Business Growth
Min Read

Empowered Workforces Empower your Business

Employee behaviour and expectation has changed drastically over the past couple of years. Are you investing in them, empowering them and keeping up with your retention strategies?

As a life coach, much of my time is spent discussing my clients personal goals. For many entrepreneurs, levelling up a business is a very important goal. Inevitably our conversations turn to scaling, marketing, and advertising – and why not? These are all integral pillars of any thriving business. However, the list is missing an important line item: the human element. I’m talking, of course, about personal goals.

In the current climate, employees are empowered to make decisions about who they choose to work for. Thus, fostering a comfortable and welcoming work environment is crucial for realizing the long-term successes that may come from a consistent, motivated workforce. All businesses are relational, and I strongly suggest that once you’ve combed through your KPIs, CTRs, follows, and email campaigns—once you’re confident in your relationship with your customers—you ask yourself, “how is my relationship with my employees?”

A great place to start when it comes to taking the temperature of your company’s culture are with these four questions:

1) How well do you retain employees?

In today’s labour market, approximately 69% of workers are passively looking for a new job. This means it is incredibly important to not take your employees for granted. It’s crucial to ensure you’re giving everyone a good reason to stay. Once you’ve hired your ideal candidate for any given job, how do you make them want to stay for the long haul? Do you offer trust and responsibility? Respect? Profit sharing? Recognition? Benefits? Time off? Do you offer clear paths to advancement, along with frequent appreciation? Are your long-term team members being promoted? These are all great ways to keep your team motivated, and hand them the schematics for shared success. Once you’ve implemented some of these strategies (if you aren’t already using them), pacing work, checking in with employees you know have experienced increased workflow, and taking pulse surveys are all ways to see how these efforts are paying off.

2) How do you address feelings of burnout?

Every business environment has its moments of stress and burnout. For example, the Holiday season is always going to be overwhelming for retail workers, no matter how well prepared they may be. Similarly, Valentine’s Day will always be a chaotic weekend in the restaurant industry. A simple question to ask yourself is, “What systems do I have in place to address burnout?” Fostering trust in the workplace, and giving your employees a trustworthy place to put their concerns, can greatly expedite recovery. Do you have a feedback system in place? When workers speak out, do they feel supported? Do you have supports in place to reach out when someone falls behind? A little bit of checking in can go a long way toward keeping burnout in check.

3) Is there diverse representation at all levels of your company?

Today’s employees want to feel included, seen, and heard. Fostering diversity and inclusivity at all levels of your business should be a driving force at the forefront of your company’s growth strategy. If employees don’t see themselves at higher levels, they may decide not to stick around. Plus, companies with better representation throughout their corporate structure enjoy better overall performance.

  • 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.1
  • 78% of employees who responded to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study said they work at organizations that lack diversity in leadership positions.2
  • Higher representation of women in C-suite level positions results in 34% greater returns to shareholders.3

If your company doesn’t yet have a clear mission statement around Diversity and Inclusion, it’s time to make it a priority. Make sure you’re addressing employee resource gaps and always work to foster a safe, trusting environment where employees feel heard.

4) Do your employees have a good work life balance?

Have you heard the term “work-life balance” a zillion times this past year? Yup. Me too. BUT, it’s necessary that we talk about it. Not only does too much work without any play and rest lead to burnout (remember question #2?), but it’s a key driver in employees actively looking for another job.

As a leader, it’s important that you book one-on-one time with employees to have meaningful check-ins about how they’re doing—not just how their work is coming along, but how they are, outside of work. Fostering a sense of belonging through creative benefits (an afternoon watercolour lesson in the office, or an outing to see a sports game) and work retreats can help to balance out particularly busy weeks and create space for fun and relaxation.

The right questions get the best results

Employee appreciation and retention is an ongoing endeavour, and it isn’t always easy to square your employees’ needs with the immediate needs of your company. However, a little bit of investment in workforce retention will pay dividends in the long run as your employees start to feel ownership over your goals. If you keep the four questions I’ve outlined above in mind, then you’re off to a great start. This just might be the beginning of a beautiful, and lucrative, friendship.


