What happens if your business plan doesn’t work?

Time to Evaluate card in hands of businessman

You spent several months planning your business. But since implementation, you’ve noticed that you are not getting the results you had hoped. What do you do?   Consider that plans don’t always come together. If this happens you need to be decisive and take action immediately.   First of all, you need to investigate why your plan doesn’t seem to be working. Here are five factors to consider:

  1. Seasonality can play a very big role in the success of your plan. If you look at the different seasons and consider buying patterns of people, you can see how it’s possible to generate sales.  Most people realize January and February are very slow sale months in the retail sector. But, January and February could be very good months for personal trainers and diet centres.  When looking at your plan, make sure you consider whether seasons plays a role in sales.
  1. Trends Do you know the current trends in your industry? In January of this year, the Globe and Mail newspaper published an article about big stories to watch in 2016.  The article covered trends in six key areas of the Canadian economy. The article said  2016 was going to be a fast-paced year and the weak Canadian dollar might increase import prices.  This is just one example of why it’s important to research the trends in Canada, Ontario and your city or town, because trends are always changing. Becoming more aware of trends can help you make better business decisions. Remember, knowledge and research is power.
  1. Target markets – Are you targeting the right market? It’s important to research your target market before starting to promote your product or service.  If you didn’t, this could be a big factor why you’re not making any sales.  It‘s important to talk to your customers and consider having informal discussions with potential customers.   Don’t be shy when it comes to planning and researching your business.  If you don’t have a target market, you’re likely wasting your money trying to sell products or services to clients who aren’t interested.
  1. The Budget – Did you set enough money aside to market your product or service? There are a lot of free online budget tools you can utilize, but not everything is free.  It’s important to plan where you are going to spend your money to create visibility for your product or service.  Advertising is your communication link to customers, and if you don’t have enough money to advertise, you need to reconsider your budget.
  1. When is it time to stop and count up the costs? It’s a good thing to keep a positive attitude; but, it’s also good to keep things realistic and viable.  Some people don’t know when it’s time to close down their business and  find themselves in debt with nothing to show for it.  Set realistic goals and objectives and if they are not met then it’s time to stop.

The most important thing to remember is that you should always believe in yourself and keep mind that every business has good s and bad times.  You should prepare for both and always have a plan in place.  As the saying goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and don’t be afraid to try new opportunities.

One of the goals of the Small Business Enterprise Centre is to empower small and medium-sized businesses and provide the right tools and mindset to achieve success.  For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311 1-866-442-5866 or by email at smallbusiness@halton.ca. You can visit us online at halton.ca/smallbusiness, or in person at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

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Business After 5

On Wednesday, August 10, the Halton Region Small Business Centre hosted our annual Business After 5 networking event and tradeshow.

Halton Region’s Business After 5 is special because it is one of the few Chamber of Commerce networking events where members of all four local chambers: Burlington Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville, get to come together for one large coordinated event.

We hope that our guests enjoyed the evening and have been successful at making new business connections.

One of the goals of the Small Business Enterprise Centre is to empower small and medium-sized businesses and provide the right tools and mindset to achieve success.  For more information about resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at halton.ca/smallbusiness, by email at smallbusiness@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

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Entrepreneurship Programs for Youth

Teenage friends spending time together

Youth and entrepreneurship development are a major focus for the provincial government and the Halton Region Small Business Centre (SBEC) provides information and resources for young entrepreneurs in the Region.

Currently, there are three youth programs that provide skills development, training and financial assistance that are available at SBEC:

  • Starter Company

The Starter Company Program provides business skills training and development for youth between the ages of 18 to 29. The program helps with understanding and training in business plan development and operations. If successful, the program offers an opportunity to apply for a grant of $5,000. Individuals who are interested must attend an information session as a first step.

  • Summer Company (for students)

The Summer Company Program is for high school and post-secondary students between the ages of 15 to 29 who would like to experience entrepreneurship first-hand rather than work in a traditional summer job.  Students receive  12 hours of training and skills development.  In addition to training and meetings with business mentors, participants can access up to $1,500 in grant funding for startup costs, as well as an opportunity to receive an additional $1,500 award for successful completion of program requirements at the end of summer operations.  Applications are open in January each year.

  • Futurpreneur Canada

Futurpreneur Canada (formerly CYBF) provides unsecured small business loans for youth between 18 and 34 years of age. In addition to the financial supports, Futurpreneur also provides two years of mentoring to help young entrepreneurs during the introductory stage of business development.  The Small Business Centre is a community partner for this national program. Information sessions are held monthly at SBEC.

For more information on youth entrepreneurship programs in Halton Region visit halton.ca/youthbiz  or, contact SBEC at 905-825-6000, ext. 7900 or dial 311.

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How Twenty Minutes Can Benefit Your Business

Portrait of happy young businesswoman using laptop at office desk

As an entrepreneur, you will be pulled in different directions.  Getting through the day is not just about surviving; it’s about making the most of your time and being proactive.  Setting aside 20 minutes each day to accomplish tasks or maintain balance with your business can be a key to success.

