Summer Company students are taking care of business

The Halton Small Business Centre is once again coordinating the Summer Company

Summer Company Participant: •Lucy He – Keys to Success Piano and Tutoring

Summer Company Participant: • Lucy He – Keys to Success Piano and Tutoring

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.

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

Here are the students and their respective businesses for 2015 in Halton Region:

  • Darryl Apple – InFaction Studios

InFaction Studios is based in Oakville and dedicated to providing a professional, fairly priced and reliable service in graphic design, motion graphics, and illustration. Our goal is to bring the visual ideas of clients to life with originality and professionalism.

  • Marlee Armour – Summer Swim Academy

Summer Swim Academy is a seasonal business operating in Oakville from early June to the end of August. We teach Red Cross certified “Swim Kids” swimming lessons in your own private swimming pool. Lessons are available in 30 min intervals and are given on a one-to-one basis with the instructor. Additionally, lifeguards are available to guard private pool parties. Summer Swim Academy aims to educate children in a safe, personalized environment, while also providing a convenient resource for their parents/guardians.

  •  Leslie Ashworth – Suite Melody Care

Suite Melody Care is a youth volunteer program that brings themed musical performances and trivia to long-term care facilities, retirement homes, and hospitals across the GTA.  Audiences benefit from the SMC program performances as emotions and memories are stimulated, while performers hone their musical skills and develop self-confidence.  In addition, the program comes with a complimentary Suite Melody Care CD/DVD.  Currently over 12 young musicians give scheduled performances, with a total of over 1290 attendees having enjoyed Suite Melody Care performances.  Leslie Ashworth, founder and director of Suite Melody Care, was recently awarded The Lieutenant Governor’s Community Service Youth Award for the program.

  • Neha Bhasin – Summer Soaps Co.

Summer Soaps Co. based in Oakville brings to market a line of artisan handmade soaps created without harsh chemicals commonly found in many skincare cosmetics. As a chemical engineering student and cosmetics-enthusiast, I started making my own soaps after realizing the harmful effects of ingredients used in many of my favourite skincare products. Consumers looking for high-quality, all-natural cosmetics will find my products online and at various local farmers markets in Ontario.

  • Michael Clegg – Clegg’s Athletic Program

Working out can be very personal. More than simply going for a run or lifting weights, it is the act of building a relationship between yourself and your body. Clegg’s Athletic Program aims to strengthen this relationship by providing a professional approach to personal training in a fully private one-on-one environment. Newly renovated and equipped, the facility is located at Lakeshore and Trafalgar in Oakville with all training administered by Michael Clegg. Using his background in Honours Bachelors Science of Kinesiology, Michael specializes in both sport specific training and body transformations.

  • Julia Dedic – Jewels by Julia

Jewels by Julia offers unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry that is both fun and beautiful! My jewelry is crafted with care and designed with the intention of sharing a story within each piece. My goal is to inspire you to share your moments in life and express your passions as I am through my jewelry. Along with being a jewelry fanatic, I bring crafty, out-of-the-box ideas to life through each piece. Jewels by Julia offers quality, detail-oriented products that are both creative and fresh.

  • Lucy He – Keys to Success Piano and Tutoring

Keys to Success Piano and Tutoring offers affordable, high-quality piano lessons and academic tutoring services for children, teens, and adults. Lessons can be scheduled either at the instructor’s home, or a location convenient to the customer. Keys to Success aims to help students achieve their short-term and long-term goals by providing personalized lesson plans that work with their busy schedules. We currently serve the Oakville and Mississauga West areas.

  • Stephen Johnson – Jeunessis

The future is bilingual – is your child ready for tomorrow?  Here at Jeunessis, I offer a five-day program for young children designed to make learning French fun and easy.  My innovative approach, based around songs, stories and games, takes the worry out of learning a new language for parents AND children.  In a small group setting your children can grow with others and feel at home. This is your children’s Jeunessis.  Watch them grow into brilliant flowers of tomorrow.

  • William Lomoro – Glen Valley Photography

Glen Valley photography is an Oakville based photo boutique that provides affordable high-quality prints for parents who wish to preserve memories of their child’s sporting events or performances. We specialize in competitive sports photography and videography, headshots, family portraits, and more. Glen Valley photography offers a number of packages which include digital copies and prints in a range of sizes.

  • Nia O’Brien – Nia O’Brien Creations

Nia O’Brien Creations provides you with unique original artwork and handmade jewelry. Nia’s passion for abstract art and biology are intertwined in her paintings, inspired by all forms of nature. Her jewelry designs combine wire and healing crystals for beautiful, affordable, wearable art that celebrate the natural treasures of the earth. These creations make perfect gifts to treat yourself or someone special.

