Small Business

it all starts here

Starting a small business isn't easy but with business solutions right at your fingertips, you don't have to worry about missing any steps.

Don't know where to start? Use our small business strategy to save time and take the Business Solver Quiz to find out what modules will help you the most based on your business' current challenges.


  • Is There a Need?
  • What's the Right Business Model?
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Who Is Your Target Market?
  • Competitive Edge
  • Choosing Revenue Streams
  • Creating Your Vision
  • Creating a Business Name
  • Networking for a Difference
  • Getting a Mentor
  • Getting the Most out of a Mentor
  • Full Offering
  • What Should I Spend Money On
  • Picking a Target Market
  • Figuring Out Price
  • Short Term Goals
  • Cash Flow
  • Do You Need Investors
  • Action Plan
  • 1 Page Business Plan
  • Find Good Suppliers & Partners
  • Contracts for Investors
  • Likeability
  • Credibility
  • Visibility
  • What To Do Today
  • Minute Marketing Plan
  • 30-Second Pitch
  • Finding My First Customer
  • Standing Up For Yourself
  • Negotiating
  • Dealing with Competition
  • Time Management
  • Tax Tips
  • Customs
  • Regulation
  • How To Structure a Business
  • Customer Wow
  • Cold Calling
  • Projecting Sales
  • Get Cash Into Your Business
  • Keep Cash In Your Business
  • Business Development
  • Increasing Your Price
  • Business to Business Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Customer Wow
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Assumptions
  • Risk Analysis
  • Risk Solution Planning
  • Figure Out When To Stop



Here is a list of all the available documents listed from above


Please select the documents you wish to download*

*Membership Required


1 Page Business Plan thumbnail

1 Page Business Plan

The first sale is often the hardest because it is just that: your first. Each business should cater to a different customer and offer different benefits. Even if you have a proven sales track record in the past you're going to need to customize your pitch




30-Second Pitch thumbnail

30-Second Pitch

A 30-second pitch about your business is one of the most effective marketing tools you can have at you disposal. It's like your own personal commercial. Even better, it takes little time to create and it's absolutely free. It's your opportunity to tell potential customers about yourself, your business, and ultimately why they should buy from you. In your 30-second pitch, there's some key information you need to get across but you also need to be memorable. Your pitch has to speak to the listener, and it has to sound natural. This takes practice and rehearsal. You'll use this pitch at networking events when you meet new contacts, whether they be potential partners, suppliers, financers or customers. You'll use it in your various marketing materials. And you'll use it to tell friends and family what you're up to (so they can refer business to you). The model presented here can help you if you're having trouble getting the right message out, and if getting that message out improves your chances for better business.




Action Plan thumbnail

Action Plan

Move forward. That's the key and the difference between successful entrepreneurs and unsuccessful ones. An entrepreneur should be strategic, but should also be focused on tasks. Doing this at the same time can be very difficult. This module will help you organize your strategy and execute it.




Assumptions thumbnail


You are sure that a new product or service will work. But have you neglected any underlying assumptions. If you think that there is a huge need for a hairdresser, but everyone in a town cuts their own hair - the assumption that they'd prefer to go to a hairdresser has to be double checked. It would be awful to invest time and money in something that just isn't true. This model makes you think about your business in a different light to double check and also to prevent yourself from thinking that the idea will make millions when thousands is more realistic.




B2B Marketing thumbnail

B2B Marketing

Business to business (B2B) means any business where the next customer is another business rather than an everyday person (consumer). A good example would be how Teflon sells to clothing manufacturers rather than the customer who is purchasing the clothing itself. B2B is a huge part of the economy although business to consumer (B2C) is the most well known type of business out there. Marketing for B2B is different than B2C because you are focused on developing a relationship with the other business rather than trying to get noticed by consumers through advertising. The following marketing model can be used for any business that serves a B2B market or wishes to pump up their sales.




Business Development thumbnail

Business Development

How do you decide where to move forward? How do you use partnerships to grow your customer base or improve your product or service? Business development is really any practice in your business that is focused on strategically improving upon what you are doing. This is for all small businesses who wish to grow and create a family empire.




