July 2017
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The Business Voice - Supporting the Moose Jaw & District business community
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October 2017

Special welcome to our newest Chamber member:

BullDog Home Renos - (306) 631-4353

 Saskatchewan Rush Lacrosse Club - (306) 798-7874

  

CEO Message

Take Action Against Federal Tax Changes

These sweeping changes, and the short consultation period, are issues of great concern to us as an organization that represents business, and we need our member input.

Have you signed one of the many online Petitions?:

Sask Chamber: https://taxactionsite.wordpress.com/contact/

Sask Party: http://www.saskparty.com/trudeau_job_killing_tax_hike

Taxpayer.com: https://www.taxpayer.com/resource-centre/petitions/petition?tpContentId=165

  

The Chamber strives to enhance the business community by providing an environment that cultivates business-to-business relationships and educational programs that benefit its members.

The Chamber also works hard to support the local business community by offering educational, leadership, networking, and other various recognition programs throughout the year. These programs help spotlight the thriving businesses within the local business community. By taking part in Chamber events and utilizing the Chamber for all of its benefits, business people can continue to grow not only their businesses but their networking communities as well.

It is my goal to meet as many members as possible and to be there to help our members get as much as they can out of their membership. Please join us by getting involved in the Chamber and look to our website, newsletters and Facebook for information on events and opportunities where you can put your membership to work for you.

Please do not hesitate to contact me rob@mjchamber.com, we are here to help you and your businesses.

Rob Clark, CEO Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce 

 

Chamberplan.ca
9 Ways to More be Productive Working from Home

 

9 Ways to More be Productive Working from Home

If you are running a home-based business, you're probably doing so because to some degree, you enjoy working alone. This can be a blessing since much of what you do probably benefits from you being left undisturbed, but at the same time a battle because isolation can create bad work habits. Sitting in your home office day after day can be exciting when you first start. After a while though, it can lead to unhealthy habits that erode your productivity. Here are some tips on keeping yourself connected, and active, even if you work from home alone.

Pay attention to your body.

It's all too common for a home-based business owner to settle into his or her office chair first thing and not move all day because they are engrossed in a project, or have a major deadline looming. But, ignoring your body's needs all day is not productive. Make sure you take regular breaks (yes, that means get up out of your chair) and move around. Walk up and down the stairs, take a walk around the neighborhood, sit on your deck for a few minutes, or do some stretches. Moving and getting away from your desk, for even a few minutes, several times a day will increase your productivity.

Meditate.

Meditation is a wonderful way to regroup your brain. Just ten-minutes once or twice a day will actually make you more efficient and focused. Studies have been carried out that prove that increased productivity more than makes up for the time spent on sitting and being, not doing.

Feed yourself properly.

For those of you who can get through a day without thinking about food, don't sit down before you've had some breakfast, and don't ignore those hunger pangs you feel at lunch. Having high-protein snacks and a healthy lunch will give you more energy and clarity, and eliminate that mid-afternoon slump. Your brain needs a balance of carbohydrates and proteins to function well. For those who have the opposite tendency, and working at home brings a constant temptation to nibble your way through the day, allow yourself two coffee breaks and one lunch break during the day, prepare healthy meals and snacks, and don't eat at any other time.

Schedule connection time every day.

Make sure you spend a portion of each day connecting with the outside world (you have to use your voice - e-mail doesn't count!). Make some sales calls, return messages, call a business associate and chat about how things are going, talk to your suppliers, or phone an old client you haven't talked to in a while. Disciplining yourself to stay connected will keep you from getting too comfortable with being alone.

Schedule out-of-office meetings.

When you do have to meet with people, try to schedule meetings at their place of business, or at a mutually convenient coffee shop or restaurant. It's good for you to get away from the four walls of your office - a different atmosphere inspires creativity, and a break from the ordinary will make you feel more energized when you return.

Vary your tasks.

When you have a significant task ahead of you, it's tempting to put your head down and work till it's done, but sometimes, stopping what you're doing and attacking a different task for a little while can actually increase your productivity. Shifting gears to change focus from an intense task to a lighter task can give your brain a much-needed break and regenerate perspective. Take ten minutes to answer emails, do some filing, organize your bookshelf, and then get back to your task.

Limit Internet surfing.

It's so easy to do - you go to a web site to research a specific, work-related thing, and before you know it, 30-minutes has gone by and you're planning next year's vacation! Internet surfing is a huge time-waster. Find a way to discipline yourself to only visit sites relevant to the work you are doing.

Social Media.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites can be a huge asset to small businesses, but just like Internet surfing limit when and how you get involved. If you are continually checking your Facebook feed and becoming involved in conversations, or watching videos, large chunks of the day can disappear. Also during working hours, focus on groups that have the potential of helping your business. Leave visiting your personal Facebook page until lunchtime, or better still after work!

