CanadianSME Small Business Magazine May 2021

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MAY 2021

CANADIANSME Empowering Canadian Small & Medium Businesses



Five Ways a Business Credit Card Can Improve Your Cash Flow

It takes more than just technology to ignite change – it takes Ricoh Change Makers Banking partner

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Our May issue is officially here and we are very excited about all the great content we have included in this month’s issue! We strive to be Canada’s top magazine in providing exclusive insights, strategies, and advice to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Our mission is to include the best of the inclusive interviews and top business insights from reputable industry experts. Our team works very hard in delivering the most valuable content to our readers to ensure that you stay up to date on all the latest business trends. Empowering small and medium-sized businesses is our prime goal. This month, CanadianSME is focused on the Canadian insurance sector, top insurance companies and the latest trends in the insurance industry. We are excited to announce that we are featuring exclusive content from Ricoh Canada, read “It takes more than just technology to ignite change - it takes Ricoh Change Maker” by Christina Juarez; Future- Proof Your Business with Xero, the most intuitive online accounting software, “Clamping Down on Cash Flow & The Value of Real-Time Financial Insights”; the issues also includes “Employee benefits Spotlight: Claims are down. Why are your Premiums Rising?” By Shawn Leslie, President & CEO, The Leslie Group. Learn about the “Top Five Digital Marketing tools- includes printmedia” by Susan Jones; and tap into the power of rewards, with RBC Business Credit cards, you can take advantage of RBC offers, read “Five Ways Business Credit Card Can Improve Your Cash Flow” by Diane Amato. This article was originally published on RBC’s Discover & Learn Blog. We also included interviews with the CEO & Scientific Director of Mitacs, John Hepburn “ Turning the Innovation Lens Inward”, with the CEO of Financeit, Michale Garrity, Broker of Record at Transitions Realty Inc. Keisha Telfer and Co-Founder and President of SaleFish, Rick Haws. The CanadianSME Business Awards is an important date on our calendars because it marks the day that we celebrate and congratulate those who have made a positive contribution to our country’s economy. Last month, we had a very successful turnout with over 400 guests and celebrated over 150 diverse businesses from across Canada at our virtual gala. This issue includes all the nominees and the winners to show support and appreciation to the entrepreneurs who work hard in making their small business a success. Again, congratulations to the amazing winning entrepreneurs and successful small business owners nominated, you are truly an inspiration to the small business community. At CanadianSME, we understand that the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on small businesses. Therefore, we are dedicated to providing our leaders with the latest trends in the insurance sector along with exclusive interviews and advice from industry experts on any measures or processes. After a year as challenging as 2020 and the current time, insurance professionals and insureds are looking to end 2021 with a positive outlook. Now is the time for insurance providers to strategize for the months ahead. These articles provide insights into the insurance and risk management trends to keep top of mind this year. We hope that this month’s issue will help give you the knowledge and information you need to stay ahead in the market. Until next month, happy reading! canadiansme canadian_sme canadiansme canadiansme

Publisher Shaik Khaleeluddin (SK) Consulting Editor Shiraz Siddique Creative Designer Rakibul Islam Client Manager Maheen Bari Social Media Cmarketing Inc Sales Abdul Sultan Shaik Photography Deposit Photos Web Ashraf S

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IN THIS ISSUE CanadianSME small business magazine



Moving forward with With Michael Garrity

Business Insurance for the Canadian Small Businesses

35 The Importance of Representational Mentorship in Entrepreneurship



Five Ways a Business Credit Card Can Improve Your Cash Flow

Future-Proofing Your Business: Clamping Down on Cash Flow & The Value of Real-Time Financial Insights

All Images, trademarks, service marks and logos referred to or appearing in this magazine are the property of their respective owners.

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IN THIS ISSUE CanadianSME small business magazine



It takes more than just technology to ignite change – it takes Ricoh Change Makers


21 Employee Benefits Spotlight: Claims are down. Why are your Premiums Rising?

By Shawn Leslie President & CEO, The Leslie Group

All Images, trademarks, service marks and logos referred to or appearing in this magazine are the property of their respective owners.

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Importance of the Business Insurance for the Canadian Small Businesses and an array of insurance options made available to them by the Canadian Insurance Industry amidst COVID-19. By CanadianSME

About the Insurance industry of Canada The Canadian insurance industry is one of the largest contributors to the Canadian economy and also serves as the backbone of Canadian businesses. The insurance business globally is huge and approximately $5.8 trillion is spent on business insurance and about $50 billion of that is spent in Canada. Over the years, the insurance industry in Canada has moved from surviving to thriving because of its futuristic insurance approach.

The role that the Canadian Business Insurance industry played for Canadian Small business amidst Covid-19 Undoubtedly, the Canadian insurance industry has remained a champion of resilience but the role it played during the COVID-19 is commendable. The COVID-19 quadrupled the uncertainty in the global economy and incurred financial loss upon big and small businesses alike. However, the Canadian insurance industry maintained the growth of small businesses in Canada by innovation and adaption. It reinvented the insurance trends by transforming its services, tackling emerging risks, and adopted new strategies within the digital landscape.

The Canadian insurance industry found practical insurance options for small businesses that were struggling to find insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian insurers provided businessdriven insurance solutions for small businesses in hot waters and secured insurance amid the economic challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created. The insurance industry covered the losses of small businesses and stabilized them when the financial storms were hovering on them because of the pandemic. So, this is the time for the Canadian small business to seize the opportunity and get insured against all business odds.

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Some useful strategies for business owners to ensure adequate insurance coverage for their small business The business owners are always worried that their small business is under or over-insured. Below are some requisite strategies that will help you to choose a good insurance policy. Carefully evaluate your business risks: For appropriate coverage to protect your business, you need to analyze the risks your company is most likely to experience. You can do this by making a list of potential losses or liabilities. Find an insurance broker who specializes in small business: Before being insured you need to find a local broker who understands your business. He can provide you valuable insurance recommendations and get the right policy for your business. Thoroughly read your business insurance policy: Before purchasing an insurance policy, you need to ascertain that what your insurance policy includes. You must read the policy’s limits, premiums, deductibles, and exclusions. This awareness will ensure an appropriate insurance policy as there will be no gaps in coverage. Always value reliable coverage: Always choose a coverage option that protects you from risks particular to your small business. You can rely on your research or take professional advice from experts. The reliable coverage always protects your business from financial troubles.

The significance of business insurance for the Canadian small businesses You don’t own a crystal ball where you can see the future of your business. Nevertheless, as a business owner, your business is your lifeblood and you want to give it all the protection it needs. Business insurance is a safety valve for your small business against unforeseen events. Therefore, It is best to be insured to safeguard your company against property damage, bodily injuries at the workplace, employee frauds, cyber breach, criminal activities, and lawsuits as a result of unfulfilled or mismanaged professional services and financial costs incurred by them. Indeed, a good business insurance policy is what small businesses need for their survival in times of opportunities and perils.

Business insurance has various benefits for small businesses. Primarily, Business insurance is a necessity when it comes to the protection of assets when financial disaster strikes or a natural calamity happens. It covers the loss of property, safeguards against the loss of income. Besides, trust is the currency of the modern-day economy. Business insurance builds the trust of your clients and customers and makes your business more credible. It also protects the interest of your employees as its pays for them if any accident occurs. Business Insurance attracts qualified employees because job hunters seek perks like health, life, and disability coverage in companies. Insurance protects your customers as well if they experience harm at hands of your company. They also cover the cost of lawsuits your company faces. Undoubtedly, your business is always prone to financial calamity without Business Insurance.

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What kind of insurance Canadian small business owners should have? 1.General liability Insurance If you are looking for a solution to protect your business from liabilities of property damage, bodily injuries at the office, or damage caused by your product or your employees, then general liability insurance is the perfect option for you. If you have this insurance, you don’t have to pay these costs from your pocket. The general liability insurance serves as a shield of your business against injuries or claims of libel.

2.Professional liability Insurance As a small business owner, you need to know that you can’t do without Professional liability insurance. This insurance can cover negligence claims that are a consequence of failure to perform professional service. It should be purchased by all small businesses engaged in giving business services or advice. It covers the cost of lawsuits claiming that you made errors in the service you provided.

3.Cybersecurity Insurance After Covid-19 whole business landscape has turned digital. This virtual transformation has its perks, but it also makes your business vulnerable to Cyberattacks. If your business is online, this is where Cybersecurity Insurance rescues you. Cybersecurity insurance protects your business from malware and keeps sensitive employee and customer information safe. This policy can cover the cost of credit monitoring or lawsuit if your company is held liable for the data breach.

4.Directors and Office liability Insurance A proactive approach is required to keep the directors and officers conscious of their duties in the company. The Directors and Office liability insurance plays a critical role when directors and officers of a company fail to fulfill their responsibilities. If the directors or officers affect the company’s profitability by their actions or decisions and get caught in a lawsuit, this policy covers the legal defense cost.

5.Business Interruption Insurance Catastrophic events such as a fire, flood, theft, building collapse, or civil authority incident are always a possibility and they potentially interrupt your business operations. Therefore, Business interruption insurance is the most needed insurance for your small business. During these events, this insurance policy will compensate for your lost income and operating expenses like taxes and loans.

6.Key Person Insurance What you will do if a key executive or employee of your business dies or get disabled? Your company might suffer a great loss because of the absence of that employee. Nevertheless, you don’t need to worry because you have the option of Key person insurance available. This insurance policy cushions the financial impact that occurs because of loss of key employee’s participation by compensating revenue loss of your business when certain key employ dies and or get disabled.

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7.Commercial Auto Insurance Small businesses are always worried about their company’s vehicles because they are used in day-to-day operations and get damaged because of accidents. Your company doesn’t want to waste thousands of dollars on vehicle repairs. Commercial auto insurance protects your company’s vehicles. If your business is held liable for bodily injury or property damage, this policy pays the cost to third parties. Besides, it also covers the damages to vehicles.

8.Commercial Property Insurance There are various insurance policies for protecting your physical assets but commercial property insurance is highly recommended for your small business. If your company in is the area which is prone to events like floods, earthquakes, fires storm or theft then get insured with this policy. This insurance protects physical assets like equipment, signage, inventory, buildings and also covers the theft loss.

9.Crime Insurance Your small business typically needs protection against financial losses taking place because of criminal activities. Crime insurance is what you need when you think about the financial security of your company. This insurance covers the losses which are the consequence of funds transfer frauds, forgery, theft, alteration, and when an employee defrauds your company.

10.Workers Compensation Insurance Your employees are the real assets of your small business. Therefore, it’s necessary to protect your employees to ensure the safety of your company. The worker's compensation insurance ensures medical benefits and a portion of lost wages for your employee who gets injured while working. With this insurance, your company gets safeguarded against legal complications as employees who accept these benefits cede their ability to sue your company for damage.

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Five Ways a Business Credit Card Can Improve Your Cash Flow By Diane Amato As communities and businesses re-open to a whole new normal, owners have had to get creative to make it all work. When used appropriately, credit can be a viable way to get through cash flow crunches – and a credit card may just offer the versatility you need to help you improve your cash flow.

Beyond being a convenient payment tool, your business credit card may be a great addition to your business toolkit. When used wisely, your credit card could help you run your business more smoothly by giving you additional flexibility over your cash flow – especially during stressful times.

No Need to Tie Up Your Personal Credit

Here are five ways a credit card designed for business can work hard for you:

A business credit card gives you an additional payment tool to leverage. It can help you manage both your personal and business credit, in that it can protect your personal credit when business is leaner, and help build your business credit history when you’re actively purchasing on and paying off your card.

Gain More Time to Pay Suppliers Business credit cards typically come with a grace period of up to 21 days, meaning that you have that long between your purchase date and payment date. Imagine what you could do with up to 51 days before you have to pay your suppliers*! With a repayment period like this, a business credit card becomes a valuable tool to improve your cash flow.

You need your personal credit card for personal purchases. When you start to layer on business expenses, that credit card can become over-stretched, cutting into both your business and personal cash flow.

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Pay Your Bills More Efficiently When you can pay with a credit card — rather than employing your staff or a bookkeeper to cut a cheque and drop it in the mail or in-person — you’re able to pay your vendors faster (and with that grace period you don’t need to wait to get paid before you settle up). Consistently paying quickly can also help your vendor relationships – the goodwill you build up may let you negotiate better pricing or secure a rush job in the future. Consider too the ease in which you can cover recurring expenses – such as your phone and internet bills, insurance premiums, ongoing digital marketing costs, and more. Set them up as pre-authorized payments and there’s one less item on your monthly to-do list.

Just remember, your business credit card is a payment tool to cover short- to medium-term expenses; large capital expenses should be funded separately. A revolving balance on your card could result in highinterest payments — interest payments that might cut into the profits of your business. If you’re looking for a bigger pool of credit for large or long-term expenses, there are a number of options you can consider. Term loans, equipment loans, and lines of credit offer specific uses and benefits to help you manage and grow your business. Ultimately, a business credit card can help you manage your cash flow efficiently while giving you the opportunity to enjoy perks and rewards as you cover your necessary business expenses. Offering freedom and security, a business credit card can be a great addition to your business toolkit.

Tap Into the Power of Rewards Many business credit cards come with cashback and ‘payback with points’ programs that can help you pay down your balance, cover regular business expenses and improve your cash flow. Also, with built-in rewards programs, you can earn points that can be used for a wide range of rewards for your business or to reward your employees. Keep in mind, there are tax advantages that come with paying cash for some business expenses – it’s a good idea to speak with an accountant to learn the implications of these types of decisions. Some credit cards also offer the choice of transferring your personal credit card points to your business card, allowing you to combine points to acquire products for your business or boost your overall cash flow. With RBC Business Credit Cards, you can also take advantage of RBC Offers, which provide extra points, discounts, and other benefits with select merchants and suppliers.

Get a Picture of Your Spending When you use a business credit card for all your business purchases, you can see — all in one place — how and where you’re spending your money. Some cards come with analytics tools to provide in-depth insights into your spending patterns and expenses. Depending on the size and scope of your business, even a simple review of your statement can give you a helpful view of the ongoing costs of running your business. When you have this kind of information on hand, you’re in a better position to evaluate your spending decisions, determine where you can save money, and potentially keep more cash in your business.