Cash Flow thumbnail

Cash Flow

Cash is king especially when it comes to small businesses that rarely have the credit line or bailout investors lined up to help them when times are rough. Maintaining a good cash flow management process means tracking how much cash is moving in and out of the business. It can be as simple as watching your bank account balance to being as complicated as figuring out a 12-month projection. Cash flow management is important as there comes a time in everyone's business when they are close to the red line. Without a good understanding of the cash flow situation, it is difficult for a company to make decisions about investments and committing to partners, suppliers, and customers. Use the following model as a basic concept surrounding cash management planning.




Choosing Revenue Streams thumbnail

Choosing Revenue Streams

All businesses have one common driving factor and that is to stay liquid. For small businesses it is the do or die for the company; make enough money to last from month to month or shut down the business. In order to achieve this, most businesses develop multiple revenue streams. Logically, any business owner will tell you to spend your time on the activities that make the most money. So how do you figure out which revenue streams are the most lucrative? The next model will guide you on how to make all of your revenue streams comparable so that you can objectively analyze which revenue streams you should focus your attention on.




Cold Calling thumbnail

Cold Calling

If you dread cold calling, you're not alone. There are plenty of sales people and entrepreneurs in the same boat. It can be intimidating and not particularly fun, but it's often a very important part of business. Picking up the phone is the first step in letting potential customers know about you. The term cold calling means telephoning someone you've never spoken to in the past and hoping they'll listen to you tell them about your business. Ideally, you're hoping to create an opportunity. Cold calling is a widely used practice between businesses, which often don't receive much direct advertising. Cold calling is an extremely common method for targeting other businesses. If the idea of cold calling makes you want to hide under the covers, this model is for you. It'll help you reach beyond your current network of contacts for possible sales. Cold calling will help you increase your customer base and assist with business-to-business selling.




Competitive Analysis thumbnail

Competitive Analysis

If you are reading this now, then you are probably a business owner who has been in the business for a while and needs to reassess your competition. You could be trying to brand your product and need to gather foundational information in order to make a good decision. Finally you might be just entering the market and want to determine whether your business has a chance to succeed. It is important not to get blindsided by competition you were not prepared for. For instance,music stores did not account for online music downloads and quickly lost their share of the market due to this. Use the following model to manage your risk and determine your business' advantage by analyzing your competitors.




Competitive Edge thumbnail

Competitive Edge

Identifying your competitive edge is not just for the new business owner entering the market. It's for the company with stiff competition in a maturing market that is losing on its average margin and needing to cater to a niche market. It's for the company with a steep decrease in sales that may have lost its focus and needs to offer a new or stronger competitive edge. It's for any business owner who wants to succeed. So what is a competitive edge? Your competitive edge can be anything that makes your company, product or service different and stand out from your competitors. It is the main reason why you are in business. It is the one thing you offer that is better than what is currently available on the market.




Contracts for Investors thumbnail

Contracts for Investors

If your business does not have enough cash to succeed, you should consider getting investors. Your contract with them will help devise a payment plan on how you are going to expand your business and will allow you to divide how much profit and control you will be sharing with your investors. Contracts are binding so knowing exactly what to expect before negotiating is important for both parties. This model will help you figure out what you want out of a contract, narrow down what you should be watching for when you sign a contract and give you points to think about when designing your own contract.




Creating a Business Name thumbnail

Creating a Business Name

You may ask, "What's in a name?" but for small businesses the answer is plenty. Your business name is the first impression you make on a customer and dictates your brand. Your marketing, logo, brand colours, URL and online presence, product line and side projects will all reflect on your business name and, since it is difficult to change your name, you will want to make sure it works for today and the future. Some companies face the challenge of limiting themselves in their name. For example, a company called Just Computers may lose prospects in the Blackberry market if people think they strictly deal with computers as their name suggests. A bedding company called Canadian Dreams may eventually launch internationally in which case the name no longer describes their business properly. Not putting enough thought into your business name may lead to problems but spending too much time may also become a problem. Every day that you prolong moving forward with your dream is another day that you will have to wait for your first pay cheque. Can you afford this? There comes a time when you just have to take the plunge.




