August 2008 - Issue 75
When bringing goods into Canada, importers are always
best advised to check with Canada
Border Services Agency (CBSA) before engaging in
an import. CBSA can verify for you any regulatory issues
surrounding your product and advise you of any permit
or certificate requirements that may be necessary to
clear your goods at the border.
Although this verification is a key step in evaluating
and planning an importing endeavour in the start-up
phase, businesses should not discount the importance
of regularly checking with CBSA. CBC recently reported
on a small coffee business in Ontario that, having no
previous issues with their coffee imports, had their
shipment held at port for nearly a month. This was due
to new regulations for CBSA that require marine containers
to be examined and tested for formaldehyde. Although
the company felt their shipment was an unlikely candidate
for the chemical, the company's products were still
held for inspection at the border.
CBC coverage for more information on this particular
While frustration often peaks when goods are delayed
at the border, importers and exporters should be aware
that CBSA enforces over 80 acts, which are initiated
by various government bodies. Should CBSA indicate that
your import could be subject to the regulations of a
government agency or department, such as Health or Environment
Canada, it is imperative that you monitor relevant regulations
that could affect your shipments. This pertains not
only to the goods you're bringing across the border,
but also to changes in the packaging and labelling requirements
Keeping on top of regulatory changes can have a huge
impact on the success of your import and ultimately
your bottom line. The loss of a shipment of perishable
items can have enough of a negative impact to destroy
a small business, while a delay in inventory can damage
customer confidence in your business's ability to deliver.
Having a response plan allowing you to react to delays,
which do happen, will help to reduce the potential impact
that hold ups can have on your operations. However,
planning ahead and checking regularly with CBSA will
help you to mitigate a number of the risks associated
with importing before they negatively affect your business.
For further details on Canada Border Services Agency
as well as import/export regulations and procedures,
please contact our International Business team at 1-800-272-9675.
Don't Forget E-business When
Doing Your Planning
In today's technological world,
an E-business strategy needs to be integrated into your
general business plan right from the start. When writing
your business plan, consider how you can incorporate
e-business technologies in key areas of your business.
How can you use the Internet as a marketplace, a communications
tool and a method to reduce cost and inefficiencies
and improve revenue?
Your planning goal should be to produce a solid document
for your business that you can review and update regularly
that includes an e-Business model. Planning is crucial
if you do not want to lose time and money when you start
your business. Plus, a thoughtful plan could facilitate
financing of it.
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August is always a good time of year to do planning--whether
it's getting ready for a busy school year, preparing
to manufacture new products or getting a retail business
ready for the holiday gift-giving season. Our issue
this month will focus on various aspects of planning
for business whether startup, expansion, marketing or
export. You can plan to improve your business skills
at the training sessions we offer this Fall.
The Business Link is pleased to
be offering two new industry-focused seminars:
Arts and Culture Business Start-up and the
Agriculture Info Series.
The Arts and Culture Business Start-up Series
is supported by the Alberta Foundation for the
Arts. There will be three Brown Bag Sessions commencing
on Tuesday, September 16 with Breaking Into
the Music Industry, followed by Starting
a Studio Craft Business on October 21 and
Get Writing! Get Published! on November
18. So, if you are into music, crafts or writing,
you will want to take in one of these sessions.
The Agriculture Info Series also consists of
three Brown Bag offerings. In Behind the Scenes
at Alberta's AG-Info Centre September 25,
find out who's who in the Centre and the specific
services they provide. The Centre's Rob Spencer
will be doing the presentation.
Staying on Top of Provincial & Federal
Agriculture Grants, October 23 is a must for
anyone in the business of agriculture. In this
session, Ted Nibourg of the AG-Info Centre will
explain current government policies on financial
support and identify the main programs and how
to find out more about funding.
In Keeping the Tax Man Off the Farm, November
27 you will learn how to minimize tax liabilities
to reduce taxes now and how astute succession
planning can reduce taxes in the future. Merle
Good, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development,
will be presenting.
For more information on our Seminars and Brown
Bag Sessions this Fall, see the Around Alberta
and Aboriginal Circle columns below.
|Events at The Business Link
Our new season of seminars and brown bag lunch sessions
will begin on Tuesday September 2, 2008. Details will
be posted on our website by the end of the month. If
you are on our mailing list you will receive a print
copy. To add your name to our mailing list, give us
a call or stop by our office in Calgary or Edmonton.
The Business Link will begin
our new season of networking events starting Tuesday,
September 16 at 2:30 PM.
Whether you are an established business owner
or just embarking on your entrepreneurial journey,
The Business Link's upcoming season of
Small Business Seminars and Brown Bag presentations
has something for you! The Fall season begins
Tuesday, September 2 with the first offering in
our Trade Tuesday series, Importing Documentation
and Procedures. Presented in partnership with
the Canada Border Services Agency, these afternoon
sessions are free-of-charge, however registration
New this season is the Arts and Culture Business
Start-up Series and the Agriculture Info Series--see
details above in Latest from the Link.
The Brown Bag season commences Thursday, September
4 with E-Business Considerations. The month will
feature a total of seven Brown Bags, including
the French session, Le Marketing sur Internet
on Tuesday, September 30. Brown Bags are free
of charge and are held from 12:00 noon until 1:00
pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. Seminar season gets
underway Wednesday, September 10 with Web 2.0
Marketing Answers. Other seminars for September
include: Financing Your Business - Are you Ready?
and Do-It-Yourself Incorporation. The season consists
of 15 seminars and over 20 Brown Bag presentations.
Offerings for each month will be posted in E-News!
