Toronto Public Library Homepage

This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

Always Think Big

November 14, 2014 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

By Sunny Verma

Sunny Verma is the Toronto Public Library's 2014 Entrepreneur in Residence. Sunny, founder and CEO of TutorBright, is an advocate of self-employment, dedicating his time to help individuals realize their dreams through entrepreneurship.


The first time I can recall intuitively understanding what the words “Whatever the mind can conceive, and believe, it can achieve,” meant, I was a 5-year-old boy living in the squalors of India.  A distant uncle visited us, and generously took my brothers and I to our first western movie. 

It was a James Bond show.  One scene in particular struck a chord with me - James Bond (in those days played by Sean Connery) was in Zurich having coffee on a sidewalk cafe beside a very beautiful river with a stunning blonde woman.  It was the first time I had the opportunity to see what life outside my tiny, slummy neighborhood looked like, and I longed to escape.  I left the theater believing without a doubt that one day I was going to visit Zurich, and have a coffee on a sidewalk river café, just like James Bond.  Keep in mind, I was a very poor child, being raised by a single mother in the lowliest neighborhoods in India.  At that time, to the outsider looking in (and even to the insiders I lived among) the chance of me ever leaving those dirt streets I called home was next to nothing. 

But the image stuck in my mind until it was tattooed onto my brain. The years went on, and I got the opportunity to attend a Canadian university through a scholarship.  As I was making my travel arrangements (to leave the home almost everyone told me I would be chained to) it occurred to me that I was going to be flying across the world.  Surely, at some point along that route, I would come close to Switzerland.  On a whim, I asked the travel agent if it would be possible to make a stopover there.  Somehow, he managed to make this work!

As I sat on a sidewalk café situated along Zurich’s beautiful river Limmat, sipping my coffee on a sunny fall day, it flashed through my mind that the longing I held for almost 15 years had come to fruition. Through one tiny seed of thought, backed by childlike faith, some unknown force had orchestrated this very moment.   

As I embarked on my journey, I truly felt that whatever my mind could conceive, and believe, it would achieve.  Armed with this knowledge, I wondered why I had limited my dream.  While sipping coffee on that sidewalk café was truly a symbol of how far I had come, my only minor regret was not adding the detail about the gorgeous blonde woman sitting across from James Bond to my vision (if my wife is reading this, this is joke).

All of us should dream big.  So why do so many of us settle for pennies? Our limitations are only in our minds. 

Finding a Mentor

November 12, 2014 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

By Sunny Verma

Sunny Verma is the Toronto Public Library's 2014 Entrepreneur in Residence. Sunny, founder and CEO of TutorBright, is an advocate of self-employment, dedicating his time to help individuals realize their dreams through entrepreneurship.

Photo credit: EOS 5D Mark II (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.)

Choosing the RIGHT Business Mentor 

Many entrepreneurs need advice, especially when starting out.  One of the best ways to get this guidance is through mentorship.  Finding the right mentor, however, can be a bit of challenge, so here are some tips on finding the right mentor for you: 

Who should your mentor be? 

Make sure you choose your mentor wisely.  Their advice can heavily impact your life and business; therefore you have the right to be selective.  The best mentors tend to be those who have “done it before.” They have a wealth of experience and can share insights on their failures. It is best to look for people in your industry and those who have had success with a similar business model.  Also, make sure your mentor shares the same values as you.  Mentors with these characteristics can help fast track your success. 

Where do you find a mentor? 

With a plethora of places to seek advice and an abundance of business leaders who are willing to share, there has never been a more ideal time to be an entrepreneur. LinkedIn is a great way to view profiles of business leaders and connect with them. When you find profiles of potential mentors who meet your criteria, offer to take them out for coffee. 

Another great avenue is networking events.  There tends to be a wide range of people at networking events. Put yourself out there and let people know about you and your business.  At networking events, people are often willing to offer help and meet with you at a later date.

What to ask a mentor? 

Tell potential mentors about your business and that you are looking for guidance. Describe where you are at (i.e. are you just starting out, or are you making millions?) and the roadblocks you see ahead.  Let them know why you have asked them specifically to help. For example, explain that you have done your research on both them and their business, and why you think they can help you.  Be careful to only ask for a short meeting - nothing more than 30 minutes. 

