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Small Business Network: Come Meet the Co-Founders of Menyou!

September 10, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Nothing planned for next week Wednesday? Wednesday Socks(image courtesy of mickeyp2000 posted to on May 15, 2013. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerives 2.0 Generic)


 Want to build your professional network and share your wisdom? Or you just want to sit back and listen to great minds tell their successful story?

North York Central Library's Small Business Network is for you!


This month's theme is all about improving customer experience with technology! Who better to share their creative business strategy than young entrepreneurs like Ara Ehamparam and Thaves Ponnamplam, co-founders of Menyou.   

  Ara and Thaves
(Left: Thaves Ponnamplam, Right: Ara Ehamparam)

Menyou is a leading-edge technology solution (featured on CTV and in the Toronto Star) that places an on-demand, interactive ordering experience at your fingertips. These young entrepreneurs will discuss their major influences, key challenges, and the critical events that helped them stay business-driven and positive.

Join us on Wednesday, September 17th at North York Central Library from 6:30pm to 7:30pm in the Teen Zone (Large Study Room) to hear Ara and Thaves share their expertise and network with other inspiring enterpreneurs. Register by calling 416-395-5613. Registration is free.

Don't forget your business cards! Looking forward to meeting you all!


"Lets go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday" -- Steve Jobs

Entrepreneurs in Canada

August 25, 2014 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit?  Do you wonder what it takes to start your own business? Are you ready to join the legions of famous Canadian entrepreneurs who have made major contributions to the business world? Throughout history Canadian entrepreneurs from all backgrounds have shaped the face of Canadian business and our way of life. Many are today's role models and are celebrated as innovators who have helped drive our economy forward.

Canada has a rich history of entrepreneurship. There is John Molson (1763-1836), who at the age of 23 began running his own brewery. Then there is John Redpath (1796-1869) who, in 1854, built the first sugar refinery in what was then the Province of Canada. And Samuel Cunard (1787-1865) from Halifax who founded the firm of A.Cunard and Son in 1812 and entered the timber and West Indian trade--importing molasses, brown sugar, coffee--while selling timber abroad. John Rodolphus Booth (1827-1925) is another Canadian success story. With only a modest elementary education, he left home as a young man to work in various sawmills in Quebec before becoming manager of operations at a mill owned by Andrew Leamy. He eventually purchased his own in the Ottawa area and in 1868 founded the Upper Canada Improvement Company which built dams and piers. Over the next few years he established related businesses in New York State, Vermont and Massachusetts and expanded his fortune in the lumber industry until his death in 1925.

Do you need inspiration in starting your own business?  Are you interested in finding out more about Canadian entrepreneurs? Various branches of the Toronto Public Library are hosting a series called Small Business Network. These programs are meant for those who already have established small businesses or for people who are just thinking about starting their own business. As well, take a look at the following books that you can find at your local library:


Entre Entre2 Entre3 Entre4

Entre5 Entre6 Entre7 Entre8









What is this 90 Percent Myth all About?

August 21, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

This is exactly what author Roger Fields discusses in his 2nd edition of Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy's Guide to Opening the Next New Hot Spot. You probably heard of this saying as well, "90 percent of all restaurants fail in the first year".

Yes, we are open(image courtesy of h5B9 posted to on May 25, 2010. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.) 

Fields states there is no concrete evidence to prove the much-cited failure rate for restaurant businesses anywhere. He goes on to prove this by citing a number of studies and literature reviews conducted in the States to prove otherwise. "In the United States, restaurants and food services together make up the nation's largest retail sector (Fields, 2014). According to the National Restaurant Association, total restaurant-and-food services sales are projected to reach $683.4 billion at more than 990,000 locations in 2014.  

So what about the food industry in Canada you ask? According to, Canada's restaurant industry generates $68 billion in annual sales, which equals 4% of Canada's economic activity (2014). In Ontario, $26 Billion sales was generated by the restaurant industry which is 3.8% of Ontario's Gross Domestic Product. With more than 88,000 locations, the restaurant industry contributes to urban and rural communities across Canada. Furthermore, based on Ontario's Restaurant Industry report updated March 2014, there had been 7.5 Million visits to restaurants every day in Ontario. Factors such as rising supermarket prices, households earning two incomes, and people having less time to prepare meals at home, all contribute to the demand for dining for convenience.

Fields explains that generally, restaurants are less risky and better investments for small business entrepreneurs than other types of consumer goods retailers and even high-tech start-ups. For those that have dreams of owning a restaurant or those that simply just want to know the elements of running a successful restaurant, his 2nd edition is worth a read. He discusses your target market, location, pricing, kitchen designs, staffing, and much more.

