Canada Post Strike – Is Your Business Ready?

Talks Between Canada Post and the 51,000 Postal Union Members have stalled – is your business prepared?

 

Just when you thought it was safe to ship those time-sensitive documents, the headlines have begun to emerge.  Canada Post talks between management and the 51,000 postal union members have stalled suggesting that a strike may be approaching.  While many may shrug and say they don’t use the traditional mail system anymore, for a business the impacts can range from mild to massive.  Taking action to mitigate against the uncertainty and risks a strike can pose to your business could save you significant time and money – not to mention help to avoid frustration!

 

As a first measure, if you’re not already doing so – encourage your clients and your employees to be as digital as possible.  Use email instead of mail, market your products on the web instead of with drop mail and feature your company’s products and services on a website instead of in physical documents such as brochures.  If you’re organization has multiple locations intercompany communications should be digital as well.  You can share documents, ideas and artifacts through the use of online tools such as DropBox, Google Drive or slack.

 

Many organizations have no choice but to ship products however.  If you are one such company, now may be a good time to explore alternatives to Canada Post to ensure availability and timeliness of services.  We all know of FedEx, UPS and Purolator Courier, but for local shipping, you may have smaller courier options which work just as well.  As well, if the costs of other shipping services are excessive or your shipments are not time-sensitive, now is the time to let customers know that a strike may be approaching and delays may occur.

 

It’s also very important for business owners to recognize that there may also be other impacts to them if they receive their bills or their payments by mail.  If so, now is a good time to prepare by setting up online billing and online bill payments to minimize potential impacts to their business

 

While most of this is common sense, it’s also the sort of thing we don’t think of until we need to.  Business insurance can be the same – we only think of it when we have an unforeseen issue.  By going to bullfroginsurance.com you can get a quote and buy coverage in a mere 90 seconds.  That way you can get back to your business and prepare for potential issues like postal strikes!

Does Your Business Have a Fire Safety Plan?

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Does Your Business Have a Fire Safety Plan?

In the last year we’ve all seen stories on the news about the destruction which can be caused by fire. Fires can happen anywhere and anytime so its important to be aware of fire hazards and have a safety plan in place to mitigate risks, injuries and even fatalities.

Prevention is the best safety measure.  It pays to know about your business premises and your surroundings —  an electrical fire caused by old wiring, or by the upstairs tenant or human error can be devastating.  Knowing your building, your neighbors and the habits of your employees and patrons can be a great way of avoiding mishaps that cause fires.  You should also have a plan for emergency situations to protect your patrons, staff and property. Below are some easy things businesses can do to mitigate their risk.

Ensure You Have Working Fire or Smoke Detection Equipment

Not only is early detection key to putting out a fire, it is also mandatory in many places to have functioning equipment, whether its fire alarm, smoke alarm or a sprinkler system. You should frequently check that this equipment is in good working order. A good rule of thumb is to change batteries in smoke alarms bi-annually; many people use the spring-forward and fall-back time changes as guides.

Ensure You Have a Fire Evacuation Plan Complete With Designated Fire Marshal

A fire safety plan will help ensure that if disaster were to strike, the damage will be mitigated and that there will be no human loss.  A good fire safety plan will detail all possible exists from the premises. It will also identify a safe meeting place where you can get a proper headcount of staff and guests to your location. It will also identify a person, and a backup person to act as the company fire marshal who will be in charge of making sure everyone made it to the safe location off site and will inform the fire department if anyone is missing. It will also identify ways to slow and stop damage from occurring. Closing windows and doors on your way out of the building (if it is safe to do so) can slow the spread of smoke and fire.

Conduct Regular Fire Drills

Fire Drills should be conducted bi-annually to ensure all staff members are familiar with the fire evacuation plan. Ensure your staff take these drills seriously and ensure participation is mandatory.

Ensure You Have The Proper Coverage

In the event of a fire, having the appropriate insurance in place is critical.  Each business has unique risks and requirements and a broker can be an invaluable source of knowledge and advice to ensure you have the right coverage for your business.  Bullfrog Insurance covers businesses across Canada and we have experienced agents here to help you get the right coverage for your business- nothing more, nothing less. Just Insurance – Without the Bull.

Take Your Business To The Next Level

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Take Your Business To The Next Level

Many entrepreneurs can drive their business on pure passion and will power, especially in the start-up phase of the company. But what do you do when that just isn’t enough and you are ready to take your business to the next level?

