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October 2009

Start Your Own Business

October 28, 2009 | Dara Renton | Comments (3)

A Recession Can Be a Good Time to Start Your Own Business  - "There are various reasons why starting up a business when the future looks bleak can be a good idea. First, not everybody is doing it, so there might be less competition. Second, people who have been in a market for a while might collapse under the strain, creating an opening. Third, resources, such as premises and raw materials, can be cheaper than in boom times. Fourth, it might be easier to recruit the people you want if there are fewer opportunities. And the list goes on.“  - Roger Trapp.  The Independent - London 03-03-2009.

Entrepreneurship "Only way to Avoid Global Recession" Says EMLYON Business School, Leading International Business School -
Entrepreneurs need to understand how to do business in global, rather than just domestic markets if they are to fulfill their true potential," says Patrice Houdayer, Dean of the leading European business school, EMLYON. "In fact this type of entrepreneurship may be the only viable way of escaping the threat of global recession. - Anonymous. Canadian NewsWire. November 26, 2008.

The National Post reported that, in the retail sector, Smaller shops dominate sales rankings - First Coverage has unveiled its 2008 performance rankings for Canada...and the winners' list is dominated by smaller shops.

"It's really the boutiques and independents that are shining  in this volatile environment," said First Coverage founder Randy Cass. - National Post, March 25, 2009.  page FP8.

Of course, entering into private business is something that takes a lot of thought, research and plain hard work.

A business advisor with Enterprise Toronto, Jason Li,  recommends that prospective entrepreneurs :

  • Take time to do a self-assessment on their skills and resources in such areas as financial resources, leadership ability, industry knowledge and risk tolerance.
  • Determine which type of business would best suit their capabilities and resources.
  • Thoroughly research their market to identify opportunities and create a solid business plan. 

Mr Li noted that about 70% of small businesses that enter the marketplace survive for one full year; half survive for three years. Approximately 25% of small businesses are still operating after nine years.

Poor cash flow is a frequent cause of business failure.  However, good planning can greatly increase the odds of success.

Enterprise Toronto is a City of Toronto advisory service for entrepreneurs and small business owners.  You can visit their website for small business advice, information on upcoming seminars, links to other small business sites and more.
At  Enterprise Toronto you can:

  • Find out rules and regulations for small business
  • Register your business name
  • Get advice on writing your business plan
  • Attend seminars on all aspects of small business  ….and more…
  • Make an appointment to speak with an ET business advisor.

Enterprise Toronto website

The Toronto Public Library’s SmallBizXpress  is also a  great place to find current information on all aspects of starting and running a small business.   This is a comprehensive guide to websites of interest to small business owners and entrepreneurs in Ontario.  It includes links to websites on self-assessment, business plan writing, market research, sources of financing and a lot more.

If you have never seriously thought about starting your own business before, click on the heading  Before You Start a Business.  From here you’ll find links to sites that will help you to answer key questions  such as;

  • What business is best for me?
  • I have an idea for a business, what now?
  • Who should I talk to first about getting started?

Another key site for budding entrepreneurs is the Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre (COBSC).   Check out this site for assistance on all aspects of small business start-up, including an Interactive business planner and an Online small business workshop.  The COBSC site also provides access to information on Federal and provincial programs, services and regulations for small business, and personal assistance from expert staff.

Although the web resources listed above are a must for most entrepreneurs, books provide more in-depth, reflective coverage of specific small business operations and assistance with decision making. 

The Library has current books on all aspects of small business start-up and management.

Here are some great reads!

101 internet businesses you can start from home 

The big idea

Business plans for Canadians for dummies

Business plans handbook

Business plan business reality 

Start and run a real home based business

Start and run a retail business

 Two dozen businesses you can start and run..

Business & Company Resource Centre: Need Another Source for Company Information?