About Raia “Coach” Carey:

As a 3x Certified Life Coach, motivational speaker and a trusted DHL wellness partner, I'm passionate about encouraging others to tap into the confidence they never knew they had. After overcoming various hardships professionally and personally, I was able to transform my mindset and begin a career that empowers others to do the same. By openly sharing my triumphs and tribulations, my vulnerability helps foster a welcoming and safe environment in every room I enter and every person and business I speak to. I strive to inspire and lead those around me by providing unwavering support, guidance, and motivation. By equipping you with tangible tools to implement in your daily life immediately - both personally and professionally - I will steer you towards self-awareness, resilience, and sustainable success.

Learn more about Coach Carey at or on Instagram at @coach.carey



Business coach Kelsey Reidl tips for small business marketing
Business Growth
Min Read
Top 5 Tips for Small Business Marketing Success

If you’re feeling stuck when it comes to growing your small business and reaching more customers, I just want you to know you're not alone.

Every small business goes through their ups and downs and faces their unique challenges, but it's how we respond during those tough times that really matters.

Uncertainty, anxiety and moments of feeling ‘stuck’ can be a great opportunity to take stock of your business and make changes that will help you grow and move out of your current rut.

Here are 5 tips for getting out of your funk when things get hard in the small-business world:

1. Tell your story, share the ‘why’ behind your business and bring your customers behind-the-scenes.

Having a personal connection is one of the most important factors in building customer loyalty and fostering relationships, so don't be afraid to let your guard down and share some of your personality with the world. It could be the key to success for your small business.The key is authenticity — especially in this day and age.

Some ideas on how you can do this include:

  • Sharing the story of why you do what you do on podcasts, social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.), blog posts or other relevant forums.
  • Document the behind-the-scenes of a real day in the life of running your business. Your customers will find it relatable and interesting to see you in your element
  • Update the “about us” section of your website to include points of connection and to harness the emotions of your readers. Dig deep and share who you are and why you started your business.

2. Pay attention to current events, relevant themes and ongoing conversations occurring around Canada and the world, and consider how you can align your product or service against them.

Whether it’s going through your Twitter feed before you start the day, listening to daily news recap podcasts in the morning, or having a subscription to a newspaper, it's important for small business owners to keep an ear to the ground. Not only will this help you understand what's happening in your industry and the global market, but it can also help you position your business against them.

For example, if there's a global event like The Olympics happening, consider showcasing some of the products or services that relate to peak performance, training or preparing for such a big event.

Or, if there's an upcoming holiday like Valentine's Day, consider which of your products or services are giftable.

Keep your eyes open and stay ahead of the game — it could mean all the difference for your business.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies, while doubling down on the ones that are already effective.

If you’re not seeing the growth you're hoping for this year, it might be time to experiment with new marketing and business strategies.

Don’t be afraid to fail forward. Even if a new initiative you put into place doesn’t give you the results you were hoping for, at least you’ll have learned that much more about your business (and what does and doesn't work).

As many businesses — large and small — have invested more in their digital offerings, consider following suit with more online marketing tools, like posting TikTok videos, writing weekly blogs or creating content for your Facebook group.

Or maybe there’s an opportunity to experiment with in-person workshops, partnerships with other local businesses or writing a column in a local newspaper. You will never know what the magic formula is until you begin experimenting. There might be something that massively increases awareness of your business that you haven’t even considered yet.

Start with a brainstorm and don't be afraid to take a risk or three. Your small business will thank you.

4. Use The Relationships Matrix™  to explore new connections.

Using this matrix, finding leads and exploring partnership opportunities becomes less worrisome and much easier to do.

It’s like looking through a microscope at all of your business growth leads — one where all of your prospects are made visible right in front of you. Here’s a visual of what The Relationships Matrix™ looks like:

You’re simply exploring potential:

  • Dream clients or customers — people who are likely to shop with you
  • Industry peers — small businesses with complimentary services or adjacent brands who you could cross-promote with
  • Strategic partners — large organizations that could endorse your small business

And you’ll consider each of these categories in terms of Past, Present and Future.

  • Past - who are people from the past that fit this category?
  • Present - who are people that you’re currently connected to that fit this category?
  • Future - who is on your ‘dream connection’ list and where do they hang out?

Download a free template to start filling out The Relationships Matrix™, click here.

