THE CONTEST IS CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL THAT ENTERED.

Congratulations to our winners:

Setsuna Incense

A new year means new plans, new goals, new nexts. Whatever yours are for your business, we want to help you get there with Discover Your Next.

Whether it’s going global, upping your social media game, or expanding to new locations, our group of mentors is here to help. We’ve partnered with a diverse team of small business experts — a branding strategist, legal expert, business coach, web designer, social media expert, and an e-commerce photographer — get to know them to learn how they can help your business grow.

Meet the Mentors

George Sully standing with his arms crossed.
Business Growth
0
Min Read
The Power of a Network

For entrepreneurs, the road to success looks like a lonely one. But it doesn’t have to be. And to reach your next level, goal — or whatever it is — it’s easier when you’re doing it with those supporting you. For a serial entrepreneur like me, I’ve found that your business is only as strong as the people you work with along the way.

Success is impossible to achieve on your own, and I’m no exception. A lot of people have helped me along the way to help turn Sully & Son Co. into one of Canada’s top premium accessory and footwear brands.

I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about surrounding yourself with the right people, both personally and professionally, and how networking and collaboration has helped me take Sully & Son to its next.

Tip 1:  Strategic Collaboration

Collaborations are an incredibly valuable way of introducing your brand to potential customers in new, unexplored demographics. Finding a brand that shares your values and is working towards the same goals as yours can be a challenge, but if you have a product or service you can stand behind, you’ll draw the attention of potential partners that will be a good fit.

It isn’t easy to find that perfect partner without having a solid grasp of what it is you do best. Find your thing and use it to stand out from the crowd. Because once you do – collaborations can really take your growth to another level.

There’s never a bad time for a brand to try and form a strategic partnership. As long as both parties can fulfill their part equally, there’s no question that it will be a mutually beneficial situation: a true win-win.

Tip 2: Bringing on your brand champions

It’s important when finding people to promote and grow your brand, that they actively want you to succeed as much as you do.

And when it comes to presenting your brand to the world, your brand champions become even more integral. Here are some tips I’ve learned about finding vendors and collaborators to work with to help make my brand shine.

Bloggers/Stylists

When finding the right stylists for your products, try to seek out those with some good credentials. Stylists that have more experience tend to have more access to what we are constantly looking for the most, and that’s exposure. Most importantly, access to the right opportunities can lead to the right personality endorsements.

If you’re working with someone new and on the rise, just make sure you have great chemistry and that their hunger to prove themselves (and ultimately your brand) feels right.

Photographers

There are thousands of talented photographers out there and choosing the right one for you might feel impossible. But that’s where social media can be your best friend. There’re plenty of professional photographers who use specific hashtags – such as #advertisingphotographer or #photoshoot – that could be a good avenue to finding someone you’d like to work with. On the flip side, your social pages are also a great way to showcase the creative vision of your brand to photographers interested in working with you.

Brand Reps

You can’t be multiple places at once, so when you’re able to find someone to carry your water in different markets, it can be a true game changer. Again, it’s about finding the right people who you jive with and get a good sense that they’re actively part of your team. Start by doing your research. You’ll be surprised what you can find online if you actually take the time to look. The fashion landscape is ever changing and so are the reps that are constantly looking for new product!

Press & PR

There are lots of ways to hustle and get your name out there. I know people who approach journalists, bloggers, and influencers in hope of getting your brand out there. I’m fortunate to be at a stage where I have a publicist who handles those matters for me now, but if you’re new to the industry, I suggest focusing on your social media and making sure its tight! These days press will come to you if you have the right stuff.

Tip 3: Support Networks

Family

Having a supportive family network has benefits that go just beyond your business’s bottom line. When your family is in your corner cheering on your success, any challenge becomes more manageable. My family cheered me on from day one. They’re entrepreneurs themselves, they always got it and have supported me 100%.