* 51 more days refers to the maximum number of interest-free days before you must pay your RBC credit card after a purchase is made (based on a card with a 21 day grace period). To achieve this you must use your credit card to pay your supplier and ensure the payment is posted immediately after your statement closes.

This article was originally published on RBC’s Discover & Learn blog.

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It takes more than just technology to ignite change – it takes Ricoh Change Makers By Christina Juarez *Portions of this article were taken from a previous publication written by Sarah Kelsey and published to the Women of Influence and Ricoh Canada blogs.

When it comes to making change happen within your business – you can do a lot with technology but even more with people. That’s why we’re so proud of our own people and their stories because each of them has helped our own business change for the better. With spring in the air, optimism, hope, and change are also on the horizon. And as small businesses across Canada continue to look for ways to redefine work this spring – we at Ricoh, have solutions that can help. But more importantly, we have people who can help because they make change happen for themselves and for our customers. We call them ChangeMakers. We know workplace technologies will make your business better – but we also know it takes motivated people to help you change. We have both.

Meet: Barbara Marinoni “My father always told us you get out of life what you put into it,” she says. “He instilled a strong work ethic in us. We knew we had to push ourselves, especially when faced with problems.” For Barbara, that meant challenging herself to take on roles in industries that were, in many ways, difficult for women. She started her career as a Quality Manager for a 3rd Party Service Provider to a leading automotive manufacturer in the ‘90s and eventually worked her way up to the highly regarded position of Operations Manager. At the time, Barbara’s rise was almost unheard of given the gender inequality that often existed in the automotive industry. “I had to fight my way through to keep growing my career.” She worked long days, faced nasty comments from jealous colleagues, and struggled to be respected. “It was a hard, difficult environment to work in, but I knew I could learn and grow from my experiences.” And while she overcame professional obstacles, she struggled personally – turning to food as a way of coping emotionally. At one point she weighed 300 pounds, all because she had started to internalize the discrimination she faced. After one particularly cruel incident at work, Barbara decided enough was enough, “I left and made a promise to myself to change a few things.”

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She started with her career, and in 2012 she landed a role at Ricoh a “dream company.” Today, as National Director, Supply Chain, she says Ricoh has given her opportunities many other companies would not: the ability to grow teams, to learn from each other, and to change how business is done.

“We at Ricoh put more into the people than the process, because if you put more into the people the processes will follow,” Barbara says. One of the Ricoh values is GEMBA – a Japanese word that means ‘the place where things happen; where work gets done and where value is created,’ for Barbara this means seeing “that we all have the ability to drive positive change, whether in ourselves or in society at large.” Following the change in her career, Barbara worked on positive change within herself – she focused on her health, lost the weight, and started training for half-and then full-marathons (of which she has now completed 8). She continued to push her limits and in 2016 competed in her first triathlon. Today, she’s an Ironman triathlete and an inspiring, fearless leader for the Ricoh team. We hope Barbara’s story can be a reminder that while technology can help you redefine the way you work – it’s your people who really are your greatest asset. If you're looking for a partner who can help you on your path to change, for better – we have the technology that can help but more importantly, we have inspiring people who can help too. To learn more about Ricoh’s everyday solutions for small businesses go to And for more stories about our ChangeMakers check out our blog.

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Future-Proofing Your Business: Clamping Down on Cash Flow & The Value of Real-Time Financial Insights

The past year has been a challenging one for Canadian business owners, leaving many questioning the very survival of their operations in the face of COVID-19 and the financial challenges it brought to so many doorsteps. Now, as we approach the halfway point of 2021, and move forward into the second year of the pandemic, we’re taking a look at future-proofing and sharing some tips for continuity from Xero, the global cloud-based business platform. In February 2021, Xero asked 800 small business owners across Canada about their business goals and concerns for the upcoming year. Chief among them were preparing for financial instability and clamping down on cash flow. Let’s take a closer look at each, and what you can do now to prepare for the years ahead.

Be financially prepared According to a Xero survey, 38 percent of respondents said that they wished to be better prepared for financial instability in 2021. There are many aspects that need to be considered when it comes to being financially prepared as an entrepreneur, but at the top of the list is having a true understanding of your finances in real-time. Tools like Xero connect all of your business’s data in one place — including bank accounts and all of the different apps used to run your business — making it easy to plan ahead, stay on top of cash flow, and uncover insights into your business’s performance. From your runway and burn rate

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to the amount you can reasonably invest back into your business to drive its growth, the power of financial insights cannot be understated when planning for the future. Saving for emergencies is another crucial aspect of being financially prepared. Whether it’s cutting costs where you can or having a separate account where you deposit funds every month, saving money when and where you can, can go a long way in case of an emergency. Working with an advisor, whether they’re a bookkeeper or accountant, and using cloud accounting tools that provide up-to-date visibility to your books can be a critical step in financial preparedness; by having the support of a financial expert, you can not only rest easy knowing you’re being proactive in your financial planning, but you can divert your attention to other areas of your business’s operations that may have been overlooked in the past.

Set a budget and stick to it Budgeting is the number one rule of having a solid financial plan. Having a budget is more than just having a monthly allowance for your business; it’s having a full understanding of your cash flow and knowing where you’re spending your money. Sticking to a budget also helps in developing cash flow projections.

When asked, 32 percent of Canadian business owners identified clamping down on cash flow as their number one goal for the year ahead. To reach this goal, let 2021 be the year you not only stick to your budget but the year that you take your budget online and use the technology available to business owners for financial planning.

Plan for the future 2020 might not have been the best year for the business industry, but that doesn’t mean that 2021 can’t be. Dream big in the long run but, most importantly, set achievable data-driven goals for the short term. By defining your ‘north star’ of success, you’ll be able to put practical strategies and processes in place to guide your efforts and keep your ‘why’ top of mind. By leaning on financial tools and the real-time financial data they provide, you’ll have the added benefit of remaining flexible and adaptable in your month-to-month goal setting. A successful entrepreneur is one who is able to adapt – especially within a business industry that is ever-changing and with new opportunities presenting themselves when they’re least expected. Technology and the support of a bookkeeper or accountant will be paramount in your ability to stay flexible and adjust the way you do business, especially in pursuit of future-proofing your business and reaching your ‘north star’.

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Employee Benefits Spotlight: Claims are down. Why are your Premiums Rising?

By Shawn Leslie President & CEO, The Leslie Group

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Covid-19 has reduced benefits claims and accelerated the adoption of new costsaving technologies. So why are many small and medium-sized businesses seeing double-digit premium increases? And what can they do about it? Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. They employ the largest number of people, representing 90% of all Canadian businesses. They are the principal innovators, entrepreneurs, and service providers that make up much of our economic output. Hard hit by the pandemic, SMEs have responded through innovation: they digitized their workplaces and virtualized their services. When you can’t grow your revenue, you cut your expenses as much as possible. In a pandemic, you do whatever you can to survive. The best cuts, they say, are the ones that reduce overhead and improve operational efficiency: Canadian SMEs have done just that.

A Renewed Focus on Benefits Surveys have consistently ranked benefits as a major factor in an employee’s decision to stay or leave a job. During the pandemic, Hays found that 49% of Canadian workers were considering a career change, with 43% saying that their employer had failed to provide support for their mental health and wellbeing and 53% saying improved benefits would be a major factor in their decision making – ranking ahead of career development and improved work-life balance.2 Pre-pandemic, there may have been a tendency to view benefits programs as an after-thought when building compensation packages. No longer. Benefits programs have taken center stage even as employers seek cost-efficiencies across their organizations. A shift in values is also underway, with employees facing immense pressure under lockdown, there is a growing awareness that employee mental and physical health are integral to business success.

The Virtualization of Health & Wellness By some estimates, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by as much as seven years.1 This has been especially true in health and wellness: many services have gone online; niche platforms and telehealth solutions have exploded. The result has been a more accessible, affordable, and convenient approach to health services. The market is now flush with digital providers for everything from addiction support (ALAViDA), and mental health (Inkblot), to physiotherapy (Plantiga), concierge telehealth services (Dialogue, GoToDoctor), and digital voluntary benefits (Parachute). The upsides are obvious: in addition to lowering the cost to service providers – and therefore the cost per claim to insurers – digital health services are a more preventative approach to healthcare; and where intervention is required, these providers enable earlier intervention that can reduce the downstream costs of the largest line-items in any benefits program: medical and long-term disability costs. With workers under more pressure than ever, reducing absenteeism and long-term disability costs has taken on even greater importance.

1 2

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Lower costs, higher premiums Insurers have been quick to respond to this shift by including access to a suite of digital service providers as part of their standard benefits programming, and many employers are seeing double-digit premium increases as a result. If these services are going to reduce costs to insurers, why are employers being asked to pay more to cover them? The answer is, in part, a view prevalent in the industry that there is significant claims overhang – pent-up demand for services that will lead to a spike in claims once the crisis has passed. With many inperson services restricted or unavailable, claims for things like dental services are at record lows. But this is only a partial explanation: clearing a claims overhang is a one-time event; the digital shift is permanent. The traditional SME insurance value-chain was predicated on relationships. SMEs typically buy insurance through a broker or an insurance advisor with whom they have an existing relationship, maintained for years through lunches and events and the occasional game of golf. But the pandemic has disrupted these relationships too, and employers no longer feel as obligated to purchase their benefits program from the same broker that handles their life insurance, general liability, or business property insurance policies. Brokers themselves are frequently tied to specific insurers, meaning they are not always able to provide the most competitive program for their clients.

It’s not just service providers that went digital; employers can now unbundle their programs and have greater access to benefit-specific expertise on an open market. Some insurers have been slow to realize that the benefits market has changed, and it is not business as usual. While many insurance brokers and advisors see the pandemic as a time to maintain the status quo, SMEs are ready to take action to ensure their survival. This misunderstanding has insurers seeking rate increases at a time of high uncertainty when employers have more freedom than ever to demand savings – and many need savings in order to survive.

What can employers do? Demand transparency, seek out expertise and be willing to change brokers if they aren’t delivering real value. Many brokers and advisors are tied to favored insurers; instead of marketing your program competitively, they work with insurers to offer one-time savings to win new business with the expectation that your unwillingness to switch providers at renewal will support year-over-year premium increases. Your broker should disclose how – and how much – they get paid to place and manage your business. You shouldn’t overpay for your historical relationship with your broker, or for your broker’s relationship with an insurer. When faced with unexpected renewal increases, request an explanation for the rate change and ask specific questions about which digital products and services you are being billed for and how they are impacting your premium. Pushing back against default inclusion of enhanced digital services will frequently result in a reduction in costs – and these new services may still be included for free. Digitization is as good for the insurer as it is for you. You should not be underwriting the operational efficiency gains of the employee benefits sector. Seek out expertise. Employee benefits are a critical component of your compensation package. They are an employee recruiting and retention tool, and a risk mitigation strategy to reduce employee turnover, burnout, and disability. Keeping your employees healthy is an important job and you should seek out expertise when building and managing your benefits program. A willingness to put in the legwork now, during a crisis when competition for your business is high will help you identify a relationship with an employee benefits organization that will provide sustainable savings now and at renewal.

Website Company Releases Top Five Digital Marketing tools - includes print media By Susan Jones

When looking at marketing tools to boost your digital presence there are a number of options that stand out above the rest as a route to success. While playing guiding and supporting roles, they work together to create a fully integrated and professional strategy with which to capture your audience in a meaningful way. If you need to grow your reach and solidify your authority online, make use of these five elements to youradvantage.

1. Websites

2. SEO SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a way to ensure your site and pages are being displayed at the top of SERPs, or search engine result pages. What this means is that when users online search for a company, service, or product that is in line with your offering, you would ideally show up as a top result, leading visitors to click through to your website or service page. With a well-implemented strategy, any business can ensure organic growth and a high level of authority for your pages and keyword selections.

The most used and beneficial element of the whole system is a website. As the main presentation of your brand to your online audience, there are many parts in the design that will give your company a professional face and allow consumers to feel comfortable transacting with your organization. If you have a streamlined, effective, and easy-tounderstand website design you can capture your audience with valuable information and meaningful service offerings. The rest of the processes depend on having a website to refer users back to, which is why it is top of the list.

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3. Social Media As another key element in the funneling of traffic to your website, social media is a space that allows you to communicate directly with your audience in a space where they feel comfortable engaging on a more personal level. A fantastic area to grow a brand and align it with specific segments of the market, this captures a wide and diverse audience range that lets you hone messages and increase conversions for your brand. Across multiple platforms, not only can you provide integrated messaging and show a professional, corporate identity, but you can also design more specific approaches for the different communities within the audience that will align with their social beliefs and ideals.

Often the print design will guide and influence the structure of the online visuals, in accordance with what gets more return. When you can support your online efforts with a solid print strategy you can ensure success across your audience. Having a conversation with both digital and print media specialists will help you be informed, make decisions about potential clients, where to target them, and how to stay ahead of their activity. Effectively leveraging print media to increase your reach digitally. At we realized an18% increase by making use of both traditional media channels and online approaches alongside each other.

4. Pay Per Click Pay per click is an interesting part of the online process and opinions on it are rather divided. While in its essence the design of the process offers a brilliant way to expand your process and greatly boost the exposure of your site online, it can be seen to hurt organic growth as it takes away the time needed to focus on that organic approach. The best approach is an ideal balance of SEO and PPC that ensures both organic authority as well as the boosted paidexposure elements.

5. Print Media At we were recently reminded of the power of print. We gained client connections as a result of our presence in an industry-specific edition of Douglas Magazine and CanadianSME Business Magazine. An often misunderstood element, print still plays an integral role in the mix of marketing activities. Now, this may seem like a strange element to add to the list, however, this is a massive supporting element that many today forget about. Aside from the digital divide, which in itself ensures that the entire audience isn’t online, there are also many other opportunities for reaching an audience that helps to build the authority of your messaging. While the initial percentages and amounts of exposure may seem low, the opportunity to reach a significant number of people when you consider the overall numbers - *1% of a million is one hundred thousand after all. Printmedia is a terrific way to support your online messages and serve the same, integrated approach to the wider audience.