5. If you’re still feeling stuck, ask yourself: “When was the last time I had fun with my business?”

Believe it or not, having more fun with your daily tasks can actually help increase productivity and encourage new ideas.

Get silly on your social media, encourage your employees to take a mid-day dance break, and have conversations with customers with the goal of surprising and delighting them.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and infuse more fun and play into your workday to try something different — you may be surprised at just how successful you can be by increasing the joy-factor in what you’re already doing.

When your business is stuck or stagnant for too long, it can feel like there’s no way out.

But if we take a step back and assess our current situation objectively, we may find that these tough times are an opportunity for change, to make positive changes, and get on track again.

Be sure to connect with me on Instagram @kelseyreidl and let me know which strategy was the most helpful to you and your business.


About The Author

After a decade of working with some of Canada’s top food brands, Kelsey is now the founder of Visionary, Inc., where she provides clarity and easy-to-follow frameworks for those who are looking to take an entrepreneurial leap in their own life.

Her signature weekly business coaching mastermind called The Visionary Method™ is a place for motivated, driven & growth-minded individuals to receive expert mentorship while they launch their next side hustle or business.

Kelsey also hosts a Top Podcast on the Canadian Entrepreneurship Charts called Visionary Life. In each episode, she chats with online business owners, brand builders, marketers and entrepreneurs to dissect their success and their wisdom.

Kelsey lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and rescue pup, Abby.

Nancy Mac talks about how her immigrant parents and Asian Heritage helped shape her and her small business.
Business Growth
Min Read
Asian Heritage Month: How a Small Business Came to be with Immigrant Values

Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian-Canadians who have made Canada into the country we know and love.

As a child of Vietnamese immigrants, and a small business owner, I’m celebrating this month by sharing my personal story of growing up with my parents, how my experiences have shaped who I am, and how my business, Freon Collective came to be.

Freon Collective is a low-waste, eco-friendly lifestyle brand that I started in early 2019. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than a hobby (you’ll come to learn that I have too many hobbies). I approached Freon Collective as a hobby, but my parents always instilled the value of hard work in me. With that thought in mind, that’s how I’ve grown it to be the nationwide brand it is today.

At 18 years old, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, my mom left her family, her country, and all she had ever known. She fled Vietnam alongside hundreds of thousands of people between the 1970s and 1990s in a mass migration known as The Boat People. These vessels were small, cramped, and there were constant threats of starvation, sinking, pirates, and more. When she reached Malaysia, where she was reunited with my uncle (who had made the same journey earlier), she met my dad and eventually had me.

During this time, my parents went through many struggles while they were seeking resettlement in more developed countries. They were separated for a year and a half when my mom left for Canada with a six-month-old-me in her arms. She worked day and night jobs to support the both of us and raised enough funds to sponsor my dad to come to Canada.

As immigrant parents who did not want their child to go through the same struggles they did, my parents actively encouraged a more traditionally “safe” route: focus on academics with the hopes it would lead to a stable career. Despite this push, they never discouraged my creative pursuits. When I was interested in learning piano and violin, they worked music lessons into the family budget. When I became interested in photography, they purchased a camera for me for my birthday. When I eventually became interested in sewing and design, they helped me buy a sewing machine — so long as I continued to pursue academics — they were content knowing I was also taking sewing courses in high school.

When it was time to choose a post-secondary option, I knew I wanted to study fashion and design. My parents were never able to receive higher education — I would be the first in the family to go to university. They wanted to support me, but naturally, my parents had reservations. Likely because I would have to move across Canada and my choice was so different from what they had in mind. After all, what kind of jobs would there be in the fashion industry, besides the obvious one of fashion designer? Still, I was determined and I packed my bags and moved across the country to attend fashion school.

While I was studying for my undergrad, I worked part-time as a sewing instructor at a local business in Toronto. My mom worked actively to support me, even though she had doubts about my career choice. At this point in her life, she had gotten her GED, worked several jobs from hotel housekeeping to factory jobs, serving, and eventually becoming a nail technician and opening her own nail salon. As soon as I graduated, I landed a job with a local children’s clothing brand, where I honed my sewing skills and continued to work as a sewing instructor on the weekends.