When should you seek a mentor? 

Ask before you need the help. It is always great to have a mentor who you can call with issues and seek advice from. 

Give back!

Once you make it, give your time by mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs. Keep the entrepreneurship ecosystem alive and never forget those who guided you on the road to success.  

Welcome Aspiring Entrepreneurs

November 12, 2014 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

By Sunny Verma

Sunny Verma is the Toronto Public Library's 2014 Entrepreneur in Residence.  Sunny, founder and CEO of TutorBright, is an advocate of self-employment, dedicating his time to help individuals realize their dreams through entrepreneurship.

Update:  The deadline for One-on-One consultations was October 31, 2014.  We are no longer accepting applications for this year.

I am absolutely honoured to be this year’s Entrepreneur In Residence (EIR) for
the Toronto Public Libraries!


During my time as the EIR, I’ve had the opportunity to hold three seminars (with one more to come) and will be holding many one–on–one consultations with aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Past seminars have been very well received. The final seminar is on November 28th at 6:30pm at the Toronto Reference Library. 

One-on-one consultations are a chance for you and I to meet personally. These meetings will give me the opportunity to discuss your business and hopefully give you some advice on getting it off the ground.  Please feel free to submit your business even if it’s just an idea.  I am interested in hearing about your entrepreneurial journey regardless of whether you are just thinking of starting or running a large business. 

I would love to tell you a bit more about my entrepreneurial journey and myself. I started a company called TutorBright, which is a 1-to-1, in-home mentorship and tutoring program for students. TutorBright started as an idea and quickly flourished to a company that serves more than 30 cities across Canada and, quite recently, we’ve opened an office in Australia. 

I truly believe entrepreneurship is the best way to make your dream become a reality.  Not only does it give you the opportunity to make the impossible possible, but it also allows you to discover your own potential. I knew that working at a 9-to-5-office job would never fit my personality, and that there was no other option for me but to become an entrepreneur.   

I completely understand the risks of starting a business and leaving a steady paycheck.  But if you are not fully satisfied with your job, isn’t that a bigger risk? By waking up every day to go to a job that you don’t enjoy, you risk having an unfulfilled life.  Let’s do the math:  If you sleep 7 hours a night, and commuting and working takes 10 to 12 hours out of your day, you are dedicating 60-70% of your waking hours to doing something that you don’t love.  To me, that is a bigger risk than ‘taking the plunge’ into entrepreneurship. 

During my time as EIR, I will be writing blogs about my experiences as an entrepreneur. If you have any ideas, thoughts or questions, I would love to hear them. 

Cheers to all the (future) risk-takers and dream-makers!


Small Business Network: Come meet the women behind Bridgit!

November 10, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

It's not too late to register for November's Small Business Network meet-up at North York Central Library!

Come meet two talented young entrepreneurs, Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Hasegawa, co-founders of Bridgit.

Mallorie and Lauren

Mallorie (left) holds a certificate in Entrepreneurship from the prestigious Richard Ivey School of Business. She is an entrepreneur with experience building and launching a successful e-commerce startup and is a recent graduate of The Next 36.

Lauren (right) is a Civil Structural Engineer with hands-on North American industry experience, focused in concrete restoration. She is an active mentor to young women in construction and is a recent graduate of The Next 36.

Bridgit brings the flexibility of mobile devices to construction sites. The software eliminates many of the costly delays that result from miscommunication on site, by improving communication between contractors through trackable and tagged multimedia messages.

For this month's small business network session, Mallorie and Lauren will be talking about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone when launching a company. They will share stories about the ideation process, growing your team and raising capital to bring your business to the next level.  

The meet up will be held in the Large Study Room (Teen Zone) on November 19th at 6:30pm. Registration is required.

Please register online


Don't forget to bring your business cards!


Here are some great books to ignite your passions to become an entrepreneur:

Girlboss  Redefining success  Thrive  Darling you can't do both


Small Business and Health & Safety Legislation

November 3, 2014 | Christina | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Health and Safety Signs
Signage Safety Health Warning Sign. Photo credit: Nemo (This file is licensed under the CC0 Public Domain.)