October 28, 2009 | Dara Renton | Comments (0)

If you are looking for companies and industry news and analysis that is international in scope, look no further! Have a look at Business & Company Resource Centre (library card needed to access). This online database, which the Toronto Public Library subscribes to, brings together company profiles, brand information, rankings, investment reports, company histories, industry news and analysis, and chronologies and periodicals. Here you can find detailed company and industry news and information, as well as coverage of major business events and trends from 1980 to the present, 

To do a basic company search, type in a company name in the search box. To conduct a more advanced search, choose Company under the Additional Search Options and use one or more of these search boxes: company name or ticker symbol, SIC code, NAICS code, product or brand name or type, city, state or country. You can also browse the list of companies by clicking on Browse Companies under the company name search box.

To search for companies organized by industry, use the Company option under the Additional Search Options and enter the type of company, e.g. mining, or use the NAICS code or SIC code. If you do not know the code, look it up using the Browse SIC Codes or Browse NAICS Code.

To find industry information, click on the Industry icon under Additional Search Options. Again, you can search by SIC or NAICS code or search words for your industry (e.g. clothing). The results will depend on availability and the industry - they could be complete research reports, business encyclopedia articles or articles from newspapers, magazines, and trade journals, etc.

Also available are investment reports (over 1.5 million of them!) dating back 3 years. Use the Advanced Search feature and choose Investment Reports from the drop down menu. But you have to provide either the ticker symbol (e.g. goog for Google), SIC or NAICS code.

Lastly, the financial reports. Use these to analyze a company over time, compare a company's financials to its major competitors, or choose specific companies to compare. Reports going back 6 years or 5 interim periods are available. And the data can be exported in Microsoft Excel. Use Advanced Search and choose Financials from the drop down menu. Type in the ticker symbol, e.g. goog for Google. The results will default to Fundamentals Analysis. If you want to compare to major competitors or compare to specific companies, click in the radio button beside the choice and click on Update View to do the comparisons. If you click on Financial Dashboard, you will get company quotes as well as news, SEC filings, charts and historical data. You can also view market movers, world markets and more!

The beauty of this database is that it is available at all branches of the Toronto Public Library as well as from home, if you have a valid Toronto Public Library card. You can print or email the results to yourself. To retain any graphics that come with the article, chose the HTML format when you print or email the results.

If you are using this database for the first time, you may want to go to any one of the three Research & Reference Libraries (Toronto Reference Library, North York Central Library and Urban Affairs Library) for expert assistance.

Have fun!

Company Information for Your Job Search

October 28, 2009 | Dara Renton | Comments (0)

So you want to create a resume mailing list?  Or maybe, you are courageously planning your COLD CALL campaign? But wait!  Where do you find your target companies?  You can't call every company in the phone book!  And besides,  you only want to target the companies that are most likely to be interested in you.  Is commuting to Moose Jaw really an option?  Geography counts!

The Toronto Public Library provides easy access to a wide variety of company directories and in-depth company information, in both print and electronic formats.

Company Directories

How will company directories help me with my job search?

Directories enable you to:

  • Create a resume mailing list.
  • Find company contact information for cold calling.
  • Find contact information for companies that do not have a website.
  • Provide basic information about companies such as number of employees, approximate sales figures, types of product or service the company offers.

Some directories provide brief profiles of the company and links to company websites. This information can help you to prepare for the employment interview.

When should I use company directories?

You will be in a much better position to select the best directory(s)  for your job search, once you have a job search plan. There are literally hundreds of free company directories out there.  Each directory may list thousands of companies. A job search plan helps you to narrow your focus and make your job search more efficient.

Also, company directories tend to be organized by industry, or type of business.  They are not usually organized by occupation or type of job.  Because of this, you need a plan which identifies the industry or type of company you want to target.  Without a plan, you will have difficulty knowing which company directories to choose, and which companies within the directory to target. 

