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  • Why Your Small Business Needs to Give Back to Your Community

    Posted on 15/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Why Your Small Business Needs to Give Back to Your Community

    As a small-business owner, a large part of your company’s success is dependent upon continued support from members of your local community. Small-business owners rely on the support from neighbors and local organizations to grow their business and expand their services; it only makes sense for local companies to give back.

    Small businesses can give back to their communities in a variety of ways including participation in local charities and organizing or sponsoring community events. Any small business involvement with non-profits and local government is a great way to build your business’ presence in the community.

    The best way to start giving back to your community is finding a shared value between your business and community members. For example, if a local school has a teacher battling cancer put a collection basket in her honor at your front desk or by the cashier. This serves as a great foundation for mutual trust with community members. Here are a few ideas and organizations to help your business give back:

    What’s important to your community?

    What do the members in your community value? How can your charity or volunteer efforts make a difference? These are questions to ask yourself before deciding how you plan to give back to your community. Upgrade school textbooks through financial donations or provide the local scout organization or Little League team with new uniforms. If you own a restaurant, allow local organizations to serve your guests one night per week to help raise money for a good cause. These are ways to help position your brand as a business that cares about local needs and respects community ideals.

    Provide employees with an outlet to give back

    Canadians are naturally charitable and willing to volunteer their time. In fact, 13.3 million Canadians in 2010 volunteered more than two billion hours their time to assist charity organizations. As a small-business owner offering company-wide volunteer programs is a win-win, it’s a great way to attract honest Canadian workers to your company and their presence at volunteer organizations positively reflects on your business.

    Many companies offer paid-time-off once or twice a year for employees to volunteer for a local charity of their choice. You can also organize full-staff volunteer days during or after work to help team bonding and provide leadership opportunities to increase overall job performance and fulfillment.

    Volunteer Canada

    A country-wide organization, Volunteer Canada has connected individuals and businesses with volunteer centres, local organizations and national corporations to promote and broaden volunteering programs, research and training tools since 1977. Volunteer Canada has relationships with more than 200 volunteer centres and more than 1,200 community groups. This is a great starting point to get you connected with community organizations and volunteer opportunities near you.

    Habitat for Humanity Canada

    Habitat for Humanity is a tremendous organization providing underprivileged partner families with new Habitat homes. The building process for these homes is completed by Habitat for Humanity volunteers. Habitat for Humanity Canada has 65 affiliates in 10 provinces and two territories – find your local affiliate here. This is a great team bonding idea as your staff needs to work together in a brand new environment to accomplish a shared goal for a great cause.

    All businesses list company values on websites, letterhead and business cards, but do those companies routinely act on the stated values? Ensure your reputation as a small business that takes action and gives back to its community by following these tips and suggestions. Make sure to check back with Vistaprint Canada for more tips and techniques on how to grow your small business and receive decades of continued success.


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  • Canada’s Chamber of Commerce

    Posted on 13/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Canada’s Chamber of Commerce

    canadian-chamber-of-commerceAs a small-business owner, joining a Chamber of Commerce is a great way to increase the visibility of your business, network with local business owners and uncover a wealth of information beneficial to growing your business. Local and federal Chamber of Commerce organizations also act as a voice for your small business helping influence business-friendly policies at all levels of government.

    As a Canadian small-business owner you have a number of opportunities to join a Chamber of Commerce and let your voice be heard while enjoying a number of member benefits. Below is a guide to Chamber of Commerce organizations throughout Canada.

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce represents more than 200,000 businesses in all sectors of the economy and in all provinces. Joining the Canadian Chamber of Commerce offer a wide variety of benefits starting with access to some of the top business minds in the country through networking events, professional development sessions, roundtables and policy committees.

    At the Corporate and Association membership levels, business owners are allowed to participate in the Chamber’s policy committees helping shape the focus of advocacy efforts through deep research and development of policies on issues that affect Canadian business. Members who join at a Chamber level are allowed to approve any policy resolutions at the Chamber’s annual general meeting.

    Whether you join at the Corporate, Association or Chamber level, all Canadian Chamber of Commerce members are granted access to a variety of networking events plus direct access to policy experts and the latest information on federal legislation and business initiatives. Members also receive a variety of business related discounts including benefit programs for reduced rates on credit and debit card transactions, SME-oriented online training courses, 24/7 access to HR specialists, a 10 percent discount of all ICC publications and more – see all of the member benefits programs here.

    Provincial Chambers of Commerce

    Throughout the 10 Canadian provinces, small-business owners have ample opportunities to join a local Chamber of Commerce. These organizations offer many of the same benefits as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce but have more focus at the local level. Many businesses join both the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and their local initiative.