Creating Your Vision thumbnail

Creating Your Vision

Start your business vision with a five year plan because it will ensure you have a driving force and a growth plan in place. Dream big too! Here is the time for you to set not only business goals but values that will be a root for your business. Do you want this to become a family empire? Is this your reason for living? Will your business become a legacy and make a difference in the world? Get inspired and be as creative as you want; this is your vision. Dare to dream.




Credibility thumbnail


People do business with people they trust. How does this happen? Reduce your customer's risk. If they believe that you are capable of doing what you say you can, then you have reduced their risk in choosing you. This is especially important for a new business who doesn't have the extensive customer list, company history, or the infrastructure. Build credibility by the other means that you have at your finger tips, and sales will increase.




Customer Wow thumbnail

Customer Wow

Some companies have absolutely fanatical customers. Their customers are fiercely loyal and sometimes would prefer to go without if their brand isn't available. A good example is Coca-Cola. The customer who refuses to drink Pepsi in a restaurant because they prefer Coke is a perfect example. You need to make your customers absolutely adore you. But how? What is "Customer Wow"? Wowing your customers means going above and beyond what your customers expect. It means doing things to please and delight them. Customers you wow are more likely to rave about you to friends and family and more likely to be repeat customers, or try your other products/services. This model is ideal for anyone who has a business established and is ready to take their customer base to the next level, for anyone who wants to take a second look at customer interactions and see where they can improve, and for any company looking to build customer loyalty.




Customs thumbnail


Any company that is bringing goods into the country or shipping out of the country has to be worried about customs. There is a lot of extra paperwork and costs involved, including the amount of time that needs to be invested in learning. Here are the key components and venues to move forward all in one spot ( Move forward!




Dealing with Competition thumbnail

Dealing with Competition

If you are just starting up a business and going after an existing market or are a company trying to penetrate an existing market with a new solution, you will need to understand how to deal with your competition. Learn how to maintain a positive relationship with a competing company through the various stages of your business' growth such as when your business is insignificant, when it starts gaining market share and when it appears on everyone else's radar. Your competition is any business whose sales you could potentially take away. This model will help prepare you for meeting your competition either through customers, suppliers, industrial relations or in person.




Do You Need Investors thumbnail

Do You Need Investors

Does your business need investors? Generally, entrepreneurs do not want to report to others, which is why they started their own business to begin with. Yet simply refusing to find investors is not a smart strategy for your business. On the other hand, being able to recognize when you need investors is smart and will take your company further.




Figure Out When To Stop thumbnail

Figure Out When To Stop

Shutting down a business is the last thing a small business owner wants to think about when they start out. However, if you go too far without taking a bit of time to reflect on whether or not the business is meeting your expectations you may find yourself in a bad situation. Make sure that you get out while you are ahead, and stop yourself from a bad experience. This module helps you objectively look at when you should stop and how to get out of a business.




Figuring Out Price thumbnail

Figuring Out Price

Price is the amount of money, time and other resources your customer has to invest in order to gain a benefit from your product or service. Choosing a price to charge is extremely difficult as there are many factors to consider. You want to offer value to your customers while still making enough for yourself. If you price too high, your customers may not think that your product or service is worth that amount and you might price yourself out of the market share. If you price too low, your product or service may not be perceived as good quality and you could be walking away from a significant profit. Once your price has been established it may be hard to change it unless you have set that as an expectation for your customer. Be sure your client knows that your pricing is confidential because if one customer finds out that you are charging a lower price for another, they may feel they deserve the same treatment as that is what your product or service is "worth." The following model is for business owners that don't know what to charge their clients or those looking to introduce a new product or service to their existing business. You can also use this model to take a second look at your current pricing strategy.




Find Good Suppliers & Partners thumbnail

Find Good Suppliers & Partners

Strategic suppliers and business partners support your business and often make it possible to grow faster, easier, and better than doing it alone. In addition, they have the same goals as you, ensure that your customer is happy. When your customers are happy, your suppliers / partners business will also grow. They are part of your team. So it is important to get some good people on your side and this module will help you find them.