Developing a plan does require some research, but Library staff can help. Research enables you to :

  • Identify companies that are most likely to employ someone with your skill-sets and experience.
  • Identify growing industries/companies that are most likely to have job openings.
  • Determine the best geographical area to target.

For help with your job search plan, click here. Also, consider speaking with a career counsellor at a non-profit community agency such as the TDSB Employment Resource Centres. Click here for a complete list of community agencies that assist job searchers.

Where can I find company directories?

Company directories for a variety of industries are available in print and on the Internet. Some directories list many different types of companies, while others are specific to an particular industry.

  • Some licensed company directories are available to you online through the Toronto Public Library’s website. Others are only available within a TPL branch.
  • The largest collections of print company directories are available at Toronto Reference Library’s Business Information Centre and North York Central Library’s Business and Urban Affairs Department.
    Staff at both locations can help you to find the directories that are suitable for your job search.
  • Free company directories for many industries are available on the Internet.

    To locate these web directories, go to the Toronto Public Library’s website and click on the heading Find Good Websites, Our Recommendations:

    Toronto Public Library homepage  

    This will take you to the main page of the Virtual Reference Library, a quick subject guide to the Internet for Library users, with a category "Business, Finance and Economics".

    Under the heading Business, Finance and Economics, click on Company Directories.

     Vrl business selection
     Some directories are arranged by industry and some by location.

    Several company directory websites are listed under High Technology Industries. To view a sample directory , select Canada IT: Company Profiles.

    Directories may differ greatly in the number of companies, amount of information per company and website design. The IT Company Profiles Directory allows users to search for IT companies by industry sector and company name.  Each company profile provides contact information (often with a link to the company website), a brief profile of the company and sometimes news about the company’s activities. 

    Sample All-Purpose Directories

    Canadian Company Capabilities    Large database, hosted by Industry Canada,  that incudes listings for companies of all sizes from most industry sectors.  Company records include links to the company's website, detailed description of the company's products/services, export information and more. See our previous post on this great resource.  - This website is helpful for finding businesses of all kinds across Canada, especially small service, consulting, and manufacturing businesses that are not included in most other commercial directories.  You can create customized lists of companies by keyword (business type) and city. Many listings include a link to the company’s website.


How do I know if the companies I am contacting have jobs available?

A lot of people ask this question when they are first using company directories for their job search. The answer is that a directory does not tell you if the companies it lists actually have jobs available now. The directory simply gives you contact information for possible employers. The more industry and labour market research you have done before using company directories, the more focused your search will be on companies with the most possibility.

Contacting the companies on your list is often the only way to find out if they are interested in hiring you. Sometimes, only by making that call, can you convince a prospective employer that they need you!

Companies often list job postings on their websites.  In fact, companies typically list more jobs on their own sites than they send out to job boards or websites such as Workopolis or Monster Board.


In-Depth Company Information 

Where can I find in-depth information about particular companies?

Company websites - Look for information about what the company does, the "corporate culture," revealed in the type of language and images the company uses to describe itself,  the kinds of "value-added" programs such as training seminars, conferences, etc. that are available to their employees.

Company profile databases - Many free company directories on the Internet offer company profiles and news.  

The Library subscribes to company profile databases such as FP Online and Mergent Online 

The Scott's Ontario Business Directory is currently available on CD-ROM at the Toronto Reference Library and the North York Central Library.  The Scott's Online Canadian Business Directory will be available shortly at all branches.

Magazine & Newspaper Articles - Find articles about the company(s) or industry(s) you are interested in.  Full text magazine, journal and newspaper articles are available through the Toronto Pubic Library's homepage.  These can be accessed from home, through the Library's website.  You will need to enter you Library card and PIN numbers.

SEDAR - Annual reports, financial statements, news releases for Canadian public companies.

General business news - such as TV and radio business report, or the business section of the newspaper.  Look for articles on companies or industries that are growing.  Growth in a company or industry may mean that jobs are, or will be, available.