But what about working with family? I think you can tell from the name of my company that I’m all about working with family. My son may only be two and a half, but I can already see the budding entrepreneur in him. I can’t wait to see where it takes him. They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this case, that couldn’t be truer! He’s well aware of what his daddy does for a living and he’s right there in the mix with me. I look forward to seeing his creative genius flourish regardless of the direction it takes him.

Community

The business community is just that — a community. That means there are a wealth of resources to help business owners manage challenges, get advice, and find collaborators. Finding that community and the tools that come with it is a definite key to success.

It’s a different landscape now. When I started out, there was a lack of information; a lack of knowledge. But resources like DHL Mentorship are special because it’s information, tips, and advice coming from people who’ve been there before. It’s the coolest thing to get that type of information readily available to people like myself who are always learning, listening, and trying to find a better way to do what we do.

Tip # 4 Networking, Networking, Networking

Surrounding yourself with knowledgeable, supportive, and like-minded people is a major step towards finding your next. The power of connecting with people and growing your network cannot be overstated.  The vision for your business may come from one person, but the more people who share it, the more likely you are to succeed.

About the Author

FGI Visionary Award Winner, George Sully is best known as the original maker of the Star Trek Discovery Starfleet boot. Sully is also a Bata Shoe Museum inductee, the creator of Black Designers of Canada, and co-founder of House of Hayla and his newly minted accessory brand Sully & Son Co., which can be found in both Hudson’s Bay and Harry Rosen.

Learn more about George Sully at Sully & Son Co. or on Instagram at @realgeorgesully

Business coach Kelsey Reidl tips for small business marketing
Business Growth
0
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.

Lawyer Jamie Bell gives advice on the legal things to keep in mind at different stages of growth in your business
Business Growth
0
Min Read
5 Legal Considerations for Small Businesses

As small business owners, it can be overwhelming navigating the legal side of your business.

It’s no secret that laying a solid legal foundation might not be at the top of your ‘to do’ list as a small business, given how much you already take on day to day. But that doesn’t mean you can or should ignore it. Understanding what you need to consider at different stages of growth and implementing them as soon as you can will save you money, reduce your long-term risk, and give you the confidence to grow knowing you’re legally protected.

Here are a few things to keep in mind at different stages of growth in your business:

1. Growing your Team

As you grow, you will likely need a team to grow with you. Hiring support is often the only way you can scale and get the specific expertise to carry out and hit your business objectives and goals.

The first question I ask my clients when they need to hire is, “What kind of support do you actually need?” Do you need a contractor or an employee? To learn about the difference, I wrote an article that defines both and can guide you in this decision. Once you know what kind of worker you need for your business, you’ll need to ensure you have a proper agreement in place that is clear about what the relationship is and clear about the work they’ll be carrying out to help your business grow. Not having the proper agreement, or misclassifying the worker in the first place, can have expensive consequences down the road. It’s best to get this right from the get-go.

2. Considering Incorporating

The most common question I get as a lawyer is, “Should I incorporate?” And my first response is always, “It depends.”

There are three common legal structures in Canada:

  • (1) sole proprietor (you’re going it alone, and you and your business are one and the same)
  • (2) partnership (you’ve teamed up with one or more people with the intent to make a profit)
  • (3) incorporating a new company, which is a separate and distinct legal entity with its own legal rights and responsibilities

For some small businesses, it’s important to separate themselves legally from their business right away and incorporate a company. This includes instances where they are operating in a particularly risky industry (like food, construction, or fitness) or hiring employees and want to separate their personal liability and assets from that of their business.

For other business owners, incorporation makes sense once their business is growing and bringing in sufficient income such that they are in a financial position to take advantage of certain tax benefits available to corporations. Unfortunately, there is no “magic income number” and the decision to incorporate that flows from a financial reason is best made with the advice from your accountant.

Forming a new company adds an extra layer of complexity to your business, so it’s always a great idea to make this decision after talking to your accountant and lawyer to make sure that the timing is right to support your growth.

