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Archive for April, 2010

By Sheldon Leiba

Spring is in the air and the loons are flying high.  No, I’m not speaking of the birds, but our Canadian dollar – the loonie.  Our Canadian dollar is valued at roughly the same as the US dollar.

Certainly, many cross-border shoppers see this as good news, but don’t just jump into your cars yet.

The reason for Canada’s strong dollar is that our economy is largely tied to our rich supply of natural resources – oil, minerals and forestry.

As the world’s demand for these resources rise, particularly from booming economies like China and India, they need more loonies to purchase these commodities, driving up its value.

In addition, Canada’s currency is seen as a safe haven given our strong banking system and our government’s sound financial position, compared to other major countries.

Thus, a high dollar is a sign of the strength of our economy.

Canadian companies that buy supplies or machinery from the US benefit from the rise in the dollar because it improves their buying power.

Similarly, our stronger dollar makes imports more affordable, reducing the costs for consumers on much of what we purchase that comes from abroad.

Canadians planning trips to the US, online shoppers, and yes those heading across the border will see their money go further.

On the flip side, companies that export products, particularly our manufacturers, will see their profits shrink every time the dollar rises.  This will impact investments and jobs, unless the losses can be recouped by productivity gains and innovation.

And just as its cheaper for us to travel south, its more expensive for tourists to come to Canada, so we will see an impact on our tourism sector heading into the summer months.

So before you think of jumping in your car or planning a trip south, I encourage you all to spend your loonies and take your vacations, here at home.

Sheldon Leiba is the President & CEO of Mississauga Board of Trade, Mississauga’s leading business association. Mississauga Board of Trade represents businesses in all industry sectors. Visit www.mbot.com.

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Rob Koturbash of the Maple Leaf Angels and Bryan Watson of the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) were recently featured on the ‘In Business’ show on Rogers TV.

Rob and Bryan talked about who angel investors are, what businesses they invest in and what are some of the important differences between Angels and VCs. They also talked about the upcoming co-investment summit on June 8th and the importance of organizations such as the RIC Centre to help innovative companies on the path of commercialization.

Check it out here.

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In today’s world, it is crucial for all businesses to remain active and current on all new technologies—particularly those emerging on the web. That was the message at the last  Keep Growing your Business Event, Optimizing your Web Presence, held April 21st at the University of Toronto Mississauga faculty club.

The event was sponsored by the FRED Group, OCETA, and the RIC Centre included presentations by industry professionals Professor Tim Richardson, Axel Kuhn, and Miles Baker.

Tim Richardson, who is rated the number one E-Commerce professor in the world, emphasized the importance of a company’s presence on the web. However, he says you need more than a web presence to succeed. “You still have to have a good product,” says Tim, emphasizing the importance of all   4 P’s—product, price, promotion, and place.

And a website must meet the needs of its customers fully. “You can’t just be targeted towards orienting sales; you also have to focus on decreasing cost. Your website can’t just be an electronic brochure.”

He recommends frequent updates to a website to respond to any changes in the environment that may affect sales.

In regards to whether or not a company should place product pricing on their website, Tim says that it depends on a company’s objective. The advantage includes being able to inform the customer about prices, and eliminate those who are unable to afford the service. Conversely, this also carries the disadvantage of putting price as a barrier for certain customers, without being able to engage them in the product.

In optimizing web presence, a company may face technical and non-technical limitation; the latter being a little more difficult to conquer. Tim says that technical limitations “can be solved by throwing money at things”, like increasing the bandwidth. However, non-technical limitations include bigger barriers, such as security circumstances, a lack of trust, or poor customer relations. This is why a company must always ensure the constant maintenance and protection of their website. Finally, Tim recommended a business contact companies in its network, and ask to link to their website. It increases a website’s scores, and allows for the company to build a bigger virtual network.

Axel Kuhn, who has more than 30 years of experience in B2B marketing positions, said traditional sales and marketing are failing because the relationship between the buyer and the seller has changed. Previously, a sales cycle included an awareness of needs, followed by an awareness of solutions, an awareness of suppliers, a selection of suppliers, and supplier preference. However, the Internet has eliminated the first three stages of that cycle; killing outbound marketing altogether.

