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Why is it important to create a Human Resourse (HR) Policies and Procedures Manual?
 
Whether your business is small or large, having a HR Policies and Procedures Manual sets out the expectations of your organization. It provides more information about your business and its values. These guidelines provide a sense of standardization and are intended to safeguard both the employee and employer.  These policies should be written in a language that is clear and understandable; outline the rights and obligations of both the employer and employee; work in conjunction with and in addition to Employment Standards; and demonstrate respect for the workplace.  Policies can help to minimize mismanagement thus avoiding costly legal expenses. There are also legal requirements to develop and implement certain policies such as workplace violence and harassment, accessibility, etc. It is recommended that when designing your policy you seek the appropriate professional assistance.   
 
What can I do to improve my chances of obtaining a business loan?
 
Here are the steps to improve your chances of securing a business loan:
  • Know your credit rating and new worth; this is not the time for surprises
  • Know how much you need to borrower and for what purpose
  • A copy of your loan application and business plan should be provided in advance in a neat and legible manner to allow your reader to review and formulate their questions
  • Dress appropriately and act in a professional manner
  • Be prepared to answer questions regardign your business concepts, your financial situation, and your industry
  • Remember that the first loan is usually the hardest to get; do not expect an immediate decision
 
When starting a business what are my government responsibilities?
 
There are several federal, provincial and municipal regulations and requirements when starting a new business. The most common requirements involve: registering your business name, obtaining a municipal business license, adhering to municipal zoning and by-laws to ensure proper land usage, registering for Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), and obtaining a Business Number. If you are consider hiring employees you will need open a Payroll Deductions account, and adhere to the requirements of Employment Standards and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Depending on your type of business venture your may also be affected by industry related licences and permits.
 
Is networking important to my business?
 
Networking is an important aspect for any business.  Many new business owners view networking as scary or an unnecessary task. Networking increases your business visibility and develops relationships. It expands your contacts and assists in growing your business. Some easy ways to start networking are to join the Chamber of Commerce, industry associations, community related organizations, or business networking groups. Attending seminars, workshops and trade shows can also increase your network, as well as your knowledge.
 
What government assistance is available for starting a business?
 
The Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada. It is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs considering starting a new business. This program is a tool to help individuals create jobs for themselves through self-employment, by providing Income Support, Business Plan Development, and Mentoring. You may be eligible if you are unemployed and have an established claim for Employment Insurance benefits (E.I.); or had a claim within the past 3 years; or a maternity or paternity claim within the past 5 years, and are looking to re-enter the labour force.  The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie (BSL) has been delivering this program to successful applicants living in the Greater Fort Erie area since 1993.
 
What is the benefit of keeping accurate up-to-date financial records?
 
Keeping good financial records is a key factor to the success of any business.  Tracking your financial records will assist you with:
  • making informative decisions and managing your monthly business expenses;
  • evaluating the profitably of your pricing and tracking what items or services are selling;
  • securing loans from financial lenders or investors; and
  • calculating your government remittances and completing your tax return.
 Businesses are required by law to keep compolete and organized accounting records.  Failure to do so could result in penalties.  
 
Why do I need to write a business plan?
 
A business plan is a tool for an entrepreneur to summarize their business concept and assist in gathering the necessary information to succeed. It explains how the business will be structured, the services being offered, the entrepreneur’s capabilities, and how the business will be managed.  A well prepared business plan will provide financial lenders a clear understanding of the business venture’s viability and how it will operate.  A business plan should always be prepared by the entrepreneur. This process will assist the entrepreneur in achieving goals and keeping on track.  The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie (BSL) provides assistance with business plan development. 
 
I am considering hiring an employee, what do I need to do?
 
Hiring employees is not a process that should be rushed.  In order to hire the best candidate there are important steps to consider such as: determining what type of skill level  the job requires, writing a detailed job description, determining the most effective place to post the advertisements for your budget, designing an effective interview process,  checking references, preparing the employment contract, and designing a personnel policy.   
 
Are my suppliers important to the growth of business? 
 
Yes!  You should develop a strong relationship with yoru suppliers.  They are the backbone of your business.  Finding the right supplier to suit your business needs can be difficult.  Some key factors to consider when selecting a supplier:
  • Quality assurance
  • Price
  • Service and tehinical support
  • Delivery costs, procedures, and reliability
  • Conditions and payment terms
  • Reputation 
 You should always have a list of secondary suppliers to ensure you are always able to meet the needs of your customers.
 
What do I need to consider when looking for a business location?
 
Selecting the right location for many types of business can be critical.  There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting the right busines locations; it should not be based solely on costs.  Some of these factors are the:
  • physical requirements (loanding docks, parking, waste disposal, security, utilities, etc.);
  • zoning regulations and municipal bylaws;
  • convenience to your customers and suppliers;
  • availability of skilled labour;
  • floor size (will it meet your business needs).
 
What are the advantages of operating a home-based business?
 