  1. Cut down busy work

When you try to do it all, from shipping your products, customer service and lead generation you spend a lot of time doing repetitive tasks that might be better served by automation or additional staff.  Check out the wide range of services available online for automation or our recent blog post on temporary labour for some ideas. Don’t let paperwork bog you down. You can apply this to all aspects of your business, including your insurance needs. With Bullfrog insurance you can get your business insurance online in less than 2 minutes, so you can get back to running your business.

  1. Make your website work for you

If you are selling your product online your website needs to work as hard as you do. Make sure it is optimized for search engines like Google, keep the content fresh, relevant and of high quality and be sure to put in capabilities for the capture of lead data such as email addresses

  1. Re-evaluate your business plan

Your business changes constantly and sometimes what seemed like a great plan at the start, is no longer your best plan of attack. Having a business road map can definitely help with this.  Once you have a business road map, it is important to take stock of where you are in your plan and possibly adjust. This type of adjustment can give you a renewed sense of direction and send you down the path to growth.

As the 4th quarter of 2016 approaches, now is the time to take your business to the next level. Cutting out inefficiencies and taking a good hard look at where you want to go will surely help you get there.

Do you have a company road map?

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To paraphrase an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”. This little nugget of knowledge can be applied to planning for your business as well. If you lack the vision to determine your goals and destination you will still reach a destination, but there’s no guarantee you’ll like it.

Creating a road map for your company will help you to define your goals [destination] and how you want to get there [the roads you’ll take]. Without a road map you may be working very hard, but not working very smart.  As a business owner each day comes with a multitude of decisions which you need to make.  A roadmap, makes those decisions simpler by causing you to consider if decisions bring you closer to or further from your goal.

A roadmap also gives you something to strive for, and allows you to rise above the day-to-day distractions of running a business by highlighting a clear end point.  Indeed a clear vision  often serves as the guiding light for moving your business forward.

While there are numerous ways to develop a road map, one of the best ways to do so is based upon 2 underlying goals:

  • Clearly define the end vision. Doing so with your team is also very important so that everyone is clear on the destination and strives to achieve the same goal
  • Realistically outline the path to reach that destination

It is especially important to note that if you are struggling to achieve point #2, you may need to re-examine your vision in point #1 and consider how feasible and realistic it is.

Once you developed your road map be sure to share it with your entire team to ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be done and what part they will play.  It is also important to regularly check in and evaluate your progress towards your goals.  By doing so, you will have clarity on whether you are closer or further from your end goals.  Do this planning now and you will enter the fourth quarter stronger than before and prepare yourself for an even stronger 2017.

Keeping The Sales Pipeline Hot In Summer

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Many people use summer as an opportunity to detach from work and take vacations. As a result, August gets a bad rep for being a slow month.  By applying some of these principles to your sales strategy however, you can keep your leads as warm as the weather.

Send A Personal Note:

Keep in touch with your prospective customers through the month, get to know their plans for vacation and remember to ask how their vacation went when they get back. Use specific details about their trip and leave your sales pitch out. No one wants to think about a business deal when they are on vacation but they will appreciate that you are thinking of them and that you remembered what they told you about their vacation. Though this process won’t directly speak to a deal, it will help you build trust for a lasting relationship.

Track your Interactions:

As an entrepreneur you have a lot on your plate. It can be difficult to keep track of all of your prospects. Take notes on your prospects, remember details of the conversation and use those details in conversation.  Customer relationship management (CRM) software is terrific for this and you can often find low cost or free solutions like HighRise and the recently released HubSpot CRM which allow you to track and manage your interactions with customers.  Tools like these help you follow up in a timely manner, without bombarding prospects. If you know when their vacation is set reminders to remind to talk to them when they are back.

Stay Active on Social Media:

Just because your customers are on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t reach them through other channels. Many people continue to be active on social media while they are on vacation. Seeing your posts can be a gentle reminder that you are there and available. Even if you are taking your own vacation make sure to schedule some Tweets and Facebook posts to ensure that you stay top of mind, even when you’re soaking up the sun.

Set up a Good Auto Responder:

If you are generating leads from your website set up a good auto responder to make the first point of contact with potential clients right away. If you are on vacation those leads can build up and it can be hard to get through to all of them. If they subscribed, it was because they were thinking of you in that moment. Send them a note to let them know you appreciate them reaching out.

Entrepreneurs are never off the clock, using these tips can help you free up time, be more organized and keep in touch with leads through the “slower” vacation season.