As if a full and part-time job wasn’t enough, I started a lifestyle and beauty blog on the side. This began as a creative outlet for me to continue my photography and writing passions, but it eventually became a third job. I would wake up in the morning and edit photos, write posts, and then do the same in the evenings after work. When my blog gained more traffic, I started attending events, growing my network, and learning more about the marketing and advertising world. Like my parents who had worked several jobs when they started their lives in Canada, I found myself doing the same.

A major hurdle (and blessing in disguise) came when I was just two years out of my undergrad. The clothing manufacturer I had been working for was going out of business. Despite still having my part-time teaching position and blog, I had no idea what I was going to be doing next. I felt like I had failed — a fear that many children of immigrants know all too well. I thought, “I should have listened to my parents.” After all, my parents worked day and night when they were reunited in Canada to support their families back in Vietnam. Like most immigrants, they didn’t have safety nets to fall back on in times of crisis. It was common for my parents to take the overtime shifts, working twice as hard to counterbalance their language deficiencies. They saved every penny to buy their first house, bring my mom’s family over, and provide a comfortable life for myself and my siblings. They worked so hard to give me a life where I wouldn’t have to worry, and here I was, practically going to be jobless in a few weeks.

When my parents came to Canada, they took any opportunities that came to them and never said no. They knew that nothing was going to be handed to them in this white-dominated country and lived with a mindset of work and survival. I witnessed this firsthand, so when the opportunity came up for me to take over the manufacturing side of the company I was working for, I decided to go for it. After that company closed, I moved everything I would need into my 500 square feet condo and opened Freon Collective. I was now self-employed and starting a business with no formal business background.

Freon Collective began as a small-batch production company. I would work with other businesses to sew their products, produce patterns, design samples, and more. A few months into this, I started Freon Collective’s in-house brand. I made a few sets of reusable cotton rounds, opened an Etsy shop and was completely blown away when they sold out within the first few hours.

The colleagues I had met in the blogging industry were incredibly supportive and instrumental in helping Freon Collective grow in those first few months. Before long, I found myself taking product shots by day and editing photos by night. I was sewing every day, shipping out orders, fulfilling wholesale accounts, and participating in my first local markets. You could say all of the creative pursuits (photography, writing, sewing, etc) that I had when I was younger came full circle.

When I started Freon Collective, I had no idea this brand would become what it is today. Let’s be honest, running a business is hard. It’s unstable at times, it’s 10x more work than anyone thinks it is, and you — yourself — are responsible for all of the decisions. As overwhelming as the past few years have been since opening a small business though, I know this is where I was meant to end up after all.

As I reflect on Asian Heritage Month, I can see the parallels between my mom’s life and mine. When we were both 18 years old, we left our families and hometown. We worked, went to school, and eventually opened our own businesses. My mom worked to support her family, and as I’ve grown older, I find myself wanting to work to continue my parents’ Canadian dream. I want to make my parents proud, and for them to know that everything they’ve done to come to Canada and build a life here wasn’t in vain.

If you’d like to learn more about Asian Heritage Month and Vietnamese Boat People, please visit the following resources:


About the Author:

Nancy Mac is the owner of Freon Collective, a Toronto-based low-waste lifestyle brand. She is passionate about design, sustainability, and supporting local businesses. Her products have been featured in several publications including Chatelaine, Buzzfeed, and Who What Wear.

Learn more about Nancy and Freon Collective at and @freoncollective

Jordan Sook talks logistics planning in business and taking everything into consideration
Business Growth
Min Read
The Art of Logistics

It’s March 18th and the pink sky dances as the sun is coming down on a cold Orangeville, Ontario evening. We’ve been working all day; I’m tired, hungry and trying to calculate how many hours of sunlight I have left before the night creeps in. We’re in the middle of the forest, loading sections of a large-scale sculpture that’ll be exhibited in Union Station in a matter of days.

It’s by far my largest project that I have been working on out of a friend's garage and workshop on a large property. I stare at the tree line in the distance then turn my sight towards the workshop behind me. My technician, looking just as tired as me, looks down at a series of prefabricated wooden modules. I inhale then exhale deeply, I can see my breath.

“How long are the modules again?” I ask.

“Fourteen feet,” he responds.

“And how long is the truck again?”

“Thirteen feet.”