Tools to boost your digital marketing efforts come in various forms, and by honing your efforts around this selection you can ensure a direct and measurable path to success. Not only does this give you a professional image within the online space, but also ensures you can engage with your market at every possible opportunity.

Susan Jones is the CEO/Founder of WebMax Marketing Ltd. ( with a broad range of experience in media and marketing.

In 2020 the majority of daily newspaper circulation in Canada was paid with 11.27 million paid daily publications – March 2021 2,600 Canadian magazines published in all provinces and territories – July 2020 Magazines

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The Challenges: Paperwork is still pervasive 75% of small businesses still use pen and paper to sign documents.3 Busywork abounds Only 24% of accounting employees time is spent on value-adding insightgenerating activities.4 Bad processes add risk Disorganized accounting processes can increase the likelihood of security breaches, fraud or compliance issues. Mistakes happen 60% of accounting errors result from simple bookkeeping mistakes or misapplication of easily understood accounting standards.5

The Solutions:

It’s no secret that accounting and HR are two areas SMBs find themselves struggling to manage. Why? Because, on top of being a business owner you’re also tasked with being Sales, Marketing, IT, HR, and Accounting. If you aren’t doing everything yourself and you have a team of employees, it’s also likely they wear multiple hats too. So how can you be productive in any one area? Fortunately, doing more with less is in the DNA of most small businesses. Removing some paperwork or automating a few processes can free up you or your employees to focus on the more important responsibilities they were hired for in the first place. SMBs are uniquely positioned to benefit from this approach since change can happen more quickly and easily than in larger organizations. Here are two common scenarios that play out for small and mid-sized businesses and how Ricoh can help:

The Situation: Your accounting people are drowning in paperwork. Like most small or mid-sized businesses, the team that handles your accounting runs lean. If you’re lucky you have one or two dedicated employees. More likely someone on your staff manages the finances in addition to their primary responsibilities or maybe you do it all yourself.

DIGITAL BEATS PAPER All those hours filling out paperwork really add up. Moving to digital processes can drastically cut down on the amount of time required to handle transactions and reduce costs. Ricoh’s Digital Accounting Solutions are flexible, intuitive and easy to implement. Meaning no time wasted on steep learning curves or complicated technology. FOCUS ON WORKFLOWS Once you’ve gone digital you’ve opened up a world of opportunity for process optimization and even automation. Invoices can be scanned directly into the system. Requests can be approved, sent back for adjustments or filled into accounting software with a few clicks. Ricoh’s Docuware Solution for Invoice Processing is the perfect next step towards maturing your accounting processes.

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The Situation: Your HR processes are…messy. Most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have much in the way of dedicated HR staff. In many instances, they don’t have an HR-only employee at all, in which case those responsibilities often fall to the owner or office manager.

The Challenges: HR is time-consuming for owners On average, HR work consumes 25-35% percent of a small business owner’s time; up to 25% is just handling employee paperwork 6

Turnover destroys productivity A new employee may take 1-2 years to reach the productivity level of the person they’re replacing 7 and turnover can cost 75-150% of an employee’s salary 6

Compliance can be costly Small and mid-sized businesses spend as much as 80% more per employee than large companies to maintain regulatory compliance 9

The Solutions: KEEP BETTER RECORDS Organize and store all your employee records digitally, in one easy-to-access, secure space so that information is accessible from anywhere and on any device by only the people who should have access. AUTOMATE THE PROCESSES When it comes time to collect employee information, completing forms, going through onboarding checklists – much of the work remains the same regardless of the new hire. Why not automate repeatable steps and standardize the processes that consume valuable time? Ricoh’s Docuware Solution for Employee Management makes all this possible and more. Check out the brochure for more information. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To learn more about Ricoh’s digital workplace solutions that can help your small business redefine work go to

1 2 3 4 5 6 9

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Entrepreneurial resilience during challenging times Rick Haws

Co-Founder and President of SaleFish Rick Haws is Co-Founder and President of SaleFish, a real estate sales software solution with more than 15 years of industry experience, processing over $55 billion in worldwide real estate transactions to date. Rick started the company in 2004 with Rob Nicolucci. Both are entrepreneurs with backgrounds in architecture and design. Rick understands the complexities of the development business, the everchanging challenges, and the need for efficiency at every turn. His insight — and the expertise of the entire team — is leading a sea change in the proptech sector.

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What was the inspiration behind the launch of the SaleFish? How is your firm helping real estate agents through its digital tools? The inspiration started with a simple thought of “making things simpler”. SaleFish came out of a residential architectural firm called RN design. To give you a bit of background context, RN Design gave sales companies a metric on what it was that they could particularly sell in a lot - and that was called the setting analysis, and it was strictly on what would fit on a lot. The problem was, as soon as the lot sold, architecture control rules kicked in, and with that came many complexities and limitations. We took a very complicated situation and came up with a software situation to simplify the selling process… and today, over 15 years later, we are leaders in the Canadian PropTech industry and help transact real estate globally.

You have started SaleFish with Rob Nicolucci in 2004, your firm has successfully helped real estate agents as a software solution provider, how do you define entrepreneurship? I would say being an entrepreneur is about creating something that has value to others. As a real estate software company, we’ve created a product, a solution and the very fact that we have global clients is a testament that we’ve created something of value to the industry. For other business leaders, that may be served over a product, but that’s what all entrepreneurs do - they put themselves out there to create something important, taking in all the risks associated with doing so.

According to the recent PWC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2021 report, property-related technology has accelerated by a decade during the pandemic to provide solutions to ensure business continuity. Can you share a few thoughts on this shift and what buyers can expect from this digital shift? The digital transformation of real estate is not new, but the pandemic has significantly accelerated this process. We’re seeing an unprecedented rate of adoption for PropTech like digital sales software enabling builders and agents to sell remotely in realtime with cloud-based technology. The pandemic really forced real estate professionals to take on the technology that they haven’t before, Zoom being the basis of scenarios of this digital shift.

Customer behaviors and preferences are changing and those who have long been reluctant to buy into the digital transformation are now firmly on board. Prospective buyers are more comfortable than ever before interacting with developers and/or agents online and signing agreements digitally.

Above all, a key takeaway is that the digitalization of real estate is here to stay. The last year has taught us that change allows for innovative approaches to business and helps us expand our capabilities by putting customer experiences and expectations at the heart of everything we do. Moving forward, technology will be another tool in our toolbelt. Even when sales offices reopen, the streamlined sales process will be an ongoing asset to the industry, and the proficiencies of selling virtually will continue to be vital for reaching remote buyers.

64% of global real estate executives said that they were concerned about cyber threats– making cybersecurity one of the key opportunities and elements to this digital shift. How SaleFish’s technology is paving the way for addressing any cybersecurity concerns At Salefish, we are paving the way by leading by example and taking the extra steps to ensure we are addressing these concerns head-on. SaleFish is the only real estate transaction software in the world that is certified by Cyber Essentials Canada and we are big advocates in bringing awareness forward and educating fellow industry experts. The term “cybersecurity” is widely used but misunderstood. Especially during this digital shift, there’s great value in keeping cybersecurity top of mind, and we continuously put the effort in keeping this conversation going through our quarterly webinars, blog posts, and by speaking at various industry conferences.

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How business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs can bounce back from uncertainty and run their businesses under challenging circumstances? Customer habits are shifting - regardless of what industry you are in, you need to analyze your service and/or products and make adjustments to meet your customer's requirements. Not just during these times, but as a fundamentally good business practice. As you could imagine, selling real estate online also means communicating sensitive information on the web and one of the key challenges for us was identifying someone’s identity and verifying their IDs. When the pandemic hit, we quickly had to embed features to our software that could scan someone’s face and their ID through a camera with 100% accuracy- we understood this was essential in order for the sales transaction to be done 100% contact-free. Our SaleFish team recently powered sales for Cachet Group’s ParQ project, a community of townhomes in Brantford, and they sold out of all 150 units in four days using this technology without a sales center.

On a final note, can you share your key advice to entrepreneurs during these challenging times? During these times, having open communication with your staff and clients is especially important. In all cases, you need to recognize your clients’ needs and move forward to implement changes quickly. In general, I can’t stress enough the importance of networking and finding opportunities to connect with different people. I believe everyone needs three types of people in their lives: 1) a cheerleader 2) someone that holds different perspectives to help get rid of your blindspots 3) a mentor - someone outside of your circle that can give you a completely objective perspective on what you do.

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Can Accounting Automation Make Your SME More Efficient? By Mike Whitmire We all know that massive corporations are leveraging technology to gain an advantage. They have the resources to use the latest tech tools and maximize their results. But if you’re working in a smaller company, you may be wondering what tools like accounting automation can do for SMEs. As it turns out, they can do a lot.

What Is Accounting Automation? In just the past few years, we’ve seen tremendous advances in the power of computers to automate tasks. Using AI and machine learning, modern accounting software can automate many of the processes that have always had to be done manually, eating up hours of your accounting department’s time and energy. Far from being available only to big companies with deep pockets, accounting automation tools can actually level the playing field, allowing small and medium enterprises to compete by making them more efficient and helping them achieve more with a limited budget.

How Can Automation Help? One of the biggest advantages of using automation is that it frees your team to focus on higher-level tasks. Picture a chef in a fast-paced fine-dining kitchen with no help. They would spend hours on tasks like prep, dishwashing, and taking out the trash leaving little time to make amazing food. But with a little help on the mundane tasks, the chef could pour his or her energy into the creative work worthy of their culinary skill and make something truly great. Without automation, your accounting team is like that harried chef. They’re spending hours on routine tasks, leaving them with little or no time for analytical and strategic work. In other words, there’s no one connecting your financial data to the strategy of your business, which is killing your results. Let’s take the monthly close for example. A recent survey showed that average companies spent more than 6 days out of each month on the close. That’s a lot of time to be consumed by one thing and out of the game as far as actually helping the business operate.

If your accounting team is spending that kind of time on the close, automation could be the answer. No, you can’t automate the entire close, and you wouldn’t want to. There needs to be an oversight from actual humans to make sure everything goes smoothly. However, it’s possible to shave days off the close by automating account reconciliation and leveraging tech to make your closing documents more accessible and easier to share.

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Where Can SMEs Benefit Most From Automation? Automated accounting has so much potential in a wide variety of applications, but how do you make the most of it in your SME? First, automate the time and energy bottlenecks in your process whenever possible. Remember our earlier example of the monthly close? A major bottleneck in those six-day average closes is going to be account reconciliation especially if you have a large number of accounts. Automated reconciliation software can match transactions based on historical data and actually learn from the decisions of your accounting team to be more accurate and efficient each month. By cutting down the amount of time spent stuck in those bottlenecks, you’ll free your team to move forward.

Next, automate any repetitive, mind-numbing tasks that you can. Think data entry. By taking these things off your accounting team’s daily docket, you give them back their time to focus on more important things. You also avoid the simple human errors that often come with that mindnumbed state. Finally, it’s time to let computers do what they do best compute. While you’re diving more deeply into strategy with your newfound free time, why not let your software do some of the analytical heavy liftings? Today’s software can help you crunch the numbers, generating things like Flux Analysis which your accounting team can use to help guide the business toward its goals. It’s faster, easier, and more accurate than doing it all by hand. Depending on your industry and where you need the most help, you can automate several areas, like the monthly close, reconciliations, accounts payable and receivable, invoicing, and payroll.

The Future of Automation Is Bright Wondering how accounting automation may be able to help you over the next few years? The rapid advances of technology are putting it in the hands of more accounting teams and making it easier to use than ever before. Technological firepower that once came only in an expensive, desktop suite is now accessible in the cloud, with some even offering mobile apps. That means tools that had been out of reach are becoming more and more accessible and affordable for smaller companies. As SMEs take advantage of more automated business and accounting tools over the next few years, the playing field will definitely start to level. Don’t miss this opportunity to increase your accounting team’s accuracy and efficiency and make yourself more competitive with the big guys, even with a smaller crew.

About author Mike Whitmire is Co-founder and CEO of FloQast, an accounting close management software company headquartered in Los Angeles. The company works closely with a range of organizations of varying scope and size, helping them to close their books more quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

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Developing Transformational Leadership as Simple as Frisbee By Mostafa Sayyadi Executives can be made into leaders and leaders can become better at what they do by using the four techniques of transformational leadership. These four techniques include: Idealized influence, Individualized consideration, Intellectual stimulation, and; Inspirational motivation.

Executives can use idealized influence when aiming to develop a shared vision and improve relationships with followers. In doing this technique, they need to take the following actions: Instill pride in organizational members for being associated with them. Display a sense of power and confidence. Go beyond self-interest for the good of the SME. Talk about their most important values and beliefs. Consider the moral and ethical consequences of decisions. Emphasize the importance of having a collective sense of mission.

Executives can also use individualized consideration when they would like to concentrate on identifying employee’s individual needs and empower followers in order to build a learning climate and mobilize follower support and trust toward the goals and objectives at the senior organizational level. In doing this technique, executives need to take the following actions: Spend time coaching others. Consider employees as having different needs, abilities, and aspirations from others. Help organizational members to develop their strengths, and provide various formal training programs to improve the performance of duties In addition, executives can use intellectual stimulation through developing effective mechanisms to propel knowledge sharing in the SME and generate more innovative ideas and solutions for new and demanding issues that come up constantly in our hypercompetitive economic environment. In doing this technique, executives need to take the following actions:

Emphasis on the effective coordination among different functional areas, and seek differing perspectives when solving problems. Suggest new ways of looking at how to complete assignments, and undertake a comprehensive analysis when confronting with an important decision.

Furthermore, executives can use inspirational motivation to focus on inspiring people and not just treat them as human assets. Particularly, executives need to obtain employees' suggestions and integrate their suggestions into the decisions regarding how to set a higher level of desired expectations for employees. In doing this technique, executives need to take the following actions: Talk optimistically about the future Talk enthusiastically about what needs to be accomplished. Express confidence that the goals will be achieved. The four techniques of transformational leadership mentioned above, when carried out correctly, can present a set of practices for effective transformational leadership.