Finding Your First Customer thumbnail

Finding Your First Customer

The first sale is often the hardest because it is just that: your first. Each business should cater to a different customer and offer different benefits. Even if you have a proven sales track record in the past you're going to need to customize your pitch and sales tactics for a new target audience and new product. This takes time to learn and adjust effectively. Use the following model as a simple guide to assess the compatibility between your business and your target market.




Full Offering thumbnail

Full Offering

In this manual you will evaluate your business' full offering, which is a mix of both products and services that you can give to a customer. It is extremely rare that an offering consists of 100 per cent product or 100 per cent service. Most products and services naturally blend together; however, even if they don't the best small business offerings give both tangible and intangible benefits to the customer. Products are, of course, tangible. This could be anything from a stuffed animal to a paperclip. The key is to add valuable services to the product. For example, WebKinz allows children to register their stuffed animals online. They can then play WebKinz games and name their stuffed animals. The online service actually makes the physical product better. Services are intangible but just like products the best services mix the tangible and the intangible. An example would be getting a back massage and then receiving a stick of the incense you smelled during the massage to later remind you of the relaxation that you experienced. A hand written thank you card could give the same effect. The mix of the intangible with the tangible can make a very strong impact and is important because a product or service alone can easily be duplicated. It is the combination of many things that will create a full offering to your customer and will make your company unique. In fact, the more your offering fills your customer's needs, the less likely it is for your customer to go to a competitor.




Get Cash Into Your Business thumbnail

Get Cash Into Your Business

Cash is king. Allowing your customers IOUs can increase the amount of business. If your customers don't pay you, you have just wasted your time and haven't gotten anything out of it. This could be time and ivestments that could have been spent on a customer who can pay. How do you get cash into your business? These are best practices for accounts receivables in good and bad scenarios as well as a model to help you monitor your outstanding payments. This is good for any smal business owner who has experienced a few NSF cheques, is worried about cash flow, or wants to protect themselves.




Getting a Mentor thumbnail

Getting a Mentor

You may be asking why you would need a mentor but the answer is simple. A mentor can save you time by explaining how to do things quickly as they have already encountered the same experiences. They can save you from pitfalls by managing your expectations and giving you proactive plans on how to avoid them. They can help you succeed by finding you customers and contacts. They can give you motivation as you won't want to disappoint them. And the list goes on. Mentors are very valuable to an entrepreneur who is just starting out.




Getting the Most out of a Mentor thumbnail

Getting the Most out of a Mentor

You already know the benefits to having a mentor including learning from their mistakes, leveraging their contacts and motivating yourself by being accountable to them. If you have found a willing mentor, you have won half the battle. The other half is learning how to make the most out of your relationship.




How To Structure a Business thumbnail

How To Structure a Business

What should a business' inner workings look like? When does it make sense to be a sole proprietorship, parternship, LLP, non-profit, or corporation? Who should run a company? These inner workings should be set up for the future growth of the company and this model will help you come up with an action plan surrounding how to structure and transform your business as you grow.




Increasing Price thumbnail

Increasing Price

Most small businesses are unsure of how to properly price their product or service. At the beginning it is even more difficult, as you aren't doing it yet and are anxious to get initial sales which often forces a start-up to reduce their preliminary pricing. But your price is too low if no one complains about the price. So when you realize that you are below the market and not making as much as you want - you will look to increase your price. This cannot often just be changed as customers would feel ripped off as they got it at the lower price point before. This module is the process to help you increase your price.




Is There a Need? thumbnail

Is There a Need?

So you are planning on launching a business because you either tweaked an old product, found a patent, had new technology or features to upgrade a product or service, or just had a brilliant idea. What you need to consider is whether there is a need for your business or not. Think about the customer first because it doesn't matter how great you are if you are not satisfying a customer's need. The success of your business is determined by this very factor.




Keep Cash In Your Business thumbnail

Keep Cash In Your Business

Cash is king. How do you reduce your existing costs? There are strategies to help reduce the amount of outgoing cash and this will increase the chance that your business will be successful. A start-up business that is frugal at the beginning usually has a stronger business model in the long run.




Likeability thumbnail


People do business with people they like. When someone has a choice between doing business with you or with the competition, make sure they chose you. Even in business to business relationships, it is how much the decision maker at the company likes you that often secures a sale. As a new business owner, this module can help to make sure that you are doing the right things to improve your relationships with your customers.