    Ontario Chamber of Commerce

    Formed in 1910, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce connects local businesses and service organizations with all levels of government to create a flourishing business environment. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey and found that consumers are 44 percent more likely to rate your business favorably, and 63 percent more likely to purchase your goods or services, if it is a Chamber member. In addition to amplifying your voice to local government officials, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce increases the visibility of your company, provides access to essential business resources and offers a number of advertising, promotional and business development opportunities.

    Quebec Chamber of Commerce

    The second largest province in Canada, Quebec is home to several thriving business communities. The Quebec Chamber of Commerce offers members many of the same benefits including ample discounts on credit and debit card transactions, group and personal insurance and savings at more than 75 retailers in Quebec through the Program Plus card.

    British Columbia Chamber of Commerce

    The British Columbia Chamber of Commerce represents more than 36,000 businesses in the province advocating for business-friendly public policies. Member benefits include a plethora of networking opportunities and deep value discounts on things like hotels, gas, office supplies, online business networks, distribution services and insurance.

    Alberta Chamber of Commerce

    The Alberta Chamber of Commerce fights for the lowest possible tax and regulatory environment in Canada by reviewing and assessing the newest legislation and advocating at every level of government for more than 23,000 businesses.

     Manitoba Chamber of Commerce

    Founded in 1931, the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce is comprised of the most influential business owners in the province. Membership grants you access to leading private- and public-sector decision-makers, vital business information, networking events and increased visibility for your business.

    Atlantic Chamber of Commerce

    The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce has been representing businesses throughout the Atlantic Canadian coast since 1896. Membership in the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce includes a stable of benefit programs, from worldwide travel discounts to group insurance plans.

    Find your local Chamber of Commerce and visit any of the pages above to learn more about fees, opportunities and benefits of joining. Make sure to keep checking back with the Vistaprint Canada blog for more in-depth info and resources to help your business grow and achieve continued success.

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  • Starting a Business in Canada? Use These Resources to Facilitate Growth and Continued Success

    Posted on 12/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Starting a Business in Canada? Use These Resources to Facilitate Growth and Continued Success

    business-resourcesCanadian entrepreneurs and small business owners have a wealth of available resources to help their companies get up and running, from financial assistance programs and seminars to develop business skills to networking opportunities and mentorship programs. As a small-business owner or entrepreneur, you will feel isolated at times, but you’re not alone. Make use of the following programs to help your small business grow and receive decades of continued success.

    Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF)

    Aspiring Canadian entrepreneurs and small-business owners ages 18 to 39 can make use of the several services offered by the CYBF. The national non-profit organization was founded in 1996 and has since invested in more than 5,600 entrepreneurs creating more than 23,000 new jobs in Canada. The national network consists of 186 community partners and upwards of 4,500 volunteers including business mentors. The CYBF offers multiple services including:

    • Pre-launch business expertise: Learning how to write a business plan and overcome challenges during the early stages of your business through their network of community partners and experienced business mentors.
    • Free online business resources: These include templates for creating a marketing plan or writing an initial business plan using accepted formats and crash courses in all aspects of business from financial planning to communications.
    • Financial assistance: Through a unique partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada, the CYBF is able to provide access of up to $15,000 in start-up financing and up to $30,000 in additional financing for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
    • Mentorship: The CYBF offers an extensive network of business professionals and available mentorship programs. CYBF mentors will work with you for a minimum of two years to help you through the demanding and make-or-break start-up phase.

    Industry Canada

    Industry Canada is comprised of 12 federal departments and agencies with a goal of helping small- to medium-sized businesses grow by granting access to capital, information and a variety of helpful services. Industry Canada strives to improve conditions for investment throughout the country while enhancing innovation and performance by building a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace. Consult Industry Canada in order to locate the correct federal department or organization to help you:

    • Conduct initial research and find helpful statistics to strengthen your business plan
    • Start your business
    • Find financing
    • Obtain permits and licenses
    • Protect intellectual property
    • Conduct business across borders
    • Incorporate your business
    • Handle bankruptcy

    Small Business Association Canada

    A smaller, non-profit organization, Small Business Association Canada provides opportunities for small-business growth through networking events, collaboration, mentor programs and business skill development training. Small Business Association Canada offers a variety of member-only services and member discounts for many of the networking events held throughout the year.

    Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)

    CFIB’s mission is to represent interests in the small-business community to all three levels of government and they’ve done so for more than 40 years. Some of CFIB’s victories include:

    • Increased the Small Business Corporate Tax threshold to $500,000
    • Increased the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption to $750,000
    • Reduced Employment Insurance premiums since 1994

    When joining the CFIB not only are you given a resounding voice in the small-business community but you also have access to business counsellors and privilege programs. Business counsellors are scattered throughout all Canadian provinces and help small busin
    ess owners troubleshoot anything from day-to-day problems to overarching issues affecting your company. One of CFIB’s signature privilege programs includes reduced fees with affiliated partners for credit and debit card transactions, processing, banking and telecommunications helping you save valuable time and money.

    Women’s Enterprise Initiative

    The Women’s Enterprise Initiative is established by Western Economic Diversification Canada to help remove barriers women entrepreneurs frequently face in the business world. The Women’s Enterprise Initiative has offices in the four western provinces and offers a variety of services including:

    • Individual advice from current business professionals
    • Training programs
    • Networking opportunities
    • Financial assistance
    • Referrals to complementary services

    At Vistaprint Canada we want your business to enjoy decades of continued success. Starting a business can be exceptionally difficult and stressful. The programs above are in place to help your small business grow, utilize their resources, build your network and continue learning how your business can make an impact in the Canadian marketplace.

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  • Savvy Promotions – Getting the Most Out of your Businesses’ Discounting

    Posted on 11/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Savvy Promotions – Getting the Most Out of your Businesses’ Discounting

    discounts and promotionsWhenever you see any type of business holding a weekend sale or offering deep discounts on certain products or services, how do you think they decided on what types of products to discount and for how much? As a small-business owner, you’re well aware of the prices you can afford to offer during a sale, but how can running an individual promotion also help your business achieve goals like attracting new customers, rewarding loyal customers and moving bulk amounts of specific products?

    In order to achieve these goals through promotions, your small business needs to tailor sales to your audience. Give customers a reason to come back with enticing rewards programs, offer new customers discounts on specific products, appease mega-shoppers with big-ticket item discounts and offer seasonal specials to drive traffic in-store or online. Here are a variety of promotions and sales your small business can run to achieve your individual goals:

    Storewide sales

    In general, storewide sales are great for repeat customers and clients that are familiar with your products and service offerings. Repeat customers are well-versed about your business and, when informed about a sale or special promotion throughout the store, they’re more inclined to visit. It’s important to keep you current customers informed, those that enjoy their experience with, or at, your place of business will be more than happy to sign-up for your company’s e-newsletter or mailing list. This is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and provide details about upcoming discounts or promotions.

    New customer only specials

    Hanging a banner, posting a sponsored tweet or creating a Facebook ad campaign to announce a 50 percent off sale to all new customers are ways to draw new traffic to your business. But how can you turn the new traffic into continued business? Giving new customers an opportunity to join your rewards club is a great way to entice them to continue doing business with your company or shopping in your store. For example, offer new customers 25 percent off on their first purchase and 50 percent off after 10 purchases in your store. Each time they see the reward card, they’ll be reminded to stop by your store.

    Another option is offering new clients a free one-time consultation while providing exceptional customer service. Examples stretch across multiple industries, small hardware store owners with handy employees can give customers a free diagnosis on a broken mower and provide a proper repair solution, personal trainers can give customers one free workout and restaurant owners can give new customers a “buy one entrée, get the second at half price” coupon to help influence two new customers instead of just one.

    Discounts on single big-ticket items

    If your small business sells big-ticket items like snowmobiles, high-priced electronics or services, and a vast assortment of other high-end and high-cost products, offering big money discounts on these items helps entice mega-shoppers to your store. As a small-business owner, you understand how much money can be made on the back end of a sale. Back-end sales include maintenance, upkeep and product or service add-ons, and when your customer buys a big-ticket item from your store, it’s likely they’ll return for a number of common back-end sales. Also, when customers are saving on the big-ticket item, they feel more comfortable buying other items in your store for full price.

    Seasonal sales/promotions

    Seasonal sales are a great way to connect with the consumer. During the summertime, you’ll frequently see stores offering sales on beach toys or towels, helping customers enjoy the beautiful weather while saving a few extra bucks. Boxing Day is another time Canadian businesses offer a plethora of deals and deep discounts to draw customers to their stores during the busy holiday rush.

    Another way to urge consumers to visit your store is with aggressive last-second or one-day sales. These can be announced on your company’s social media accounts weeks before or the day of. This is a great way to entice your current customers to follow you on social media and continue checking in with recent updates and news so they don’t miss out on any savings. Personalize your social media pages by giving customers an inside look at your business or store. This allows customers to feel more comfortable with your business and further promotes and extends your brand message.

    The Vistaprint blog is in place to inform small-business owners of the latest news, insights and ideas to help propel your small business to the next level and enjoy continued growth.