Mostafa Sayyadi Management Consultant | Business & Technology journalist

Mostafa Sayyadi, CAHRI, AFAIM, CPMgr, works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to and Consulting Magazine and his work has been featured in these top-flight business publications.

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The Importance of Representational

Mentorship in Entrepreneurship By Mona-Lisa Prosper From developing new business ideas, pivoting in the pandemic, or launching side hustles, we are living in a time where more people are taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. At Futurpreneur, we’ve also seen an increase in the diversity of the applicants applying to our programs, and it’s exciting to see more representation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, being an entrepreneur can be challenging and, at times, lonely. When you add in the barriers faced by underrepresented groups, it makes the idea of starting a business that much more daunting. That’s why mentorship is such a powerful tool. It allows budding business owners to tap into the minds of the industry experts who have been before them; learning from their mistakes, gaining valuable insight, broadening their networks, and ultimately achieving more business success. But it’s much harder to become something that you can’t see. When we talk about diversifying the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we also need to think about the importance of diversity in mentorship. For example, traditional business advice has historically been tailored to white men, who are still the most dominant group in entrepreneurship. With the increase in diversity among entrepreneurs, this kind of advice is no longer one-size-fits-all. There are more social dynamics at play that have not always been taken into consideration. Mentorship is so personal, and being able to receive advice from someone who has been in your shoes and has faced the same obstacles can have a significant impact on your future success. On the other hand, having a mentor of a different race or cultural background also offers a completely different set of benefits. Consider how marketing tactics vary between demographics. A mentor could bring to light nuances that you may never have noticed before, challenging your perceptions of how your business idea may be received by different communities. They could also offer valuable insight into how your business can authentically engage with a community that’s different from your own. It may surprise you what you can learn. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is for entrepreneurs to have the opportunity to build a relationship of trust with a mentor– whether that is someone from a different background who can offer a fresh personal perspective or someone who can empathize over shared lived experiences. But it’s bigger than that. If we want to have access to a diverse group of mentors, there needs to be more diversity in entrepreneurship and the workforce at large. Actions must be taken on a much broader scale in order for these mentors to even exist. This is something that we focus heavily on

Director of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, Futurpreneur at Futurpreneur, by ensuring we have entrepreneurship and mentorship opportunities for business owners from all backgrounds that are tailored to their needs and the specific barriers they face. As our programs further evolve, we hope to continue seeing more diversity in the mentors who volunteer with us as well. By providing entrepreneurs access to expertise and mentors that will help them break down barriers, we can foster greater sharing of perspectives and develop effective mentor-mentee relationships.

One thing is for sure: a diverse set of mentors brings a diverse set of perspectives, ultimately leading to better outcomes for your business. We just need to have the goals and actions in place to ensure that diversity and inclusion prevails at all levels.

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TURNING THE INNOVATION LENS INWARD John Hepburn CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs

John Hepburn studied at the University of Waterloo (BSc, 1976) and the University of Toronto (Ph.D., 1980), followed by two years as a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He began his academic career back at the University of Waterloo, where he was appointed an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics in 1982, and ultimately Chair of Chemistry in 1998. In 2001, he moved to the University of British Columbia as Head of Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry with a joint appointment to Physics & Astronomy. He became Dean of Science in 2003, and VicePresident, Research in 2005. The international portfolio was added to his list of responsibilities in August 2009. In June 2016, he became Vice-President, Research and Partnerships at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and served in that role until January 2020. He began as CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs in February 2020. John Hepburn has served on numerous boards and advisory committees, both nationally and internationally. He is currently on the Boards for WestGrid (as Chair), Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping, and BrainsCAN (a CFREF-funded research centre of excellence), and is on the advisory committee for the France-Canada Research Fund.

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How do you go about instilling a culture of innovation within your organization? As a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering growth and innovation in Canada, Mitacs recognizes the importance of ‘turning the innovation lens inward’ – that is, fostering collaborative and innovative approaches to improve productivity and outcomes within our own organization as we advocate for companies to do the same. It’s important to aim high, but it’s also important to understand challenges and barriers within an organization by maintaining communication with all levels across the organization and cultivating a culture of exploration in order to innovate and succeed. Similarly, in order to be truly ambitious, organizations must realize they do not exist in a vacuum. At Mitacs, we strive to be open to ideas and suggestions from anyone at any level in our organization. If the idea is a good one, it doesn’t matter if it comes from the highest-ranked person in the organization or someone just starting out.

What are some successful transformations that you have managed in the past? Like all organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Mitacs to pivot quickly. The federal government entrusted us with $40 million as part of their COVID-19 economic response to create more opportunities for Canadian post-secondary students struggling to find work and business that needed to quickly shift gears to keep their doors open. For example, in response, we were able to rapidly launch our new Business Strategy Internshipsthat provided support for both SMEs and students. Since launching in May 2020, we were able to create more than 1,000 new internship opportunities. A few examples of students and businesses include: Mitacs intern and UBC Sauder student Amogh Rao — who completed his Master of Management in 2020 and is now pursuing a Master of Business Analytics — considers himself lucky. After lining up a summer job with Vancouver-based consulting firm Veza Global, Rao was disappointed to learn that the position could no longer be funded due to COVID-19. But the newly launched BSI program came as a win-win, giving Veza Global the financial support it needed to benefit from Rao’s expertise while providing him with an opportunity to test his newly acquired knowledge.

Bosco and Roxy’s, a gourmet bakery for dogs based in London, Ontario, approached the BSI program to help reducing technology costs during a period of transition. The company decided to quickly pivot during the pandemic, expanding from solely producing dog cookies to also making bread and other baked goods for human consumption. From Western University’s Ivey School of Business, Master of Science in Management student intern Calvin Ncube stepped in to automate their production planning process. Montréal-based start-up Calixa Technologies Inc. approached the BSI program to support a pivot of their business model triggered by changes in market dynamics. Just months after launching in 2020, the company decided to switch its focus from helping large retail corporations to giving a leg-up to small businesses instead. Mitacs intern Marie Fuchet, a Master of Business Analytics and Information Technology student at HEC Montréal, is helping with the transition.

By partnering with the federal government and provinces across the country and thanks to the dedication of our hard-working and flexible employees, we managed to create 17,000 internships last year that provided opportunities to students to put their skills to work for businesses and not-for-profits to drive innovation and economic development. The Government of Canada announced earlier this month that they will provide Mitacs with $708 million to create 85,000 innovation internships over the next five years. This will be a new, transformational challenge for us, but I am sure that we can draw on our strengths to rise to the expanded mandate.

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What are your strategies for overcoming resistance to change amongst key decisionmakers? Overcoming resistance to change often speaks to something that needs attention in the culture of the organization. We consistently survey our staff and leadership to assess engagement and areas where we need to improve. As in research, it’s important to provide data-driven results to influence decision-makers. By showing positive outcomes, we demonstrate how by building a culture of collaboration and implementing innovative approaches, an organization can attain its desired outcomes. A proven track record of success is part of what has propelled Mitacs to be a trusted partner of governments across the country and international partners. The increased funding we’ve received from provincial governments and the federal government can be directly attributed to a record of success that shows that our collaborative model drives research and innovation, provides opportunities to young innovators, and supports businesses with the talent and energy they need. By showing that we deliver outcomes, Mitacs has been able to help partners across the country navigate a path to innovation.

How do you keep abreast of opportunities for innovation within the market?

On a final note, what are your tips on how small businesses can embrace innovation?

Mitacs is well-positioned to stay on top of the newest opportunities for innovation in the market.

Embrace collaboration and innovation.

Our unique position as the bridge between academia and industry – between our present situation and future success – allows us to get a sense of the challenges facing the post-secondary sector and businesses across the country. Beyond challenges, though, it also gives us the line of sight into exciting new ideas being embraced in the market that we can help implement elsewhere. Mitacs has a distributed network of 90 business development professionals located from coast to coast. They are our key to connecting market need with innovation solutions.

Small businesses face challenges and too often don’t know where to turn to help solve them. That’s where Mitacs comes in. Mitacs helps reduce the cost of talent procurement and helps locate interns with precisely the necessary skills to address the challenge at hand. Take advantage of special offerings. Over the past year, and likely in the future, Mitacs has offered special incentives for SMEs and groups that may have historically faced barriers to accessing our programs due to costs. Take advantage of the funding sources we are able to leverage. Our model is based on bringing together experts from academia to solve real-world problems that businesses – including small businesses – face. This type of collaboration breeds innovation, so take the leap and look beyond your bubble for the next solution or great idea!

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Moving forward With Michael Garrity CEO of Financeit

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Michael leads a dynamic team of devoted professionals who have built one of the fastest-growing sales finance platforms in North America. Michael Garrity is the Founder and CEO of Financeit, a Goldman Sachs-backed leader in the POS financing industry. For the past 20 years, Michael has been devoted to driving growth in businesses innovating financial services. Prior to co-founding Financeit, Michael was the Founder and CEO of CommunityLend, Canada's first peer-to-peer lending service.

will provide the capacity to fund $500 million, or more, of originated POS consumer loans. As fin-tech disrupts the banking sector and as consumer behaviours continue to evolve, big banks are continuing to collaborate with fintech leaders on similar partnership models to offer enhanced products and services to their customers. Fintech is completely transforming traditional financial services.

Before his journey into financing, Michael was the VP of Sales and Marketing at epost, a pioneer in electronic billing. Under his leadership, they built a network of more than 3 million online users with 100 of the country's largest companies, including every major financial institution in Canada. Michael started his career in his area of study - politics, working in Ottawa as a Legislative and Special Assistant to several members of Parliament at the House of Commons. He earned his B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

What was the inspiration behind the launch of Financeit? How is your firm helping small and medium-sized enterprises? When we started Financeit back in early 2011, Canada emerged from the financial crisis that had gutted the players in the point-of-sale financing space. Dealers in the home improvement sector had traditionally built their businesses on offering affordable payment plans for their customers and were desperate for someone to fill in this market gap. That is why we decided to make home improvement our main focus sector. Financeit launched to offer point-of-sale financing for the home improvement industry and set out to change that industry completely by offering cutting-edge technologies such as mobile applications and cloudbased solutions to modernize the financing space.

How are tech companies taking a bite out of financial services? Much of the Financial Technology (fin-tech) industry's success comes from using innovative technologies to improve traditional financial services. We do this by focusing on small problems experienced by users of these services and iterating solutions that will enhance that experience radically. This year, we announced a significant milestone with the new strategic consumer lending agreement with the Royal Bank of Canada ("RBC"). Starting later this year, Financeit will work with RBC to support the origination of consumer loans, whereby Financeit will continue to offer merchants and customers its easy, full-service solutions. Through this new alliance, RBC

Whether in wealth management, payments, or our solutions specific to point-of-sale lending, fin-tech companies solve big industry problems by focusing on little issues first and scaling sustainably. We do this by: Embracing technology: we adopt and are quick to implement new technologies and use them to scale business Being agile: we are able to quickly adapt to market trends and make business decisions based on market fluctuations Promoting lean business models: smaller, highly specialized companies targeted at solving a specific problem have a better chance of becoming category leaders, hence our laser-focus on the home improvement sector

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How can Canadian businesses leverage tools and platforms in the Fintech industry to evolve and grow? Most of the B2B fin-tech companies in Canada are focused on making some aspects of the business better. At Financeit, we give companies a tool that accelerates consumer sales of their products and services by offering their customers purchasing power in monthly payments for large ticket purchases. Similarly, many fin-tech companies offer products that are helping businesses acquire new customers, grow overall sales, operate with more efficiency, and be more competitive, especially versus larger competitors.

What are the shifts in consumer behavior attitudes and shopping habits (“buy now, pay later” trend) across home improvement, retail, vehicle, and enterprise amid the pandemic? It is an unprecedented time for everyone; although we’re looking to save, spending habits are evolving, consumers are still looking to spend on passion projects and what matters most to them, i.e., recreating their safe havens and investing in home improvement projects. We’ve seen a massive demand in the home improvement space. The home improvement industry is the one that fared much better than the rest amid the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused many businesses and contractors to adopt financing options as making month-to-month, manageable payments rather than one large lump sum as it a more feasible option for many Canadians. We are seeing an emerging focus on transparency and treating customers well over and above profits and when special financing is offered (Buy Now Pay Later), consumers are definitely taking advantage of those savings. In the home improvement space particularly, It's the "tale of two cities" at the moment. Demand is way up, but supply is also way down, and we’re seeing a need for the “Buy Now Pay Later” trend as the industry continues to evolve.

Demand is up: The global pandemic has left a significant mark on the home improvement industry and is driving increased demand for home improvement services. The Value of "Home" is way up. Stay-cations. Real Estate values are skyrocketing.

Supply is down: The pandemic is also wreaking havoc on the home services industry. Supply shortages driving costs way up and creating delays on start dates Safety protocols (with labor and homeowners) are causing labor shortages all across the market Lock-down uncertainty is moving start dates for projects around all over the place

What is the importance of digital transformation during the COVID era and what critical tools to harness to stay competitive in the current market? Navigating during these times has been challenging for all businesses; we are constantly impressed by the innovation, adaptability, and resilience businesses have demonstrated as they move forward. To continue through these unpredictable times, businesses of all sizes need to be agile and flexible, keeping in mind consumers are closely monitoring their spending, businesses should continue to examine their operations, processes, and services to meet consumers’ diverse needs. Investing in your operational infrastructure and plans for not just the times you're living in, but times that can get worse will be key – tech and innovation-oriented companies will continue to be the clear leaders. Team Engagement: Technology has become an integral part of connection for both everyday work and personal life. Our new normal currently consists of 250 employees in two countries, across four offices working remotely for the first time in our company's history. As we're no longer connected in person, we recognize that our people, more than ever, require more connection and acknowledgment – even if it's over the phone or zoom. As we continue to navigate our way effectively through the crisis, we still look for new ways to establish, connect, and empower our team in any way we can. Everything from weekly addresses led by senior leadership to fun virtual events such as a meditation or yoga session to kick-start a great day. Consumer Engagement: How we consume and do business is continuously and rapidly changing. Currently, consumers depend on tech to shop, work, learn, and stay connected amid the pandemic. As a result, businesses need to be accessible – this means having a digital presence and offering fintech solutions to remain competitive. Be Opportunistic: Industries need to be on the lookout for new opportunities and ready to seize them – we’ve seen a surge in the home improvement sector amid the pandemic, signaling the demand is there. This has led to ecommerce, POS financing, and virtual showrooms taking off rapidly to accommodate urgent grudge jobs to aspirational projects to cater to the new way of life.