Minute Marketing Plan thumbnail

Minute Marketing Plan

For businesses, marketing and success go hand in hand. If you have a quality product or service you should be marketing it. If your next door neighbour doesn't know you have your own business then you aren't marketing. It's a one time deal either; you need to continuously market your company and products but never lose sight of the fact that a marketing plan is supposed to make you money. A common misconception is that you are throwing money away. You should always be thinking about your return on investment for every marketing dollar. In other words for every dollar you spend you should at least match it in profit (not revenue). Many forget to monitor the return, which could result in a loss if the kind of marketing you are doing is not successful. Catch this sooner than later to minimize your losses.




Negotiating thumbnail


Negotiation occurs when two or more parties come to terms on an agreement. The agreement often results in compromise with some give and take from both parties until they are satisfied with the arrangement. Likely, the two parties have conflicting goals and a compromise is necessary for both of them to benefit. The best way to look at negotiation is to settle on an agreement where both parties are significantly better than without an agreement. Everyone can benefit from learning how to negotiate. Business owners specifically will benefit from gaining negotiation skills as they will be dealing with customers, suppliers, employees and partners. Whether or not you make money, and how much money you make is largely related to negotiating. In fact, in many instances you don't close the sale without good negotiation skills. For an entrepreneur, you will be negotiating costs with your employees and suppliers and price with your customers. No business can run without negotiating power.




Networking for a Difference thumbnail

Networking for a Difference

Networking is a great marketing tool that helps to establish or solidify business relationships. However, simply attending every networking event possible is not going to do you any good if you don't have a strategy behind it. Your strategy will save you time and money by cutting down on how many networking events you attend but making the most out of the ones you do go to.




Projecting Sales thumbnail

Projecting Sales

Many entrepreneurs leave projecting sales as one of their last steps before writing a business plan or even after they have already started the business. However, it is in good practice to figure out whether there is a market for your business prior to starting up.




Regulations thumbnail


The government impacts business tremendously. One regulation or new license requirement can dramatically change how a business operates. Make sure that you know about the key pieces up front about stucturing your business, overview of tax time, and things that you just can't do. See the following webpage for all your updated answers for the Canadian government:




Risk Analysis thumbnail

Risk Analysis

What is out there that could affect your business? A risk analysis is a way to keep track of what is happening with competitors, government, technology, and other fast changing variables. By continuing to monitor these aspects as a small business owner, you can protect yourself as well as seize opportunities that arise very quickly. Both are important reasons to do a risk analysis regularly.




Risk Planning thumbnail

Risk Planning

How are you going to handle potential risks that could impact your business? You need a plan to handle these and your plan should be ready to implement at the point in time that it becomes necessary. Do not be caught unawares. This modules helps you highlight your risks, prioritize them, and strategic plan to mitigate them.




Selecting a Target Market thumbnail

Selecting a Target Market

Which types of customers should you be trying to attract to your business? Where should you be focusing your marketing and advertising? Which groups should you pursue? If you believe your product or service is good for everyone, your business is more than likely to fail. You need a specific target market. Saying that your product or service is good for everyone, actually means that it's perfect for no one. You haven't customized your offering to be ideal for anyone. Your customers' demands are all different, but customers who share certain things in common will have similar demands. If you meet this groups needs more completely, they're more likely to buy from you and less likely to leave you for a competitor. You need to decide which group(s) to focus on. Choosing a target market means deciding which type of customer to pursue. That's not to say you won't take money from customers who don't fall into this group. It just means you aren't actively seeking these customers. If you need help determining which type of customer to target, or you're interested in capturing a niche market, this module is for you. It can also help you to create customer loyalty and to shut out the competition through product/service customization.




SEO thumbnail


SEO is a mysterious term thrown around by computer programmers, web designers and marketing gurus. But what is it exactly? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It simply means doing everything possible to get the attention of Internet search engines like Google or Yahoo. The more attention your website gets from search engines, the higher it will rank in search results when potential customers search online for your business, products or services. You want your website to rank higher than the competition. The challenge is that the online environment changes quickly and as larger technically savvy companies compete online, achieving a higher ranking becomes more complicated. This model will be helpful for anyone contemplating a website to promote their business, anyone looking to improve their existing business website, or anyone who has a business website and relies heavily on online traffic.