In order to continue producing sales, Axel says that a company must understand the new sales cycle. First, the company must attract people to their website through advertisement. Then, they must engage them with thought leadership content and educate them on their product. If this step is completed successfully, the company is then able to convert the clients to their product. Finally, they must nurture them and keep them interested. This, however, must be done after deciding exactly who the target audience is. This allows for a company to use an automation system that sends individuals specific information targeted at them only.

Axel concludes by reminding his audience, “count before you leap.”

Miles Baker, project manager at Actual Media; a custom research/design firm in Toronto, focused on the importance of social networking for a company.  “It’s not magic. It costs money, and takes time and research.”

Miles explained that social networking is important because, more often than not, it is a place where a company’s targeted market is. In fact, Miles says that out of the social networking tools, the easiest and fastest one to convey interest to clients is Twitter. This is because through Twitter’s brief messages, a business can place product/employee/pricing/schedule announcements, as well as industry news and comments on other blogs. As for Facebook and LinkedIn, Miles recommended them for local markets and referrals.

Miles ended by emphasizing that “Content is king. Social media is just the framework.”

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By Fred Hausmann

How much new business did your SR&ED claim generate for your company in the past year?

If your answer is none, not enough or, worse yet, “What are you talking about?”, then read on.

The fact is the annual review your company undertakes in preparation for its SR&ED claim can easily be transformed from a burden everyone wishes to avoid into an important and welcome catalyst for growth.

I have received numerous queries from readers in response to my February 17, 2010 post on this subject. In the article, which I called “Your SR&ED Claim on Steroids,” I noted that the SR&ED claim process is a unique opportunity for a company to conduct a thorough review of its newly developed technical strengths and identify strategic opportunities for business growth.

Here, I expand on this idea and give specific examples of how companies can get the most from the SR&ED claim process.

The Key Business Benefits
A key business benefit of a SR&ED review is that it forces you as company leaders to pause in your busy schedules and assess your organization’s technical activities and achievements of the previous year.

Frequently, this work has produced new inventions or solutions to technical problems that would find ready acceptance in the marketplace.

However, during our more than 15 years of specialization in SR&ED tax credit claims, we’ve lost count of the number of times that we’ve seen companies fail to capitalize on these opportunities.

The reasons vary, but the underlying cause is typically an inability to execute on the business side of the equation. This is particularly true for smaller, entrepreneurial firms, which are often short-staffed and sometimes lack critical business development skills in areas such as product research, product development, marketing and sales.

A Two-Stage Process
How is this done? We see it as a two-stage process requiring both planning and commitment. The first stage includes a thorough evaluation of your business strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Here are some the areas that need to be considered.

  • New product launches
  • Selling harder
  • Business communications
  • Capital market financing

The second stage of the process of using SR&ED to grow your company involves putting your business development plans into action.

Once again, your annual tax-credit claim provides the opportunity for growth. Through SR&ED, your company can get back 68 cents on every dollar you spend on scientific research and experimental development.

Think of all the ways you could reinvest this money in your business to generate growth.

We’re constantly amazed at the number of companies that under claim – or worse, fail to claim – for the money they have coming to them. While the claims process is complex and takes effort, a qualified SR&ED provider will minimize the burden on your company and ensure you get your maximum return.

With all that said, we return to our original question: How much new business did your SR&ED claim generate for your company in the past year?

To learn more about how you can put your SR&ED claim to work for you, visit fredgroup.ca.

Fred Hausmann is the founder and senior managing director of Funding Research and Development Group Inc., a business development and specialty tax service. FRED helps companies obtain the full amount of government funds and rebates, including SR&ED tax credits, they have coming to them. And then it helps them grow.

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By Jeff Bowman

Most people recognize the name Dale Carnegie from the book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” or from the courses on self-improvement that have sold millions of copies since the late 1920’s. Some more closely associate him with ‘the elevator pitch”

Carnegie’s ideas on changing other people’s behaviour by adjusting your own reaction to them still hold true today especially in the field of sales and presentations. Listening, probing and showing genuine interest in a client’s needs is the basis for relationship selling or put differently, becoming a partner with your client as opposed to a simple supplier of goods or services.