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Key tools to harness to remain competitive: E-commerce Digital advertising Price promotions Social

Business lessons you have learned from the pandemic as a Canadian entrepreneur. As I look back at the past year at how we weathered the storm and what lessons we’ve learned along the way, I’d break down advice by stages of development. This is based on our experience as we’ve seen the pandemic unfold and how we’ve adapted to it.

Stage 1 - Leadership in times of uncertainty. Collective Wisdom. We recognized early that none of us had the answers and that the only way we were going to make good decisions was by synthesizing as much data and relevant team experience as possible. We did this through regular SWAT meetings amongst the executive team and then with regular updates with the Board. Stay Calm and Carry On. In the middle of uncertainty, the one thing all your stakeholders want to hear is that you are “on it” and confident that you can maintain business continuity and liquidity. Safety and Caring Lead Everything. There are decisions that have to be made in a crisis (health or financial, or in this case, both). Some of these decisions are hard. But we decided that we would make them focused on putting people’s safety first and treating everyone in our network with as much caring as was possible.

Stage 2 - The New Normal. You are more resilient than you think. We asked a lot of the team whether it was fully set up for work from home in 2 weeks across four offices and two countries, new policies, and procedures for health and safety in a pandemic, or maintaining business continuity in drastically fluctuating business conditions. People need connection and acknowledgment: This statement might seem abundantly obvious, but you would be surprised in the middle of the frenetic management of a crisis how easy it is to take the need for human connection amongst your team for granted. But you ignore it at your peril. As we have managed our way effectively through the crisis, we continue every week to look for new ways to establish connection and recognition to the team in ways we can within the constraints.

Stage 3 - The eventual return to Business as Usual

Accelerating out of the curve: In this planning stage, our team is laser-focused on balancing the need to continue to protect our people and our business and laying the groundwork to accelerate out of the curve. The overarching lesson in this pandemic is that we are interconnected and all in this together. As such, please take liberally from anything helpful in this article and leave what is not. Most importantly, take care of yourselves and your teams. We will overcome this crisis together as companies, individuals, and a country.

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How to navigate real-estate entrepreneurship in an unprecedented market Keisha Telfer Broker of Record at Transitions Realty Inc.

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While growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Keisha came to appreciate homes and design when her grandmother completed a home renovation and her mother bought land and built a beautiful family home. After graduating from the University of Greenwich in London, United Kingdom, with a master’s degree in Construction Project Management, Keisha managed a portfolio of social housing developments. In 2012, Keisha immigrated to Canada, where she attained Canadian credentials in Construction Project Management and a Real Estate Broker license. Keisha has served many clients including first-time buyers, people looking to upsize to a bigger home, and those wanting to downsize. While she loves working with all types of clients, she’s especially drawn to downsizers seeking to reinvent themselves with a lifestyle change. Keisha understands the benefits of downsizing through personal experience. She knows first-hand how good it feels to sell a home and put its equity toward serving a new goal. Keisha maintains active relationships with a vast network of developers, construction professionals, retirement coaches, mortgage specialists, financial advisors, home inspectors, professional organizers, movers, and more. When Keisha is not helping you transform your life, you might find her cycling, hiking, or getting her hands dirty on a do-it-yourself project. She also loves traveling because it helps her learn about different cultures, try new delicacies and make new friends

How is Transitions Realty aiming to help baby boomers navigate the downsizing experience by redefining the entire experience? The traditional model for real estate is based on a transactional approach. Boomers have redefined every phase of life, and downsizing is no different. In our experience, the traditional transactional approach does not work for them. There is more to downsizing than just selling a family home and moving to a new, perhaps smaller home. This is a major life transition. We find many boomers do not take the time to figure out what this next stage of their life will look like nor how to get there. That’s why, we have designed our process to not only help boomers navigate their downsizing journey, but we educate and empower them to make decisions that are right for them now and in the future. We also work closely with a network of advisors, coaches, and designers, whom we can pair our clients with when needed.

At Transitions, we deliver the transitional experience that boomers are seeking, because this is an emotional journey with many moving parts and we believe being fully prepared is the first step of a successful life transition. Our motto is, “You’re not a transaction, you are going through a transition.”

How to navigate real-estate entrepreneurship in an unprecedented market? As we were on the verge of launching our business model, the pandemic hit and the economy was shut down. We considered pivoting, but after reflection, we realized if we did pivot, the transactional cycle would continue. So, we decided to team up with other professionals whom our clients will need for their downsizing journey and start educational webinars. We also implemented a public relations campaign to let boomers know they have options. For example, we are in a hot real estate market and it might be tempting to jump onboard and sell now. But we advise that before taking this step to sell their family 2 home, they prepare themselves for this major transition. We have seen and heard stories of too many people regretting their choice to downsize because they’ve made the wrong decision and have to go through the process of moving again. So, if done right you should only have to do this once

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With over five years of real estate experience, please share your advice on your own smallbusiness entrepreneurship journey? The first year of being self-employed was a steep learning curve because being an employee is different from being the boss. Luckily for me, from a young age, I set goals and consistently worked towards achieving them. So, my discipline and drive paid off. The most important piece of advice I can share with you today is to build systems and ensure your business can survive without you. This gives your partners, your employees, and clients confidence in you and your brand. Having worked for small businesses in both construction and event management, I have experienced first-hand the positive impact efficient systems can have on a business.

How to start and launch a business that’s the first of its kind in Canada in the middle of a pandemic? It's amazing how passion, drive, and sacrifices can inspire one to take a step into the unknown in the middle of a pandemic. Having seen first-hand how the traditional, more transactional model was failing, we thought hard about our business model. To do this, we interviewed boomers, empty nesters, and people who had already downsized to assess their needs and learn from their experiences. We got tremendous feedback on what worked and what did not work. In addition, we spoke to other experts within real estate, and in complementary industries such as financial advisors, professional organizers, retirement coaches, etc. We got solid advice from all our peers. The result was a solid framework of how we wanted to serve our clients. At the same time, we were getting all our operational systems in order, from branding to websites, to accounting systems, and more. Finally, we moved to get the word out, so we embarked on partnerships, public relations, and educational webinars. So, in summary, plan your approach, talk to friends, family, peers, and most importantly, potential customers. Gather all the feedback, then commit time and energy to execute your plan. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. For example, we are experts in helping business owners and families through major life transitions and we have a team of internal and external partners that we work closely with to ensure we serve our clients the way they deserve.

On a final note, what advice would you give to women entrepreneurs to survive these challenging times and bounce back from the uncertainty? Everyone will have different ways of inspiring themselves and keeping their dream alive. Here’s what inspires me and the advice I would give to others: Firstly, know that the service you offer has a positive impact on so many lives. Secondly, keep focused on things you can control and not on things you have little control over. I know, when I let my focus start to shift, I let others down. Finally, surround yourself with positive people and don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand, you will be surprised to learn how much others want you to succeed.

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COVID-19 Caught Us All Off Guard. Will Your Organization Be Ready the Next Time Chaos Strikes?

The pandemic threw us all for a loop. But Diana Hendel, PharmD, and Mark Goulston, MD, say there are plenty of other potential disruptions around the corner. Here are six ways to prepare. When COVID-19 shook our world to its foundations a year ago, organizations had to reinvent themselves overnight. Supply chains faltered, consumer behaviors shifted drastically, and workers either moved home or had to navigate a maze of safety protocols. Leaders and employees alike had to scramble to adapt to the “new normal” of work and life, and it was beyond stressful—it moved us into trauma territory. The pandemic might seem like a one-off crisis. But Diana Hendel, PharmD, and Mark Goulston, MD, say all organizations should be prepared for future traumatizing events. “We’re all caught up in a perfect storm of ongoing upheaval,” says Dr. Hendel, coauthor along with Dr. Goulston of Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption and Thriving on the Other Side (HarperCollins Leadership, March 2021, ISBN: 978-14002-2837-9, $17.99). “‘Positive’ developments like AI have vastly accelerated the changes businesses face every day, to say nothing of natural disasters, politically and culturally driven changes, and so forth.

This is just how we live now, moving from one massive change to the next,” she adds. “Frequency, intensity, and duration have all been ramped up. COVID-19 was one crisis, and many companies managed to weather it. Now the question is ‘How will we survive the next one?’”

Dr. Hendel, who became an expert in organizational trauma after living through a workplace shooting, helps businesses prepare to adapt to all sorts of crises in whatever form they take. Hopefully, you won’t face a deadly act of violence or another pandemic. However, you might face, say, mass layoffs, a restructuring, a sexual harassment charge, or a data hack. All are disruptive and can be traumatizing. Here are some of the crucial actions that will help you to be ready for the next big change or crisis you face:

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Get your Rapid Response Process in place and ready to go. A Rapid Response Process is a standardized, preplanned approach for dealing with disruptive events. Dr. Hendel says you should appoint a team ahead of time, consisting of senior leaders along with leaders of key functions such as operations/logistics, security, finance, etc. Select a leader to delegate and manage all response activities. Establish a code word (such as “Code Blue”) to activate members. Then, when a crisis does occur, you will gather your team and collect all relevant information quickly to ensure the most pressing needs are met.

Name, claim, and frame trauma from the onset. This is important because traumatic stress goes beyond routine stress, assert Drs. Hendel and Goulston. While stress upsets our balance at the moment, we still maintain a feeling of control over our lives. Most of us deal with routine stress daily and are able to manage it (up to a point, anyway). Trauma, on the other hand, overwhelms our self-protective structure and sends us scrambling for survival. It can shatter our sense of safety and security and change how we look at the world. Recognizing trauma for what it allows leaders to understand what’s happening to individuals and to the group and take appropriate actions. It gives us the language to talk about it so that everyone is on the same page. It helps people understand “This is why I am feeling so bad!” And it gives everyone permission to seek real help if they need it.

Learn the “red flag” behaviors that traumatized employees often display. When major disruptive events occur, leaders and employees may go into the “fight, flight, freeze” survival response. Know what to look for. Some people might become hostile, belligerent, aggressive, or “difficult”—seemingly without adequate cause. Others might cling to their “competence zone” or dig in and resist change. Leaders might hide out in their office or start making uncharacteristic rash decisions. Eventually, people may split into opposing factions. “Difficult behaviors in the aftermath of traumatic stress are not intentional,” says Dr. Goulston. “They are manifestations of fear, and call for understanding rather than punishment.” Be prepared to break the chain reaction of events that can occur after a crisis. A disruptive event can throw an organization into chaos. A predictable chain reaction occurs. Here are just a few things that often happen: People become fearful, and that fear is exacerbated when an organization is unprepared and lacks a plan. Confusion surges when there is no clarity around who is in charge.

With no common language to convey that a trauma has occurred, it’s difficult to activate people and teams. There’s no clarity around how decisions will be made. Communication falters, and negative narratives rise to fill the communication void. People place blame. Guilt and shame creep in. And so on… “The sooner you are able to address the disruptive event head-on, the sooner you can stop these negative consequences from causing more damage to your organization,” says Dr. Hendel. Fine-tune your crisis communication skills. Good communication quells anxiety, reduces ambiguity and confusion, and keeps people focused on the right things. It promotes a sense of unity, which helps you prevent polarization (which often happens in the wake of trauma). A framework for remembering the tenets of communicating in a crisis is the acronym VITAL, which stands for Visible, In it together, Transparent, Accessible, and Listening. A few high spots: Share information clearly and quickly. Be transparent about what’s going on and do not mislead employees in any way. Acknowledge people’s fears and anxieties and let them know what to expect. Use all modalities (like video, email, intranet, town halls, etc.) to convey messages. Most importantly, listen! Ask questions that leave room for inquiry. You might hear things you don’t want to hear, but your job is to deal with the hard stuff too.

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Prepare for polarization and the problems it can create. In the best of times, businesses often struggle with questions that appear as choices between one side and another. For example, is the business better served by focusing on high quality or low cost? Should it be focused on short-term gain or success in the long run? Is it more important to make decisions quickly or to get input from a lot of people? Is maximizing financial margin more important than the fulfillment of mission? People tend to have different ideas on these issues even in the best of times, but trauma can stoke and inflame them. For example, the nation has grappled with the question of whether the health of the economy or the health of the populace is more important. When a traumatic event occurs, opposing views can be taken to the extreme, and rifts can divide the organization. People believe the right course of action is either “A” or “B.” Their opinion is rigid and unmovable, and they see themselves as right and the other side as wrong. When one side is chosen and the other ignored, downsides quickly emerge. More often than not, leaders will then reverse course and go to the other extreme— which of course has downsides. It’s not uncommon for tugs-of-war to ensue and the pendulum to swing back and forth. With every swing of the pendulum, division deepens. This is incredibly damaging to your culture. Instead of approaching these issues with an either/or mentality, Drs. Hendel and Goulston say that these are false choices, and organizations can, instead, leverage each side of these polarities with a both/and approach.

“Leaders can intentionally create mindsets to maximize the effects of both sides and minimize the downsides of each to achieve things they couldn’t otherwise,” says Dr. Hendel. “For example, in a crisis, effective leaders can BOTH take charge AND build consensus. They can be BOTH direct and candid AND diplomatic and tactful.” These are just a few steps you need to take. The book provides many more. The important thing, say Drs. Hendel and Goulston, is to get prepared in advance. “We all hope there won’t be another pandemic, of course,” says Dr. Hendel. “But there will be some other form of chaos. I think it’s safe to say traumatic stress is inevitable. Having a plan in place for when it strikes— next year or 10 years from now—may determine whether your company survives it. But, at the very least, it will help you become a stronger, more resilient, thriving organization in the meantime.”