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) does not differentiate between small businesses and larger ones. If you are an organization with fewer than 20 employees, whether you have Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage or private insurance, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations apply to you.

Some small business owers incorrectly believe health and safety legislation does not apply to them. For example, owners that opt out of WSIB coverage make an assumption that they can also opt out of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Other owners may have read in the Act that a workplace with five or fewer regular employees does not need to prepare a written health and safety policy. However, the Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) states "the Act indicates that if there's a critical injury or fatality, or even a visit from a Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspector, the business owner would still be required to demonstrate and document that people are working safely, and that a disciplinary process is ready to implement."

If you own a small business and are uncertain what you can do, The Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) website offers advice to Small Business. The website also links to a Small Business Resource Book, to help small businesses understand and satisfy their legislated responsibilities, while creating a safe environment for their employees.

On the PSHSA Small Businesses page, there is a link to Get Help. In addition, the Public Services Health and Safety Association provides links to Training (e.g. web tutorials), Products (e.g. free downloads, resource guides, etc.), Consulting and much more. 

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act is available online at the Ontario government's eLaws page.

For additional information about the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, consult the followng titles at the Toronto Public Library:

                                    Pocket Ontario OH&S Act & regulations  Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

The burger kings

October 27, 2014 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...



Best Burger Hamburger
(photo credit: flickr)

Everybody loves hamburgers! What's not to like? They come in all shapes and sizes from veggie, to turkey to the beloved beef burger. Last month In-N-Out Burger of California fame set up a "one day only" pop-up shop at Jarvis and Wellesley in Toronto. Hundreds of burger-lovers lined up early in the morning for a chance to taste the freshly-made hamburger and french fries. And now Wahlburgers, a chain of gourmet burger restaurants owned by actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg and their older brother Paul, is set to open on November 15th in the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Toronto. No doubt it will be met with similar enthusiasm.

So what is it about the hamburger that has us salivating at the mere thought? There is some dispute as to who invented the hamburger, but what we do know for sure is that the hamburger first appeared as  street food in the late nineteenth century and was quickly transformed into "fast food" and sold in lunch wagons or carts that moved to wherever potential customers were located. Lunch wagons originally sold prepared foods such as sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, pies and coffee but by the late 1800s, as demand increased, lunch carts with full kitchens started appearing. This allowed street vendors to prepare hot meals including burgers. The first hamburger chain made its appearance in 1921 when J. Walter Anderson, a former short-order cook, and Waldo Ingram, a real estate agent, joined forces to open the first White Castle restaurant in Wichita, Kansas. This new design was so successful that by 1931 White Castle had opened 131 outlets and had set the stage for other entrepreneurs to capitalize on North America's obsession with the burger. The rest is history.

To read about the hamburger and hamburger chains, take a look at these books and DVDs:

Hamburger: A global history Big Mac Dave's Way To Russia with fries

Burger town The Burger King McDonald's: Behind the Arches The Hamburger






Free One-on-One Mentoring Sessions with TPL's Entrepreneur in Residence

October 24, 2014 | Christina | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Do you need personal advice on starting or running a small business? 

Apply to meet with Sunny Verma, TPL's 2014 Entrepreneur in Residence, for a free one-on-one session regarding your small business plan or idea.

Submit a 2 page outline of your proposed business plan or idea by answering the following questions:

  1. Tell us about your business idea, service or product in 1-2 paragraphs.  Who is your customer?  What need are you fulfilling?

  2. What is your vision and mission and how does this fit into your personal goal?

  3. What experience and knowledge do you have in the area you are interested?

  4. Do you have a plan or strategy?

  5. Please indicate the two areas where you need help the most now:
  • Market research for your idea, service or product
  • Promotion and marketing
  • Social media and online know-how
  • Financial fundamentals
  • Other?

     6.  What are the qualities and characteristics of an entrepreneur?

     7.  Please indicate any questions for Sunny Verma not covered in the above.

NOTE:  An application does not guarantee a meeting.  Applicants will be selected based on the strength of their submission and the total number of applicants that can be scheduled.  Applications will not be returned, but will be confidentially deleted if a meeting is not scheduled.

Submission Details

  • Sunny Verma will review your submission and meet with a select number of applicants to review their plans, provide feedback and recommendations, and point out available resources that may be beneficial.  Each meeting is a 30 - 45 minute one-on-one session at no cost.