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  • Starting a Business in Canada? Some Cities are Better Than Others

    Posted on 08/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Starting a Business in Canada? Some Cities are Better Than Others

    saskatoon canadaYou have the entrepreneurial spirit, you’re passionate about a business idea and you’ve devised a plan to put your idea into motion. Now you need to pick the perfect city to open a business and begin growing your company. Canada offers a variety of cities with ample business-friendly qualities from low tax rates to a high concentration of optimistic small business owners.

    The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) releases the Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities report each year ranking the best cities for opening a new business. The report analyzes a variety of factors to determine the best Canadian city for entrepreneurs to open shop, including:

    • Concentration of entrepreneurs
    • Rate of business start-ups
    • Municipal taxes
    • Plans for city growth
    • Optimism of local business owners
    • Industrial diversity
    • Scale of business ownership

    The 2013 report ranked the Greater Calgary area as the best city for entrepreneurs citing the strength of the gas and oil industry in the area driving higher consumer engagement, as well as positive feelings displayed by business owners surrounding the opportunities for growth in the city. The CFIB issues two rankings – one of cities with a population exceeding 150,000, and the second of cities with a population less than 150,000. Below, you’ll find a mix of cities both small and large with a plethora of business-friendly principles helping entrepreneurs open new businesses and current small business owners enjoy less red tape and more profits.

    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

    Ranking No. 2 in the CFIB list, Saskatoon has seen a 2.7 percent population growth over the past five years and is one of the fastest-growing communities and economies in Canada, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Saskatoon’s Business Growth committee has established a number of tax incentives geared toward helping small businesses and attracting/facilitating startups in the city. The Conference Board also mentions Saskatoon as a leading city for economic investment.

    St. John’s, Newfoundland

    The oldest English-founded city in North America, St. John’s has recently experienced across-the-board growth. Employment, wages and overall business optimism have been on the rise in St. John’s, leading to a 7.8 percent increase in personal income and a 6.9 percent increase in retail over the past year, according to St. John’s economic-development office. All of these factors, plus friendly government policies, make St. John’s a great place to start a new business as the city’s population shares a feeling of confidence and willingness to spend their hard-earned dollars locally.

    Lloydminster, Alberta

    Lloydminster grabs the top spot on the “small cities” list and has plenty to offer potential small business owners. As a border town, Lloydminster businesses enjoy economic benefits from both provinces – Alberta and Saskatchewan. With an assortment of taxation exemptions, Lloydminster residents and business owners have seen a growth in new construction, renovation and retail over the past year. These projects are welcomed by Lloydminster residents’ looking for new retail shops and stores to spend their money – the median household income rests just north of $109,000.

    Regina, Saskatchewan

    Nearly 5 percent of the population in Regina is entrepreneurs and many predict a bright forecast for businesses in Saskatchewan’s capital city. Regina is home to Canada’s lowest unemployment rate among major cities at 3.9 percent and also offers some of the best taxation laws for small businesses. Regina is the cheapest city to operate a company in North America, according to the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission. The Conference Board of Canada also expects jobs to grow by 3.5 percent in Regina this year.

    Edmonton, Alberta

    Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta and offers a lower commercial-to-residential tax rate ratio than Calgary – the leading city for entrepreneurs in Canada, according to the CFIB’s report. The city also offers hands-on assistance through groups like the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and Startup Edmonton. These are places where potential small business owners can physically work or find inspiration by networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

    Kelowna, British Columbia

    Kelowna jumped seven spots and into the top ten on the CFIB’s annual report thanks to a number of investments by the private sector to revamp the town and boost the city’s economy. Mayor Walter Gray credits the economic change to a new council elected a few years ago pushing the theme of “we’re open for business.” The recent developments have catapulted the city into one of the most business-friendly in the country.

    The variety of Canadian cities above provides a well-rounded outlook on the best places to open a new business in Canada, based on a wide assortment of factors. Make sure to check back with the Vistaprint Canada blog for more news, tips and best practices to help your small business continue to grow.


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  • Organizational Tips from Canadian Business Legends

    Posted on 05/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Organizational Tips from Canadian Business Legends

    alexander fernandezThe Canadian business community is full of inspiring entrepreneurs, accomplished CEOs and insightful business owners striving to create long-lasting relationships and provide the best products and services to all Canadians. As an up-and-coming small-business owner, it’s important to learn from top business people in the country. We compiled a list of the top Canadian CEOs, entrepreneurs and small-business owners sharing their best pieces of advice with young small-business owners striving to make it in their industry and one day become a top Canadian business mind of their own.