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About the Authors:

Diana Hendel, PharmD Dr. Diana Hendel is the coauthor of Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption and Thriving on the Other Side (HarperCollins Leadership, March 2021) and Why Cope When You Can Heal?: How Healthcare Heroes of COVID-19 Can Recover from PTSD (Harper Horizon, December 2020). She is an executive coach and leadership consultant, former hospital CEO, and the author of Responsible: A Memoir, a riveting and deeply personal account of leading during and through the aftermath of deadly workplace trauma. As the CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital, Hendel led one of the largest acute care, trauma, and teaching hospital complexes on the West Coast. She has served in leadership roles in numerous community organizations and professional associations, including chair of the California Children’s Hospital Association, executive committee member of the Hospital Association of Southern California, vice-chair of the Southern California Leadership Council, chair of the Greater Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, board member of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and leader-in-residence of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at California State University Long Beach. She earned a BS in biological sciences from UC Irvine and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UC San Francisco. She has spoken about healthcare and leadership at regional and national conferences, and at TEDx SoCal on the topic of “Childhood Obesity: Small Steps, Big Change.”

Mark Goulston, MD, FAPA Dr. Mark Goulston is the coauthor of Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption and Thriving on the Other Side (HarperCollins Leadership, March 2021) and Why Cope When You Can Heal?: How Healthcare Heroes of COVID-19 Can Recover from PTSD (Harper Horizon, December 2020). He is a board-certified psychiatrist, a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA-NPI, and a former FBI and police hostage negotiation trainer. He is the creator of Theory Y Executive Coaching that he provides to CEOs, presidents, founders, and entrepreneurs, and is a TEDx and international keynote speaker.

He hosts the My Wakeup Call podcast, where he speaks with influencers about their purpose in life and the wakeup calls that led them there, and is the co-creator and moderator of the multi- honored documentary Stay Alive: An Intimate Conversation about Suicide Prevention. He appears frequently as human psychology and behavior expert across all media, including CNN, ABC/NBC/CBS/BBC News, Today, Oprah, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Westwood One, and was featured in the PBS special Just Listen. He is the author or principal author of seven prior books, including PTSD for Dummies, Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In, and Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life.

Mark Goulston, MD, FAPA

Diana Hendel, PharmD

About the Book: Trauma to Triumph: A Roadmap for Leading Through Disruption and Thriving on the Other Side (HarperCollins Leadership, March 2021, ISBN: 978-1-4002-2837-9, $17.99) is available from major online booksellers.

June 21 -22, 2021 I Two day Virtual small business conference


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The Biggest Gathering of Canadian Small and Medium Enterprises

Expert business speakers

WORKSHOPS Interactive workshops by industry experts

Be a part of the crowd as more than 2,000 business leaders, top executives and top Canadian SMEs gather at the CanadianSME Business Expo taking place in June, 2021 virtually.

PANEL DISCUSSIONS Expert panel discussions


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The CanadianSME Business Awards is an important date on our calendars because it marks the day that we celebrate and congratulate those who have made a positive contribution to our country’s economy. Last year we had a very successful turnout with over 500 guests and celebrated over 150 diverse businesses from across Canada. This year we want to continue to show that same support and appreciation for our small and medium-sized businesses. We are thrilled to celebrate and recognize 31 winners from across Canada through this online red carpet gala. These businesses are making a huge impact in their industries and in our nation. On behalf of CanadianSME, I’d like to take a moment and thank our partners, and award category sponsors We extend a warm thank you to our exclusive banking partner RBC, Gold Sponsors UPS, and Ricoh Canada, Silver Sponsors Nerds On-Site and EDC, and award category sponsor Alexio Corporation and Mitacs for the support you honoured us for the CanadianSME National Business Awards 2020. All thanks to your support that we are able to successfully host this event for the second time in a row and make small businesses aware of the opportunities the Canadian economy provides them for a bright and successful future. It is with your support, we were able to highlight the importance of conducting such an event which is a great platform for small businesses from different industries to interact and learn from one another. In the future, we aim to organize more events of these kinds and we are hopeful that our platform will get stronger with time. We certainly will be happy to have your support in our future endeavors.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Business Women of the Year

Black Entrepreneur of the Year

Thank you to all our judges for donating their time and expertise to judge the awards, after a meticulous review, this diverse panel has evaluated these outstanding businesses that we will be appraising and let's give them a virtual round of applause.

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RBC SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2020 Up to 10 employees


RBC Small Business of the Year Up to 10 employees

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award We are extremely grateful to have won Small Business of the Year (up to 10 employees), and we want to thank CanadianSME Business Magazine and RBC for presenting us with this award. We are truly proud to be a part of this small business community and to have been a nominee alongside so many impressive businesses and leaders. This award is a symbol of our team’s hard work, leadership, innovation, and growth, and to be recognized for it is a great accomplishment for us all.

Your special message to small business owners during these challenging times It is important to remember that through these difficult and challenging times, you need to follow your gut and trust your instincts. It will keep you from making bad business decisions. Also, don’t be afraid to take risks, because those risks could ultimately help the business grow.

Jamie Hoobanoff Founder of The Leadership Agency Jamie Hoobanoff is the Founder of The Leadership Agency, the recruitment partner of choice for North America’s fastest-growing startups. The Leadership Agency gets to help build the most impressive companies of our generation. Some clients include SkipTheDishes, Endy, StackAdapt, TouchBistro, PagerDuty, Ritual, Justworks. Coming from the corporate world, Jamie launched her firm in 2017 and has continued to grow it ever since; expanding into the US in just 18 months, opening an office in NYC, and earning multiple awards, such as Best Service Provider 2019 (HRD Canada), and Best Professional Services (CanadianSME Business Magazine). A disruptor in the HR and recruitment space, Jamie contributes her expertise to The Globe and Mail, CBC, Inc., and HRD Magazine, and is part of the Forbes HR Council. She was the Emcee and spokesperson for North America’s largest HR Tech Conference 2019, with over 3000 attendees. Jamie is an angel investor and a Founding Member of The Big Push: Taking women-led companies from seed to series A and beyond.

RBC Small Business of the Year Up to 10 employees

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award As recipients of the small business of the year award, our team has been very proud of this accomplishment. To be acknowledged for our business growth and our efforts within the communities we serve is a wonderful reminder that our dedication, persistence, and professionalism does not go unnoticed. We have a fierce female team, each who is passionate about their role and the difference they make in people's lives; after all, we are invited into their homes to assist with protecting their investment and creating and fostering a community.

Your special message to small business owners during these challenging times To other small business owners, regardless of being in a pandemic or not, my advice is that self-promotion should not be shamed. You have a message, a plan, an idea, a product, a service, maybe you are an industry disruptor, whatever it may be, be sure to be heard and consistently heard from. Angel-Marie Reiner President of Onyx Condo Management Angel-Marie Reiner is the Owner and President of Onyx Condo Management, a sister division of Onyx Property Group, with nearly twenty years of property development and management experience. In 2016 she joined forces with her business partner and Husband, leaving behind an impressive career. Angel's background was in sales, selling construction materials to large retailers throughout North America; her background also includes architectural product specification, including structural steel, foundation, building and roofing systems. Onyx Condo Management provides management services to condo corporations throughout South-Western Ontario. Since their inception in 2019, the team has seen tremendous growth. Their business model is very customer-centric, while they harness technology for enhanced efficiencies. Their team, clients and vendors are treated with a great deal of respect.

RBC Small Business of the Year Up to 10 employees

As an entrepreneur, I credit my commitment to following my inner voice over the outer influences, for my achievements. Most businesses will have to pivot from the way they conducted business, pre-pandemic. Look at today as an opportunity to better what you have already built. Be creative while you find new avenues to reach and service your customers. Protect your business by recognizing its strengths as well as identifying your risks. Be creative and don't be afraid to ask for help from others whom you admire. Join networks with other businesses and learn from them. These are different times and we are all here supporting each other. Surround yourself with other amazing individuals, just like you, who will share their success plans, trials and tribulations. Never quit, never give up, and remember that this too shall end. The struggle is part of the story. Your story. To all the outstanding entrepreneurs who continue to follow their dreams and especially to those who have been told you can't, I am here to share ....OH YES YOU CAN!!! Star Quality Private Investigations is extremely proud to be the recipient of the RBC Small Business of The Year Award. This is a

Adrianne Fekete-Romanick Founder & CEO, Star Quality Private Investigations When someone is as driven, passionate, and fiercely independent as Adrianne, owning a business is a natural career choice. Adrianne is one of the first women to venture into running fully licensed, private investigations and security businesses in Ontario; and certainly, the lady with the longest tenure in the role to date. She has led her agency to success repeatedly as a straight-talking, transparent, and compassionate leader committed to ensuring safety and uncovering compelling evidence that reflects the truth. And, supporting individuals as they were forced to face it and the impact it brought into their life. In 2020, Star Quality Private Investigations was the proud receipt of the RBC Small Business of the Year Award. She credits this recognition to her dedication of helping others, an intense work ethic and her entire team. Adrianne is also a Key trusted Private Investigator Media Expert, a 100 Women of Inspiration™ Book Contributor, a Global Women’s Ambassador, as well as a 2021 Women Of Inspiration™ Nominee.

true testament to the culture my team and I have created within our agency. We will be forever grateful to RBC and the CanadianSME National Business Awards for recognizing us. Standing together, besides these other outstanding businesses is a privilege. SQPI’s continued success is anchored in the ongoing drive to better its business performance and service standards through remaining client-centric, compassionate, industry savvy and forward-thinking to define leading-edge approaches to next-level service. Our journey will move forward in a manner that demonstrates resilience, grace and wisdom while honouring the individuals and corporations we serve.

Excellence in Data Privacy & Security Award 2020

Sunil Selby, CEO Prior to his full-time engagement at Volanté, Sunil has invested and played active roles in several early to mid-stage technology companies, through Trellis Capital and Dash40 (he founded PE and VC funds). His executive leadership has been instrumental in scaling Volanté to tripledigit year-over-year growth. He has an MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business (University of Western Ontario) and has worked as a CPA (Ontario).

Thoughts on winning the Canadian SME National Business Award On behalf of all of us at Volante Systems, I would like to thank the organizers of the Canadian SME National Business Award for selecting us as a winner.


Being recognized by Canadian SME Small Business Magazine is great validation of our efforts to build our company over the past few years, especially the last 18 months through the pandemic. WeThis has primarily been the result of the support of our Channel Partners and Customers and the extremely hard work and dedication of our entire team. This award definitely motivates us to keep striving for continued growth, success and excellence. Special message/advice to small business owners during challenging times As the owner of a small company, it is imperative to ensure that one perseveres through these very challenging times and comes out ahead, if possible, once conditions stabilize. At the same time, a reality check is required on how COVID has and is expected to affect the demand for your product offering. Through this exercise, any potential to leverage the new environment should be seriously considered. Equally important is to decide if any changes need to be made to the cost infrastructure in order to ensure that there is enough cash for the business to survive through these times. The availability of cash always creates enough options for a business and prevents knee-jerk reaction decisions. The overarching consideration is an adequate cash runway which allows for a healthy and sustainable business.

Exporter Of The Year 2020

Dr. Barzin Bahardoust CEO, Canadian Plasma Resources Dr. Barzin Bahardoust obtained his B.A.Sc. degree in Engineering Science with recognition from association of Professional Engineers of Ontario in 2003 his M.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering in 2006 from University of Toronto, and his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus in materials interface design in 2012 from University of Toronto. Soon after, He co-founded Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR), a company focused on collection of source plasma and manufacturing plasma-derived pharmaceuticals. CPR’s establishment licence from Health Canada was accepted for review in January of 2013. Since then, as the CEO of the company, he has led the establishment, regulatory approval, and operation of four plasma collection centers across Canada. In 2016 Dr. Bahardoust oversaw the launch of CPR’s first plasma center in Saskatchewan, with an annual capacity of 40,000 L of source plasma.

It is an honor to have won the EDC exporter of the year. In order for

To succeed you need to be resilient. The key to success for

businesses to succeed, the external environment is very important and

an entrepreneur comes down to lasting and being there

the quick action from the different levels of government was crucial for

when the right time finally arrives. There are lots of ups and

us to initially minimize damage made to our business due to COVID

downs and there is a very fine line between success and

and eventually see substantial growth by the end of the year. Exports

failure. It may take many years and lots of sacrifices to

are a crucial part of the Canadian economy. I believe it is important

build a successful and sustainable business. You can't be

for Canada's future to diversify our export products and also the

emotional and have learn from your mistakes that will

export markets. We are grateful the judges have recognized our work

eventually lead to your success.

in this area.


JIM ESTILL President & CEO, Danby Appliances

May 31, 2021, 12:30 pm - 01:30 pm (EST) Exclusive banking partner

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Shiraz Siddique Founder, Leverage Consulting

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Best Business Innovation 2020


Brandon Grenier President, Worldwide College Tours I started my first company when I was only 18. It was an advertising agency that specialized in working with real estate agents. After 4 years of running the company, I sold it and pursued a career in telecommunications. Working for Bell, Telus, and Rogers (Canada’s telecom companies), I gained a lot of experience in marketing, technology, advertising, and business strategy. In 2016, I decided to take another leap into the entrepreneurial field and started Worldwide College Tours. My goal for Worldwide College Tours is to support those students who may not know what to do when looking to apply abroad, to help parents and guidance counselor with supporting the process, and to provide colleges and universities with ample opportunities to connect with those students, parents, and guidance counselors.

