Category Archives: Small Business

BEC a business workhorse

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes
During small business week, it’s fitting that I highlight the work of the  Brampton Entrepreneur Centre  (BEC), formerly the Small Business Enterprise Centre.

From the horses mouth, so to speak, BEC is dedicated to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs  succeed in today’s ever-changing business market. Whether you’re thinking about opening a business, formulating your business plan or undergoing change in an established business BEC has the expertise to help. Most of the services are free, and the rest are offered at a nominal fee.

BECBrampton BEC is part of Brampton’s Economic Development Office (EDO) – a “one-stop shop” for business development information.  Find out more about the Brampton EDO by clicking here.

 BEC is also a member of the ONE Network (, which brings together Ontario’s 57 Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBECs), 17 Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) and Ontario Business Advisory Services (BAS) staff under one brand.  Through the integrated framework, SBECs, RICs and BAS organizations  provide high quality business support services, while the Network collectively assists Ontario’s entrepreneurial community.
Brampton BEC is also a federal partner with Canada Business, a division of Industry Canada.  Visit and for a wealth of business information.
BEC offers a range of free services including:
  •  Guidance on business start-up steps
  • Guidance on permits, regulations and other start-up requirements
  • Start Smart program
  • Leading-edge information, resources and templates
  • Workshops and seminars (free and low-cost)
  • Individual, private consultations
  • Business plan reviews
  • Referral services
  • Strengthen and Succeed seminar series
  • Counsel on growth and change issues
  • Professional development and networking opportunities

Check them out. Brampton BEC

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Knock down the barriers. Dare to grow

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Wonder how this week came to be Small Business week. This is what Wikipedia has to say.

BDC Small Business Week is a national celebration of Canadian entrepreneurs and their contribution to Canada’s economy. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has been organizing Small Business Week for 36 years.It takes place every year during the third full week of October. Events held during the week bring together entrepreneurs—and prospective entrepreneurs—at conferences, workshops, luncheons and trade fairs across Canada.[2] The goal is to provide them with opportunities to learn, network, share ideas and socialize with their peers.

Small Business Week began in 1979 when the branches of the Federal Business Development Bank (as BDC was then known) in British Columbia’s Lower Fraser Valley organized a week of small business management training sessions for entrepreneurs. They called the initiative Small Business Week.[4] Employees in British Columbia repeated the experiment the following year and, in 1981, Small Business Week was officially launched nationwide.

banner-sbw2015The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and local chambers and boards of trade across Canada collaborate with BDC on organizing Small Business Week events. Over the years, other Crown corporations and large companies have also participated as sponsors.[7] Each year, hundreds of activities across Canada attract thousands of business people to Small Business Week. Small Business Week has been a registered trademark of the Business Development Bank of Canada since 1986.

Each year Small Business Week has a theme reflecting the challenges entrepreneurs face at the time. Small Business Week 2015 takes place October 18 – 24 under the theme: Knock down the barriers. Dare to grow. A national events calendar is maintained by BDC to publicize local events and inform entrepreneurs about what’s happening in their area.

Visit  the Brampton Entrepreneur Centre and The Brampton Board of Trade. Both have activities planned through to the end of the month.

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Celebrating Small Business in Canada

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Most of us know that small business in Canada is the economic driver. This is small business week so I thought I would share some of the statistics gathered by Industry Canada.

Number of BusinessesSmall biz stat
As of 2012, there were just over 1.08 million small businesses in Canada that had employees (excludes self-employed entrepreneurs and indeterminate businesses). Ninety-eight percent of businesses in Canada have 1 to 99 employees.
Taking into account entries and exits, the net increase in the number of small businesses was almost 22,000 over the 2008–2009 period.

As of 2012, small businesses employed over 7.7 million individuals in Canada, or 69.7 percent of the total private labour force. Small businesses created a little over 100,000 jobs, on average, between 2002 and 2012, accounting for almost 78 percent of all private jobs created on average.

Survival rates for small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada decline with time. About 80 percent of enterprises that entered the marketplace in 2008 survived for one full year and 72 percent of enterprises that entered the marketplace in 2007 survived for two years. The number of business bankruptcies in Canada fell by 56 percent between 2000 and 2010 to about 3,200 in 2012.

