Small Business Briefing

BDC sets up $200-million loan program

The Globe and Mail

Business Development Bank of Canada president and CEO Jean-Rene Halde delivers a speech before Quebec Manufacturers and Exporter in 2009 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson)

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From BDC to ICT

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) on Monday said it is setting aside $200 million worth of loans to help entrepreneurs in the field of information and communications technology (ICT).

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The money can be used for hardware, software and consulting services designed to boost online sales. BDC client and non-client companies, including individual or home offices, can apply, and BDC said in a press release that it will speed up and simplify processing of the applications.

“We now know that ICT has a very real impact on small business productivity, innovation and competitiveness," explained Jean-René Halde, the bank's president and CEO. "In fact, much of the productivity problem in Canada can be attributed to insufficient investments in technology.”

BDC simultaneously launched its Smart Tech online resource centre that offers a variety of tools for small businesses. Entrepreneurs can learn more about products in the marketplace, they can identify technologies that would be useful to them, and they can get support in implementing them. Also available is a free online assessment of small-business websites.

“The adoption of innovative digital technologies is essential to the success of businesses,” said Minister of Industry Christian Paradis. “Our government is committed to ensuring the right conditions are in place for businesses to succeed, as they continue to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

Entrepreneurs with ICT projects that do not exceed $50,000 should submit their loan applications online. Companies that require more than $50,000 can contact the BDC business centre in their area, apply online or call BDC customer service.

Canadians go to great lengths to go local

A Scotiabank poll suggests that Canadians believe it is important to support local businesses and many of them are willing to go out of their way to do so. Eighty-five per cent of people surveyed say they tell others about their local small businesses, 63 per cent walk or drive further than necessary to buy from local firms, and 43 per cent said they would pay higher prices to patronize them. The poll also found most Canadians recognize the important role that small businesses play in their community, including how they improve access to products and services (95 per cent), create employment opportunities (94 per cent) and provide leadership in their community (86 per cent). Of course, there's always room for improvement. Among the most popular suggestions on how small business can do better? Provide more personalized service, increase advertising (it's true) and offer more competitive prices. The survey polled 1,014 Canadians from Sept. 12 to to 20.

Stop stalling, start planning

According to a TD Waterhouse succession poll, 76 per cent of Canadian small-business owners said they don't have a plan in place, which could have major implications. "Without a formal succession plan in place you could miss out on important tax advantages or getting the maximum value for your business," says Carl Smith, regional vice president and market leader for the firm's Private Client Services branch. "It's disappointing to see how few Canadian small business owners have a succession plan to allow them to step back from running the business when they want to retire." Owners surveyed said their top reasons for lack of action are that they are still trying to figure out what their plan will be (45 per cent), or that they have simply failed to get around to it (31 per cent). Forty-six percent of those with a succession plan developed it within the first 10 years of ownership, and half had created their plan before they started getting ready for retirement. The online survey was conducted from Oct. 3 to 6, using a sample of 609 Canadian small-business owners who are Angus Reid Forum panel members.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Import your way to success

Have you started an import business or are you ready to start one? Small Business B.C. is presenting an importing regulations seminar where participants can learn about the rules and standards involved in building a successful import business. The seminar will be part informational and part roundtable discussion, so it is suggested you come prepared with relevant questions to help you import into Canada. The event takes place in Vancouver on Oct. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m., at a cost of $39.

The state of non-profits

Maytree Canada and Coach House Books on Tuesday launch Five Good Ideas: Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success. The book is designed for non-profit organizations, and the launch is being positioned as a learning and networking opportunity. The free event features an interview with the book's two editors: Maytree chairman Alan Broadbent and Maytree president Ratna Omidvar. Following that, book contributors Alok Mukherjee of the Toronto Police Services Board, Rick Powers from the Rotman School of Management, Carol Goar of the Toronto Star, Jennifer Lynn from Lynn Communcations, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation's Robin Cardozo discuss the state of non-profits today, and the evening will be hosted by author and broadcaster Jane Farrow. The launch takes place at Network Orange, 221 Yonge St., doors open at 6 p.m., panels begin at 6:30.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

The married life, entrepreneur style

“The fact is, being an entrepreneurial spouse is a hard job because your support is vital to the health of the business and you have a life, too,” says executive coach Bruce Sandy, founder and principal of Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting in Port Moody, B.C. And it’s easy, especially with a startup when the time commitment is huge, for that supportive spouse to slide into resentment or burnout, he says, particularly if there are kids and/or a second career involved. Some spouses also get stressed over how much they are, or are not, involved in business dealings.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Snapshot of a year ago

Check out the best stories of the week of Oct. 18, 2010, around the time of last year's Small Business Week, and a time when we were still known as Your Business.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

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