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May 2010

Keeping Up With the "Social Media for Small Business" Scene

May 31, 2010 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

There are so many different types of social media, and so many ways to use each one to help with your small business!  It's difficult to know where to start - and even harder to know how to keep up with all their changes.

But one thing is clear: with new products constantly appearing and established sites regularly adding new features, getting up-to-the-minute information is essential.

Upcoming Webinars

Seminars and webinars can help you get started, and there are a couple of on-line seminars coming up soon. Both are sponsored by Enterprise Toronto, and both are free!

The first, coming on June 3rd, is The Power of Social Media for Small Business, and is co-sponsored by TD Canada Trust.

The second, also sponsored by Enterprise Toronto, is  5 Social Media Tools You Can Use to Market and Promote Your Business. It is conducted in conjunction with BizLaunch, a Toronto-base company that trains entrepreneurs.

BizLaunch charges for many of their services, but also offers many free learning opportunities for small business, in partnership with STAPLES, Bell, Microsoft, Bell Aliant, Scotiabank, Visa, FedEx, Cisco, Industry Canada and others.

Websites To Keep You Up-To-Date

If you look at nothing else in terms of websites, you must look at Mashable, which is best viewed in a browser other than Explorer, such as Firefox. (For those of you who only use Explorer, sorry, but the site is too important not to mention.)

Mashable was founded in 2005, and is "the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news, with more than 15 million monthly page views (quoted from the website)."

Mashable has a great social media section. You really need to look at this site - once you do, you'll be hooked! 

Chris Brogan: Community and Social Media is another site that will keep you in the know. Chris's blog is in the top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

RotorBlog, now part of the SocialTimes website, is also one to look at. Like the other blogs I've mentioned, it's about a lot more than just small business, but the ideas that it sparks as you read it could lead to something brilliant!

Books at the Library

For currency, look at the latest books; for basics, the older books will do just fine.  Here are a few:


Social Media 101
The Facebook Era
The Social Media Bible
The Social Media 101 The Facebook Era The Social Media Bible
“Social Media puts the “public” into PR and the “market” into marketing." - Chris Brogan

Revenue Canada's Small Business Tax Seminar: It Can Help

May 27, 2010 | Margaret W. | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

"I have in my hand 1,397 pages of tax simplification."  These words of Del Latta, former member of the United States House of Representatives, are cringe worthy.  If you are a small business owner in Canada trying to understand what's required of you regarding taxation, they may even have a ring of familiarity.

However, there is a way to make the topic of business taxation a little simpler without having to plow through tomes.

The Revenue Canada Agency holds regular, free seminars for small businesses which cover such topics as:

  • Starting your own business (record keeping, fiscal periods, accounting methods etc.)
  • Income tax
  • Payroll withholding
  • Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax

    In Toronto, these seminars take place at the Training Centre at 1 Front Street West.  The next seminar will be held June 11th, 2010, from 9:30 am - 12 pm. Seating is limited and pre-registration is required 48 hours in advance.

    To get more information about the seminars, or to register, call 416-954-0235. There is also a toll free number (1-877-681-1156), or you could send an mail to [email protected].  You can also register through the Small Business Information Seminars website.

    Here are some books at the library about small business taxation which will also help:

    167 Tax Tips For Canadian Small Business
    Make Sure It's Deductible
    167 Tax Tips For Canadian
    Small Businesses

    Make Sure It's Deductible: 
    Little Known Tax Tips For Your
    Canadian Small Business


    Getting your small business taxation requirements clarified will allow you to focus on what's most important - providing the best service to your customer.

     

  • The Victoria Day Long Weekend

    May 24, 2010 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    The Victoria Day long weekend in Canada celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday (May 24).

    Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which the Queen is head.

    Did you know that Queen Victoria's reign of 63 years and 7 months was marked by a great expansion of the British  Empire ?  A map of the Dominions under Queen Victoria at the end of the nineteenth century shows the scope of the British Empire .

    With the Victoria Day Long Weekend signalling the approach of the hot, hazy days of summer, you too may be thinking of travelling to distant destinations for a short getaway.

    Then there are some people who dream about relocating altogether.  Recently, there have been surveys on the best  Canadian cities or US cities for great real estate deals.  At these bargain prices, perhaps the dream can become a reality.

    Other people may think out of the box, or should I say, off the North American continent altogether.  These people may prefer to move a great distance to find their dream castle.

    There are websites that may help you in your quest.  The Overseas Digest is one site that may be of help.

     

    Here are some books that you may want to check out at the Toronto Public Library in relation to foreign ownership of real property:

    Barrow, Colin.  The Global Property Investor's Toolkit : A Sourcebook for Successful Decision Making.  Chichester, UK; Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley & Sons/Capstone, 2008.

    Bergsman, Steve.  Passport to Exotic Real Estate : Buying U.S. and Foreign Property in Breathtaking, Beautiful, Faraway Lands.  Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

    Cox, David and Ray Withers.  Where to Buy Property Abroad 2008 : An Investor's Guide.  2nd Ed.  Richmond : Crimson, 2007.