If you would like a copy of the brochure, please
send us your name mailing and e-mail address to
firstname.lastname@example.org. All sessions will be
held at The Business Link in Edmonton
and Calgary, with most sessions being offered
in regional sites via video conferencing by members
of the Entrepreneurship Learning Centre Network.
ELC website to find a location near you.
Beyond Borders USA
Beyond Borders USA is a two-day seminar consisting
of key speakers, focused workshops, networking
opportunities, and a trip to the Canada/U.S. border
for our popular tour of the Coutts border crossing
facility all designed to assist companies
with entering and navigating the U.S. market while
accurately portraying the challenges inherent
to doing business in the country. The event will
focus on engaging the U.S. market to conduct business,
and provide discussion on how Canadian companies
can remain competitive in light of the strong
Canadian dollar and the state of the current U.S.
economy. Beyond Borders USA will offer a venue
for companies and service providers to better
understand how the U.S. market can play a role
within their business strategies.
For more information and to register, visit our
website at www.canadabusiness.ab.ca/tbl.cfm?fn=infosess#International%20Business
or contact The Business Link.
Wednesday, September 24 & Thursday, September
Fee (non refundable): $100.00 + GST = $105.00
(includes both days, meals and transportation
from Calgary to Lethbridge and Coutts)
Early Bird Special! - Registration prior
to August 15th: $75.00 + GST= $78.75 (includes
both days, meals and transportation from Calgary
to Lethbridge and Coutts)
For business training in your region, check the
website of the Community Futures Development Corporation
in your area. You can find the websites listed
by name and location in The
Business Link Regional Sites Directory.
This three hour session is an addition
to our regular seminars this year. The session
will provide resources and techniques for
breaking down barriers, enhance awareness
of Aboriginal relationship practices and
aid in developing culturally friendly environments
in organizations. This session will be presented
by Dan Martel, Four Winds & Associates,
Wednesday October 1, 1:00-4:00 PM.
Many Entrepreneurs understand the importance
of a business plan, a budget, and any
of the common planning tools utilized
by small businesses. But what about those
little things that often get overlooked
and can dramatically effect your operations?
Here are a few hints for planning for
those overlooked elements.
Plan for the small stuff
- It may not be something you do every
day, maybe just once a year. But make
sure you think about the little things
that can have a big impact on your business,
like filing your Annual Return. Different
from your corporate tax returns, the Annual
Return is a simple one-page form letting
the government know you are still alive
and kicking. However, if you forget this,
you will get a letter of dissolution of
your company in the mail, and have to
deal with the hassles and expenses of
reviving your corporation. The same goes
for any changes of directors or address
- report these to the government to stay
out of trouble!
Plan for unexpected expenses
- When you are making your budget and
planning your expenses, you need to think
outside the physical operations of your
company. Are you hiring employees and
taking into account your contribution
to their EI and CPP? Have you planned
out a payment schedule for supplies and
taken into consideration possible late
payment charges? Have you seriously considered
what marketing your product or service
may actually cost? If you can plan for
unexpected expenses, you will be better
prepared when they arrive on your door
Plan for the hard times
- What if your product isn't successful
or you don't make profit in your first
years? You may think you have the best
thing since sliced bread, but do your
customers? Planning for 'failure' forces
you to anticipate roadblocks and adapt
to the customers needs. Not only will
this stimulate creativity, but if sales
are not going your way, you have a strategy
to apply to turn it around.
Unexpected forces of nature
- Are you prepared if lightning literally
strikes? Defining what areas of your business
are susceptible to natural risks and disasters
can help you effectively prepare for any
turn of events. Don't let Mother Nature
dictate the success of your company.
Don't stop the planning!
- There is a lot of planning required
to start your small business, but many
entrepreneurs forget about planning once
they are up and running. Don't let the
everyday operations of your small business
detract you from your future goals - revisit
your startup plans for evaluation, and
make weekly, monthly and yearly plans
and goals to keep you company growing
and building a strong future.
We hear about trends daily whether they are economic,
political, social, stock market, technological
or other. Future Watch is all about trends and
innovation - important elements in business planning.
Benefits to awareness of trends, especially in
your industry, include: maintaining appropriate
staffing (planning for more staff at busier times
of the year), carrying a good mix of inventory,
making the right buying decisions (major purchases
may be put off if the trends indicate that a slump
in the industry is coming), and choosing the best
suppliers and knowing when particular products
are being phased out or new product lines are
How do I get a handle on where to find trend
information? There are several sources: libraries,
newspapers, magazines, industry associations,
your customers, and suppliers. They all can contribute
to your understanding of what is affecting you
and your competitors.
Examples of specific sources include the online
Canadian Business article 7
Trends Fueling the Most Business Opportunities,
reports from Statistics
Canada and community reports on Alberta
First. The economic development office for
your community or region may also have pertinent
Putting a system in place to collect and analyze
trend gathering will help identify changes that
will impact industry and your business. Analysis,
whether done formally or informally, can assist
the entrepreneur with plans to overcome obstacles
and innovate to take advantage of trends.
Time management plays a part in how you, as the
business owner, can read and synthesize the information
you are receiving into something that is useful
to you. You will need to assess whether a particular
trend will affect your business. Talking to others
in your industry could be helpful. Tips on how
to keep up with what's happening that can affect
you are available on the Trendwatching
web site as well as other current information.
The Business Link Library has a pathfinder--Business
and Consumer Trends--that can be sent out
or picked up. It has specific resources that could
help you on your way to having a better handle
on the shifting nature of your market and allow
you to make informed decisions about your business.