Check out other great titles that provide great tips to running a successful restaurant:

   Restaurant Success By the Numbers   Start Your Own Restaurant and More   The everything guide to starting and running a restaurant   The restaurant from concept to operation



Is franchising for you?

August 4, 2014 | Raya | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...


Are you thinking of becoming your own boss but aren't sure what kind of business you want to start?  Have you considered becoming a franchise owner? If so, there are a number of things to think about before starting any business, but owning a franchise is quite different from starting your own business from the ground up.  

A franchise is a legal agreement between a franchisor (seller) and the franchisee in which the franchisor grants the franchisee the right to distribute certain goods or services developed by the franchisor in a particular way, in a particular location and for a specified period of time. In return, the franchisee pays the franchisor various fees and royalties.

There are several types of franchise arrangements but a business franchise is what most people think of when they hear the term "franchise." A franchisee buys the right to market and sell particular products or services. The franchisee buys those rights for a specific time and a defined area by paying the franchisor a franchise fee for the right to use the franchisor's trademarks and marketing plan. In some cases the franchisee buys an entire system - buildings, equipment, supplies, bookkeeping, uniforms, training, and so on. The franchisee can often walk in off the street, turn the key in the lock and start the business. This ready-made set-up is also known as a turnkey operation. Fast-food chains are good examples of this kind of franchise.

Buying an existing well-established business might reduce the possibility of failure. According to Statistics Canada's Key Small Business Statistics current survival rates for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada decline over time. About 85 percent of businesses that enter the marketplace survive one full year, 70 percent survive for two years and 51 percent survive for five years. Buying a franchise can be more expensive than starting a business "from scratch" because you are actually buying a product/brand name with a proven track record and because the franchisor will generally provide training, marketing, support and other services to the franchisee.

Like any other business, however, franchising is not without risks. Purchasing a franchise is a major investment decision and not every franchise is ideal for every individual. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before taking the plunge:

  • Are you ready to take on the responsibilities of starting and running your own business?
  • Does your family accept your choice and are they ready to support you?
  • Do you like the activity you are considering enough to make a commitment for 5, 10 or 15 years?
  • Do you like dealing with people and are you good at it? - You will have to interact with your customers, your employees, the franchisor and other franchisees.
  • Do you like the franchisor's staff / those people with whom you will be working?
  • Are you willing to follow the franchisor's rules and system?
  • Can you afford the franchise?
  • Have you carefully studied the legal documents?
  • Does the franchise you are considering have a track record of success?
  • Are the other franchisees generally happy and successful?

The Canadian Franchise Association website provides resources, facts, reports and much more for anyone considering becoming a franchise owner or for someone who already owns a franchise and is looking for more information. Or you may also wish to attend one of many franchise trade shows held throughout the year where you can have all your questions answered.

To learn more about the ins and outs of franchising, take a look at what the library has to offer:

Double double : how Tim Horton's became a Canadian way of life, one cup at a time     What no one ever tells you about franchising Street smart franchising The secrets of my success and the story of Boost Juice, juicy bits and all

In addition to the above books, you can also find the following resources at the library:

Canadian business franchise   

Published five times a year, Canadian Business Franchise Magazine is the face of franchising. The magazine’s editorial offers a unique, behind the scenes look at those entrepreneurs who have embraced the franchise lifestyle and have parlayed their passions into a thriving business.  Read the success stories and get advice from experts and franchise owners. 



Canadian Business Franchise Directory

Canadian Business Franchise Directory is Canada’s top-selling annual directory of franchises and franchise services. It offers information about more franchises that operate in Canada. The Directory features expert advice on key issues for the would-be franchisee including financing, accounting, and what to expect from the franchise lifestyle.



Canadian business franchise handbook

The Canadian Business Franchise Handbook is the ultimate beginners’ guide for anyone looking to purchase a franchise.This resource details what potential buyers need to help them take the first step.

The handbook also includes advice from franchise professionals, including financing and accounting tips and secrets to long-term success.



Canadian franchise guide

The Canadian Franchise Guide is an up-to-date resource that provides commentary, checklists and statutory requirements that you need for your business venture. It contains a complete set of forms and precedents, including franchise applications, disclosure and prospectus documents, franchise agreements and trademark documents for franchise financing.

Provides straightforward commentary, checklists and statutory requirements that you need to advise and assist your client. Also contains a complete set of forms and precedents, including franchise applications, disclosure and prospectus documents, franchise agreements, and master franchise agreements and trademark documents for franchise financing. - See more at:
Provides straightforward commentary, checklists and statutory requirements that you need to advise and assist your client. Also contains a complete set of forms and precedents, including franchise applications, disclosure and prospectus documents, franchise agreements, and master franchise agreements and trademark documents for franchise financing. - See more at:

3Ds Applied in your Business Pitch

August 1, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Mariano RiveraWhether you are pitching your business to potential partners or prospective investors, it is important to know the key messages you want to communicate to drive your business forward.