3. Refining Client Processes

No matter what business you’re in, your success is likely dependent on providing excellent customer service. As your business grows, it becomes more important to focus on the organization and refinement of your systems. For example, If you provide 1-to-1 client services, you might want to refine your payment terms or how you deliver those services. If you are in retail, you might want to change your refund and returns processes over time. Refining your client processes and systems is important when you notice issues popping up, but it is especially important when you’re growing and want to limit the amount of resources (time, energy and money) you spend responding to these issues.

I recommend taking some time to review your touchpoints with your customers and ensure your contracts and website clearly set out the expectations of that relationship. This might be refining and tailoring your client contracts or updating your terms of use and policies on your website.  The more we can keep these processes organized and flowing smoothly, the more time you can spend on being proactive, versus reactive in your business. A good starting point is to consider the last issue that popped up in your business: is there a way you could have avoided this with clearer communication? If so, go make that change now. Your future self (and your team!) will thank you for it.

As you grow, get in the habit of checking-in with your customer processes to ensure they are supporting you.

4. Growing your Business Online

If businesses want to grow these days, having an online presence is vital. Whether that means adding an e-commerce element, growing your email list, or increasing your presence on social media, it’s an important and impactful way to take your business to its next level.

If you are online, or going to be soon, it’s important to understand the legal requirements that come along with that. For example, if you have a website, you are legally required to have a privacy policy that sets out what data you collect from your users, how you collect it (email list sign-ups, cookies, or other tracking tools) and how you use it. Not the most exciting part of your website (#fineprint), but a legal necessity!

If you sell products or services online, your terms of use and FAQ section are a great way to set out your policies about refunds, exchanges, shipping and related disclaimers.Your terms of use are also where you include important clauses to protect your ownership rights over the content you provide on your website, like your blogs or free resources you provide your visitors.

It’s important to not only be aware of what you are legally required to have online to protect your business, but also to ensure these support and reflect your processes too!

5. Protecting Your Brand

The more you grow, the more important it is to protect your brand and the reputation of your business. You can do this by registering your trademark. A trademark is a combination of letters, words, sounds or designs that identifies your unique business from others in the marketplace (like your name logo!).

The best way to protect your brand is to register it as a trademark in the countries you do business in and as early as you can in your business. This ensures that you are the only one with the legal right to use your trademark and can take legal action against anyone else using your name or logo or who is trying to imitate your business.

On the flipside, if you are in the very early start-up stage, you should always conduct a thorough trademark search of your proposed business name to ensure it’s available and not being used by anyone else. Nothing is worse than having your heart set on a name, investing in design and branding services, only to realize the name is already in use and trademarked.

Whether you’re just starting out or scaling your business, registering your trademark is a great idea to ensure that you can confidently scale knowing you’ve protected your brand the best legal way you can.

As business owners it can be so easy to feel overwhelmed and feel like the ‘to-do’ list never ends – usually because it doesn’t! That’s why it is so important to celebrate the wins along the way. No matter how big or how small, we must recognize and be proud of the steps we are taking forward in our business growth journey.

Whether it’s launching that new product, bringing on a team member, or tweaking a clause in your client contract or on your website that you’ve been meaning to get to, treat these like big wins and celebrate them. Even taking the time to read this article and understand the different legal considerations for your business and feeling more confident in the legal steps you might need to take as you grow is worth celebrating.

Get in the habit of looking back and celebrating how far you’ve come — this will serve to fuel your fire to take your business to the next level and beyond.

___________________________________________

About the Author

Jaime Bell is a lawyer and the founder of Wild Coast Law, a business law firm based in British Columbia. She is also the founder of Contracts Market, an e-commerce store that provides legal contract templates for small businesses. Jaime’s mission is to make access to legal less intimidating, more affordable, accessible, and fun. In her spare time, you can find Jaime chasing her dog, Osa, through the forest or up the mountains on Vancouver Island, where she now calls home.

Go Global

Interested in taking your business global?

Whether you’re just thinking about growing beyond Canada’s borders, or are already shipping internationally,
our expert customer care and hassle-free solutions will make international shipping the simplest part of your day.

Get Started