February Meet + Mingle Success!

Our February Meet + Mingle was such a success and we couldn’t be more grateful for all our guests, hosts and sponsors! We were fully sold out with a long wait list and loads of inspired and contributing members!

This event was put together by Beth Woodward and hosted by the beautiful Laura Bradburn from Styled Lounge, downtown Burlington. Our night kicked off with networking and mingling between our members and guests, with over 35 small business owners, we had some wonderful variety throughout our group.

After our introduction and a brief conversation on our beginnings and purpose, we broke out into small focus groups, to talk in depth about each other’s creative marketing strategies.

If you missed this event and would like to download the worksheet, you can find it HERE.

 

OUR NEXT EVENT is on March 19th at Beaver and Bulldog downtown Burlington from 7pm – 9pm.

 

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BUY YOUR TICKETS FOR THE MARCH MEET + MINGLE!

 

 

 

A Portrait of an Entrepreneur

When I use the word Entrepreneur, I am referring to someone who puts everything on the line for the sole purpose of pursuing the success of a “Big Idea”.

The Entrepreneur personally assumes the risks in order to realize his or her dream. They work for themselves, not others. They forge their own destiny. Their success is entirely dependent on their ability to deliver. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, the Entrepreneur relies on their savings account or spouse to pay for the daily living expenses. But the ultimate goal is always, that the Entrepreneur will pay for the business AND their share of the living expenses. Someday. Sooner, rather than later.

And let me be really clear. There is a big difference between being self-employed and being an entrepreneur.

Those who only have one customer or one account are not Entrepreneurs. They are freelancers. Those who work solely on commission – no matter what kind of nice words they are told by their company or association — are not Entrepreneurs. They are self-employed. And while I totally get there is a huge financial risk in both of these circumstances because you are earning your livelihood based on your ability to sell, there is no financial risk for paying back loans, paying the salaries of employees, paying gobs of money to suppliers and owing the banks huge gobs of money for equipment or inventory or trademarks or other stuff. And in management circles, there’s a lot of buzz about employees being Entrepreneurs. While I am very much for empowering employees, those who collect a paycheque in exchange for services rendered are risking little. They are not Entrepreneurs.

There is no shortage of Entrepreneurs. The classic definition is one who sees a need and then creates a product or service to satisfy it. And financially risks everything (or almost everything) to make it happen. An Entrepreneur can be labelled many different ways. Business owner, enterpriser, speculator, hustler, mogul, tycoon. Irrespective of whether there are employees or not, it is the Entrepreneur’s blood, sweat and tears that starts,  buys and or builds the organization. Without the Entrepreneur’s direction and leadership, nothing gets done.

In the snowflake kingdom, no two are the same. Yet there are common elements which allow us to identify them easily. So too for Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are enthusiastic. Wildly enthusiastic. Did you know that the original definition of an enthusiast was a person who was possessed by a god? Most of the entrepreneurs I have met are indeed eager, zealous, vehement, fervid, keen, impassioned, fanatical, and even obsessed. They are possessed by something. (And I mean that in a good way.)

Entrepreneurs are strong. Mentally. Emotionally, Spiritually. Physically. (Typically in at least one of these categories, rarely in all four.) Entrepreneurs execute way more than they plan. And possess an extraordinary level of perseverance.

Entrepreneurs make many, many mistakes. But their positive outlook gives them a framework to get over and keep going. Quickly. When something doesn’t work, they try something else. Their unspoken mantra is “Looking backwards gets in the way of driving forward”.

Most Entrepreneurs have an inferiority complex. It helps drive them. Naturally, they do not want anyone to know that about them. They want you to think they are oozing with self-confidence. In truth, they are extraordinary bluffers.

Entrepreneurs, (especially the male kind), often seem to carry a big chip on their shoulder. You can define that chip as self-confidence or cockiness, realism or arrogance, focus or stubbornness. Every day brings a new mountain to climb, a new battle to win, a new crisis to conquer. Some Entrepreneurs are good at keeping that chip contained; others are not.