  •  Madeline Webb – The Alternative Baker

The Alternative Baker is a gluten-free and vegan bakery that is dedicated to providing high quality baked goods for both individuals with allergies and those who are looking for healthier alternatives to traditional baked goods. Our goal is to bring our community a product that is healthy and environmentally conscious without sacrificing taste and texture. We strive to offer our customers feel good food that everyone can enjoy.

During the summer, the students will attend training sessions with Halton Small Business Centre 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:

  • Phil Von Massow from CPL Group
  • Tom Cochran, Retired business executive
  • Fatima Pereira from BDO
  • Jayme Moorcroft from RBC
  • Pamela Pereira from RBC
  • Maralyn Ellis from FuturesFound
  • Kathleen Dill from Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce
  • Kelsey Leedale from YMCA

Learn more about our programs for young entrepreneurs at

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Key tips to business planning

Business planning is one of the most common areas of interest for our clients at the

Portrait of young modern businessman

Halton Small Business Centre. Here are a few tips on business planning, as well as how we at the Halton Small Business Centre can assist you to write a fantastic plan of your own!

  1. Business planning basics

A business plan is the road map for your business, outlining where you will take the business and how you will get there.  Ensuring that you have done a complete job of including all of the details is critical. First and foremost, the business plan is for you. One of the biggest contributors to failure in small business is poor planning, so think of your business plan as a critical document on your road to success.

The plan is also your ticket to financing and communicating your vision to others, so make sure your writing is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid using too much jargon or industry-specific language that only you will understand; remember that the bank loans officer sitting across from you or the private investor you are showing it to might not have your training or understanding of your industry.

  1. Formats and templates

The business plan template should always include the following sections:

  • Introduction (made up of your title page, table of contents, and executive summary)
  • Business concept
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Financials
  • Appendices

The Halton Small Business Centre has a basic business planning template for you to use. Check out our website for templates and other resources.

There are a lot of different templates that you can follow; if you are applying for a loan, check with the institution where you are applying and use their template, as they will be familiar with it.

You can also use software such as Business Plan Pro to assist you. We have this software available at the Halton Small Business Centre, and all clients are welcome to come in and use it for free.

  1. Keys when writing the plan

When writing the plan it is always good to make sure you answer every section in detail. Wherever possible include dates, timelines, and specifics. Avoid ambiguous statements, and make sure you have conducted thorough research – a poorly researched and vague business plan will not only scare away investors, but it will be little help to you as well.

When it comes to the financial statements, make sure to forecast sales conservatively and expenses aggressively. One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is to forecast too high on sales and too low on expenses. Try to avoid this trap!

At the Halton Small Business Centre we offer a number of reference books including case studies from all industries, as well as dozens of online samples through Business Plan Pro.  Once you have written your plan we will be happy to review it for you and provide feedback. Whether you are going to a bank or just writing it for yourself, we will assist you to make sure that your plan is on the right track. For more information on how we can assist you to create your own road map to success through outstanding business planning, visit the Halton Small Business Centre at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville or online at



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How to find credible funding information on the internet

Finding credible funding resources online can sometimes be a challenge for entrepreneurs.July6Img2 There is a lot of misinformation about where to look for small business funding and sorting through various websites can be a huge burden for those looking to get started. is an excellent resource for information on various small business related topics and has a great feature for funding information through the “Find Financing” tool. This tool is ideal for any potential small business owner for three reasons:

  1. It is credible – As mentioned above, there is a lot of inaccurate funding information online. Sometimes this information is accidentally circulated (e.g. a story from a friend of a friend, or an assumption that a program should exist). Other times the misinformation is distributed on purpose, often with the objective of selling services or products under the suggestion that the purchase will help an entrepreneur secure free money. ca can often be used to help validate that a program is credible when they first appear online.
  2. It includes funding programs from sources beyond the federal government – It would be easy to assume that visiting a federal government website would show only programs specifically provided by the Government of Canada. This site includes a variety of different programs from different groups including: 
  1. Search results can be filtered based on your specific funding objective –      It isJuly6Img1 important while searching for funding to have a specific plan for what the money will be used for. Programs usually have very specific mandates and therefore specific parameters regarding what can and cannot be funded. Where one program might support funding a salary for a worker, another will be appropriate for funding new equipment. Search results on the website can be filtered based on your specific objective.

Our monthly Starting a Small Business Seminar includes information on “Traditional and non-traditional sources of financing” as well as a short demonstration of

The consultants the Halton Region Small Business Centre are here to help with planning your new small business. We welcome you to discuss any results of your search on at a free one-on-one consultation with one of our knowledgeable business consultants.