Network - by attending trade shows, conferences etc. for your chosen industry. Use social networking services such as LinkedIn and Twitter.  See our previous posts on Linkedin and Twitter. Talk to friends, family and colleagues from your previous employment.

Company Directories in Print

The Toronto Reference and North York Central Libraries house the largest collections of print directories. Staff will be happy to help you find the right directory for your job search or business needs. Here are just a few frequently requested directories:

Canadian chemical directory - Annual

Canadian Oil Register - Annual

Directory of retail chains in Canada - Annual 

Financial Services Canada - Annual

Pharma, biopharma & nutraceuticals, Canada - Annual

Visit us again at or subscribe to our updates with your favourite RSS reader. Use the Google search box on our blog to search us for more articles.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Scott's Business Directories Online Has Arrived!

October 28, 2009 | Dara Renton | Comments (0)

Almost every active job seeker knows about Scott's business directories. For those of you who are new to this series, these directories contain company information on over 150 000 businesses located in Canada. The information includes basic contact information and may also include the company's website and email address as well as how many employees the company has, annual sales, and year established. The series is updated on an annual basis. A very cool resource for job seekers who wish to do some cold-calling and increase their chances of getting the job they want!

While every branch of the Toronto Public Library has the 4-volume set for Ontario, volumes for other provinces like Quebec, Alberta, the Atlantic Provinces, etc. are found only at Toronto Reference Library and North York Central Library and other selected TPL libraries. The online version of Scott's lets you search for businesses all across Canada! This database is accessible only in the library, not from home or work.

Other cool features of this database?

  • customize your search by city, postal code, street name, number of employees, estimated sales, products or telephone exchanges.
  • create a pick list (sort of like a shopping cart) where you can store a maximum of 1 000 companies on a list.
  • print reports in different styles like Single Profile which includes full company information on one company per page. Great for when you have a small list or if you want to keep each record separate. Or Book Style which creates a table of contents listing your companies in alphabetical order and gives all the company information from the reports in 2 columns. Saves paper and money!
  • print or download your reports (in PDF only.)

So, get thee to your local Toronto Public Library and have a look at Scott's Online!

Tax-Free Savings Accounts

October 28, 2009 | Margaret W. | Comments (0)

If you're like me, the new Tax-Free Savings Account is a bit confusing. How does it work?  I found some great information on the following web sites:

Canada Revenue Agency: Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) for Individuals  Find out here who is eligible to invest in a TFSA, how to set up an account, the types of investment vehicles allowed in a TFSA, how to contribute, and how to make withdrawals.

Department of Finance, Canada  Information about the account from the Budget 2008 web site.   

Government Of Canada: Tax-Free Savings Accounts  This site describes the difference between a Tax Free Savings Account and an RRSP. It also includes a TFSA calculator and "TFSA for Seniors".

Gordon Pape has published a book about Tax-Free Savings Accounts: Tax-Free Savings Accounts: A Guide to TFSA's and How They Can Make You Rich. It's available in many of the branches of the Toronto Public Library.

Arm yourself with as much information as possible to make your decision about Tax-Free Savings Accounts a snap!

There is Hope! Alternatives to Bankruptcy

October 28, 2009 | Margaret W. | Comments (0)

The Office of the Superintendant of Bankruptcy Canada suggests the following as alternatives to bankruptcy:

Failing these, some formal alternatives to bankruptcy include:

Try these books - for advice and support:

 Lifelines   Budgeting and Debt Management  Citi 

Remember, there is help! For example, Credit Canada is a registered Canadian charity that offers personal money management counselling by appointment, mediation between debtor and creditor, consumer debt repayment programs, consumer credit education, and more. 

To locate more organizations that offer services to debtors, check, an online directory of over 20,000 community, social, health and government services.


Welcome! We are specialized librarians in our business department and we write about current issues for small business owners and those interested in personal finance matters. For more information and resources see our Small Business & Personal Finance page.