The Fastest Growing Company

We are honoured and humbled to receive the prestigious CanadianSME National Business Award for the fastest growing company. As CMI celebrates 15 years of excellence in the mortgage industry, we owe our tremendous growth and success to our dedicated team, who work tirelessly and are the true lifeblood of our business. This award reaffirms our commitment and dedication to strategic business planning and innovation, which have been the cornerstones of our operations, leading us to become Canada’s premier private mortgage lender.

special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times The past year and a half have been challenging for many small businesses and Canadians alike. Despite these monumental challenges, and perhaps because of them, Canadian businesses have been able to showcase their ingenuity, creativity, and resilience. My advice is don’t be afraid to take a chance, to make a change, to pivot and to think outside the box. Taking chances and calculated risks is what defines true entrepreneurs. Although change is difficult, it is our only means of evolving in the face of constant trials and tribulations and keeping up with the world around us.

Bryan Jaskolka CEO, Canadian Mortgage Inc. Bryan has been the managing executive and visionary behind CMI Financial Group since its inception in 2005. Under his leadership, CMI has grown to become the multifaceted, award winning institution it is today. With expertise in residential, construction and commercial financing, Bryan has facilitated more than $1 billion in mortgage financing and has been recognized as a key contributor and driving force within the Canadian private lending and mortgage financing industries. Bryan's vision and strategic leadership have fuelled CMI’s evolution from a familyowned mortgage brokerage to become Canada’s premier private mortgage lender. He was named a Top Executive in Lending in 2019 by the Canadian Lenders Association and is also a committee member for the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association (CMBA).

The Fastest Growing Company

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award Winning this award based on our revenue performance is meaningful to us on many levels. Most fundamentally, it means we are delivering on what we set out to do when we started the company, which is saving Canadians money on personal financial items. To date, we have saved Canadians over a billion dollars, which means more than ever during this pandemic when finances are at the top of so many people's minds. This award is also proof that we are well on our way to becoming the first place Canadians go when they have a financial decision to make.

Your special message to small business owners during these challenging times Your business, just like the stock market, will never go up in a straight line. During challenging times, it is more important than ever to have a focused strategy, to execute as well as possible on your priorities, and to not be moved off your long term strategic path by short term concerns. This is easier said than done, and a reason why it is ideal to have some financial cushion available for the inevitable times when your company is faced with challenges.

Justin Thouin Founder and CEO, Justin Thouin is the Co-Founder and CEO of, one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. He has been an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award finalist and under his leadership, has ranked in the top 50 on Maclean's/Canadian Business' Growth 500 list of Canada's fastest-growing companies for four years in a row. The company has also ranked on Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 the past three years, and won Startup Canada's National and Ontario High-Growth Entrepreneurship Awards.

The Fastest Growing Company


Jeff Tomlin, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer Vendasta co-founder Jeff Tomlin is a visionary in all things marketing, SEO, and digital. His passion and innovative nature drive the success of the business. While conducting market research and developing strategies, he is always measuring and analyzing the effectiveness of the marketing efforts. Tomlin is constantly developing and iterating marketing and public relations plans, seeking out the most effective paths.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award Our purpose is to drive local economies by democratizing technology for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). When COVID-19 hit, SMBs were disproportionately affected. Most had a modest digital presence and were not e-commerce enabled. Our company helps by providing local experts, like marketing agencies, with e-commerce and other digital solutions to support their SMB clients. Our platform and tools help businesses navigate the permanent changes to the economy. Vendasta’s growth has been made possible through the success of our channel partners and their drive to help SMBs transform digitally. We dedicate this award to them. Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times COVID-19 has been a forcing function for digital adoption. Customers have changed their habits. It’s more important than ever for SMBs to have an effective online presence. Owners should sit down and simply Google their own business. Are the digital listings accurate? Are your business’s reviews positive? Do you have a website? These are the starting points for most customer transactions. Once your online presence is polished, ensure your customers can transact with you online effectively. This said, finding the right solutions to address a business’s needs can be overwhelming. Who do you turn to for improving your digital listings or getting a website? Working with a local expert to prescribe a variety of

Business Woman of the Year

Dr. Dina Kulik Founder and CEO Kidcrew™

It is such an honour to win this award. The other finalists are truly remarkable, inspiring women, and I am humbled to be among them! As a woman and mother, I strive to encourage other women to become entrepreneurs, even if they feel overwhelmed or think it impossible. I truly believe a woman entrepreneur can have it all, even at the same time. I am living proof.

The Business Woman of the Year Award sponsored by Nerds On Site is given to the woman who has shown success in the business industry. Strength, business savvy, and innovation in their business strategies will be amongst the main aspects that the judges will be considered for this award. The woman who will take home the Business Woman of the Year Award will be an inspiration for all entrepreneurs to follow.

Immigrant Entrepreneur Of The Year Sahib Singh Rana, an entrepreneur, and the co-founder and Vice President of Lazeez Shawarma is a well-rounded and developed individual who has taken part in extensive community-based initiatives. Alongside running franchises across Ontario, his keen interest in cultural diversity and Canadian community development has been exemplified through his involvement with local and global charities. He has previously served as a Director for St. John’s Ambulance. Currently, alongside being a recipient of the Community Service Award by the Toronto Real Estate Board, Sahib is the Vice President for Canadian Eyesight Global, a Director at ‘Canadian Community and Art Initiatives Mosaic Festival, and an avid volunteer of grassroots organizations including ‘Khalsa Aid’. Sahib Singh Rana spends his free time figuring out innovative strategies to bring about cultural diversity and patriotism in Canada – one of the utmost important things to him. Thoughts on winning the Canadian SME National Business Award This award may have my name on it, but the truth is that it belongs to everyone who has worked tirelessly to make Lazeez the best shawarma restaurant in Ontario. There are not enough words to express how much I would like to extend my gratitude towards my partners, Nada Nasri and Rafat Shoukry, the Lazeez Family, and my family who have always understood and shared my passion and drive. This award exemplifies Lazeez Shawarma’s commitment to moulding the Lazeez Family into successful business people who are resilient, and capable of securing a brighter future. Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging time During the current COVID-19 situation we are facing unprecedented times filled with challenges. However, this does not mean we need to stop serving our patrons. Right now, more than ever, small business owners need to take precautions to mitigate financial losses. We need to illustrate support for our teams for all that they do and their endless hours of work. Due to the closure of dine-in eateries, it is imperative to leverage delivery platforms and takeout options and readjust menus to fit those options. In essence, to overcome the challenges associated with COVID-19, I strongly urge small business owners to support their teams, be fiscally responsible, and build a strong and happy customer base. God Bless Canada!

Entrepreneur of the Year - 2020 I started my career at a Local Union Hall representing injured workers with their Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Claims. I represented injured workers for the better part of 5 years. I then went on to work for a disability management consulting firm representing employers in Ontario. My success at managing employer claims and related costs provided me with opportunities to work for other clients. I jumped at the opportunity to work for a large Drywall Contractor/Home Builder. I felt this position would broaden my knowledge in the construction industry and would open doors for me that would otherwise not be available to me had I stayed working for a consulting firm. My position at this company expanded from disability management to include health and safety. After 1 year I felt ready to advocate for employers in the workplace on my own and decided to open up a consulting firm that offers both injury management and health and safety services for employers. Safety First Consulting Professional Corporation is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and carries extensive Errors and Omissions Insurance.

Mary Strazzeri President at Safety First Consulting Professional Corporation I am beyond humbled to have been recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by a Canadian SME. This award validates that all of the sacrifices over the last 16 years have paid off. I have always been driven to succeed at something, I wasn’t quite sure what that was until I started managing WSIB claims early on in my career, which segued into Occupational Health and Safety. The need for full-service health and safety consulting firm was what the industry needed, luckily it was the right career choice for me. Acknowledgement of my efforts by my peers and by the CanadianSME is an affirmation that I made a positive impact in my industry and my community of safety professionals, for that I am truly grateful.

We opened our doors with 20 signed contracts in 2005 and now have over 500 clients in Toronto and the GTA. We are proud to point out that we have never needed the assistance of a salesperson and have grown in size exponentially due to referrals and word of mouth. We have now expanded our level of service to include online workplace safety training. In addition, we consult with our clients as it pertains to a contravention of the Human Rights Code and Accessibility Ontario Disability Act, Environmental Act and Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Our ideal customer would be any employer facing compliance or injury management issues. Even a very small employer with a couple of employees could face the same obstacles as a large employer with injuries or health and safety compliance. Unfortunately, for a small employer an injury or a charge by the Ministry of Labour could put them out of business. Having the right tools in place will mitigate damages in a court of law.

Fintech Business Of The Year 2020

Zafin, a Canada-based fintech, is the global leader in SaaS cloud-native product and pricing management solutions for banks. As a trusted partner to the world’s largest and most customer-centric financial institutions, Zafin’s product and pricing platform empowers banks to centre their customers, grow relationships and drive revenues. Zafin is a proudly Canadian company that serves financial institutions across the globe. Since 2002, Zafin has enabled banks to increase efficiencies, grow relationships, ensure regulatory compliance and accelerate digital transformation. Initially developed as an on-premise solution, Zafin transformed to become fully SaaS in the cloud well ahead of the curve in 2017. The platform delivers game-changing business results while integrating easily with back-end systems and customer-facing channels. Zafin’s suite of applications can be implemented quickly, with minimal changes to existing infrastructure, to improve the precision, integrity and flexibility of banks’ product and pricing strategies at the segment and customer levels. By equipping banks with a means to decouple product and pricing from core processing, thereby enabling personalization down to a segment of one, institutions on Zafin’s platform can innovate freely and serve fully, executing relevant and compelling product and pricing strategies in half the time.

Al Karim Somji Founder and CEO, Zafin Al Karim Somji is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and true innovator. With over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry, he has a knack for founding and growing businesses and an impressive track record of personal and professional excellence.


In 1991, Mr. Somji graduated summa cum laude in computer engineering from the University of Ottawa and began his career at Bell Canada. He went on to found OpCom Solutions, an IT infrastructure management company, which was acquired in 1997. Building on his experience in IT, business development, sales and corporate engineering, Mr. Somji founded Eftia in 1997. As CEO, he grew Eftia from a team of 16 to more than 400 and secured two rounds of venture financing. His business prowess led to strategic alliances with several global powerhouses. In 2002, Mr. Somji embarked on yet another entrepreneurial venture and founded Zafin, the leading global SaaS cloud-native product and pricing management platform for banks. Zafin has over 315 employees globally. Mr. Somji has won many prestigious awards, recognizing his excellence in entrepreneurship and management including: Gold Medal Finalist for Top Entrepreneur, Gold Medal for Top Company, Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneur (Ontario), Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneur (Canada), and Finalist for Top National Entrepreneur for Technology Innovation (Canada).

Black Entrepreneur of The Year

Nevell Provo Founder/CEO at Smooth Meal Prep

"I am honoured to be the winner of this award, my family, friends and community is extremely proud. I've received a wave of congratulations and attention to my business during this time, and we are super grateful. But one of the biggest standouts for me was the message I received from a youth where he explained he wanted to be just like me. That's what this is all about, young black youth seeing themselves in these successful positions." "My advice to small business during this time. Adapt, stay agile, and find a way! It's challenging for all of us, there's a ton of people or organizations or governments to blame, but it is only your responsibility to keep your business alive. Customer needs are changing, the world is changing. So listen closely to those needs, and create the products to solve those problems".

UPS SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2020 Up to 50 employees


UPS Small Business of the Year Up to 50 employees

James Boettcher Custodian of Culture & CEO, Righteous Gelato Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, James knew that whatever his life’s work would turn out to be, doing good and having fun would need to be at the heart of it. Acquiring what would become Righteous with nothing more than a dream and a commitment to doing whatever it takes, James has ensured that his once small gelato company has become a force for good and the kind of company you would want your mom or dad to work for.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award “It is a privilege and an honour for our team at Righteous to accept the award of UPS Small Business of the Year! Thank you so much to the team at CanadianSME and all the hard work that went on behind the scenes to bring these awards to life. This wouldn’t be possible without all the amazing businesses acknowledged here and the incredible community we are surrounded by. We will continue to bring this into everything we do while we create something that makes the world more awesome.” James Boettcher, Custodian of Culture & CEO Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times “Within all adversity, there is opportunity. Without going through the tough times, you can't really appreciate what's possible in the good times. At the intersection of creativity, innovation and aspiration are the most important parts to creating the world we want to live in. Our ethos is to create something that makes the world more awesome, and know that entrepreneurial ambition is the most important ingredient in the success of our community. Communities are literally built around small businesses and people who are willing to take a chance to make the world a better place. So in a time when the future is uncertain, I know that business is inherently responsible for creating something awesome Shawn Ostheimer and by working together we can create a future that otherwise wouldn’t Founder & President, The Answer Company exist.” James Boettcher, Custodian of Culture & CEO

UPS Small Business of the Year Up to 50 employees

Soslan Tsoutsiev


CEO - Transformer Table Inc. As a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, I always give value to teamwork. I believe that this is the reason why I have always enjoyed coming to work. My experience with heavy machinery of the Canadian Military developed my interest in manufacturing mining equipment. This is what I have been doing for the last 8 years of my life. With numerous new inventions and innovations, my team has been leading the way in terms of growth of market share and client satisfaction. I not a fan of the expression "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Instead, I try to always find a way to improve and innovate existing systems.

This has been our second award in two years and we are very pleased to be awarded the Small Business of the Year (50 Employees and less). It’s a great honour for us and the whole Transformer Table. We started off this company as 5 best friends and now we have over 60 employees and reaching over $40M in revenue in 2020. Being recognized by the Canadian Business community strengthens our resolve and elevates the Transformer Table team to reach heights that we’ve never imagined. Our journey has only begun and we will continue to move forward. As small business owners ourselves and going towards a mediumsized company, we have one simple piece of advice we can give to any small business owner that is starting off, follow your instincts. As a creative and inventive company, we thrive on the development of new innovations and solution-driven products. We work diligently and dive deep into research to develop our amazing products. We actively seek guidance from industry professionals and analysts, however, oftentimes will this information conflict with your own convictions. With our products, we must think broadly, we must also pair that factor with our basic instincts as salesmen, designers, marketers and engineers, but also with being a group of people that are familyoriented, best friends, inventors, explorers and dreamers. Follow your basic instincts and your gut feeling, this will lead you to create the most amazing and never-seen-before products that will shine in front of many others. As they were not built by engineers or technicians but by adventurous and down-to-earth people.