Most Entrepreneurs are tinkerers and improvers, not truly original thinkers. The majority of the wonderful life-changers that we take for granted today were invented in the first half of the 1900s. Airplanes, space travel, computers, disease cures, scotch tape, drugs, telephones and the like. Very little in the way of life-changing invention has actually taken place in the past 50 years. What HAS taken place is amazing, marvelous, and awesome re-tinkering and improving. By some very forward- thinking Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs believe they are always forging new ground. They travel through their own “Land of Oz” alone, outside an organization. There is rarely a mentor, or even a sympathetic colleague to demonstrate or explain to. There is no “I’ll go with you this time and next time you can do it yourself”.

Most Entrepreneurs do everything alone. Hence their belief in forging new ground.
Many Entrepreneurs are bullies. They bully their suppliers, employees, and even customers. Meet them socially and you’d never suspect this! But watch them in action and you’ll be amazed at their Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde persona. They weren’t born this way; they evolved. It’s a coping mechanism, for most. If you are the Entrepreneur who is as charming, fair and decent in your business as you are socially, you are indeed a rare breed.

As you ponder your new life, it is vital to be honest with yourself. Now, more than any other time, you need to understand what you have going for you, and what you don’t and then work with what you have. Therefore, I ask you; Do you REALLY know what you are made of?

Do yourself a big favour and take a couple of personality or psychological tests before you become too committed to Entrepreneurship. You need not spend scads of money. Google them. Call up one of your old recruiter friends and ask them to give you one. Answer the questions honestly.

No one is going to grade you or mark you. This exercise is for you alone. There are no wrong answers; there is only clarity. Look closely at your good qualities; determine which ones you will likely be calling upon for this venture. Ask yourself what you need to do to keep them strong. Look very closely at those qualities that you know get you into trouble. What actions can you take that will minimize their impact?

I believe you can do anything you set your mind to do. However, it is much easier to take the road that meshes with the fundamental essence of what you call You. If your tests show that you are not a start-up Entrepreneur, but that you are still suited to running your own show, consider buying a business. Consider buying into one as a partner. Consider a franchise. Consider a loose affiliation with a group. Very seriously. Be honest with yourself. Lead with your strengths; take action to bolster your weaknesses.
And please don’t try to do EVERYTHING yourself.

To your success!

Charlene Norman is the Chief Cheerleader at www.bulletproofyourbusinessnow.com She is a business and leadership coach who works with frustrated entrepreneurs. Her specialties are improving profits and ramping personal productivity. She wrote a book for early entrepreneurs (Bullet Proof Your StartUp: Nuggets of Wisdom for New Entrepreneurs) and is getting set to publish her second book (Surviving and Thriving Through The Next Decade). Besides the usual social settings of Twitter, Linked In, Facebook and Instagram, you can find the real person version of her living in St. Catharines to where she escaped after 30 years in Mississauga and Toronto.

Organizational Hacks for Your Small Business

Tax time

First thing is first, everyone here is always worried and scrambling about for tax time, and I think the most important thing when starting a business is to save your receipts and always stay on top of everything for tax time. The first thing I find very useful is having yearly binders labeled to help. In that binder, you can have sections for each of your needs within your business, that way when it comes time for taxes you have everything saved, and in sections to keep things efficient. If after each time you conducted an expense you put the receipt into your binder, you would save endless amounts of time, energy and effort at tax time. So start fresh this year, get your binders made, make each new section divided off and get ready to stay organized.

Papers

Taking control of your paper documents is another vast task in small business ownership, and for people who still use paper documents, having the proper filing system set up is key. For me I always go alphabetical and by date. Then at the end of each year, you have your copies and it is already organized.

For my home office, I have everything in binders by category. I have a binder for every bill, insurance, and also personal information that way when I am looking for something, I go and look at my shelf and everything is labeled for me.

Scheduling

Calendars are what help us stay organized but I find some people use multiple calendars and that is something that makes them more unorganized or missing things in the end. Use only one calendar for personal, business and so forth and colour coordinate to differentiate between the different tasks. Having one calendar will help you stay organized in both personal and professional life.

Make a list and check is twice, this isn’t a tip just used for Santa; this works and helps in everyday life. Every morning, I make my list of what I have to do in that day and as I do each task I check it off my list. Making reminders and daily lists are extremely helpful to keeping yourself organized and great for time management

Workspaces

De-clutter your workspace. Part of the biggest issues of not being organized is clutter. Having the least amount of items on your desk as possible is key to staying organized. When you have lots of clutter, you have lots of distractions, which is what prevents people form getting the work done and keeping up with time management.

