Oakville Small Business Owners: Best Resources

Oakville Small Business Owners: Best Resources

It’s Small Business Week: always a good time to reflect on how we operate as a local small biz in Oakville, how we can improve on delivering our service, and how we can help other companies deliver theirs…

Looking back to when we first opened our doors in January 2018, and reflecting on our journey since then, we feel incredibly fortunate to have had the support of many local organizations that have provided us with help, support, and encouragement. Really, we couldn’t have done it without drawing on the larger community of local entrepreneurs, and both the public and private organizations in Oakville whose aim it is to see small business succeed.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely career path but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re running a small business, or thinking about jumping into the world of entrepreneurship, get to know these organizations and especially the committed people working in them. They are there to support the small business sector in our area and can be the difference between your business being a success or a failure.

LOCAL BIA

If you’re lucky enough to be located in a “Business Improvement Area,” your BIA office is a must-get-to-know. BIAs work to collaborate, extend market reach, and connect their members to one another. There are three BIAs in Oakville – Downtown, Bronte and Kerr Village – and they’re all awesome.

HALTON SMALL BUSINESS CENTRE

The Halton SBC is a treasure trove of supports for entrepreneurs. They run many learning programs to increase your technical and strategic business skills. “You get what you pay for” is often true – but in this case it’s not. The programming at the Small Business Centre is both low-cost (or free) and excellent.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA (BDC)

BDC offers various financing and funding options to small and medium-sized companies. They’re also a great source for strategic advice. We’ve had the chnace to partner with BDC to bring educational programs to our members, and they’ve always been a super informative resource.

DIGITAL MAIN ST

Digital Main St. is a grant program offered by the province of Ontario to support small businesses to incorporate digital assets into their business operations. They also offer useful free webinars. This has been a fantastic resource for ACE as we have continued to digitize more and more of our operational and marketing functions, especially this past year.

LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS

Both MP Anita Anand, and MPP Stephen Crawford have been supportive of our efforts to start a new business here in Oakville (especially during the pandemic). We have found their offices to be very responsive to our requests. Your local members of parliament want to help you and see you succeed. Don’t avoid reaching out for help when you need it. And while you’re at it, get to know your local Municipal Councillors – ours have been amazing cheerleaders as well as go-to experts on many local issues that affect our business.

CFIB

Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is a membership-based organization that advocates for all independently-owned businesses in Canada. They are the voice of small business and work to influence government to understand our needs. They also have many resources you can tap to support your company.

OAKVILLE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Last but not least, this organization led by a superb team of dedicated professionals, helps hundreds of local small businesses owners connect, learn, grow, and succeed. There are membership fees to join, but with over 70 annual events to participate in, and an extraordinarily supportive culture, it’s well worth the investment. More about the Chamber here.

If you’d like to get more inspiration and education from the staff and partners of ACE Coworking, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll also stay up to date on the events we run and the amazing promotions we often offer!

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

In this monthly series, Ask an Acer, we invite one of our talented members to share their expertise with you. February’s post comes to you from Amanda Lee, a skilled freelance journalist and copywriter.

When you have content to create (and don’t we all these days?) you might have a budget to hire a pro like Amanda, but very often we find ourselves facing that blank page on our own and we just don’t know where to start. In this post, Amanda explains three reasons why we might be experiencing writer’s block and gives her pro tips about how to beat it.

WHY MIGHT YOU FEEL BLOCKED?

1) You’re not a writer 

Here’s something I learned through spending years writing everything from press releases to snappy tweets to feature stories: Writers are rarely born, they’re made. In his book, The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explores the 10,000 rule – the key to success in any field, including writing, is to practice.    

Solution: Start now    

If you feel compelled to write, that is all the reason – and permission – you need to put pen to paper to fingers to keyboard and share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world. Don’t be put off by thinking you have to put in thousands of hours of practice before sharing a blog post.  

 

2) You’re self-critical

Expecting words to flow onto the page like maple syrup on warm, fluffy blueberry pancakes is unrealistic. Sure, sometimes they do. Writers get into the zone and the words do flow. Other times it’s as frustrating as trying to squeeze the remaining ketchup out from the bottle. Author, Neil Gaiman said, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon.” Self-criticism is a sure path to writer’s block.  

Solution: The sh*tty first draft  

In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott makes the case for the sh*tty first draft. “All good writers write them,” she notes. I was first given this piece of advice by another (real life!) author I met years ago at a reading. Professional authors embrace the sh*tty first draft. As Lamott says, “This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.”  So get some words down on the page – any words. You’ll improve on them in later drafts.

 

3) You have nothing to say

Chances are, you’re an expert in your field. You know things about the real estate industry, or branding, or creating a sales funnel that your clients don’t. You may think you have nothing to share, but you do. We all do. 