Short Term Goals thumbnail

Short Term Goals

Setting short term goals is a good idea as a business owner if you need to motivate yourself and your team. Short term goals lead to achieving long term goals. Instead of looking at the overwhelming final project, you're breaking it down into small steps that seem less daunting. Each small win brings you that much closer to your vision and that much closer to running a successful business.




Social Media thumbnail

Social Media

Social media is everywhere and everyone is talking about how this can be used (and revolutionary) for business. However, it is not for everyone. It is for businesses whose target customers also use social networks regularly and it is for businesses who have the time to do this properly. So how does this all work? Figure out if your product or service could use social networking and some of the best ways to go about this.




Standing Up For Yourself thumbnail

Standing Up For Yourself

If you don't stand up for you business, no one else will. The first step is standing up for yourself. Business is business. Most people you do business with will like you and vice versa, but it is important to have things in writing, don't give too much away, and in general make sure that your business stays true to your values. This module is good for anyone first starting out who is overly generous, hasn't been in business before, or just is worried about being taken advantage of.




Tax Tips thumbnail

Tax Tips

There are many different types of tax that an entrepreneur has to understand. Mostly they don't have time for sorting through all of the tax details - so this module highlights the Canadian tax deductions that all small business owners should know about and how to record them. As long as you start collecting this information upfront, you can ensure that when tax season comes along, that you are prepared and able to minimize how much you owe.




Time Management thumbnail

Time Management

If you are always busy, but never seem to move forward. This module makes you take a look at your day, all the work you do, and it helps you restructure your daily tasks to become more efficient. Time management skills will help you get more done in a day.




Visibility thumbnail


People do business with people they know. If someone doesn't know that your business exists or what your business does, they will not buy from you. So how do you make sure that the right potential customers hear about you? Wait for word of mouth? Absolutely not! You need to actively promote yourself and your business. Where do you start? This model is for a new business who wants to get the word out about what they do, or an existing business that realizes that they don't have as many new potential customers as they'd like. It is time to focus on visibility in your company.




What Should I Spend Money On? thumbnail

What Should I Spend Money On?

Money: while you cannot underestimate its power you must acknowledge what a strong hold it has on your company and your decisions. If you run out of cash, you are out of business. It can negatively affect your work/life balance by controlling you. It can also positively affect your way of life if you become successful. Knowing how to manage you money is just as important as making it as this next model will show you.




What To Do Today thumbnail

What To Do Today

Every single day seems to be jam packed full of things to do for a small business owner. Most small business owners are responsible for cleaning the bathroom, checking the books, and performing all of the sales. What to start with? How to plan a day? This model will help you categorize and prioritize what you have to get done in a day and is good for every small business owner who feels like there just isn't enough time in the day.




What's the Right Business Model? thumbnail

What's the Right Business Model?

Everyone wants to sell directly to the final customer. We are used to seeing consumer packaged goods companies do this, and we are familiar with all of their advertising. We understand this business model, so we think that that is the only way to proceed. But this is not the only business model. And in many instances it is not the best business model. This module is for small business owners who know they have a great idea, but don't know the best way to sell it. You could be an existing company who is looking to expand how they are delivering their current product or service, and changing the business model may allow for growth. Either way, this module will outline the options and help you decide which way to move forward.




Who Is Your Target Market? thumbnail

Who Is Your Target Market?

Who is your customer? It is very common to think that your target market is everyone. Just because you have a great product or service that a lot of people could use, it doesn't mean that you should go after all of these customers. Going after a target market can make better use of your marketing budget and makes your product or service meet their needs better. Unfortunately, the traditional way of using demographics is not enough. You need to expand upon this description of your target market to realize these benefits. This module will help you draw a clearer picture of your customer - allowing you to grow sales the right way.






Identify your major roadblocks to getting customers and focus on improving the areas that will get you sales fast



Find out how to get in front of your customers with choosing the best marketing tools using the time and money you have



Access templates and videos., or learn to write your own business plan using our self directed templates.