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The Leading Edge December 2015
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

    Contents
In this Issue

7 Tips to Starting a Social Enterprise

Social Media for Small and Micro Businesses

Why Shop Local - Buy Local?

Thank you for choosing Local

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Small Business News:

Canadian stores lagging in pursuit of online dollars, report finds Online shopping is fast becoming the new way for buyers to browse, but stores in Metro Vancouver and across the country are not keeping up and are losing customers to foreign retailers, according to a Vancity credit union report released today. Read more...


Business Barometer®: Small business optimism muted in November - Small business optimism remained muted in November and showed little change from the previous month. Read more...


Why the future of global trade deals could be small businesses - Governments around the world are desperate to jump-start global trade again. Jack Ma's "WTO 2.0" idea might be the way to do it. Read more...


CIBC and Thinking Capital redefine small business borrowing in Canada with real-time adjudication, faster funding - Exclusive banking & Fintech partnership allows small business owners to apply for a loan of up to $300,000 online, with decisions in minutes and funding in just a few days. Read more...


 
    7 Tips to Starting a Social Enterprise
 
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First things first - what is a social enterprise? There are many definitions but we think this one from Social Enterprise U.K. sums it up best: Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people's life chances or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market and they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community.

Social Enterprise Canada reminds us that on this side of the Atlantic, we are more likely to define social enterprise as a business operated by a non-profit entity. In the Canadian legal context, "mission-related" businesses are allowed for non-profits and charities. www.socialenterprisecanada.ca/learn/....

Whether you decide to go the non-profit route or simply make your business wholly or partially a social enterprise, you are just adding a social element to it. Here are seven tips to get you started.

  1. Ensure you have all the resources at hand to effectively launch your business idea, regardless of its social commitment. That list should include solid financing, sufficient business training and the necessary experiential and intellectual human resources. (This may be just you or you and your partner/spouse - and that's OK so long as you and s/he bring the necessary skills.) Always bear in mind that in the first year at least, your new company is like a newborn baby that demands vast amounts of your time and energy.
  2. Think long and hard about the social commitment you want to make. Should it be local, national or international? Will it be a financial commitment as in contributing some or all profits? Will it be an in-kind commitment as in providing goods, services and/or time? Or is it in some other form? The final question is to ask yourself if it is really viable?
  3. Bear in mind that working at a local, community level has the advantage of easier connection with your chosen cause and the ability to see the benefit of your contribution first-hand. However, meeting an international need may be a better fit for your product, service and philosophy or the money, time or services that you are prepared to devote to it.
  4. Consider how best you can use your skills, and those of your team, to support your cause. There has to be a match between the needs of your cause and what your company is producing, unless you are simply donating your profits to the cause. If, on the other hand, you are starting from scratch and intend to tie a new product directly into the cause, be realistic about whether it is saleable in sufficient quantities and has the ability to make a profit.
  5. Let your customer know what effect their purchases have on the cause you are championing. Toms Shoes has given 43 million pairs of their classic slip on shoe to children in need, in over 70 countries, through their one for one program. Their website provides the complete story http://www.toms.ca and allows their customers to follow their good work closely.
  6. Put together a one page brief along with your business plan which you can use to get the understanding, cooperation and buy-in of your support team including your family, your accountant, your financiers and maybe even your landlord.
  7. Thoroughly research the organization/cause you think deserves your support. Ensure it's in harmony with your values and determine whether it's a good match for what you have to offer. Part of this research should be a search for any skeletons in the organization's closet. Be sure there's no scandal attached to the organization, so that your contribution isn't wasted or diverted to maintain large salaries for management and administration.

Tips adapted from Social Enterprise: An Introduction by Ken Stratford (Blue Beetle Books Inc.)

 
   
Social Media for Small and Micro Businesses Top

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It wasn't that long ago that few small businesses had a website, then consumers started thinking businesses without websites, weren't bona fide businesses at all. Nowadays most small and even micro-businesses have a website, even if it's a basic brochure style few pages. If you haven't made the leap then I suggest you investigate a low cost website. There's masses of help online, and even free templates so it need cost you very little. A domain name can cost less than $20 and basic hosting is often offered free by your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

Fast-forward to today and the average consumer is smarter than ever before. Consumers are actively checking us out along with our competition. They can check product and service reviews online, they can buy online without even leaving their homes - and more importantly they can comment on our business, our products and services, and our customer service on social media.

Social media is a reality and it affects every business no matter how small. Even a self-employed tradesperson needs to understand the basics of social media.

Need convincing that social media should be a major component of your marketing activities? Here are some realities.

  • Your customers are using social media, they are looking for you, talking about you, reviewing your products, services, customer service and checking out your competition. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites, up from 7% when the company started tracking social media usage in 2005.
  • A whopping 90% of 18-29 year-olds use social media. And it's 77% for those aged 30-49.
  • In 2005 2% of consumers 65+ used social media, in 2010 it was 11% and now it's 35%.
  • Hubspot (an inbound marketing and analytics firm) reports that 95% of Millennials, and 87% of Gen X'er's expect brands to have a Facebook presence. And 70% of 45-60 year-olds think brands should, at the very least, have a Facebook page.
  • You may think this is an urban thing. Although more city dwellers use social media, people in rural areas are not far behind. While 68% of suburbanites and 64% of urban residents are active on social media, 58% of rural residents are actively using it.
  • When it comes to gender, more women (68%) use social media than men (62%).

Social media is not just about dealing with what people say about you online; it's about communicating with your customers and future customers; it's about building a community and being part of other communities; it's about educating people and listening to them. It's about letting them know all about you, your company, the people that work for you, your products, your services, your business philosophy, your integrity and your organizational culture.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child - perhaps today it takes a social media community to grow a business.

 
   
Why Shop Local - Buy Local? Top
 

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There is a definite trend toward buying local across Canada. One survey states that 72 per cent of Canadians have a desire to support local businesses. Global retail strategy and analytics firm Precima, carried out a survey which showed that 61 per cent of Canadians said purchasing local foods and beverages was important to them, with nearly half reporting they would be willing to pay a 15-30 per cent premium.

Shop Local, or Buy Local, campaigns are being launched in towns and cities across Canada and for good reason. These campaigns help people realize that locally owned and operated businesses:

  • Keep money in the local economy - for every $100 spent, $46 is recirculated into the local economy.
  • Recirculate 2.6 times more revenue back into the local economy than national retail chains.
  • Are more likely to support other local businesses - e.g. bookkeepers, accountants, law firms, tradespeople.
  • Purchase more local products and goods which provides employment for local artisans, farmers and other manufacturers.
  • Bring fewer products in from outside the region resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Give five times more money to local sports teams, community events and charitable causes than non-local businesses.

These campaigns educate the community as to the value of supporting locally owned and operated businesses. Buy Local campaigns promote the message to consumers that buying local will have a direct and positive effect on the local economy making their town, or city a better place to live.

Consider launching a campaign in your community a way to not only build your own business, but to also build the economy of your community.

If you'd like to read more about shopping and buying local campaigns, take a look at your September 2015 issue of the Leading Edge, where you will find an article entitled: Should Our Business Join A 'Buy Local' Campaign.

Watch for: Starting A Buy Local Campaign In Your Community in our January 2016 issue - what a great way to start the New Year!

 
   
Infographic Of The Month Top

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Community Futures Mount Waddington
14 - 311 Hemlock Street (Box 458), Port McNeill, BC, V0N 2R0
1-877-956-2220 | Phone: 250-956-2220 | Fax: 250-956-2221
info@cfmw.ca | www.cfmw.ca


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