How to Raise Capital for Your Small Business

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Many entrepreneurs are successful in starting small companies but growing that business is an even more challenging endeavour.  Every business is different and there are many ways to raise capital for your business.  Whatever path you choose, raising capital requires significant preparation.  Anyone who is going to give you money is going to want to see a return on investment. It’s your job to prove you can make that happen. Usually this begins with a thorough presentation of your growth strategy.

When approaching investors it is essential to have clearly articulated goals and a well thought out strategy for how to achieve them.  You should also have a profound understanding of risks and challenges which may hinder your growth and expansion plans.  By being aware of risks, not only will you be well prepared, you will also significantly reduce investor concerns about how well you have thought things through.  Other factors which are key to any expansion discussion are how your business differentiates itself from others in your industry.  Having a niche and demonstrating the potential customer base of that niche will go a long way towards proving there is a scalable, feasible growth model.

As well, investors often attribute a significant portion of their belief in a business to the quality and capability of the team.  Business owners are often too modest about their experience and / or that of their team.  They provide simple one sentence statements about having 10 or more years of experience as proof of their capabilities.  In reality, investors are like everyone else – they want to see tangible proof.  Speak to past projects or organizations you and your team have been involved with and relate them to your growth strategy.  Such points go a long way towards demonstrating that you have the ability and the team to make it all happen.

You should also have a thorough understanding of your business financials and a good sense of the current and future value of your company. If you’re raising equity capital this is especially important to you and any potential investors. They want to know that they can make a return on their investment and you want to ensure you are raising capital based upon a fair market valuation of your company.  With each discussion, be sure to conclude by leaving behind presentation materials. It should summarize everything you’ve told them in your presentation. Your knowledge, confidence and enthusiasm should come across as strongly in your leave behind materials as it does in person.

Finally, if there is ever a time to be choosey it is when picking a potential investing partner.  The right partner will not only share in the financial risk, but will also share in your vision for the enterprise and the end objectives.  Investors should see your success as their success and your growth as their growth.  If you find the right investor, not only will you raise capital, you will also gain valuable partners who are just as vested in your company’s success as you.

Protect your Business’s Most Important Asset – You!

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As a small business owner you wear many hats. You are an entrepreneur, a family member, community supporter and so much more. With all that you have going on, it’s hard to make the time to deal with duller matters like insurance and the possibility of an accidental death or dismemberment.

No one likes discussing this stuff and no one wants to spend a great deal of time on it.   That’s why Bullfrog Insurance offers a quick and simple way to purchase Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance online in a few minutes so you can obtain the coverage you need in the event of an unfortunate accident that results in your death or loss of a limb or an important bodily function.  While it’s a terrible thing to think about, this insurance will help to ease the permanent financial impact on your family in the event of such situations.

With our easy online system, it only takes minutes and unlike some traditional life insurance, our AD&D coverage doesn’t require a medical! You can even add your family members to your policy, protecting them in the event of an accident.

As a small business owner you may not have access to the same benefits as larger companies but Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance is a substantially cheaper benefit, and in some cases you can write it off for tax purposes.

Bullfrog Insurance strives to build a wide portfolio of resources for business owners like you. We are your ally making things quick and simple so that you can stop worrying about insurance and focus on what matters most to your business.

The Sharing Economy and Your Business


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In the mid 2000s the term “Sharing Economy” was adopted to refer to the practice of working together (peer to peer) , on transactions rather than going through a large company middle man. Today, the sharing economy is booming and with the rise of companies like Uber, Air BnB and Turo it is clear that it is not going away.

The sharing economy allows entrepreneurs to build their business with less overhead.  Now companies can find temporary labour, shared office space and even financial assistance in a simple Google search.  The ability to connect and share assets drives margins down, allowing for lower barriers to entry. The sharing economy is about leveraging your networks allowing for reach beyond your office space, community and even country. According to a report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, 63% of Ontarians find shared services cheaper than traditional services and 49% find them more convenient.

Interested in taking advantage of the sharing economy? Here are some places you should check out.

UpWork – If you have a task that needs to be done on the computer Upwork is the place to look. They connect designers, programmers and other digital freelancers to businesses like yours. They encourage freelancers to build robust profiles allowing you to pick the best person for the job and they manage payment so that you only pay for work you approve.

AskForTask – The Toronto based company AskForTask connects you to verified local “taskers” who can help you with chores, maintenance, and manual labour such as moving.

Borrowell  – One of the most difficult parts of starting a business is finding financing. Borrowell leverages the finances of some of the brightest investors in the country to give out low interest loans. According to a report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Borrowell has already provided 5.4 million in loans!

CoPass – CoPass is a network of co-working spaces worldwide with 605 offices in 69 countries.  If you are tired of working your small business from home, consider spending some time in one of their co-working spaces.