     

    Try the Toronto Public Library's books on buying houses in specific countries.  Here are some representative titles:

    DeVries, Andre and Michael Streeter.  Buying a House in France.  3rd Ed.  Richmond ; Crimson, 2008.

    Neale, Gordon.  Buying a House in Italy.  3rd Ed.  Richmond, England : Crimson, 2008.

    Styles, Joanna.  The Best Places to Buy a Home in Spain.  2nd Ed.  London : Survival, 2007.

    To all, have a great weekend !!

     

    It's Moving Day

    May 20, 2010 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    At last!  It's Moving Day !!  I still remember the joys and troubles of my first, major move; ie. going through all of my belongings, carefully packaging the items to be moved, making arrangements for a truck and driver, tending to the needs of those that volunteered to help on the big day and more. 

    My To Do List appeared endless.  With the help of family and friends, it became an enjoyable experience.

    Yet, I often wondered if it would have been better and easier to hire a professional mover.

    Last year, the Better Business Bureaus across Canada had almost 98,000 inquiries about moving companies.  According to an article entitled Feds want tighter rules to ground fly-by-night movers, Dean Beeby of the Canadian Press states "complaints include holding furniture hostage at the destination until consumers pay more than the original estimate and producing new hidden costs such as packaging".  In the same article, John Levi of the Canadian Association of Movers says "you have people having all their life possessions destroyed, stolen, rifled through, held for ransom, or overcharged".

    Before hiring a professional service, it is always best to do your homework.

    The Canadian Association of Movers' Member Directory certifies its firms after checking their standards and reputations, and having them sign a code of ethics.

    Industry Canada provides a Consumer Checklist for choosing a moving company.  The Better Business Bureau provides advice on how to avoid moving scams.

     

    Additional moving tips are available in the following books at the Toronto Public Library:

    Olkowski, Thomas T. and Lynn Parker.  Moving with Children : A Parent's Guide to Moving with Children.  Littleton, Colo.: Gylantic Pub. Co., 1993.

    Ramsey, Dan.  The Complete Idiot's Guide to Smart Moving.  New York : Alpha Books, 1998.

    Ward, Lauri.  Downsizing Your Home with Style : Living Well in a Smaller Space.  1st Ed.  New York : Collins, 2007.

     

    The Selling Power of the Tweet

    May 18, 2010 | Teresa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    I have always liked the idea of Twitter - small posts on just about anything. It seemed like a natural in the growing world of handheld devices. But it turns out that Twitter, like Facebook, had to come up with a way to make its wildly successful product profit worthy. And now it has.

    Twitter recently announced that it has signed on a number of corporations such as Starbucks, Best Buy, Sony Pictures and Virgin America, which allow companies to pay to have their messages show up first on their site. 

    But you don't have to be a huge corporation to use Twitter to promote your business.  Check out some of the recent additions to the library's growing collection.

    .Twitterville      Twitter means business 

    And for those who think that Twitter is a passing fad, the Library of Congress has begun archiving tweets from Twitter, dating back to its beginning in March, 2006, firmly establishing its place in our culture. Researchers will be able to see what people were saying about significant news and business events. And even the most loyal user of Twitter misses a few things - for you, Google has developed Google Replay

    Tweet on! 

    Taking your business global - we need to work on that.

    May 14, 2010 | Teresa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    I love to shop. Anyone with teenage daughers knows what I am talking about. So many of the stores that we love to shop in have migrated from the United States or the United Kingdom. So I read with great interest the results of a study which concluded Canadians are great at managing their stores in Canada, but are lacking in the skills needed to take their businesses to the international level.

    The University of Toronto's Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, a non-profit group that serves as the research arm for Ontario's task force on competitiveness, recently released the results of a study that concluded that Canadian retailers lag behind their U.S. and international counterparts in "going global".  The report entitled: Management Matters in Retail, was based on interviews with 661 senior retail managers in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom.

    So who are the top global retailers? Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, in conjunction with STORES Media, annually ranks the 250 top global retailers and provides an outlook for the global retail industry for the year.

    The top Canadian company on the list? Loblaw Companies Ltd. at number 37. There are a total of 9 Canadian companies on the list, which includes such well known names as Canadian Tire, and Shoppers Drug Mart. Who was number one?  Wal-Mart! 

    Going international is not for every business. Check out this article entitled Successful Retailers A Rare Breed. 

    Discover for yourself if now is the right time to grow your business by taking it outside of Canada.  

    I Made the Cake Myself: Learning About Leadership

    May 10, 2010 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    I belonged to a public speaking club for a number of years, and during one of those years I served as president of the club. At the final meeting of the executive at the end of that year, we were looking back and evaluating how things had gone.

    "One thing -", one of the executive members said to me, "you don't let people use their own talents. You always want to do everything yourself."

    I was astounded.  She continued, "For example, you know I studied at a culinary institute, and yet you insisted on making the cake for our club's anniversary party yourself."

    What could I say? It was true. I had made the cake myself!

    When I look back I can see that this was a turning point for me - the beginning of a bit of understanding about how I "lead" and why others reacted the way they did sometimes. Yikes. At least everyone nodded and smiled knowingly as she spoke, instead of growling and throwing things at me!