There can be many advantages to operating a business from home, such as lower overhead, tax deductions, and flexibile hours.  Although working from home sounds like an idea opportunity, it doesn’t come without its challenges.  Working from home requires good organizational and time management skills. Friends and family often think you have all the time in the world and staying productive can prove to be difficult.  Setting boundaries with friends/family and creating a weekly/daily To-Do-List can help keep you focused.  Working from home can make you feel isolated. It’s important to allow yourself time out of the office. Attending seminars, networking opportunities, or joining business associations can help and will broaden your network.
 
Why is setting goals for my business important?
 
Setting goals is a great tool to help grow your business and drive motivation.  When setting goals they should be clear, realistic, and achievable. In order to be effective, limit the number of goals with a specific timeline. Ensure your goals have measurable benchmarks/milestones in order to determine success. Once your goals have been established, you will require well thought out strategies in order to achieve them. Review your strategies regularly to ensure you are on track or whether they need to be modified.  
 
I have a great idea and have the initiative, energy and determination to start my own business.  What can I do to guarantee success? 
 
Planning will not guarantee success.  It simply makes it easier for you to decide where you are and where you want to be in the future.  A business plan gives you the opportunity to assess the viability of your business including its strengths and weaknesses.  The Business Plan is one of the most effective tools a business can employ.  It brings together all the integral parts of your company…products, service, marketing, administration and finance.  It will assist in achieving your goals by helping you monitor your results on a consistent basis. Start by conducting preliminary inquiries to determine whether to start your business or re-think your idea. Ask for feedback from friends and family.  Talk with potential customers or suppliers, complete surveys, and explore the competition.  It is essential to provide as much background and supporting material as possible to demonstrate the strengths of your business. 
 
 What kind of financing does my business need?
 
A well prepared Business Plan includes a determination of your financial needs and provides financial lenders a clear understanding of the business venture’s viability, how it will operate and the resources to repay a loan. A Business Plan should always be prepared by the entrepreneur. This process assists the entrepreneur in achieving goals and keeping on track.  A crucial part of any Business Plan is the Projected Cash Flow as it may reveal a need for short-term financing and demonstrate the ability to repay the loan.  If you plan for a major expenditure then consider a term loan which closely matches the economic life of the asset (normally 3 – 5 years).  Your commentary should address how the purchase will make your business more profitable.

I have a Business Plan.  Why do I need to monitor the plan?
 
Sometimes the best plans go off track.  One way of preventing this is to monitor your business plan regularly.  Each month you should compare actual results with your cash flow projections.  If you are not meeting your objectives, what options are open to you?  Do you know which expenses can be reduced and how soon you need to react?  What additional revenue or capital sources, if any, are available to you?  What is your break-even point?  Do you have a handle on the critical sales level needed to cover your overhead, after which you start earning real profits?  Rapid growth exceeding projections can be a mixed blessing.  How can this growth be financed?  How are you going to cope with a downturn in the economy?  Do you keep up to date with economic trends and conditions?  You should communicate closely with your lender, including keeping them informed on a monthly basis with the information you have agreed to provide.
 
What government assistance is available for starting a new business?
 
 The Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada. It is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs considering starting a new business. This program is a tool to help individuals create jobs for themselves through self-employment, by providing Income Support, Business Plan Development, and Mentoring. You may be eligible if you are unemployed and have an established claim for Employment Insurance benefits (E.I.); or had a claim within the past 3 years; or a maternity or paternity claim within the past 5 years, and are looking to re-enter the labour force.  The Business Success & Loan Centre Fort Erie (BSL) has been delivering this program to successful applicants living in the Greater Fort Erie area since 1993. 
 
When starting a business what are you required to do by law and how do you comply?
 
There are several municipal, provincial, and federal regulations and requirements when starting a new business. The most common requirements involve obtaining a municipal business license, adhering to municipal zoning and by-laws to ensure proper land usage, registering your business name or incorporating, registering for Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), and obtaining a Business Number. If you are hiring employees you will need to open a Payroll Deductions account with Revenue Canada, and adhere to the requirements of Employment Standards and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Depending on your type of business venture you may also be affected by industry related licenses and permits. 
 
 
How do I market my business?

You can have the best little business with wonderful potential, but if you can’t market it, you don’t have a business.  To market your business you have to learn how to market yourself, because you are your business. 

Marketing means informing your potential customers about your products or service, and finding ways to establish and keep a client base.  Your market is the specific group of people that consume your product or utilize your service.  If you take the time to research who, what and where your market is, plan a budget and source out effective methods of advertising and promotion, your business will be off to a flying start. Advertising refers to the various media used to convey your message and promotion refers to the various methods by which you convey your message to the customers.  Part of marketing is to design a company name, theme and logo that people can become familiar with and relate to your specific business.  Prepare a mission statement, a statement of your beliefs and goals to define the reason you are in business.  Don’t forget to keep up with technology and be accessible via e-mail and the internet.

What are the benefits of keeping accurate up-to-date financial records?

