kids need parental consent to enter the contest and may have to submit product samples if asked. The prize for the winner of this competition is a $1,000 RESP.

If you fit the criteria, it’s probably worthwhile to enter the contest. The exposure it brings would be valuable. The deadline for entries is 6pm February 15, 2012. Applications for adults and kids can be found here.

Jan 5, 2012 - 2 minute read - Comments - entrepreneurship

Try Before You Buy

It turns out that we aren’t very good at predicting the future. A sober look at the predictions of economists, political pundits, and sportscasters reveals this lack of foresight.

What is more surprising, is that we do a very poor job of predicting our own futures. It’s difficult to predict how much we will like a certain situation. Part of the reason for this is that we are unable to completely imagine all the details of a certain situation. If you are imagining running your own business, you might be thinking of how much fun it will be to design products or come up with clever marketing campaigns. You might not be imagining setting up an accounting system, filing your taxes, or meeting with your banker. Imagination has a way of filling in some details while leaving others out. The problem is that some of the details that get left out might be very important.

It’s not possible to completely imagine what running your own business will be like. The best way to remedy this is to talk to other business owners who run a similar business to yours. Learn from their experience. They will be able to give you a much more complete picture of what your experience of running that type of business will be like.

If you can find a business owner that is willing, spend a few days job shadowing him or her. Asking questions, while experiencing some of the business’s activities firsthand, will be very valuable.

This might seem like a lot of effort to learn about something you think you already understand. Trust me, your romantic image of business ownership isn’t accurate in all respects. You are about to invest your hard earned money and take substantial financial risks. Do your research first.

Dec 6, 2011 - 1 minute read - Comments - business news

Bank Of Canada Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

The Bank of Canada announced today that it is leaving its overnight lending rate at 1%, which is what is has been all year. Governor Mark Carney commented that economic uncertainty had increased in the past few weeks and that the recession in Europe was more pronounced than expected.

Canada’s big bank economists expect the rate to remain at this level throughout most of 2012.

Nov 30, 2011 - 2 minute read - Comments - entrepreneurship

Are You Involved Or Are You Committed?

There’s an old analogy that illustrates being involved versus being committed.

A breakfast made of bacon and eggs beautifully illustrates the commitment of the pig vs. the compliance of the chicken. The chicken is involved, but it is the pig that is fully committed.

In a way starting a business is a lot like this. You can be involved. You can make some initial inquires, ask people what they think and dream about starting your business. You want everyone else to do the initial work for you. You have shown an interest that has gotten you involved in the process, but you are not truly committed.

If you were truly committed you would be doing considerable research on your own. You would be making phone calls and investigating start up costs. You would find out what it will take to run the business successfully. You would talk to other business owners in your space to find out what advice they could give you that would increase your chance of being successful. You would talk to potential customers to find if they would be willing to purchase what you have to offer.

You would then complete an effective business plan to make sure that you understand all of the details of starting and running your business. If the prospects for the business were good, you would implement your plan.

You need to ask yourself early on whether starting a business is an idle fantasy or something you are going to roll up your sleeves and do. Are you merely involved or are you committed?

Nov 16, 2011 - 3 minute read - Comments - banking

Understanding An Import Letter of Credit

An import letter of credit (import documentary credit) is issued by a bank at the request of an importer. The letter of credit states that the bank will pay a specified sum of money to a beneficiary, normally an exporter, on presentation of particular, specific documents.

If you are importing goods into Canada, you can go to your bank to request an import letter of credit. The bank will evaluate your credit worthiness much like it would for a loan. This is because it is making a promise to pay the exporter of the goods on your behalf. The bank wants to make sure that in the end it can get the money from you. For importers who do not have a long history with the bank or those who have newer businesses that don’t have significant assets, the bank may require collateral in support of the letter of credit. There will be a fee for this letter of credit ranging from 0.5% to 2% of the letter of credit amount.

The letter of credit is a promise from the importer’s Canadian bank to pay the exporter of the goods as long as they are shipped in accordance with specified instructions and conditions. A contract is created between the Canadian bank and the exporter of the goods.

The Canadian bank will sent the letter of credit to the exporter’s bank. The exporter’s bank will then let the exporter know that it is ok to ship the goods. The exporter will draw a draft against the Canadian bank in accordance with the terms of the letter of credit, attach the required documents, and present the draft to his own bank for payment.

The exporter’s bank will send the letter of credit and associated documents to the Canadian bank for payment. If all the terms and conditions in the letter of credit have been complied with (meaning the goods have been delivered) the Canadian bank will pay the exporter’s bank. The Canadian bank will request payment from the importer.

What this series of transactions does is trade the creditworthiness of the importer and the exporter, who may not know or trust one another, for the creditworthiness of their banks. The two banks will presumably know and trust another and have had many other dealings with each other. The importer and exporter each trust their own banks, and the banks trust each other. This makes the transaction much safer than if the importer and exporter dealt with each other directly.

If you are importing significant quantities of product as part of your business, you should speak to your bank about setting up one these letter of credit facilities. One failed transaction could be very costly. Off-setting the risk of this may well be worth the cost of a letter of credit.