Finding Your Business Idea

Happy business woman looking on questions in bubbles isolatedDo you want to be your own boss but have no idea what business to start? Believe it or not, this is a common question for aspiring entrepreneurs.  Ask yourself the questions below to get your creative juices flowing.

  1. What am I good at?

Do you frequently get complimented on a certain skill? Are your friends and family always gushing about your artistic abilities? It might be time to cash in on your talents.

Tip: Not sure how to get started? Keep a notebook with you and start asking friends and family what they think you are great at.

  1. What keeps me up at night?

Many of today’s top entrepreneurs started by asking the question, what keeps me up at night?  Whether it’s how frustrating you find waiting in line for your morning coffee, or what to make for dinner this week, many innovative businesses have resulted from trying to solve life’s little headaches.

  1. What am I looking to learn?

Do you have a burning passion to become a chef? Have you always pictured yourself as a yoga teacher? Take those interests and start building the skills with the purpose of starting a business. This will give you double motivation to learn something new and get you started on your business idea.

Once you have a couple of ideas, visit us at the Halton Small Business Centre to use our free Super Demographics or InfoCanada tools for your market research. These online databases can supply you with the data you need to asses which business might be more viable for you and your area.

The Halton Small Business Centre is located at 1151 Bronte Road in Oakville. To find out more information about our services please visit us online at

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Introducing our grant recipients from Cohort #3 of Starter Company Plus!

Starter Company Plus Grant Winners Aug 2018 1The third cohort of the Halton Small Business Centre’s Starter Company Plus program launched in April 2018, and saw participants embarking on a journey of training, mentoring and business plan development – all leading up to a grant pitch competition held in early July.

The top 10 Business Plans were selected to present at the pitch competition, with 7 entrepreneurs successfully receiving grants of $4,500 each:

  1. Cody Price – Mobile Tire Inc.
  2. Lisa Evans – Chickadee Family Café
  3. Manpreet Kaur – Wise Tree Inspirations
  4. Megan Day – Rooted & Vibrant
  5. Peter Fraser – Fraser’s Beverage Company
  6. Tanya Moschella – Musically Connected
  7. Rita Zietsma – Rita Zietsma Photography

Read more about our successful grant recipients and their unique businesses serving Halton communities and beyond!

A special thank you to our program mentors for providing their expertise and coaching to our program participants.

Starter Company Plus is an entrepreneurship program that provides a combination of online and offline training, mentoring and advice for eligible individuals 18 years of age or older, who are looking to start or grow a small business. The program also provides the opportunity to compete for a micro-grant of $4,500.

“This program was a huge catalyst in helping me get a comprehensive and complete business plan down on paper. The business plan helped me focus the trajectory of my business, assess my competitors and map out a marketing plan,” says Rita Zietsma, owner of Rita Zietsma Photography and one of the successful grant recipients from Cohort #3.

Though the Starter Company Plus program is offered province-wide (funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade) the Halton Small Business Centre has adapted the program to meet local economic development needs. Halton’s iteration of program focuses on the following three streams:

  • New Canadians
  • Export-oriented Businesses
  • Main Street Businesses

The fourth and final cohort of the Starter Company Plus program will launch in October 2018, with Information Sessions taking place on October 2 and 3.

Online registration for the Information Sessions will open mid-August, and attendance at an Information Session is mandatory in order to apply to the program.

For more information about Starter Company Plus and to read about the rules and eligibility requirements, please visit us online.

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Summer Company 2018 Kick-Off!

July 04, 2018 Summer Company Kick-off62

On July 5th the Halton Small Business Centre hosted a kick-off event to celebrate and introduce our new 2018 Summer Company program participants.

The Summer Company program helps enterprising students between the ages of 15 and 29 start and run their own summer business.  The program provides hands-on business training and mentoring, and up to $3,000 to help operate their business.

The event featured one of our past Summer Company success stories, David McCuaig of Don McCaul Designs.  David shared stories of his experiences with the program and provided encouragement to this year’s participants.  David also spoke about the program’s beneficial mentoring and training, and the valuable opportunity to share challenges and successes with fellow young entrepreneurs.