Financial statements are a written history of how your business has performed during a set period of time. Most small businesses have a financial statement prepared annually for tax purposes only.  One main reason so many businesses tend to fail is because not enough owners monitor their business regularly by studying their financial figures.  A financial statement is a snapshot of your business at a given time.  Usually this picture is taken at a month-end. It will tell what the business owes, the capital and equity in the business, what sales were, what it cost to make those sales, what the business overhead was and how much profit (or loss) the business made.   Financial statements are the main tool of any business, so don’t take them lightly.  Be sure of their accuracy because you will be making many of your business decisions based on these figures.  For example: 
  • Calculating your government remittances and completing your tax return;
  • Evaluating the profitably of your pricing and tracking what items or services are selling and;
  • Securing loans from financial lenders or investors.
Businesses are required by law to keep complete and organized accounting records.  Failure to do so could result in penalties.  
 
What start-up expenses will I incur?
 
Start-up expenses can escalate quickly and you don’t need any financial surprises. This is the beauty of a business plan. If all your costs are researched first, you can trim or expand to suit your budget. Prepare a checklist to guide you through the process. Things to include in the checklist can include incorporation fees, business plan preparation, loan application and financing fees, first & last months’ rent, renovations to a building, utility deposit, license fees, telephone, fax and internet installations, cellular phone purchase and access fee, interior & exterior signs, computer system and software, printing & stationery, invoices, office furniture & equipment, as well as business liability and key person life insurances.   If buying an existing business costs could include consulting fees for an accountant to review the business purchase and legal fees for a review of a buy-sell agreement.
 
What is my break-even point?
 
Simply put, the break-even point is the amount of dollars your business should generate monthly in gross sales to cover all your operating costs, exclusive of profits. Knowing what your sales should be to break even is very important – because if you don’t know where you are what motivates you to reach a goal. Your starting point is to know your approximate gross profit margin. The next step is to list all of your monthly overhead expenses.  A simple example based on overhead costs (staff wages, freight, rent, repairs, utilities, etc.) of $5,005 plus owner’s wages of $2,500 would be as follows:
Gross sales need for the month: $21,440
Purchase price (assume 65%): 13.935
Gross Profit (35%): 7,505
Overhead costs: 5,005
Owner's wages: 2,500
Total overhead: 7,505
Break even point (7,505/35x100): $21,440
 
The business has to generate $21,440 in retail sales to cover all costs. If the profit margins decrease, or expenses increase, a loss will occur.
 
Why do I need a plan for succession?
 
What would you do to ensure your business survives in the event of a change in marital status, death of an owner, retirement, disability of the owner, an extended absence? These or other changes could affect your operation. It makes good business sense to establish an appropriate succession plan to protect your investment against these potential problems.
 
You may have thought about handing over the reins to a new generation. If so, consideration has to be given to training and development needs. What about estate planning? There will be legal, financial and tax considerations affecting most changes in ownership. Seek the assistance of professional advisors when creating your succession plan. These experts can advise you on the technical aspects.
 
The majority of enterprises lack an adequate plan for succession. We have prepared a Succession Planning Checklist to help you get started.
 
Why is networking important to my business?
 
Networking is meeting people and having the ability to tell them who you are and what you do in a precise and interesting manner. It is also referring people with a need to other reliable people and businesses and by unselfishly helping others while you actively promote and meet new potential clients and contacts. Your starting point should be to develop a 20-second “infomercial” about yourself and your business which can be presented to the listener in an interesting manner.
 
Successful networking is increasing your potential clients and contacts and having others refer business to you. Good networkers are always looking for ways to help other people as well as themselves, because what goes around comes around.  Some easy ways to start networking are to join a service club, the local Chamber of Commerce, or a business association. Attending seminars, workshops and tradeshows also increases your network, as well as your knowledge.
 
What are the six skills for success?
 
The traits needed for success can be categorized into six skills essential to an entrepreneur’s success:
  1. People skills – The way you deal with people will determine much of your success. Good manners, politeness and attentiveness will encourage repeat business.
  2. Personal skills – A healthy self-esteem is needed to keep yourself motivated. You will spend a great deal of time alone, so listen to your heart but consult your head before making a decision.
  3. Financial skills – You have to be financially knowledgeable in the business world. Otherwise, how can you understand the overall concept of doing business and the meaning of profitability.
  4. Technical skills – Start a business in an area where you can utilize your talents, not one that requires technical skills you don’t have or cannot learn quickly.
  5. Communication skills – You need to communicate with lawyers, accountants, bank managers, loan companies, or venture capitalists. You need to be able to get your message and needs communicated clearly.
  6. Marketing skills – Without a sound knowledge of marketing, you will not have any customers. Marketing in a nutshell is the ability to communicate to your potential customers and inform them of your products or services. 

 

 

45 Jarvis Street Fort Erie ON L2A 2S3
Phone: 905-871-7331
Email: info@bslforterie.ca
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