The Five W’s of Business

Before starting your own business, it’s important to take some time and reflect on what needs to be done to get a successful business off the ground. The planning stage is crucial, and will set the stage The Five W's of Businessfor how efficiently your company operates. In school, teachers often talk about the ‘Five Ws’ as a tool for information gathering, brainstorming and planning. If the planning of your business is still in its infancy, finding your ‘Five Ws’ can be a good way to understand the basics of how your business will operate.

Write down answers to the following questions. This will help you to formulate and conceptualize the foundations of your business.

Who is your target market? Knowing who your products are aimed towards can help you focus your business.

What are you selling? It is important to understand the details of the products you will market. What are you doing to distinguish your product from the competition?

Where will your business operate? For many companies, location is critical, and can make or break a business.

When do you plan to start? Creating deadlines and dates is crucial to keeping yourself on track. Don’t procrastinate!

Why do you want to start your own business? There are challenges associated with entrepreneurship and even a great business started for the wrong reasons might not be successful.

If you are thinking about starting your own company, answering these kinds of questions can be an excellent starting point. Once answered, they provide a framework for your business plan, and eventually, the business itself.

For some people, answering the ‘Five Ws’ can be a fairly easy process but determining “how” to start a business can be overwhelming and challenging. That is where the Halton Small Business Centre comes in. Our mandate is to provide guidance and advice for new entrepreneurs and it is our driving goal to help you succeed. If you have any questions about starting a business, or about how we can help, then contact us, and we can work through your challenges together.

Halton Small Business Centre
Phone: 905-825-6000 ext. 7900

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Running With the Big Dogs

When starting your business, one of the most important things you can do, and one that isFind your niche often overlooked, is to ensure that you have a way to distinguish yourself from your larger, pre-existing rivals. The business you are starting will likely have other players vying for market space, and most of them will be bigger than you. So how exactly does one stand out in a market filled with competition? Ultimately, distinguishing your start-up is something only you can do, but here are three tips to help point you in the right direction.

Do your research:

When starting your own businesses it is critical that you understand your competition. During the planning stages of your company it is important to invest in research to understand what other businesses exist, how they differ and how your company will fit in. Even a unique product can become lost in an oversaturated market.

There are many tools at the disposal of a modern entrepreneur to probe a market, many of which cost nothing but your time. The internet is an excellent start, and services such as those offered by small business centres can also provide support in the early stages of business planning. Before starting out, understand what customers want from you, and if there is space to bring in new customers.

Find your niche:

One of the first things you will want to do is to look critically at your business/business model and ask yourself how you are different. When competing against medium sized companies or even international giants, you may have difficulty going head-to-head with price and selection, so you will need to find other ways to attract your patrons. This can be as simple as offering a more comprehensive and personal customer experience or offering unique and branded products. Creating a unique experience or product and differentiating yourself is critical. Be sure to take this into account when planning your business.

Press your advantage:

Large monolithic companies have advantages such as buying power and market share, but they can also be slow to react due to their complex structures. Your speed is one of your greatest advantages, and the savvy entrepreneur can leverage that to react to trends before a large company can. On a more individual level, it should also allow you to meet your customer’s needs more efficiently. For an established small business, this is the kind of advantage that will allow you to fill a new niche before a large company can. Whether your company is just starting out, or you are established in the face of an encroaching multinational, remember that bigger isn’t always better!

Every new business starts as an idea. The trick to turning that into a successful business is refining that idea, and focusing on your strengths. Starting a business can be daunting, but it doesn’t always have to be. Call the Halton Region Small Business Centre to find out about the services we offer. Together, we can help turn your dream into reality.

Halton Small Business Centre

Phone: 905-825-6000 x7900



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HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) for Small Business Owners

Taxes can be a tricky subject, especially for a new small business owner. By now, most of calculatorus are at least somewhat familiar with the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). It was implemented in 2010 to combine both the provincial sales tax (PST) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) into a single consumption tax. In general, the HST applies to the same base of goods and services as the GST, with some exemptions for certain items.

As a small business owner, you may need to register an account with the Canada Revenue Agency to collect the HST; however, some new businesses may not need to register right away. An example of this would be small suppliers, as they do not need to register or charge HST.

Small suppliers are businesses whose sales are equal to or less than $30,000 over the last four calendar quarters, and thus, do not need to charge HST. This means if you are running a small business and your income sales fall below this level, you do not need to register. Businesses that anticipate making over that amount do not need to register until that $30,000 is reached, but it is important to note that you must register before the threshold is passed. Continue reading

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SOCAN, Music Licensing, and You

SOCAN, Music Licensing, and You

We often get questions from new entrepreneurs about the licensing of third-party music inSocan - Blog June 23 their establishment. Navigating through the field of copyright law and intellectual property can be daunting for any new business owner, luckily, the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada is here to help!