The event highlighted several of our current participants who shared details about their unique businesses and what they hope to accomplish over the summer.  We were also joined by some of our Summer Company mentors.  Our program mentors include local professionals from the community who work with Halton Small Business Centre staff to guide and coach the students through their entrepreneurship journey.

July 04, 2018 Summer Company Kick-off4This year’s Summer Company participants include a diverse mix of businesses serving the Halton community and beyond.  Visit us online to learn more about the students and their businesses, and let their success inspire you to turn your own business idea into a successful career!

Our goal is to help students truly experience entrepreneurship and provide them with a practical opportunity to gain hands-on know-how in all aspects of business start-up.  The Halton Small Business Centre would like to thank and acknowledge our valuable community partners who support the Summer Company program to ensure its success!

For more information about resources and programs available for young entrepreneurs and businesses at any stage, visit the Halton Small Business Centre at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville, online at or call 905-825-6000 ext. 7900.


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Halton hosts women’s small business event: The Strategy of Problem Solving

Womens event 2018On June 26th, 2018, the Halton Small Business Centre hosted a business event for local female entrepreneurs. The event provided attendees with an opportunity to hear from a panel of industry experts and peers share their own experiences, participate in group problem solving exercises, and take part in networking with fellow female entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The topic of the morning was The Strategy of Problem Solving, and the focus was on how to develop and create different strategies that can be used to find the right solutions.

Halton Small Business Centre staff presented tips and advice on ways to help tackle business problems large or small:

  1. Problem Identification – Understanding & Defining the Problem
    1. Start with defining the problem itself, both logically and realistically
    2. Define the key words or phrases – and don’t take anything for granted!
    3. Visualize the problem/draw a representation
    4. Focus on key units of measurement affected
    5. Engage all key stakeholders for details/context
  1. Problem Analysis – Qualify & Quantify the Problem
    1. Business impact, severity and scope
    2. Consequences (i.e.: economic, brand, morale)
    3. Is it internal or external?
    4. Is this a problem that can be turned into an opportunity?
    5. Prioritize the problem – what problems can be solved in the short-term, medium-term, or long-term?
  1. Plan Development – Brainstorm & Rank Solutions:
    1. Are they feasible?
    2. Test the viability of these solutions?
    3. Talk to customers/see what competitors are doing different
    4. Market research
    5. Test Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  1. Plan Implementation – Choose Optimal Solution:
    1. The solution that most satisfies your decision criteria
    2. Develop action plan (step-by-step) with tasks time lines, resources and evaluation criteria
  1. Plan Evaluation – Evaluating the Solution:
    1. Does the problem still persist?
    2. Have the key performance indicators been impacted?
    3. Do you have a feedback mechanism
    4. If problem still persists, try another solution or improve process.
    5. Tweak or refine initial solution to optimize problem/solution fit, continuous improvement

Womens event 2018 - Panel pic

We would like to thank our panelists who spoke about their inspirational start-up journeys and provided advice on how to overcome challenges and obstacles.  Panelists: Michele Ballagh, Lawyer & Trademark Agent, Ballagh & Edward LLP; Andrea Dubravsky, President & Web Strategist, ADWebcom; Judy Lindenbach, Director Corporate Partnerships, Haltech Regional Innovation Centre; Sue Daharry, Owner, Workplace Law Compliance, Consulting and Training; Patricia Hopkins, Owner, The Clothespin Inc.; and Carole and Lynne Flory, Co-Founders, Two Gals and a Toolbox Inc.

One of our goals is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give them the tools to achieve success.  For more information on our services and up-coming events, please visit us in person or online at the Halton Small Business Centre.

To keep up-to-date with everything the Halton Small Business Centre is offering, sign-up to get our e-updates on events and receive our monthly Small Business e-newsletter.  For news and event information, follow us on Twitter at @HaltonBusiness.

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5 Tips to Network like a Pro

networking 2A good network is invaluable. It can help amplify your company’s message, connect you to the right services, and offer a support system during what may be trying times as an entrepreneur. With that being said, it can also be a challenge to network effectively and bring the right people into your circle. Check out the 5 tips below to get started!