According to Carnegie

You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

Carnegie was quite innovative in his ideas, and in understanding the needs of the common man. After a failed stint as a stage actor, he turned his attention to lecturing others in the art of self-improvement.  In the 1914, there was no one to fund his ventures, so as a successful salesperson would, he found an alternative.  He persuaded a manager of a local YMCA to let him speak, and he would keep 80% of the proceeds. He was soon earning what would be equal to about $10,000 a week, capitalizing on the fact that everyone wanted to improve themselves in some way to increase their level of confidence – a hidden need not often expressed openly even in the business world of today.

Carnegie operated on the premise that he would not fail.  As long as he put the effort into what he did, he would be successfully. A lesson not lost on entrepreneurs ever since.

Remember the old line “when fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”? That was him.  Always the positive thinker, and idea innovator.  Did you know that he even changed his name to capitalize on familiarity? Originally he was Dale Carnagey, however he changed to Carnegie because Andrew Carnegie the wealthy industrialist was already a household name.  Now that’s creative thinking!

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.

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By David Crow

Our friends at the C100 are hosting 20 Canadian companies on May 18-20, 2010 in Silicon Valley. Interesting tradeoff, accepted startups will need to weigh participation in the C100 with participation at OCE Discovery, MeshU and Mesh (assuming you don’t win the GOAP ticket from StartupCamp Montreal). It shouldn’t be a huge debate, because the opportunity to engage with Canadian mentors in Silicon Valley should be pretty straightforward for most startups.

This is a variant of TechStars for Canadians. You get the chance to connect with the most connected Canadians in Silicon Valley. You can the opportunity to pitch, receive mentorship, and gain access to business development resources. This is a great opportunity for local startups to gain access to markets, companies, and decision makers in Silicon Valley.

“These customers and markets don’t need to be located in Canada. In fact, Canada can often serve as a providing ground, an incubator, for a variety of market segments. We need to leverage the unique attributes of a diverse population of immigrants for the creative tension of differing viewpoints, and to help forge connections with remote markets.” Creating a Venture Culture, The Mark News

It is an opportunity for a Canadian startup to build locally and market globally.

Requirements

To qualify, companies must:

  • Be substantially Canadian in leadership, employees or location
  • Have a product/service with users/customers
  • Be in a position to expand its business in the U.S. and internationally
  • Be willing to cover its own expenses (flights, hotel, some meals)
  • Be endorsed by a C100 Charter Member or a C100 Seed Partner
  • Apply online

Reposted from StartUp North

David Crow is an emerging technology and start-up advocate/evangelist. At Microsoft Canada, he is responsible for helping Canadian start-ups gain access to software, support and visibility in the Microsoft ecosystem through programs like BizSpark (details at microsoft.com/bizspark). David blogs at http://davidcrow.ca/ and http://startupnorth.ca/ or follow him on Twitter @davidcrow

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By Stephen Rhodes

Ok radio ain’t dead; we missed that one. And it appears we might have been a little premature on the demise of  newspapers.

Canwest’s publishing division, which includes the National Post and several of the Canada’s other big daily newspapers, reported an operating profit of $41-million, up 28% from a year earlier.

An improving advertising market and lower costs helped propel Canwest Global Communications Corp. to a big increase in second-quarter earnings.

Overall the Winnipeg-based media conglomerate said it earned $94-million from operations in its fiscal second quarter, a 750% jump over the $11-million operating profit it posted a year earlier. Top-line revenue from continuing operations for the quarter, which ended on Feb. 28, increased slightly to $479-million.

So, rumours of a dying industry just months ago seem to be premature. Bad economies typically contribute to reduced spending in advertising and advertising pays the bills in the newspaper industry.

But the bounce back also tells another story. Advertisers are still confident that newspapers can deliver their primary target audience – Baby Boomers. This 50 something and up group, while engaged in new tech, TV and the Internet, still likes the tactile experience of newspapers. One cup of coffee, one armchair and the daily newspaper. Perhaps not as fresh as it once was but it’s like and old shoe – familiar and comfortable.

So while TV struggles to figure out how it fits in the 24 hour universe of the Internet and radio finds some resurgence in satellite broadcasting, newspapers have a little breathing room, at least while the economy is strong and the Boomers are alive.

Long live the tree

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Stephen Rhodes is President of The Marketing PAD, a full-service strategic communications and marketing company. Read Blogpad or visit  The Marketing Pad online.

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