Leveraging the sharing economy helps grow your network and cut costs. At Bullfrog we believe that you should only have to focus on the most vital parts of your business and leave the rest to the experts. We can help you through your insurance needs, and these sites can help you find the right people to get your tasks done!

Canada Day Activities for the Whole Family!

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There are tons of great activities to do this weekend. At Bullfrog we believe you should work hard and play hard and that why we put together this list to help you plan the best Canada Day weekend!

Go see Canada Day Fireworks

There are 8 locations to see fireworks in The City of Toronto! Grab your family, a blanket, and some bug spray for a budget conscious spectacle viewing!

Here are the locations and times of fireworks in the city:

Mel Lastman Square – 10:15 pm

Amesbury Park – 10pm

Milliken Park 10pm

Ashbridges Bay Park – 10pm

Stan Wadlow Park – 10:15pm (weather permitting)

Centennial Park – 10pm

Downsview Park- 10pm

Harbourfront Centre- 10:40pm

Have a BBQ with family and enjoy the weather

Don’t have a barbeque of your own? There are lots of parks in Toronto that have public BBQ stands and pits, BYOC! (Bring Your Own Charcoal)

Sunnybrook Park

Earl Bales

Toronto Island

Cherry Beach

Centennial Park

Attend Ribfest in Centennial Park

Toronto Ribfest is a fundraiser for Rotary Etobicoke and features some of the City’s best rib offerings, Toronto’s largest mobile midway and live entertainment.

Cheer on the Blue Jays all weekend against the Cleveland Indians at the Rogers Centre

There are tons of fun activities for kids this weekend at the Jays Games. Saturdays are Jr. Jay’s days. Kids under 14 can run the bases after the game, and take part in a number of other activities. On Sunday the first 20,000 fans will receive a Troy Tulowitzki bobblehead!

Enjoy the lake breeze at Redpath Waterfront Festival

Celebrate the launch of the TALL SHIPS Challenge Great Lakes Series, see the Royal Canadian Navy’s 55 metre costal defense ships, and Navy-Themed obstacle course. There will also be performances by the Ultimutts Stunt Dogs. These amazing dogs can play the piano, do hand stands and skateboard.

Head to the Track for the 157th Queen’s Plate

Canada’s biggest, oldest and most important horse race happens this weekend at Woodbine Racetrack.  Aside from the thrill of horse racing this event offers the Hats & Horseshoes party headlined by Hedley with special guests Matthew Good and The Strumbellas. Tickets are only $15!

From everyone at Bullfrog we wish you a happy and safe long weekend.

Incorporating a Business

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You’ve set up shop – now maybe you should consider incorporating

Now that you’re up and running it might be time to evaluate your risk management strategy. If you are not yet incorporated, now might be the time to do it. Incorporation can be a key part of a company’s risk management strategy and it comes with a number of other perks.

Limited Liability

By incorporating your business you are creating a separate legal entity for your business. This limits the liability for claims against your company to the assets available from the company, thus protecting the personal assets of you and your partners.

Number of Owners

Incorporation also allows you to change the number of owners in the company. As well, each shareholder is only liable for their portion of the ownership. This means that they don`t have to worry about their partners financial situation and being responsible for them.

Financial Opportunities

Another great reason to incorporate is access to funds.  There are often a greater number of sources of capital available to incorporations. This is mostly due to the limited risk that investors have to take on when investing in your company. Additionally many government grants and loans are only available to incorporated businesses.

Profit Sharing Incentive

Incorporated businesses can offer shares to their employees. This can be used as incentive to improve the profits of a company because it benefits everyone. When everyone works together, this can help drive growth within the company.

Perpetual Existence

Companies that are incorporated live in perpetuity unlike Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships which die with the owners often causing undue stress on a business. This is substantially beneficial in the event of estate planning should something happen to an owner.

Tax Incentive

Firstly, separating yourself from your business will make doing your taxes easier. But more importantly, Canada offers incentives a lower tax rate to small business corporations which can save you money.  As well, being incorporated offers the opportunity to save on taxes by writing off many business expenses such as accounting costs and various types of insurance costs.

 

While incorporating makes a lot of sense for a lot of businesses, insurance makes sense for all businesses.  No Bull about it, the right corporate structure  in combination with insurance coverage can be an excellent strategy for risk management to protect your business and personal assets.  You’ve put a lot of effort into launching your business – contacting Bullfrog Insurance to see about protecting it is a good way to ensure continued success.

 

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