  1. Set a goal: Before you do anything, decide what it is you would like to get out of the networking session. Are you looking for a service provider? Possible partnerships? A mentor? Having a goal can help focus your efforts and identify who to follow-up with.
  2. Embrace your company story: Use your value proposition to stand out from the crowd. A founding story that includes a clear value proposition and a little emotion can go a long way in helping other remember you long after the event.
  3. Give more than you take: Listen to your fellow entrepreneur/professionals needs and offer a suggestion, possible connection or some future reading on the subject matter. This will not only give you a reason to follow-up and stay connected, but also create a foundation for a supportive working relationship.
  4. Follow through: Everything you do is a reflection on your company’s brand. If you promised to follow-up with a contact make sure you do. This establishes your credibility and creates a stronger foundation for any bigger ask you might have down the road.
  5. Be professional: As with any interaction, remember to have your manners on full display.

Ready to try out some of these suggestions?  Visit the Halton Small Business Centre for upcoming events or our toolbox’s Networking Forms to find some local groups!

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Start & Expand Your Export Journey!

June 11 Start and Expand your Export Journey

In today’s economy, the “Made In Canada” brand abroad often paves the way for many Canadian exporters to have significant opportunities in international markets.

Exporting products and services can help companies expand sales, increase client base, and boost their bottom line.

Where to start? 

The Halton Global Business Centre (GBC) is your first stop and a local one-window hub of resources and support for Halton’s small to medium sized businesses that are looking to scale up, export and go global. It is the easiest place to start your export journey.

Whether your company is interested in exporting, just beginning to export, an experienced exporter, or “born global”, the GBC can help guide you through the many programs and resources available to Canadian exporters.

What kind of exporter are you?

  1. Interested

Are you ready to export? Interested in exporting, but unsure where to start?

  1. New

Is your business new to exporting? Do you currently export to just one or two markets, but want to explore other global markets?

  1. Born Global

Are you a new business or start-up that was “born global”? Are you looking for some referrals and networking opportunities to help you succeed?

  1. Experienced

Are you currently exporting, but looking to expand your existing activities?

How can we help?

The team at the Halton Global Business Centre (GBC) and our network of industry partners can provide free assistance to help your business assess its export-readiness, understand the global marketplace, develop an export strategy, and equip you with the extra guidance, research, tools and training to successfully compete in the global marketplace.

The Halton Global Business Centre and its partners can also help you leverage international in-market contacts, create a plan to enter into new markets, assist with accessing financing, and provide referrals and services to take your business to the next level.

Next steps?

Our Halton Global Business Centre team is available to help you navigate the world of exporting!

Visit us online at or visit us in-person at the Halton Regional Centre at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville.  We’re located at the Small Business Centre.  Call 905-825-6000 ext. 7900 to learn more or book a free one-on-one consultation with our Business Consultants.

Sign-up to receive the latest information on export-related events and programs in Halton.

Join us! U.S. Tax Reform Seminar presented by KPMG – June 20th, 2018 at TechPlace, Burlington. Click here for more information and to register.


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Promoting Halton Region to Toronto’s Real Estate Community

Halton Region Economic Development along with staff from the local municipal economic development offices of Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville were once again invited to exhibit at REALTOR® QUEST Canada’s largest REALTOR® Trade Show and Conference May 29th and 30th, presented by the Toronto Real Estate Board.  We enjoyed the opportunity to speak to the real estate community about the exciting things happening in Halton.

If you are in the real estate industry, Halton Region offers many exciting residential and non-residential opportunities, services and resources.  Visit our webpages for information about our growing, dynamic communities and information about current and upcoming plans for commercial and residential real estate development in the Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville or contact us directly at  We’re here to help!

Save the Date!

Commercial and industrial real estate brokers and developers are invited to attend the Halton Real Estate Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Rattlesnake Point Golf club in Milton.  Guests will learn about Halton’s economic activity and performance, regional infrastructure projects and office and industrial development trends and opportunities.  Sign up here  to receive further information about the Real Estate Forum and to receive regular economic updates delivered to your inbox.


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