Ronald M. Shapiro, author of Perfecting Your Pitch: How to Succeed in Business and Life by Finding Words that Work, believes there is a process that leads to a higher level of success rate when entrepreneurs have these challenging interactions with stakeholders. He refers to the scripting process as the 3Ds- Drafting, Devil's Advocacy, and Delivering.




Drafting is getting your raw ideas out in the open either by writing it down or typing it up. Sketch out what you feel are important to express in your pitch. At this stage, you are not worried about grammar or the flow of the pitch. It is the process where you are jotting down all your strongest possible thoughts and arguments whether you use them or not.

Devil's Advocacy:

The Devil's Advocate stage improves how we do things. In this situation, others review and provide constructive input on the business pitch. We often forget this stage. "This is a variation on the old saying that two heads are better than one." (Shapiro, 2013) Seek out people that can provide feedback and help you adjust your message. Shapiro states that when you don't have access to a devil's advocate, read the script out loud and act as your own devil's advocate. This process can be an on-going process, more than one redraft might be developed before you end up with a final script.   


Practice Makes Perfect Yoyo

Practice makes perfect! You may have heard this saying a million times, but when you are delivering that pitch, you must be comfortable with your script. Rehearse out loud, prepare for questions, and establish confidence with what you want to say. "Being comfortable and speaking with confidence makes your position less vulnerable to the other side pushing back." (Shapiro, 2013)

Remember it's not only what you say but also how confident you say it that grabs those stakeholders' attention.  

Check out other great titles that provide great tips to improve your Business Pitch:

       Perfecting Your Pitch         Here's the Pitch        Pitch Perfect        The Art of The Pitch

Take that extra step to make your business dream a reality!

July 5, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Another successful round of Business Inc. programs has come to an end at Agincourt Branch, Bloor Gladstone Branch, and North York Central Library this spring. We had an amazing group of students at all three locations who were dedicated and driven to take that extra step to make their business dreams a reality!

Do you have a business idea and want to take that extra step in boosting your business plan?

Join the eight-week business program this fall at Fairview Branch, Parliament St. Branch, or Mount Dennis Branch and reap in the benefits of getting expert assistance with preparing your business plan, access to a business advisor, and networking with other likeminded entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, upon completion of the program, you will be awarded with a Business Seminar Series Certificate from Toronto Business Development Centre and be eligible to apply for a small business loan ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.

Have more questions? Visit the Business Inc. page on the Toronto Public Library or attend an information session at either of these locations to learn more before applying:


Fairview Branch- Monday, September 22nd at 6:30pm

Parliament St. Branch- Wednesday, September 24th at 6:30pm

Mount Dennis Branch- Thursday, September 25th at 6:30pm


For more information on starting your own small business, check out these great titles:

   Everyday entrepreneur        The complete canadian Small Business Guide         The Economy of You         The Young Entrepreneur's guide to starting and running a business




Small Business Network: Come meet Said Karfa

June 14, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Want to learn from others? Enjoy sharing your own experiences? Or just want to soak in the collective wisdom of the group?

North York Central Library's Small Business Network is for you!

This month's topic is all about creating relationships using social media for your small business. Who better to discuss on these expanding interactive platforms than Said Karfa, founder of Q-Marketing, a consulting company for the Fortune 500 Companies.

  Said Karfa

Said Karfa joined the Entrepreneurship Branch as a Business Consultant & Social Media Advisor to work with new entrepreneurs. Consulting for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, Said markets entrepreneurial programs via social media improving brand awareness and qualified leads.

Using social media for marketing can enable small business looking to further their reach to more customers. An integral part of the sales process is getting to know prospects and establishing relationships, and it turns out that social media can help entrepreneurs accomplish this quickly and easily.

Said will share the steps to make sales using social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube).

Join us on June 18th at North York Central Library from 6:30pm to 7:30pm to hear Said share his expertise and network with other inspiring enterpreneurs. Register by calling 416-395-5613. Registration is free.

Don't forget your business cards! See you all there.

"Succeeding in Business is all about making Connections" -- Richard Branson

Small Business Network: Tips from a Successful Entrepreneur

May 24, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

RyanDid you miss Ryan McKnight at North York Central Library's Small Business Networking session in April?


Not to Worry!


Below you will find a few of Ryan's tips he shared on starting a business that you may find useful:


Look for trade shows and associations so that you can meet people who are likely to help you. Take the time to talk to people about what they do outside of work. You cannot be "pushy"-- you have to give as well as take.