Schedule play dates.

When you work for someone else, your personal interaction with others is planned for you. When working at home, you need to make a point of scheduling some play time once in a while, to keep you sane and accountable.

Find a buddy, or a group of others who work from home, and start a focus group. It will increase your interaction with others, but will also give you an opportunity to get feedback on difficulties you are facing in your business, perspectives for problem-solving, creative ideas for growth and a sounding board with others who are walking the same path. In the same way, you can assist them in their business growth, and that will make you feel great!

Perhaps an excellent "play-date" would be with a coach who can help you in areas you're struggling with?

Many people say working from home is the best decision they ever made. If you're still doing it, it probably was for you. Developing a few good habits will go a long way towards making your home office experience a productive one.

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9 Ways to More be Productive Working from Home

 

10 Business Plan Mistakes

If you're looking at writing a business plan for the first time, updating an existing plan, or if you're doing a business plan review to present to a financial institution or potential investor, you might want to consider looking at the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when writing one. Avoid these mistakes and you'll have a plan that will have potential investors taking notice, and actually reading what you have to say.

Too unprofessional

Produce a professional looking document. If your business plan looks shoddy and unprofessional, what assumptions do you think the reader will make?

  • Keep pages clean - no coffee stains!
  • Spellcheck.
  • Get someone to proofread it for you for typos and factual errors.
  • Bind it professionally (spiral bound is good).
  • Ensure you add your logo to the front cover, with your contact information.

Make your first impression one that leads the reader to want to read more!

Too Wordy

Remember it's not the number of words you've written, but the answers you have provided that count. The person reading your plan does not have unlimited time (or patience), so do not waste it. The bank manager faced with a one-inch manuscript is unlikely to read it at all and is likely to make a decision, not on the merits of the plan, but on its size!

Too Short

Don't go to the other extreme and make your plan so short that it doesn't cover all necessary points. You must cover everything various readers might need to see, and more importantly what you needed to ask yourself in order to put together a coherent, comprehensive plan!

Too Personal

The use of the words 'I' or 'We' in a business plan will annoy a professional reader. Business plans do not use those words, they should be written in the third person. For example:

  • The Missing Piece Jig-Saw Company will be located at...
  • The company will sell...
  • The owner/manager has ten years of retail experience...

Avoid telling stories about yourself or how the business came into being. The business plan is not a personal history and it is certainly not about you, it is about the business. View your business in an impartial way. Be as objective as you can possibly be, because the banker or investor most certainly will!

Insufficient Market Research

The biggest curse of most business plans is a lack of market research. Never underestimate the knowledge of your reader. If you say there is no competition, you are challenging the reader to find some for you. If you say that customers will pay your exorbitant price, you better have the market research to prove it! One of the biggest reasons why entrepreneurs are turned down for loans is insufficient research.

No Cost Analysis

It's surprising how many people don't work out what profit they will make. Show that you have carefully thought through all the costs associated with delivering your product or service (both fixed and variable). Different businesses require differing levels of gross profit; make sure your business can survive on the gross profit you have predicted and make sure it's achievable.

No Break-even Analysis

A break-even analysis is not totally necessary to a business plan, but you need to know how your revenue relates to your expenses. It's surprising how many people don't know this simple, but important, fact. If you need to sell 100,000 widgets to break-even, can you do it? Does it sound reasonable? Do you have the equipment/space? Is it even possible?

Unrealistic Expectations

A large number of business plans are based on unrealistic expectations - it comes with the territory. If you are entrepreneurial you're going to be an optimist, and optimists nearly always think they are going to do better than they really can. Try hard to keep your feet on the ground. Get other people to give you an honest appraisal of your projections before you put them into your business plan.

Poor Cash Flow

Even if you are doing well and sales are better than planned, you can still go bankrupt. The most important element in a business is the availability of cash. You need to pay your bills and if you haven't got the money to pay them, you are in danger of being closed down. Remember that one of the first things a banker or investor looks at in a business plan is the cash flow. A cash flow spreadsheet answers the questions:

  • Can this business survive lean times?
  • Will it have enough cash at the end of every month to cover its expenses?
  • When (if ever) will it need an infusion of cash?

Insufficient Funding

Early cash flow problems usually come from insufficient funds in the first place. New businesses take a lot of money to get up and running. The first few months are all pay out, with little cash coming in. Never underestimate the capital needed to start a business. Make sure your business plan clearly shows what cash is needed and convinces the reader this is sufficient.