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Get your business started: the value of market research

One of the first questions that we often get asked from aspiring entrepreneurs is how to

Market research

Market research

take the first step in developing an interesting business idea into a fully functioning business. While there are a series of important steps that need to be taken when planning out a business, a critical first step is to do market research.

Market research is an important starting point because it can help a prospective business owner gain a larger understanding of the marketplace and helping educate an entrepreneur on the viability and reality of starting a particular business venture.

So where does one start with market research? First we must identify the two basic types of market research: Primary Research and Secondary Research.

Primary market research methods can use financial resources and take a great deal of effort to complete.  Secondary market research methods are generally available free of charge and are readily available either online or in print form.   As a general rule, it is recommended to start with the Secondary resources to gain an understanding of the industry or model.  If one has a strong understanding of the industry as a whole then starting with primary market research would be appropriate. Continue reading

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5 quick tips to Succession Planning

It is never too early to start making plans for the future. Succession Planning is a key

speed in tunnel

speed in tunnel

process that any business owner must consider to ensure a smooth transition when key leadership positions become available. This is particularly true with small business owners who plan to exit their business at some point in the near future.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business conducted a Succession Planning Survey in 2011 and had over 3,389 responses.  When respondents were asked about how they would like to exit their business, the top responses were as follows:

  • Sell to buyer(s) unrelated to my family – 45.1%
  • Sell to family member(s) – 19.2%
  • Transfer to family member(s) (e.g. inheritance) – 21.2%
  • Wind down (close) the business – 6.0%
  • Other – 4.3%

Continue reading

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Business Planning – Where to Start

Writing a formal business plan can seem daunting, especially when using a template

Business plan

Business plan

that asks questions spanning 8 to 10 separate sections. To help ease into a larger template, it can be helpful to write down some key notes in advance so that you are ready to go when writing a larger plan.

Try writing down some ideas by breaking your thought process into these three modules before picking a template and get a head start on your plan.

  1. Write a short and specific working description of your business.
  • How will you describe your business in a way that will get your readers on board with your idea? The language you use to tell your story in this description will be valuable throughout the entire written plan. Writing this once and reusing the key sound bites in other sections when appropriate will help to keep the rest of your plan sounding consistent.
  1. Create a financial model that works – specifically one that is realistic, affordable, and eventually profitable.
  • The written plan will in various sections refer to your expectations of the financial performance for the business. How much does this idea cost to start? What are the margins on the products or services? What are sales and profit expectations? When will loans be repaid? Building the model in Excel using a cash-flow projection worksheet will help to make you and expert in your business model. Business plans that are consistent and confident while describing potential financial performance are generally well received by readers.
  1. Determine a well-defined target market.
  • An understanding of your specific customers will be a key to success in business and is crucial when writing an effective business plan. A profile of you target customer will help inform how you describe your product, including its design, your marketing messages and tactics, your market size, and your sales projections. Defining who they are, what they care about, and why they will buy is an effective way to make your business plan more specific. A business that tries to sell to a few specific customers will be more effective than one that tries to appeal to everyone at the same time in a more general way.

Planning these three items before starting the larger plan will help to make you an expert in your business. You will quickly have more of the answers during writing, and in turn develop a better momentum for the writing.

The Halton Region Small Business Centre provides consultations and seminars on business planning, financial projections and target markets. See your seminar schedule at or call 905-825-6000 x 7900 to book a free one-on-one consultation.

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How to launch a new service or product

Launching a new service or product can be a monumental task for a small business. To help your small business succeed and to keep yourself organized during a launch,  break-up your planning into these three key phases to help ensure you launch goes according to plan.

Business Notes Product Launch

Business Notes Product Launch

Phase 1 – Pre-Launch

  • Set a date and time: Choose a date that works for your customers. Ensure your service/product is ready and pick a date when you anticipate sales to be at their highest.
  • Prepare marketing materials: Choose your promotional materials based on your audience and your budget. This could include advertisements, product information and instruction sheets, infographics, videos, testimonials, announcements, teasers, and entries for various social media platforms if applicable.
  • Create a pre-launch buzz: Track down some key influencers, affiliates (businesses that promote your product in return for financial compensation) or customers who can test your product and start talking about it.
  • Distribution: Confirm that adequate inventory is available and distribution methods are established.
  • Update your website: Make sure your product will be displayed prominently with up-to-date information.
  • Verify your payment systems: Check that your site can handle increased traffic.
  • Test your product and marketing material: Reach out to staff, friends and family for feedback on your product and messaging.
  • Train your staff: Ensure that staff are knowledgeable about the new product or service.

Continue reading

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