So why don’t the modules fit? I went over all the details and looked at the specs of the truck and there it was hidden in plain sight. 13 feet box, 2 feet mothers cabin. Right then and there, I learned the mothers cabin is the area above a truck’s cabin head. Now how are we going to get this to Toronto? How could we make such a mistake? With the sun setting and time winding down, I began to think of the mess I was in when it suddenly dawned on me: we are not in the art business, we are in the logistics business.

This was a monumental artistic undertaking, literally.  Just two months before (working on this same project), my studio coordinator daringly placed an order for 2400 train porter hats to come in from Albany, New York. Seemingly a bizarre order, the supplier initially didn’t respond because they thought a prank was being pulled on them, like we were phoning in a fake pizza delivery. We communicated that the order was time sensitive and that a lot was depending on their timeliness. Staring down the barrel of the COVID-19 lockdown and unforeseen border restrictions, I waited 9 long days with minimal to no response from the supplier or the shipping company. It was torture. I felt like my work was in jeopardy and more importantly that I was about to let people down.

I woke up with calls and emails from curators and coordinators inquiring on status updates, and I relayed any worthwhile information I had. Yet, just as it appeared all hope was lost, a phone call from a soft spoken employee confirming my order let me sleep easy for the first time in a week.

So what could be learned from all this? Do all great artists and their studios have to go through this or was this just the problem of an emerging artist? I did some research and the answer was simple. It’s a universal issue.

Crating, packaging, shipping and warehousing are the key logistical considerations for any artist or creator to consider after the creation of something. There’s a harmonious balance of things that have to go right to complete a project, and through a few crash courses, I can now list the most important things you can do to help you avoid some pitfalls:

  1. Identify your timeline then cut it down by 1/4: Of course, you need to know the hard deadlines of your deliverables, but if you plan to have it done early, you’ll be better off. Something is bound to go wrong, so you need to have the cushion to make sure you can deliver on time. Look at it like you’re setting your clock 10 minutes ahead.
  2. Measure twice order once: When dealing with any physical product, knowing your dimensions are critical. In the case of logistics: time, space and weight is money. Know exactly what you need to transport your product, or you risk overpaying for it in the long run.
  3. Proper packaging matters: Spend the extra money if you have to, but nothing matters more than what you are seeking to deliver. You owe it to yourself and those you work with that everything arrives as expected. Don’t let your hard work go to waste.
  4. Communication is key: It’s all about the relationship you develop with the team handling your logistics. They understand deadlines and communicating your specific needs will allow them to make suggestions that’ll help you deliver your work. If you keep the lines of communication open, they will be more open and accountable to you. Treat them well and they will treat you well.
  5. You need experience and professionalism: Everyone has an uncle or cousin that can help them deliver on a job. You have to remember that your logistics team (big or small) is an extension of your work and your business. It's important that you find professionals who treat it as such.
  6. Research: Make sure you thoroughly do your research on who's handling your work. Make sure they have the resources and necessary equipment to handle your order. Not all companies are created equal.
  7. Follow Up: Keep track of your work and inventory on what has been delivered. If you’re not meeting the work being delivered at the location, ask for a quality check. Anything with your name on it is a representation of you.

Back to the modulars that were too large to fit into the truck, it turns out fitting them on an angle was the only option. I learned then that it’s equally as important to be as creative in your solutions as you are in your professional practice. Delivering your work is like conducting an orchestra, and you alone are the conductor waving your baton around. The secret to having a beautiful symphony is having the right musicians that can deliver your work the way you want it.


About the Author

Jordan Sook is a contemporary mixed media artist who works and resides in Toronto, Canada. Beginning his artistic career in 2015, he has since exhibited work throughout Canada in various shows, notably Union Station, Toronto (2021), Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver (2020) and The MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie (2017). His body of work ranges from acrylic paintings to sculptures and installations of recontextualized themes in pop culture. Sook’s distinctive personal style emanates youth and playfulness through colour, line, and form. His body of work invites us to view the world from a subjective innocence, as we experience a recollection of joyfulness and optimism relating to human infancy. Sook looks to change the landscape of Canadian art and broaden the framework and understanding of Black art as a whole.

Sook’s latest installation titled Harvest (2021) was held at the Toronto Media Arts Centre. The work explores sustainable placemaking, representation, and the future of media arts and technology among the creative space.

Learn more about Jordan Sook on Instagram at @jordansook

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