Cheat Sheet

Canadian Small Business Kit For Dummies

Starting a Canadian small business is an exciting and often frightening adventure. With the help of this cheat sheet, you’ll find important tips for running a profitable and successful small business in Canada – from knowing whether you have the right personality traits to run a startup business in the first place, to finding the best Canadian online resources, and understanding the main reasons that small businesses tend to fail.

Determining If You Have the Small Business Personality

If you’re thinking about starting your own company, stop and check whether you have the right personality to run a small business before you start. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ll need to have most of the following qualities – whether you were born with them, developed them, or are about to start working on them now:

  • Self-confidence

  • Knowledge of your goals

  • Desire and ability to be your own boss

  • Independence and self-sufficiency

  • Ability to survive without a social group

  • Skills for getting along with people and dealing with conflict

  • Determination and persistence

  • Self-discipline

  • Reliability

  • Versatility

  • Creativity

  • Resourcefulness

  • Organizational talents

  • Risk-management instincts

  • Nerves of steel in a crisis

  • Pick-yourself-up-itiveness

  • Knack for recognizing opportunities when they come along

  • Drive to seek out new opportunities

  • Success-management instincts

  • Objectivity

  • Courage to live without a regular paycheque

  • Good health and physical stamina

Five Great Web Sites for Setting Up a Canadian Small Business

The Internet provides a wealth of great Canadian resources to help you start, run, and carry on your small business. The following Web sites may be particularly helpful to you.

  1. Canada Business

    Get government and general business information on topics such as starting a business, writing a business plan, finding financing, marketing, exporting, and being an employer. There’s a CBSC (Canada Business Service Centre) for every province and territory, and they are designed for use by start-up entrepreneurs in any field.

  2. Industry Canada

    Search for information about specific business sectors. For each business sector there are also links to company directories, contacts, industry events, and statistics.

  3. The Yellow Pages

    Look for suppliers for your business in a particular business sector and/or geographic area. Let your fingers do the walking (across your keyboard instead of through the phone book)!

  4. TopTen Reviews

    Can’t decide which computer printer to buy? Don’t know which accounting software package to choose? Check out reviews for these and many other small business products and services. Their slogan is “We do the research so you don’t have to.”

  5. Resources for Managing Your Business – RBC Royal Bank

    Get information about many general business topics such as starting, managing, financing, and growing a business. Or use “The Big Idea,” an online guide through the steps of developing a business plan.

Five Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail

Every year, lots of Canadians get the entrepreneurial urge and start businesses. Some of those small businesses become very successful and profitable. But every year lots of startups in Canada fail. Here are some of the key reasons that small businesses fail:

  1. The business is based on an idea that only a mother could love.

    A business idea may seem wonderful to the business owner, but a business needs a slightly larger market than the owner if it’s going to prosper. A business won’t last long if it offers a product or service that nobody wants or can afford.

  2. The business is undercapitalized.

    A business with too much debt will fail, even if it’s based on a great idea and is otherwise well run. The business has to make enough money to cover its loan payments as well as pay the owner. If a business doesn’t repay its loans, its creditors will pull the plug.

  3. The business doesn’t keep the customers happy.

    A fantastic business concept and good advertising may get the customers in the door — once — but it takes excellent customer service to keep customers coming back. Dissatisfied customers don’t pay their bills, won’t return, and won’t refer other customers. Without customers (who pay) the business will fail.

  4. The business doesn’t change with the times.

    A business must be able to adapt — what worked in the past may not work in the future. A business that doesn’t respond to the changing marketplace may find that there is no longer a market for its product or services, or that its customers have gone over to the competition.

  5. The business expands unwisely.

    Some unprofitable businesses expand in the hope that doing more business will increase profits — but expanding an unprofitable business just creates a bigger unprofitable business. And a business that expands without proper planning may lose its core customers because it can no longer serve them properly, or may not generate enough new customers to cover the cost of financing the expansion.

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