Solution: See writing as an act of generosity 

To quote Lamott again, “If you give freely, there will always be more. …This is what the writer has to offer.” Inspiration can hit in the shower or while walking your dog. Jot down any ideas you have for a blog post, an e-booklet, or to share on social media. Write about the things that interest you. Write about the things your clients want advice on. Share your knowledge and your unique perspective on the world generously. 

 

These tips should get you started on your own – but if you want to hire an awesome copywriter instead, then Amanda would be a great choice! Besides writing magazine pieces on topics such as travel, parenting, finance, arts, and culture, she has experience writing content for businesses in every sector imaginable. (This native Australian has also earned an MFA from The University of King’s College and is working on a narrative non-fiction book called Finding Opal.)

Check out Amanda’s writing samples here.

Passionfruit Communications Website

 

Expert Hiring Tips You Need to Know!

Expert Hiring Tips You Need to Know!

In this monthly series, “Ask an Acer,” we invite some of our talented members to share their expertise with you. February’s post comes to you from HR expert, Craig Bissett, a long-time ACE Coworking member and president of Hire Results Ltd. He’s also the creator of the Hiring Assessment Web Enabled Tool which allows organizations to test-drive candidates before hiring them.

Craig has just published a book called My Worst Hire & What I Learned From It, in which he interviews 50 business leaders who relate their stories of hiring mistakes and the lessons they learned along the way. Here Craig shares with us a few vital nuggets from the book – tips that are sure to help you in your next hiring moment!

Beware of Compromises

When hiring at the management level, never ever compromise. If your #1 candidate turns down your offer, resist the temptation to hire your #2 candidate. Instead, you should go back to square one and search for the next #1 candidate. The cost of hiring second-best, if that person is not the right fit, will be multiplied throughout the team.

Culture is Key

If you have a company mission and culture/value statement, don’t leave it hanging on the wall. Rather, take it into the interview process. Assess the candidate based on what your company believes in. Keep in mind what you want to promote in terms of culture at your company, and make sure you address these topics in the interview. A candidate may have all the required skills for the role, but if they don’t fit your company values, you will end up with a major mistake on your hands.

Size Matters

Be extremely careful when hiring someone who is from a different sized operation. For example, if you are a small company and the candidate is coming from a large, well-financed firm, make sure that person is ready to roll up their sleeves and do the grunt work required for your growth plans. Whether they are transitioning from a large operation to a smaller one, or vice versa, it’s your job to ensure new hires know what they are getting into. 

If these tips have left you wanting to learn more about making a great hire, you can get more info about Craig Bissett’s book here: https://myworsthire.com or reach out to him directly on LinkedIn. He would love to hear from you! 

(Special launch pricing on the book lasts only until Feb 2, 2021)

 

 

 

4 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

4 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Lucky you! We’ve asked some of our talented members to share their expertise with you each month. In this series of posts, you get to pick some super-smart brains. Our first contribution comes from Roger and Sarvy Van Maris, of Piece of Cake Digital Marketing and E-Commerce.

Image by Renata Pollock

It’s About “Click Through”

Remember this term. It’s the primary purpose of every good email campaign! You can’t sell or convert from an email. But what you can do with an effective email is entice your reader to “CLICK THROUGH” to your website for more information. That should be your #1 goal. Include just enough enticing content in your email to interest your reader to visit your site. There they can
find all the detail they desire, which will hopefully lead to a possible sale or conversion for you.

Focus on a Singular Message

Do you often receive emails with multiple offers, numerous information items, and/or a list of great articles? We do, and we cringe. All this variety only serves to confuse readers and lose potential conversions. The days of the rambling newsletter email are gone – your audience is trusting you to provide concise and valuable information and insights. Focus on a single specific purpose and call to action. You might highlight a product, a tip, a promotion, an article… but pick just ONE, not all. Besides making your message clearer, focusing on just one thing allows you to track your results very precisely. Bonus!

Keep it Short

It’s an act of generosity for a subscriber to give you their email, so don’t punish them with 1800 words to read! (Even 500 words may be too much.) Make the content easy for them to understand so that they quickly click through to your site. Connect – Recognize a Problem – Build Interest – Transfer Momentum. You can do this in 4 sentences!

Minimize Selling

Limit your sales-oriented emails. A sure way to reduce your email list is to constantly put “Awesome Promo!” or “Get it NOW!” in front of your subscribers. Alternate your sales messages with helpful content and interesting information. A solid ratio we recommend to our clients: for every 1 sales-related email, send 2 non-salesy emails. Remember your purpose is to drive readers to your website where you do the sales promoting anyway.

These tips will get you started, but if you want to learn more about how to optimize your Digital Marketing efforts, feel free to reach out to POC at info@pocdigitalmarketing.com or 905 257 8698. Set up a free 20-min consult on Zoom or meet them face-to-face at ACE Coworking.

No project is too large or small for Piece of Cake Digital Marketing, which has over two decades of internet experience. This dedicated team of professional online strategists, designers, programmers, SEO specialists and SEM marketers is extremely passionate about empowering their clients to prosper! pocdigitalmarketing.com