    Alexander Fernandez, CEO and founder – Avigilon

    Avigilon is a high-definition surveillance solutions manufacturer and Fernandez’ best piece of advice comes from a book he values to this day written by Dale Carnegie. Fernandez continues to skim this book for inspiration but the one quote that will always stick with him is, “To do something great, you need to lean on the learning that comes before you, as there isn’t enough time in one lifetime to personally learn everything.” Fernandez values this quote in business because it allows him to remember he doesn’t, and shouldn’t be asked to, know everything – this quote helps him delegate tasks and gain insights from other members of his team.

    Mike Cordoba, CEO – RAMMP Hospitality

    Cordoba’s RAMMP Hospitality owns two restaurant chains in western Canada – MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual and The Pantry. One piece of advice stuck with Cordoba throughout his entire life – the leader of an organization must out-work everybody. From the kitchen manager to a CEO – the authority figure needs to set the tone for the rest of their staff in order to achieve the results they desire. Cordoba also advocates the importance of learning about the skills each member of the team presents and discovering the best way to utilize those skills.

    Tracy Redies, CEO – Coast Capital Savings

    As the second largest credit union in Canada, Coast Capital Savings and Tracy Redies have a lot to live up to. On her rise to the top, Redies learned one thing about being a leader that she’ll never forget – the best leaders inspire average performers to perform beyond expectations. Redies says she feels it’s important for her staff to feel like they are part of something important and meaningful. She motivates by encouraging and supporting employees to reach above and beyond their potential.

    Ian Telfer, Chair – Goldcorp Inc.

    With constant fluctuation of the price of gold, the piece of advice Telfer shares makes a lot of sense – don’t try to solve tomorrow’s problems today. By overlooking today’s problems you can drastically impact tomorrow’s problems and, at the same time, by fixing today’s problems you can minimize or eliminate tomorrow’s problems. It’s important to live in the now.

    James Shepard, CEO – Canfor Corp.

    Shepard learned this early in his career when he was forced to take a pay cut as a middle manager at Finning International. Before accepting the pay cut Shepard was told, “Nobody gets out of this thing unscathed. Everybody’s got to give.” This lesson stayed with Shepard and he implemented the same series of salary cuts across the board when he started at Canfor in 2007.

    Gordon Campbell, Premier – British Columbia

    Campbell’s long-lasting advice came from his mom when he was just a young teenager. She told him, “We live in a place where you can do just about anything you want, but no one’s going to give it to you. You have to work until you finish the job.” This type of hard-hitting advice serves as a nice kick in the pants for plenty of small-business owners complaining about rules and regulations instead of doing whatever it takes to work around them.

    Peter Dhillon, CEO – Richberry Group of Companies

    The single most important thing to remember on your way to the top, according to Dhillon, is to never hold a grudge. Burning bridges is not an option in the business world – you never know who you’ll run into or be forced to work with again. Although, Dhillon does admit, it will be one of the toughest things to do, he also references the old saying – “If you’re not a good person on the way up, the fall down will be much faster and there’s no cushion to break your fall.”

    Make sure to check back with the Vistaprint blog for more insights into the small-business community. As you continue to grow your small business, keep in mind the advice above – these are current business leaders throughout Canada and have gained invaluable experience during their careers that everyone can learn from.


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  • Small Business Laws and Programs Affecting Small Businesses in Canada

    Posted on 04/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Small Business Laws and Programs Affecting Small Businesses in Canada

    business lawAs a partner to your small business, we are here to help your dream grow. In addition to supplying business cards and marketing products, we also keep tabs on the latest news affecting small business in Canada. In late January, Treasury Board President Tony Clement introduced a new red tape reduction bill to help quell the financial burden increasing regulations have on small- and medium-sized businesses. Here is a deeper look into some of the current Canadian laws and programs aimed to better your small business.

    “One for One” Rule

    A conservative law introduced by Clement, the “One for One” rule forces lawmakers to cut an old regulation for every new one created. This rule is limited to laws and regulations affecting small- and medium-sized businesses to help eliminate red tape that burdens these companies. Prime Minister Stephen Harper claims red tape is a “silent killer of jobs” by limiting their potential for growth through a series of unnecessary hoops and fees.

    For example, if a new regulation is introduced and expected to cost businesses “X” amount of dollars, an older regulation with a similar financial burden will be removed from law. The rule strictly excludes cuts of any health and safety regulations.

    Currently Canadian business owners spend more than $30 billion per year on regulatory compliance. This rule aims to significantly reduce the time and money spent on yearly regulatory compliance helping small business focus more attention on expansion and delivering quality goods and services to customers.