These are all just a very few initial tips to help you conduct a more organized day to day routine. Organization strategies are key to having a well run and enjoyable business, and sometimes it helps to have a professional get those strategies in place.

Brittany Donovan is a Professional Organizer serving in the Haldimand County and the surrounding areas including Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Brantford, and Simcoe. If you’re yearning to bring direction and order to your home, office, and life, Brittany is the one to start you on that journey! You can find more information about Brittany’s skills and services at www.Brittany-Donovan.com

Vendor Starter Guide – Get Ready For Your First Craft Fair Or Trade Show

Setting up a booth or a table at your first craft fair or trade show is super exciting. How many visitors will show up? Will they like my products? Will they buy from me or from my competitors?

With so much uncertainty around, we like to plan ahead as much as possible. Follow our guide and see how we got ready for our first event!

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Artificial Intelligence in my business?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzz word that appears in almost every new business article. For
many small business owners, the idea of using AI in their business seems unrealistic.
A quick definition of AI would be a process or task that would usually require human
intelligence. Mostly, it is an action performed by a computer or app that used to be done by a
human. We have seen AI creep into our lives in uncountable ways. AI is impacting us
exponentially from education and finance to health and science. AI is no longer reserved for
large organizations with exorbitant research and development budgets. It is available to
everyone. If you own a smartphone, it is a safe bet you use AI every day. Continue reading

6 Things to Consider That Could Protect Your Business and Save You Money

I know you have waited for this opportunity for so long and you are ready to say yes. I know you are excited and all set to go for it. I know this partnership could “potentially” open up even greater opportunities. I know you are so ready to formalize the relationship and put a ring on it. But before you say I do… to that business relationship, and sign the contract the other party has asked you to sign, there are 6 things I want you to consider doing that could protect your business and save you money.

1. Read the contract:

The very first thing you MUST do is to read the contract. A contract is legally enforceable and legally binding on the parties to the contract, no contract should ever be taken lightly. You have to read the entire contract, not just parts of it, EVERYTHING. Especially if you do not have a lawyer who is going to review the contract for you. It is not a defense to a breach-of-contract action to say that you did not read the contract.

Being a small business owner or entrepreneur, dealing with contracts is part of running a small business. And not reading the contract before you sign, is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes anyone whether you are an entrepreneur or small business owner can make. You could potentially be exposing and opening up your business to a lot of risks that could be avoided.

I know it can be difficult reading the entire contract especially the fine print. And many times, it’s just easier to take the word of the other party as to the terms of the contract and sign without reading it. Even if the other party is a family member or a trusted friend, you need to protect your business and not put your business at risk by relying on what they have told you. Please read the contract yourself.

Also, don’t fall into the trap that, “this is just a “standard contract” so all you have to do is sign.” Basically, what they are really saying is that “because our business deals frequently in this particular area, we have prepared our own contract that lays out how things will work and that is the “standard” contract we provide to anyone who is interested in doing business with us.” Standard contracts are generally written to benefit the interests of the person offering the contract. Do your due diligence and read it.

READ ALL OF IT. EVERY WORD SHOULD BE READ. DO NOT SKIM IT. DO NOT IGNORE THE BACK. DO NOT SKIP THE FINE PRINT. READ ALL OF IT. EVERY WORD COUNTS.

2. Ask questions and understand the terms:

Before entering into a contract, you should carefully read it to ensure that you understand your obligations and the obligations of the other parties to the contract. Do not sign a contract when you do not clarity about the terms of the contract. ASK QUESTIONS. DO NOT PRETEND THAT YOU UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU DO NOT.

As a general rule, Canadian courts expect that if you have signed a contract, you have agreed to it and you will therefore be bound by its terms. You may not be protected if you claim you did not understand what you were signing. Therefore, always make sure you understand a contract before signing it.

You should preferably ask a lawyer if you do not understand something, but at least ask the other part to the contract and get their answer in writing. 

You should also consider asking yourself questions as you read the contract. Consider some of the questions below:

  1. Does this contract accurately express our previous agreement and arrangement?
  2.  What are my obligations and the obligations of the other party under this contract? Have they been clearly expressed in the contract?
  3. What risks does this contract expose me to? To what risks is the other party exposed?
  4. Does this contract clearly detail the who, what, how, where and when of the agreement? Does it cover everything that it is meant to?