SOCAN is a member-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to streamlining the process surrounding licensing fees for music. The Copyright Board of Canada certifies SOCAN’s tariffs and operations in accordance with Canada’s Copyright Act. A SOCAN membership grants you the license to play almost any music, from anywhere on Earth, in your business. If you are operating any kind of entertainment venue, or if music will be involved in your business in any way, a SOCAN membership is the easiest way to make sure you do not run afoul with Canadian or international copyright law. For example, if you are hiring a DJ or playing live music, you still need to pay licensing fees in addition to the cost of paying the performers themselves. Some business owners also mistakenly think that purchasing a CD or song off the internet means that you have the right to use that song. However, under copyright law, the act of purchasing music in that manner simply gives you the right to play that music in private, not in public. Although there are some exceptions, like listening to the radio in your establishment, a SOCAN license is still your best bet to avoid the nebulous legal issues surrounding modern intellectual property laws and music. Continue reading

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Make It Happen

Your life is comprised of a series of choices. There are endless avenues that you can DSC00754pursue, but ultimately, you can follow only one. This freedom is a blessing, but it can also be a curse; it means that we have so much opportunity, but also that there is so much we can miss. If you have a stellar idea, or have always dreamed of running your own business, then that is an avenue worth pursuing. It is easy to become complacent, or to rationalize that your idea won’t work. At the Halton Small Business Centre, we can help you make sure it does.

Our services are tailored to help people with ideas, like you, to transform those ideas into DSC00756the business you have always wanted to run. Our primary service, consultations, sets you up free one-on-one meetings with one of our small business consultants. Our experienced consultants were small business owners themselves, and understand the tribulations that surround the start-up of a new company. They can help you assess the viability and logistics of your idea, and set you on a path to success. Continue reading

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Keeping your workers protected and your business out of trouble

When running your own business, it is important to determine whether your workers areSafety in the Workplace - WSIB employees or self-employed individuals. The differences can sometimes be subtle, but employment status directly impacts the entitlements a person receives from employment insurance (EI), as well as how a worker is treated under the Canada Pension Plan, WSIB and the Income Tax Act. 

As an employer, it is your responsibility to understand the relationship you have with your workers. Employment status can have a direct impact on the way you operate your business as employers are responsible for deducting CPP contributions, registering for WSIB, paying EI premiums and income tax from remuneration or other amounts they pay to their employees. An employer who fails to deduct the required amount must pay for the employee’s and employer’s share, plus any penalties or interest. Continue reading

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Small Business Resources for New Canadians

If you are new to Canada and interested in starting a business, the Halton Region Small Business Centre can help. We offer one-on-one consultations, educational and networking sessions and a business resource library.  Come to one of our general information sessions and learn how we can help today.

General information sessions for new Canadians include:

  • Business registration
  • Name protection
  • Municipal licensing
  • Insurance
  • Financing
  • HST
  • Business planning

The next session is taking place on June 13 at the Newcomer Centre (Centre for Education & Training) from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.  There is no cost for the session but registration is required.  Call 905-875-3851 ext. 5008 to book your spot.

The Halton Region Small Business Centre, in partnership with the Halton Multicultural Council (HMC), is offering a program for new Canadians looking to start a small business.  Our business consultants are available to meet one-on-one.  A consultant will be at HMC on Wednesday, May 21 and you can book an appointment by calling 905-842-2486.

Another great resource is the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) Newcomer Program. The CYBF Newcomer Program provides support to new Canadians between 18-39 years old by offering start-up coaching, financing, mentoring and other business expertise and resources.  For more information about the CYBF program dial 311.

The Canada Business Ontario (CBO) website also has info-guides that are designed to help guide you through the federal and provincial programs, services and regulations.  The info-guides are available online in the following languages:

  • عربي(Arabic)
  • 中文 (Chinese – Simplified)
  • 中文 (Chinese – Traditional)
  •  فارسی (Farsi)
  • Français
  •  Italiano (Italian)
  • 한국의 (Korean)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi)
  • Pусский (Russian)
  • Espanol (Spanish)
  • Tagalog (Tagalog)
  • اردو (Urdu)

The Halton Region Small Business Centre is here to help you. One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success.  For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at, by email at or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.


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