    NorthLeaf Venture Catalyst Fund

    A new fund has been created to support the venture capital community as well as early and mid-stage businesses, the NorthLeaf Venture Catalyst Fund. A total of $217.5 million has been invested in the fund from the federal government, Ottawa’s government and the private sector. The fund was created by Northleaf Capital Partners and has financial support from a number of banks and financial groups throughout Canada.

    HSBC Bank Canada Supports International Growth

    Small business looking to expand their reach overseas can turn to HSBC Bank Canada for financial backing. Announced in late January, the bank added an additional $1 billion to support financing of small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada seeking international growth. This program was implemented last year and the additional billion dollar investment doubles the current fund for small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada. In order to receive financial backing from HSBC Bank Canada, your small business must be an HSBC customer and have annual revenue of $3 million to $250 million. HSBC created this fund as its research shows growth in many sectors across emerging markets as the Global Connections Trade Forecast report expects infrastructure trade to triple by 2030.

    Canada Small Business Financing Program

    Amid the most recent laws and programs aimed to support small businesses throughout Canada, one remains a constant chiefly because it works. Since 1999, the Canada Small Business Financing Program has assisted more than 120,000 companies issuing more than $1 billion in loans each year. Supported by Industry Canada, this program is aimed to make it easier for small businesses to receive loans from financial institutions by sharing risks with lenders. The program helps:

    • New businesses get started, or established companies expand or improve
    • Give small businesses access to loans that would have been unavailable otherwise
    • Stimulate the economy and create jobs for Canadians

    Small businesses or start-ups operating in Canada with gross annual revenues of $5 million or less are eligible for financial assistance through the program. Small businesses can use loans for financing up to 90 percent of the cost of purchasing or improving land or property, purchasing new or existing leasehold improvements and purchasing or fixing new/used equipment. As a small business owner, stop by your bank, caisse popularie or credit union and talk to a financial officer to learn more about interest rates and comprehensive details of the program.

    As you continue to push your small business forward, consider the assistance programs above to accelerate expansion. These programs also give you the opportunity to speak with other small business owners and learn from their experiences. Continue checking back with the Vistaprint Canada blog for all small business news, inspiration, guidance and more.

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  • Unique Uses for Business Cards

    Posted on 03/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Unique Uses for Business Cards

    business-cardTraditionally, business cards are thick 3-1/2-inch x 2-inch pieces of paper spelling out essential contact information for business professionals. By no means are business cards a thing of the past, they still serve a significant purpose in the business world for networking and even marketing purposes. However, business cards are evolving to create a more personal experience showcasing the business owners’ creativity and product or service offerings in unique new ways.

    Anyone can create a business card but professionals who understand their customers, are creative and willing to try something new will receive the greatest benefit from developing unique business cards. Traditional business cards are boring and serve one purpose to the recipient – a helpful place to find someone’s contact information. Unique business cards are exciting, bold and offer the recipient more than just contact information, including:

    • Additional access to your business through advanced technology
    • Convenient reminders for appointments
    • Coupons/punch cards for in-store rewards
    • Snapshot of work

    If you haven’t changed your business cards in years, it’s time to consider updating the 3-1/2-inch x 2-inch piece of paper in your wallet. Create an appealing design, stand out amongst your competition and make people want to keep, use or pass on your business card to their friends and family. Here are a few unique examples of how you can update your business card to showcase your business in a distinctive way.

    Add value

    In certain circumstances, black and white business cards hold merit, however, utilizing bold graphics, vibrant color and a sleek design will deliver immediate value to your card. If you lack the creative gene, consult your staff for ideas on color schemes or logo integration to see if you have any in-house talent, otherwise, seek out a professional designer to create a bold new look. Most designs look best on 14- or 16-point matte glossy paper – keep this in mind as you create and order business cards with eye-catching graphics.

    You can also add value to your business card by giving recipients a snapshot into your work. This is a great idea for artists, photographers or actors as they can incorporate thumbnail images of paintings, headshots and published works.

    Add tech and social

    If you haven’t changed your standard business card template in the last 10 years, chances are they don’t include any social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+ and you certainly don’t have a QR code. Staying active on social media is a great way to build your brand, engage with customers, share company news and it enhances your online credibility and presence. Include your username and URL for your preferred company social networks on your business cards – you can even incorporate branded hashtags or a unique contest or promotional hashtag. Including this information promotes user engagement and increases online awareness of your business.

    QR codes are another great way to boost user engagement and grant card recipients deeper access to your company. A digitized square, QR codes are scanned from a user’s smartphone and open a specific landing page – this could be your businesses’ website, an app, a contest page or anywhere else you’d like to direct customers on the web. QR codes are easy to make and embed on business cards – they are also a great way to generate traffic to a specific page.