Twenty minutes does not seem  like a long time, but you can accomplish a lot in a 20-minute time span.   There are a number of different things you can do to benefit your business. Consider the following five options:

  1. Schedule a 20 minute appointment with yourself every day.
    Why is it important to schedule an appointment with yourself?  It not only keeps you sane, but also keeps you on track and focused.   The appointment can be scheduled at the beginning, or end of the day.  During this time, you can review tasks and objectives for the day or prepare for the next day.

Continue reading

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A Checklist for Hiring Your First Employee

Check ListHiring your first employee can be an exciting step in growing your small business. An additional worker can add capacity to the product or service you sell, take away administrative tasks from you, or help with sales and growth.

Unfortunately, the learning curve is a bit steep when you go from no employees to one employee. The good news is that it gets easier as you add more workers after getting through the initial stage of setting up your human resources and payroll systems.

Here is a quick list of things to get in order before your employee’s first day:

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

Payroll Account – The CRA requires that all employers withhold taxes, and collect and pay Employment Insurance (EI) premiums and Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) contributions. Getting the payroll number is free-of-charge. If you already have a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) account, you can add a payroll account to your business number by calling 1-800-959-5525. Continue reading

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Operating a Home-Based Business

Smiling businesswoman working from home

If you are thinking of opening a new business have you considered the option of it being a home-based business?  There are a lot of benefits to running a home-based business.  It not only allows you the flexibility to be able to set your own pace but it also helps you to cut down on start-up and overhead costs.

Forbes online wrote an article about home-based businesses.  In the article it listed the number one reason as “more time for work and less time commuting.”   The fact that you do not have to drive to work gives you more valuable time to work in and on your business.   The moment you get out of bed you can start work.   You don’t even have to take off your fluffy slippers.

There are a few more reasons why people start home-based business.   Besides the money savings people see it as a lifestyle change.  In the last few years there has been an increase in stay-at-home moms/dads who want to be there for their kids and possess skills that are still needed in the market place.  Running a home-based business gives them the freedom and flexibility to be available for their kids. Continue reading

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Summer Company Students are Taking Care of Business

The Halton Small Business Centre (SBEC) is once again coordinating the Summer Company Program in Halton Region for the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

This program assists high school and post-secondary students who are looking to develop entrepreneurial skills while operating their own summer businesses in Halton.  Rather than going the traditional summer job route, these entrepreneurial students are paving the way toward a future of independence and opportunity.

Twelve students developed and submitted business plans outlining their startup costs and cash flow projections.  The province has provided $1,500in startup funding and at the end of the summer, these student entrepreneurs will be eligible to receive a $1,500award based on business performance.

During the summer, the students will attend training sessions with Halton SBEC Consultants along with the assistance of mentors who have donated their time and expertise to help these students meet their goals.

This year the mentors are:

  • Jon Sturtridge from BDO
  • Jayme Moorcroft from RBC
  • Phil Von Massow, owner of Connoisseur Painting Ltd.
  • Maralyn Ellis, owner of Futures Found
  • Lisa Penney, owner of Arts at Work

These mentors make a big contribution to the success of this program and their assistance is greatly appreciated.

Summer Company 2016 Student Businesses:

Relentless Hockey Development

Relentless Hocked Development is an Oakville-based student business that provides high-level training and coaching skills for professional level hockey teams and players.

Hulshof Pet Portraits

Hulshof Pet Portraits is an Oakville-based business that offers individual sketches and paintings of any families pets, including dog and cats and other pets.

Reid Brooks

Reid Brooks is a Burlington based business that manufactures and sells specialized metal stamped creations to be used as art pieces or functional garden accents.

Ben Allmark Photography

Ben Allmark Photography is based in Oakville and provides quality photography services focusing on equestrian and skateboarding events throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Be the next MVP

Be the next MVP is a promotional business that helps young talented athletes promote themselves by creating professional materials such as websites, videos, strategic exposure and marketing and social media guidance to increase exposure to collegiate athletics.

Prime Tutors

Prime Tutors is a service business based in Oakville that provides specialized tutoring in Halton Region for elementary and high school students in a variety of subjects to excel in standardized testing such as Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Canadian Achievement Test, Ontario Literacy Test and Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) Test.

Ecentric Auto Detailing

Based in Milton, Ecentric Auto Detailing provides professional detailing services with an attention to classic and premium automobiles in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Tyandaga Lawn Care

Based in the Tyandaga area of Burlington, Tyandaga Lawn Care provides grass cutting and weeding services.

Summer Splash Swim Lessons & Lifeguard Services

Based in Acton, Summer Splash will come to your home to teach children how to swim in a fun, yet structured atmosphere.  Lifeguard services are available for poolside events to ensure safety and security.

DJP Productions

DJP Productions, based in Oakville, is a photo and video production company focusing on capturing memories from personal and business events.

Class on Grass

Class on Grass provides lawn cutting and maintenance services in the Burlington area.

Upstream Creative

Upstream Creative is an Oakville based video production business that helps other businesses by producing quality video for promotional purposes.

The future looks bright with young entrepreneurs like these. By investing in their future today, these students are definitely taking care of business! Learn more about our programs for young entrepreneurs at halton.ca/smallbusiness.


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