High-growth firms are present in every economic sector and are not just concentrated in knowledge-based industries. In terms of employment, the highest concentrations of high-growth firms in Canada during the 2006–2009 period were in construction (4.9 percent of all firms); business, building and other support services (4.6 percent); and professional, scientific and technical services (4.5 percent).
Over 50 percent of firms in both the manufacturing and service-producing sectors expect to grow between one and ten percent from 2012 to 2014.

Visit  the Brampton Entrepreneur Centre and The Brampton Board of Trade. Both have activities planned through to the end of the month.


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Is your business coming out of labour?

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Labour Day represents the final push for most small businesses. A good, bad, mediocre first 8 months can become magic in the final four.

But it’s unwise to enter the final stage of the year without understanding where you are relative to where you thought you would be at this point. And if that metric is out the window at least where you are to last year.

labour pushIf you are on your plan and it’s working then great. If not, why not?  A plan that isn’t measured is not a plan; it’s a Hail Mary. So, hopefully you have some indication of where your business is not performing and can make adjustments. Look at marketing, online and traditional. Look at sales and customer service. Is it working? Get rid of what isn’t and focus on what is?

Be bold. You have time.  Talk to your staff. Talk to your customers. They can all provide input.

And, of course, track any adjustments you make.







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Tracking in 2014- five things to measure

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

My last blog talked about hitting the refresh button at the start of 2014, shaking off the bad or embracing the good as the giant ball dropped at Times Square.

I mentioned the importance of hitting the ground running in 2014 and today had the opportunity to listen to a group of networkers  talk about just that and for some the first few weeks were already promising. As the first meeting of the year, for this networking group, many reported success in 2013 over the previous year. How did they know. They track their business.

Now for some of you that’s a no brainer.

MeaSURINGHere are five things every business should measure

  1. The sales pipeline – I think we all understand the importance of filling the hopper/pipeline with prospects to help take the peaks and valleys out of the business cycle. When we are busy it is difficult to remember that new leads may take months to emerge as business, but it is vital that we keep looking for new customers even during peak periods. Every business is different in terms of the length of time required to turn a lead into a sale, so first understand your own cycle. Equally important, is to track the leads so you know where to put the effort/money to build the business. Ask people how they heard about you. And track what activity – advertising, website, social media, newsletter, networking – generated the business.
  1. Conversion rate – So we are really good at generating leads but not so much at converting those leads into sales. How many leads do you need to generate the business you require to meet your revenue targets. If you need 10 new customers a month (average sale $2,000 a month) to meet your target and your conversion rate is 25% then you must generate 40 new leads a month. Understanding this dynamic helps you to manage the business throughout the year and make adjustments as required.
  1.  Cost of New Business – Tracking leads and where they came from tells you what activity is generating new business  but it’s also important to know at what cost.  Using our example in #2, we know that we need 10 new customers or $20,000 each month to meet our targets, But what did it cost to get that $20,000 in new revenue? You paid to generate 40 leads, remember. Knowing the cost, and what activity generated the revenue, is fundamental in managing your business.
  1.  Customer satisfaction – It’s more expensive to generate a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. If you are growing your business 10% a year but losing the same amount, you need to know why. I have talked at length about how important it is to talk to your customers. Develop an advisory board to help you provide an excellent service level. Survey your customers. Seek out testimonials from satisfied customers. Happy customers can provide excellent referrals.

Track the details. What is the customer spend? What happens year on year? Can you raise the spend with incentives?

  1.  Profit & Cash Flow- Profit is what drives the bus, but cash flow fills the tank. Expectations around profit are different for every business, but understanding what impacts profit helps you to better determine what adjustments might have to be made to expenses or revenue. That analysis needs to take place monthly -don’t wait until November to determine that the wheels fell off along the way.

Cash flow – You need cash flow to run a business.  It doesn’t matter how much money is coming in down the road if you don’t have enough money to get from here to there. It’s the difference between what comes in and what goes out.

      Take a look at your own cash flow

  1. Start with the amount of cash on hand – your current bank account balance(s)
  2. Make a list of what’s coming in – customer payments, collection on bad debts, interest or investment earnings, etc. Include when it will be coming in.
  3. Make a similar list of money going out – payroll, monthly overhead, accounts payable or other debt, taxes payable, equipment purchases, marketing expenses, etc.

Now, track what actually happens. Set up an Excel spreadsheet with your projections and the       actual numbers. (You can also find worksheets online) It will help you see what needs to be adjusted.

There are many metrics in business, and each business may have its own measuring tools. The point here is make sure you measure results. It can be the difference between success and failure.

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