A professional business plan can make the difference between being considered for a loan and not even being offered a chance to make a pitch to a potential lender, investor, or partner. More time invested in getting it right first time can save many hours wasted trying to get someone to believe in what you are doing.

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9 Ways to More be Productive Working from Home

 

Newsletters - Are They Still a Thing?

Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers and clients; however with so much information passing across people's desks, how can you make sure yours gets read? Simplicity is the key - keep it a manageable length, keep it clean and uncluttered, and keep it current, relevant and offer valuable information. The more complicated your newsletter, the less likely people will read it. There are two main methods of newsletter distribution - e-newsletters, and the old-fashioned print method. Which is better? Which will work best for you? Here's a look at the pros and cons of both.

E-Newsletters

You're probably receiving at least a few of these in your email regularly. E-newsletters are designed to be mass-delivered to a large client base. They can be created either in html format so they appear in the main body of an email, as a link to a URL, or emailed as a pdf attachment. Obviously, you could offer all three options.

Earlier we suggested being cautious with the length; one common way of dealing with this while still offering in-depth information to people, is to simply create the initial html embodied newsletter with "Read More" buttons which link people to the online version of the newsletter so they can see the full articles, graphs, charts, infographics, or whatever.

Pros

  • Production and distribution is inexpensive and can be massive.
  • There's no limit to the amount of people who can receive it.
  • They offer the opportunity to add links to your website.

Cons

  • Because of the increasing number of e-newsletters being sent out, they can be ignored or put in a "I'll read it later" folder. Once there however, people aren't likely to go back and read it. To avoid this, ensure you send it to a specific person who is likely to be interested in the content.
  • Many people use spam filters, so a large percentage of your mail out may never be seen by the recipient.
  • You can easily fall foul of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). If you don't know about this you should check it out at fightspam.gc.ca.

There are other pros and cons that relate to whether you are a B2B or B2C business, and of course what your business sells, but hopefully these give you food for thought.

Print Newsletters

A lot of businesses and organizations are eliminating the traditional mail-out newsletter because of the expense of printing and postage. These are usually created using desktop publishing programs, and then printed, either in-house or through a professional printer.

Pros

  • People receiving fewer newsletters by mail tend to pay more attention to them when they arrive in the mailbox. Albeit fleeting attention.
  • Because it's a piece of paper, people have to make a decision to throw it away (as opposed to leaving it in their inbox and forgetting about it).
  • Fewer companies in the B2B market use them so they have a novelty factor.

Cons

  • Print newsletters can be expensive, especially if you have a large mailing list.
  • They are not environmentally friendly. This may be a consideration depending on your audience.
  • Even though print costs are becoming increasingly competitive, and large quantities can be printed economically, the cost of postage can be prohibitive.
  • Developing a print newsletter can be more work as eNewsletters can be systemized at the back-end allowing some of the work to be automated.

Conclusion

Newsletters can be time-consuming to produce. After all, who has the time to write or collect the material that goes into them each month or quarter? They can however, be a great marketing tool, so don't dismiss the idea just because you don't have time to do it yourself. Here are a few ideas that might help you make it happen.

  1. Hire someone to write it for you, or a company to write, produce and even distribute it for you. This can be less expensive than it sounds. Freelance writers are always looking for opportunities to write, and they can do it far more quickly than you could, so it doesn't have to cost a fortune.
  2. Check out online content providers - you can actually purchase articles in the same way you buy photographs from a stock library.
  3. Do a survey of your staff. There may be someone who's a closet writer, and who would love the opportunity to get creative with your company newsletter.
  4. Hire someone to design a template. This reduces the amount of work it takes to create each issue. Take advantage of freelance graphic designers in your area or see if any of your employees have the prerequisite skills.
  5. Use newsletters to update your customers/clients/staff on things that are happening within your company, special promotions or sales, articles, interesting and useful industry information, humorous quotes, company achievements (awards, industry recognition), sales targets, staff achievements - it's only limited by your imagination.

Newsletters can cover a lot of marketing ground and you can pack a big punch with every issue. Remember, clean and uncluttered draws people in, and relevant and interesting keeps them reading. A word of warning, once you commit to producing a newsletter keep up with it, whether that's weekly, monthly, quarterly it doesn't matter - but don't let it die on the vine. That will send the wrong message to those customers, or staff, who enjoy receiving it regularly.

If you're not already doing a newsletter, consider adding it to your marketing strategy. It's one more way to keep your company "top of mind" with your customers.

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Moose Jaw & District Chamber of Commerce
88 Saskatchewan St. E, Moose Jaw, SK, S6H 0V4
T: 306.692.6414 F: 306.694.6463
chamber@mjchamber.com
www.mjchamber.com

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