  • Deadline:  Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2014 at

  • Attach your 2 page outline as a PDF file.

  • Complete, save and attach the User Agreement Form available at the Entrepreneur in Residence - One on One Mentoring web page.

  • Meetings are by appointment only and will be arranged by library staff to take place at Toronto Reference Library or North York Central Library.  In the email, include your contact information and preferred meeting location.


For further information, contact the Business, Science & Technology Dept. at Toronto Reference Library416-393-7149.


Small Business Network: Come Meet Jon E. Worren

October 20, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

North York Central Library is offering another small business networking oppportunity for you!

Jon E Worren
Come meet Jon. E. Worren, co-founder and president of ClearSky Advisors, a renewable energy advisory firm in Toronto.

Startups and small business continually seek to improve their business. Many do this through activities such as product tests and marketing experiments. Nevertheless, many companies struggle with effectivley implementing their plans for lasting improvement and it's believed a better understanding of key business metrics can change that for the better.

The purpose of this session is to take participants through practical and accessible methods for creating the right metrics, providing the context and use for each, and ultimately help drive the business improvements they want.

The session will be held on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at North York Central Library, in the Teen Zone from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

Registration is required. Please register at

Don't forget to bring your business cards and be ready to network!

See you all there!



Financing your business

October 6, 2014 | Raya | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Starting or growing a small business takes planning, hard work and money to make it happen. So how much money do you think you will need to start your business? Some typical startup costs involve purchasing office supplies, furniture, equipment and machinery, legal fees, permits and licenses just to mention a few. But a lack of cash doesn't mean you have to give up on your dreams. Each small business is unique and has its own specific finance needs and finding the funds you need isn't as difficult as you might think. According to the Canadian Bankers Association there are various ways to finance your small business:

1. Debt financing is money that you borrow (usually from a bank) to run your business. This is a loan that must be repayed in full, usually in instalments, with interest. The lender will need to assess your business plan, management capabilities and financing in order to determine your company's chances of success. Debt financing can include some of the following: line of credit, credit cards, business term loan and leasing.

2. Equity financing is usually provided by you or people you know. You need to do a good job selling your idea to potential investors especially if you don't have a track record. An investor will make money available for an ownership share in your business and a say in how you run your business. Using your own money has its advantages especially when it comes to making decisions. You won't need to get approval from any of your investors and you get to reap the rewards of your success. Possible sources of equity financing can include: personal savings, loans from friends and relatives, government programs and angel investors.

3. Government programs are another way to get the funding you need to start your business. The Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) is run in collaboration with financial institutions and was created to increase the amount of money available to small business owners who are just starting a business or for existing small businesses needing money to expand, modernize and improve operations. In the event of default the federal government will reimburse the financial institution 85 percent of the lender's losses. The federal government has several other financing programs that are specific to certain provinces. These programs range from summer/student companies to businesses located in Northern Ontario to programs for people with disabilities. The Ontario government also offers industry-specific incentive programs including credits, business and tax incentives, and has introduced generous venture capital funding for some business activities.

To read more about how to finance your business, you can borrow the following books and ebooks:

Raising Capital Crowdfunding for Beginners  Get Financing Now  The Entrepreneurial Bible to Venture Capital

Kickstarter for Dummies Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods Starting a Successful Business in Canada Raising Entrepreneurial Capital

Commercial Leases: What You Should Know

October 3, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

  Your Name Here

(image courtesy of BostonBill posted on on September 23, 2007. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)


Are you currently a landlord or a business tenant? 

Or are you looking to rent a space for business purposes and would like to know more about the terms and conditions of property rental?

Well, this program is for you!

This specialized workshop presented by Connect Legal covers the following topics:

- things to consider before signing a lease

- negotiating and signing the lease

- assignment and sublet

- lease termination

- landlord's responsibilities

- and what to do when you have a disput with landlord

This FREE program will be held at North York Central Library on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:30pm in the Concourse Level. Please register online:


For more information on commercial leases, the following titles may be of interest to you:

  Investing in real estate     The Commercial Lease A Practical Guide     Negotiating Commercial Leases and Renewals     Insurance and Risk Management in Commercial Leasing




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.