    Loyalty/coupon/appointment cards

    Using your business card as a way to promote customer loyalty further entices the card recipient to hold on to your business card and create a lasting relationship with your business.

    Appointment cards help schedule the customers’ upcoming engagements with your business – these work great for doctors, dentists, mechanics, physical therapists, trainers and more. Keep your company information on the front of your card and create a space on the back for your staff to jot down return dates for upcoming appointments.

    Loyalty or coupon cards also help promote return customers. The idea is the same – create a bold and eye-grabbing business card with all of your company contact information – but also incorporate a punch or stamp reward club into the design so customers can earn points each time they shop. This incentivizes the customer and gives them a reason to keep your card close by at all times as well as spread the word to their friends about your great products and deals.

    Become inspired

    Updating your business card takes time, thought and a lot of trial and error when crafting the perfect message or look. Business cards are beginning to drift further away from the traditional wallet size and embody what the business represents. From bottle opener business cards for breweries to a tiny skateboard deck for a repair shop, unique business cards are popping up everywhere. Here are a few articles where you can become inspired to create a unique business card your customers will love:

    Make sure to check back with the Vistaprint blog for small business tips and techniques to help grow your brand and further your customer base. And don’t forget Vistaprint Canada can help you produce visually stimulating, high quality and unique business cards with hundreds of available designs and personalization options to choose from.

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  • Make the Most of LinkedIn Groups

    Posted on 02/06/2014 by | Comments Off on Make the Most of LinkedIn Groups

    business-handshakeLinkedIn is one of the most populated social networks online with more than 259 million monthly active users. The audience is full of career-minded business professionals invested in creating productive relationships and partnerships. In fact, LinkedIn is a 277 percent more effective tool for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter, according to a Hubspot study. One of the best ways for small business owners to connect with professionals in their industry is through LinkedIn Groups.

    More than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups exist online with daily discussions organized by moderators and engagement stemming from CEO’s to account managers across all industries. Joining a LinkedIn Group and actively contributing to the discussion leads to countless benefits for your small business, including:

    • Seek or provide advice: LinkedIn Groups work as a forum for members to ask questions, share ideas and interact based on a particular topic, industry or geographic region. Here you can read or share unique experiences and points of view to help guide you and others in the right direction.
    • Create deeper connections: It’s essential to contribute to current discussions on LinkedIn Groups. Once you’ve shared your thoughts or posted a question of your own, send invites to other members who responded.
    • Elevate your social currency: LinkedIn Groups are a great medium to boost your credibility within the industry by showcasing your expertise in a variety of ways – sharing relevant blog posts, contributing to prominent industry group message boards or moderating a group of your own.
    • Become inspired: LinkedIn Group forums can also help inspire you. Simply reading questions and responses from members can help influence a new idea or marketing strategy for your small business. That’s why it’s important to join multiple LinkedIn Groups allowing you to interact with a diverse range of professionals.

    Now that you know the benefits of joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups, we’ll dive into the how to properly use this tool to your advantage and keep up with the latest trends, news, talent and events in your industry.

    How to find the right LinkedIn Group

    Searching for LinkedIn Groups is exceptionally easy but knowing what to search for can help narrow down relevant groups pertaining to your businesses’ needs. Use LinkedIn’s search tool to plug in keywords relating to your business or personal interests – small business, digital marketing, hiking or outdoors, for example. In Canada, you’ll find several groups centered on small business including, Go Small Business Canada, Small Business: The Globe and Mail and Canada Small Business Owners Network.

    How to choose the right LinkedIn Group to join

    Choosing a LinkedIn Group is like choosing a school or job – not every option is a great fit. You should be selective in your process for choosing what groups to spend your time with. Do so by researching who the group managers and top contributors are – their credibility? Do they share an excess of promotional items? What group rules have they established? After answering these questions, read into the dialogue of the group – what is being discussed? How many people are contributing? Are their insights valuable? The answers to all of these questions will help determine if joining this group will benefit your business. Look for groups with well-established rules or a code of conduct, this helps keep discussion relevant and helps weed out excessive self-promotion.

    You should also consider joining corporate sponsored LinkedIn Groups. Although sponsored items on many social media networks are looked down upon, LinkedIn has partnered with a few brands and corporations to build robust groups in a variety of industries. Here are a few of the top sponsored LinkedIn Groups to consider:

    Best practices for LinkedIn Group participation

    Joining a LinkedIn Group is the first step. In order to receive any benefit from the group tool, you need to participate in discussion and follow-up with people you’ve interacted with to form a connection. Here are a few of the best practices when participating in LinkedIn Groups:

    • Never automatically post your personal or company blogs. This is blatant self-promotion and can interrupt a string of thoughtful and relevant discussion. Instead, find a blog you’ve produced that answers a question posed by another group member. This shows you’re invested in contributing to the group and helps boost your overall credibility.
    • Don’t answer every question. Sometimes people will post to a discussion topic or answer a question when they have nothing helpful to contribute. This form of pseudo online activity isn’t fooling anyone. Only post when you have something worthwhile, engaging or helpful to share.
    • Follow-up with other members. If you’ve shared a noteworthy exchange with another group member on the discussion board, make sure to reach out and connect on LinkedIn. Connecting with other group members is a great way to increase your network and ultimately cultivate leads.