3. Propose changes and negotiate for better terms:

The terms are considered to be the most important part of the agreement. They set out the rights and obligations of the parties and explain what the agreement is about. You don’t want to sign a contract with terms that are or will be unfavourable to your business.  

Often, contracts may be biased toward one party, usually favoring the party who drafted it. Since you did not write the contract, you should take steps to eliminate these biases. Ensure you have a working understanding of the contract and its language so that you can discuss it knowledgeably and modify it to fit the needs of both parties to the agreement. 

Depending on the type of agreement, be prepared to do some major detail work revising it. Make a list of the changes, or modifications, that you would like to see, then discuss them with the other party to the contract. As a result of this negotiation, you may be able to change the contract so the terms or conditions are more favourable to you.

Before you sign the contract is the best time to ask for negotiations, modifications and changes because the other party may not want to consider making those changes once the contract has been signed by both parties.

Consider how important the contract is to your business and whether you can live with its terms. Do not agree to terms that will be detrimental to your business in the long run just because of the short term financial gains.

4. Fill the blank spaces:

You should not sign a contract that has blank spaces left to be filled in. Make sure all blank spaces are filled in or crossed out before signing any documents. This is to prevent the other party from modifying the contract without your consent with information that was not part of the agreement.

5. Don’t rush into signing:

I know this is a big deal for you. It is a great opportunity for your business, but don’t be pressured or rushed into signing a contract. One bad deal can cost you lots of money…even your business. If need be, be prepared to ask the other party for more time to read the contract. Anyone pressing on a fair agreement won’t negate such a request.

  1. Hire a lawyer to review the contracts before you sign:

Consider hiring a lawyer to review the contract before you sign.

You may believe it is not necessary to hire a lawyer. But a lawyer can help you avoid the potential consequences of a bad contract and ensure that your legal rights and business interests are protected. A lawyer will be able to look at the contract, check for any loopholes the other party could use against you and make sure the other party is not trying to take advantage of you. If needed, the lawyer can also negotiate and ask for certain changes to be made to better protect you.

Hiring a lawyer to review the contract before you sign, can help you as a business owner increase your productivity so you are not spending hours trying to understand and review a contract, when you could be involved in revenue generating activities for your business.

You may also believe that it is too expensive to hire one and you don’t have the funds to do that. But the truth is that, it may even be more expensive not to hire a lawyer if something were to go wrong in the future thereby causing major problems for your business.

After signing the contract:

I want you to retain a copy of the fully executed copy. An executed contract is one that has the signatures of both or all the parties involved. This is the best way for you to provide evidence of its existence and terms. If something were to happen and you didnt retain a copy of the executed copy, the person who has the only copy could dispute that there was even a contract in place.

It is worth mentioning again that because a contract is legally Enforceable and legally binding on the parties to the contract, no contract should ever be taken lightly. It is imperative that as an entrepreneur or a small business owner that you protect your business by not rushing to sign any contract. Take your time, read and understand the contract, negotiate the terms if they are unfavourable to you, or just simply get a lawyer to review it for you. Once you’ve signed a contract you may not be able to get out of it without compensating the other party for their genuine loss and expenses.
The Author:

Kemi Adefarakan, CEO at La Pearl Law Firm. You can contact her at kemi@lapearllaw.com

Kemi Adefarakan is a Business Lawyer who works with small business owners, entrepreneurs and professional women with a side hustle, to help them start, build and protect their business, brands and legacy. She is also an empowerment strategist passionate about using her words, both written and spoken to inspire and empower professional women who want more for their lives, to stop waiting, watching and wishing and for them to start living their dreams boldly. She is a Speaker and has authored 3 books. She loves to cook, read and travel. She lives in Milton with her husband and 2 beautiful boys.

How to Improve your Content and Engage More Readers

Would you like to engage with your readers rather than just talk at them?
By now you’ve probably heard that engaging, well-written content is the key to establishing a memorable, trustworthy brand. Whether you’re writing website copy, a blog post, or case studies, good storytelling builds active readership and, over time, turns those readers into customers.

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Understanding your financial story

During the process of completing a business’ tax return, an accountant prepares financial results or statements. The statements provide details about the gross revenue generated through sales, the expenses required to generate those sales, and the taxes payable on the resulting income. Many business owners only look at those financial statements once a year while quickly reviewing their tax return.

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