Business Plan:

MaRS Discovery District's Entrepreneurship 101 free weekly series features key topics related to starting a successful business.

Lean Launch Lab teaches companies how to operate lean start-ups. The lean startup movement was developed by Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. His book, "Four Steps to the Epiphany" is available in Toronto Public Library's catalogue.  


Alterna Savings and Credit Unit Ltd. offers micro financing.

Access Community Capital Fund offers up to $5,000 for the first loan; up to $10,000 for the second loan.

Canadian Youth Business Foundation provides $5,000 for young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39. Now called Futurpreneur Canada.

Business Development Bank of Canada dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs provides $10,000.

ScotiaBank is great for first timers.

Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Ventures helps promising social entrepreneurs and innovators with low interest loans of $5,000 to $25,000.

Ignite Capital offers Canadian entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete for a start-up award of $20,000 and provides support program.

Crowdfunding for your business can yield results, especially if the business has "social" value such as being eco-friendly, etc.

Angel Investors are really looking for a sure thing, so they are probably unlikely to invest in start-ups.


There will be tasks that you will need to delegate, either because you do not want to do them or because you are not good at them. You can find people to take on these tasks. Some "virtual assistants" will work for a very low figure, as they want the experience. You can hire them for a task to see how they do and, if you are satisfied, you can re-hire them.

Get the right freelancer at

Founderdating is a network of talented entrepreneurs helping one another to start and grow companies. All too often you know people with similiar backgrounds and skill sets to your own. With Founderdating, you can find world-class people who have extensive knowledge in certain areas. It is a great place to find consultants or to find people who help with projects.

LinkedIn is also a great place to find experts. All those starting a business should get a LinkedIn account.

Social Media:

If you cannot do this yourself, find someone who will do it for you-- see Delegation, above.

Market Research:

MaRS Discovery District provides free weekly sessions in their Entrepreneurship 101 series.  


Don't miss this month's Small Business Networking session with Satish Kanwar on Tuesday May, 28th at 6:30pm at North York Central Library.

See you then!


Small Business Network: Come Meet Satish Kanwar

May 5, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you thinking of starting a business? Or you have an existing business and looking to get advice from a successful entrepreneur to help it succeed?

Well you can do so at Toronto Public Library's Small Business Network sessions.

North York Central Library is hosting the Small Business Network session on Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 6:30pm in the Teen Zone Study Room.


Come meet Satish Kanwar, Director at Shopify.


Satish will share his personal journey from being a first-time entrepreneur. From start-up to sale of his design consulting business, he will discuss his major influences, key challenges, and critical points in his business that helped it succeed.    




Starting a home-based business

April 23, 2014 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you thinking of starting your own home-based business? Having trouble deciding on what kind of business is best for you? Or do you already have an idea but don't know where to start? Begin by writing down all the things you think you can do with your skills and talents, then narrow it down to what you truly want to do.  Thinking through all aspects of your business ideas will help ensure you start in the right direction. Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself before investing your energies into building your business:

  • Does working on my own suit my personality?
  • Am I self-disciplined enough to be motivated, even when business is quiet?
  • Can I set boundaries between my personal life and my business role? Will there be interruptions from family and friends?
  • Are there any legal or health restrictions that pertain to working out of my residence?
  • Is there enough room for any special equipment or extra help?
  • Is there room to expand?

Next, consider the following:

  • Decide what kind of business you want to have based on your skills and talents. Keep in mind that there is a huge difference between talents and things you enjoy. Just because you enjoy something doesn't mean you will be good at it.
  • Know your competition. Do some research to find out if other similar businesses exist in your area.
  • Understand the needs of your area. Listen to what people say and need in the area. If something they mention is an interest of yours and you are good at it, you should definitely try it.
  • Figure out your profits. To do this you must ask yourself two questions: how much will people pay for my services and can I make a good income off these services?
  • Check into any legal barriers for your business. Some areas have certain rules and regulations for home-based businesses, and you need to check into those before investing much time or money in your business.
  • Connect with your local insurance agent. Find out if you need any special insurance for your home-based business.
  • Create a business plan. This will help you organize the business process and also help you determine what kind of start up costs you are looking at.
  • Invest in your business. You will need to advertise and market your business to get customers. Use the local paper and radio stations near your home to promote your services.
  • Launch your business. Keep in mind that you will make mistakes but entrepreneurs learn as they go.

For information on a variety of topics related to starting your home-based business check out the following governmental agences:

Canada Business Network   Enterprise Toronto      Ontario Service Centre    


Still not sure? The library can help! Check out these books, ebooks and DVDs:

Home             Home2         Home3

Home4 Home5        Home6




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.

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