    I've become more aware of leadership styles since then - and I can't help but notice the many, many books that have been published on the topic of leadership in business.

    What I notice about these books is that the topic always boils down to the personal - at heart they are always about how people are, how they act and react, and how they can learn and change.

    That's why maybe one of the best ways to learn about business leadership could be to start on a personal level - by reading the stories of the lives of business leaders.

    If you're interested, here's one to begin with: the autobiography of Henry Ford.
     

     
    My Life and Work
     
    My Life & Work:
    Henry Ford

    "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it."  - Theodore Roosevelt

    Innovation Camp 2010

    May 8, 2010 | Silvia | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    Organized by Enterprise Toronto, Innovation Camp 2010 is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to get together and learn about best innovation practices. Recognized innovators and business owners will share their stories in panel discussions and seminars. It is your chance to make valuable business contacts.

    When:  Wednesday, June 2 - 9:00am - 4:00pm
    Where: North York Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 5100 Yonge Street

    Admission is FREE - Registration is required. Call 416-395-7499

    A few good books can help you too!

    Inn 6
    Inn 4
    Inn 5
    The innovator's toolkit: 10 practical strategies to help you develop and implement innovation The big idea: how to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true, from the a-ha moment to your first million Different thinking: creative strategies for developing the innovative business

    Kids and Advertising: Do They Think About It At All?

    May 6, 2010 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    I live in the city, and my journey to and from work is awash with advertising. Sometimes it's right in my face. Other times, it's not easy to spot. But subtle or obvious, it`s always there, and always very sophisticated.

    When I see it I worry about my little nieces and nephews, who range in age from the terrible two's to the "tween" years. How will they survive this onslaught? What do they think about it? Or, a scarier question: do they think about it at all?

    In my virtual travels as a librarian, I've discovered that there are fun, online ways that kids can learn to recognize and evaluate advertising.

    One such way is through the Media Awareness Network's website.

    The Media Awareness Network is a Canadian non-profit organization that develops media and digital literacy programs, in partnership with the Canadian Library Association, Canadian Teachers' Federation, Canadian Association of Principals, PREVNet and the Association for Media Literacy. 

    The Network's website has an educational games section. One of the games, Co-Co's Adversmarts, focuses on websites. It is designed to help kids between the ages of 5 and 8 "recognize the marketing techniques used on commercial websites that target children." 

    The Media Awareness Network is not the only organization addressing this issue. One very new tool out there is the U.S.Bureau of Consumer Protection's website called Admongo.  

    Admongo is also in the form of game, whose goal is to teach kids ages 8-12 core advertising literacy concepts through play. Have a look at it.

    And if you'd like your kids to know how they make all that food in advertising look so good, show them PBS's Don't Buy It: Get Media Smart! (Tell them it's yucky - it is!)

    Here are some books that you can find at the library on the topic of children and advertising:

    Buy Baby Buy
    Buy Buy Baby 
    Kidnapped
    Kidnapped
    Brandchild
    Brand Child 

    Kids will never be as savvy about advertising as the advertisers are about them - without help. These tools are a great start.

    Laughing All the Way to the Bank

    May 3, 2010 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

    It's a wonderful feeling when you finally find the perfect house or condo that you would like to call home.

    But, finding the right mortgage at the best rate to purchase your dream home can be equally challenging. It is always best to be an informed consumer.

    Fortunately, there are web sites that assist consumers with understanding mortgages as well as comparing mortgage rates.

    One of my favourite sites to learn about mortgages is the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals. It has useful information on Mortgage Basics, First Time Home Buyers, Mortgage Industry Information, Accredited Mortgage Professionals, and more.  The Mortgage.com also provides useful information on Mortgage Services, Mortgage Calculators & Resources, Mortgage Advice, Mortgage News, and more.

    Other sites that allow you to compare mortgage rates before heading to the bank are CANNEX Financial Exchanges Limited - Canada - Mortgages and Financial Post - Market Data.

    CANNEX Financial Exchanges Limited - Canada - Mortgages contain free mortgage surveys on Open, Variable to 2 Years; Closed, Variable to 5 Years; and Closed, 6 to 20 Years. In the left margin, click on the heading Mortgages. The free mortgage surveys are located under the Real Time Survey.

    Financial Post - Market Data contain mortgage rate comparisons for Closed Mortgages, Long Term Mortgages, and Open Mortgages. Scroll down to the section on Rates and Currencies.

     

    In addition, you may want to check out one of the following titles on Canadian mortgages and mortgage loans from the Toronto Public Library:

    Bach, David.  The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner : A Powerful Plan to Finish Rich in Real Estate.  Canadian Edition.  [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, 2006.

    Cefis, Alberta and Roberta Hague.  The Truth About Mortgages : How to Make the Most of Your Borrowing Power.  Rev. Ed.  Toronto : Key Porter Books, 2005.

    Gray, Douglas A.  Mortgages Made Easy : The All-Canadian Guide to Home Financing.  Toronto : J. Wiley & Sons Canada, 2006.

    Best wishes to all with your home financing.

     

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