    Make sure to check back with the Vistaprint blog for in-depth topics helping push your small business forward.

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  • Are You Ready for the Naked Economy?

    Posted on 23/05/2014 by | Comments Off on Are You Ready for the Naked Economy?

    By Katie McCaskey (Google+)

    Naked Economy by Vistaprint DealsIn the “Naked Economy” all you need to wear to the modern office is a smile and some sunscreen.

    Okay, actually, you’ll need more than that. A lot more. The phrase “naked economy” may sound titillating but, according to the book by the same name, “naked” defines our rapidly shifting economy. That’s because the emerging global economy is increasingly leaving workers “exposed” as health care, retirement benefits, living wages, the idea of “job security,” and other protections are “stripped away.”

    Rising in the place of the workplaces, jobs, and careers we’ve known is a very different environment. The sooner you willingly “get naked” to this new reality the sooner you can successfully navigate this new landscape. We can either roll with the punches or be rolled over by them. Let’s peel off some clothing and look at some changes we’ll be experiencing as individuals and as business owners, shall we?



    Among the differences between our former concepts of “work” and today include:

    Physical Space
    The ability to work anywhere and sell virtually means the world of work is changing dramatically. Physical space is still important, but more of our economy is increasingly detaching from office parks, factories, and other physical places of work.

    Instead, more job creation is blossoming in a largely location-independent “knowledge economy.” Knowledge work — everything from developing apps to performing surgery with remote healthcare — is removing previous geographic barriers and constraints, notes Diane Smith in her book,, about the role of technology businesses in rural America.

    The authors of The Rise of the Naked Economy: How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace contend that office space itself is changing to allow loosely configured, modular space that invites casual collaboration and inspiration between independent workers (notably, the authors are owners of a co-working space in the Northwest).


    Short-Term, Freelance, and Startup Arrangements

    Now everyone is self-employed. Increasingly more of us are working as entrepreneurs, freelancers, and in short-term, project-based work (or a combination of all of the above). One common thread to these engagements is that all are without the “protection” offered by yesterday’s jobs and careers.

    Whether you consider protection to be job security (staying at the same job for many years), benefits (health care or retirement), or upward mobility based on organizational seniority, all of these are assumptions based on yesterday’s economic model. Get ready to regularly reprint your business cards. Most workers will change jobs, if not careers, at a regular pace over the course of her or his career. Those who can adapt, retrain, and explain their narrative in a meaningful way will be the winners.

    Specialists and Generalists Both Thrive
    Another important trend of the emerging “naked economy” is the idea that rewards will come to specialists and generalists, not exclusively one or the other. Specialists can increasingly narrow their focus of study and expertise if they are selling their knowledge globally — after all, it is easier than ever to locate and hire the person with the greatest knowledge in any particular area.

    Generalists, people who can understand and communicate trends by parsing diverse data, will also find handsome reward in a workforce saturated by content. Some will even find success as hybrids of the two: generalists in a particular niche and hyper-specialists in one particular area of that niche.

    As individuals, we’ll need to adopt a growing mindset. We’ll need to regularly retrain and expand our skills to remain competitive. We will need to choose an area of focus (as specialists) or refine our abilities to parse, curate, and make sense of disparate information (as generalists).

    As business owners — and yes, we all are business owners of “Me, Inc.” in our new economy — we’ll need to look for opportunities to sell our skills and work on bigger platforms. We’ll need to accept that teams will assemble, disassemble, and reassemble as the market dictates.

    As a result, we’ll need to understand that employees, partners, vendors, suppliers, and others won’t have as narrowly defined roles as before. Moreover, Millennials and more are choosing to integrate work into their lives instead of viewing work as outside or separate from their lives. Expect greater workplace flexibility as more people strive to integrate “work” into “real lives” rather than earlier attempts at “balance” between one and the other.

    In conclusion, that gold watch your father or grandfather earned during his one-employer career is a relic of the past. Today’s emerging economy may make you feel temporarily exposed, but there are ways to prepare and adapt. Unlike the tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” yes, really, in the new economy everyone is naked. Pass the sunscreen.

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