UPS Small Business of the Year Up to 50 employees

Martin Coulombe


President at Osedea Osedea is a sought-after software development company that blends ingenuity, tech prowess, and heart to help you create the future you've envisioned for your company. The solutions we build come to life through true teamwork with you. We specialize in really listening, diving deep into the core of your business, and crafting the perfect creative solution to meet and exceed your needs. Whether you’re looking for a web or mobile application, artificial intelligence solution, or a piece of custom software, we'll take the stress out of your digital transformation. With us in your back pocket, a healthy new revenue stream could be just a few weeks away. Code forth and prosper, with Osedea.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award We felt honoured to be awarded the CanadianSME National Business Award for Small Business of the year. We were always proud to contribute to the Canadian economy by driving innovation and creating valuable jobs. It's amazing to be recognized for it. Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times We are inspired by all the small businesses out there who are working hard to service their clients and bring their passion to life. Running a small business comes with a ton of rewards, but also the multiple challenges that we face on a daily basis. The key thing, when times are more challenging, is to remember why you started. In addition, acknowledge that you are doing amazing work, by celebrating small wins with your team. And inspire and reward your teams, they are the driving force of your business.



Ricoh Small Business of the Year 50+ employees

Pouria Ghods PhD, P.Eng. | Co-Founder and CEO, Giatec Scientific Inc Dr. Ghods is an experienced entrepreneurial


leader with a history of pushing the concrete industry forward through smart construction solutions. He has extensive knowledge of concrete materials science, corrosion engineering and non-destructive testing. With a Postdoctoral Fellow focused in Materials Engineering from The University of British Columbia, Dr. Ghods has accumulated more than 150 peerreviewed publications.

Giatec Scientific Inc. is deeply honoured to have received the “Ricoh Small Business of the Year Award” (50+ Employees) from the CanadianSME Small Business Magazine. We have established our role as the world leader in concrete testing technology by consistently fulfilling our collective mission to innovate smart and sustainable technologies within the construction industry. We are highly appreciative of the CanadianSME Small Business Magazine’s recognition of our resilience through a challenging year, as well as the award’s acknowledgement of our sincere work ethic, financial strength through fiscally uncertain times, as well as our innovative and persevering business approach.

Shawn Ostheimer Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times Founder & President, The Answer Company The COVID-19 pandemic and its countless challenges have made it apparent, now more than Beginning in 1994, Shawn has spearheaded the company’s ever, that small and medium-sized businesses possess an exceptional sense of persistence even growth to become the largest Sage provider in Western when tested by some of the toughest circumstances. Despite being vulnerable to the financial Canada. With a Masters in Business Administration and over instability of the past year, small businesses continually strive for advancement––something thirty years of implementing financial and management we’ve witnessed having worked alongside numerous Canadian small and medium-sized systems, Shawn has contributed to every facet businesses as wellsoftware as established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Ourofadvice would be to improving clients’ businesses. Taking an active role in the accommodations to prepare for constant change. With most companies creating organizational company’s operations, Shawn helps improve businesses byflexibility is the key facilitate the in-person to remote work transition, it is abundantly clear that determining software solution fit that generates a attribute keeping organizations afloat as they weather the pandemic’s harshest storms. As the on investment for construction clients. His emphasis onwe can vouch for pioneers of severalsubstantial advancingreturn technologies within the business, integrity in customer hassmall been business instrumental in the the powerful potential of technology asservice a tool for owners to remain resilient company’s and has become through these challenging butsuccess transformative times. a pillar in The Answer

Company’s culture.

Ricoh Small Business of the Year 50+ employees

I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive the Small Business of the Year (50+) title in the Canadian SME National Business Awards 2020. We would not be where we are today without my wonderful team, our clients and our network of partners. Thank you for your ongoing support and trust so that we can continue to do what we do best - Propel Businesses Forward. And lastly, a major thank you to the CanadianSME Magazine for celebrating business success in Canada and congratulating those who have made a positive contribution to our country’s economy. Sending a warm congratulations to my fellow award winners! Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times At a time like this, we need to stand together so that we all can emerge from this pandemic more agile, resilient, and stronger than ever. We’ve always taken pride in our People First approach and giving back to the communities we do business in. This has kept us going during challenging times and we encourage the small business community to continue to grow and support each other as we navigate through these foreign waters.


Today’s circumstances present a unique opportunity for us to help companies like never before. As a Sage Certified Diamond Partner and Acumatica Gold Partner, we are dedicated to utilizing our ERP and Accounting solutions to help businesses thrive and stay competitive in the face of growing complexity and competitive pressures.

Shawn Ostheimer Founder & President, The Answer Company Beginning in 1994, Shawn has spearheaded the company’s growth to become the largest Sage provider in Western Canada. With a Masters in Business Administration and over thirty years of implementing financial and management software systems, Shawn has contributed to every facet of improving clients’ businesses. Taking an active role in the company’s operations, Shawn helps improve businesses by determining software solution fit that generates a substantial return on investment for clients. His emphasis on integrity in customer service has been instrumental in the company’s success and has become a pillar in The Answer Company’s culture.

Ricoh Small Business of the Year


50+ employees

Lawrence Krimker CEO, Simply Group Lawrence Krimker has become one of North America’s most accomplished business leaders. As he has managed to revolutionize the residential and commercial energy sector, successfully disrupting and transforming an industry that had grown complacent. Through strategic acquisitions, innovative business tactics, and the creation of a specialty financing model that has made high-efficiency energy appliances more affordable for homeowners and businesses, Lawrence has amassed over $1.45 billion in assets for his companies and has helped hundreds of thousands of Canadians reduce their carbon footprint.

The Best Place To Work


Glenn Hilton Founder and CEO of ImageX Glenn's role at ImageX encompasses company vision, leadership oversight, and strategic partnerships and he is constantly on the lookout for A-level talent to join their growing team at their offices in Vancouver, Canada, and Kiev, Ukraine. He is passionate about open source and has been an active participant in the Drupal community for over a decade. Glenn understands that relationships are the key to success, his personal mission is to enable each ImageX team member to reach his or her full potential so they can help build powerful, user-centric solutions to enable ImageX's clients to grow and deliver results.

The Best Business Support Organization

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award I'm beyond proud of all of the work that the Startup Canada team has done for entrepreneurship in Canada. Thank you CanadianSME Small Business Magazine for the Best Business Support Organization Award. This award isn't just for us, it's for every entrepreneur out there taking big risks, running with crazy ideas, and supporting their families during COVID-19. We need to continue putting entrepreneurs and their stories at the forefront of Canada's economy, supporting startups and small businesses is more important than ever. We've been supporting startups navigate and champion entrepreneurship for almost a decade now, here's to many more. Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times


Surviving as an entrepreneur or startup has been beyond difficult during a pandemic, that much is clear. But what is also clear, is the sheer tenacity and resilience of Canadian entrepreneurs when faced with adversity. We know it's been challenging, and we deeply admire your commitment to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive.

Kayla Isabelle CEO & Executive Director of Startup Canada Kayla Isabelle is the Executive Director of Startup Canada, the national rallying community supporting and giving a voice to Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs. Kayla has dedicated her career to supporting entrepreneurs, both in Canada and internationally. Kayla is an award-winning strategic communications consultant and change management facilitator and is passionate about leveraging the power of storytelling in the entrepreneurial community.

The Best Team Of The Year Award

It’s an honour for the entire Squeeze team to be awarded this prize, it has great value for us. We couldn’t have gone through this very special year with the help of our amazing people in Quebec and Montreal. Since our beginning, bringing a positive vibe to the work environment has always been a priority, as well as reaching a very high level of excellence in the quality of our work. Our philosophy is based on transparency and empowerment and we firmly believe that it is by relying on collective intelligence, from all cultures and backgrounds, that we stand out and shine every day.

Stay focused. When things get challenging, it's tempting to try and change everything to make it better... But even though it's crucial to stay agile and adapt, it's even more important to stay true to the 'added value' that your business is bringing to the market. Even if it means ramping down a little bit and slowing down. Staying away from spending precious time,

Denis Doré CEO, Squeeze Ranked on the 2020 Report on Business list of Canada's Top Growing Companies, Squeeze is an animation studio located in Quebec and Montreal with an international reputation. Co-founded in 2011 by Denis Doré and Patrick Beaulieu and supported by a creative team of more than 200 artists and technical experts, the studio develops larger-than-life characters thanks to the magic of 3D animation. Squeeze works with the world's elite in the entertainment industry including companies such as Disney, Marvel, Universal, Illumination, Supercell, Warner and Ubisoft. The studio also produces a portfolio of original creations aimed at an international audience including films and animated series. Squeeze’s animated kids show Cracké is broadcast in 210 countries and territories around the world, and cumulated over 480 million views on digital platforms.

money and efforts in all directions is key. We need to acknowledge that It's a marathon and not a sprint. And, obviously, no need to say that sticking together and building on teamwork is essential. It is in these difficult times that collective intelligence takes on its full meaning and that the greatest achievements come true.

Customer Service Excellence


To be among great companies and win the Customer Excellence award is such a great honour. It validates the hard work and tireless efforts of our technical support team to achieve outstanding results. Our advice to small business owners is to learn from your customers, prioritize customer support and deliver an exceptional experience to stay ahead of the curve.

Andrew King Director at WebSan Solutions Inc. Andrew King is Managing Director at WebSan Solutions Inc. He manages strategic client projects as well as business development, sales, and marketing at WebSan Solutions. He is a contributor for MSDynamicsWorld and has been featured in The Globe and Mail. Andrew is also known to be enthusiastic, honest, and sharp-witted. He’s a born adventurer and hence enjoys flying planes, riding his road bike, and zip-lining. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, USA.


JIM ESTILL President & CEO, Danby Appliances

May 31, 2021, 12:30 pm - 01:30 pm (EST) Exclusive banking partner

Shiraz Siddique Founder, Leverage Consulting

Organized by:

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

Startup Business of the year 2020

It is an honour to win the Canadian SME Small Business Magazine’s Start-up of the Year award. The award is a recognition of the change that North Water is trying to make by introducing delicious Canadian Rocky Mountain glacial water in aluminum bottles. Creating change is never easy, but watching our marine life get destroyed by plastics is even harder. The last 14 months have been extremely challenging for the world, let alone a start-up. This award is our North Star to get us to the end of the tunnel.

Special message/advice to small business owners Giving our all into something because we believe we can drive a change takes a lot of courage. Now more than ever, Canadians and people around the world are choosing to risk it all in the hopes of a better or different tomorrow. When the journey feels daunting and lonely, remember you are not alone. We have an entire community of changemakers that have dared to take this path less travelled. You are all an inspiration to the existing and next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. And the world can never have too many of us. In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, “to dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”

Saawan Logan CEO & Co-founder, North Water Canada

Digital & E-Commerce Business Of The Year Award - 2020


Alisha Esmail CEO at Road Coffee Inc. Creating platforms for others to be successful is one of my biggest drivers. Helping individuals build a life pursuing their passions through leadership development, emotional intelligence, organizational culture, and innovative strategy. I'm passionate about disrupting the status quo by developing culture, people, systems, and products to impact change in the world around us. I view entrepreneurship as a way to solve some of the world's biggest problems.


JIM ESTILL President & CEO, Danby Appliances

May 31, 2021, 12:30 pm - 01:30 pm (EST) Exclusive banking partner

Shiraz Siddique Founder, Leverage Consulting

Organized by:

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

Best Professional Services award 2020

Our team was thrilled to be the recipient of the CanadianSME Best Professional Services award! We have an incredible team who has gone above and beyond for the clients they serve over the last 14 months, giving the time, energy, passion, and expertise that was needed to support the small business community as the entire community was hit with uncertainty and economic hardship. We feel honoured that we are able to serve the mission-driven entrepreneurial community, and we are confident that those we work with will deliver their world-changing impact for many years to come!

We have just survived what will undoubtedly be the greatest time of economic and global uncertainty that we will ever face. However, on every side of struggle and pain is an opportunity to realize extraordinary gains. Although we have persevered, not everyone has. There will be an incredible opportunity to serve greater markets and to establish yourself as a leader in your industry. The economics don’t lie, the supply has decreased, but the demand hasn’t changed. Now is the time to double down on you, the survivor, the leader that your community has looked to for stability during this time. Now is your time to invest in working with those who have proven strategies and expertise in growth and financial success, to implement strategies into your business so that your suffering over the past year is not lost, but a mere stepping stone to realizing excellence in your space. Your time to invest in you and to lead your industry is now.

Robert Gauvreau Partner at Gauvreau & Associates CPA

Robert Gauvreau is an award-winning CPA and founding partner of Gauvreau & Associates CPA who specializes in helping entrepreneurs grow scale and turns a profit. With upwards of 500 clients including businesses recognized on Fortune 500 and Growth 500 in North America, Robert’s firm not only provides advisory, accounting, and

taxation services but also helps entrepreneurs find financial success and generate significant wealth.

Inspirational Leader Of The Year

Priya Chopra Founder and President, 1Milk2Sugars Born and raised in Montreal with an East Indian heritage, Priya is the founder and CEO of 1Milk2Sugars Communications, a thriving public relations agency specializing in influencer marketing, social media, and media relations. Under Priya’s leadership, 1Milk2Sugars has grown by over 200 percent in the last two years alone. The agency has been recognized with numerous industry accolades, including a CPRS Ace Award for outstanding brand development and a PR Daily Award for Best Content Marketing and Brand Journalism. In 2020, the Growth List named 1Milk2Sugars one of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies.

I’m very grateful to CanadianSME for awarding me Inspirational Leader of the Year. In accepting this honour, I’d like to recognize my fellow SME leaders who’ve met the challenges of the last year with courage, ingenuity and determination. I draw inspiration from you and feel privileged to call you my peers. Thank you and let’s keep going!

My advice to small business owners is to think critically about your company’s value proposition and refine it to meet this moment. What made your business unique or competitive may no longer apply in this pandemic era. Today, it’s about meeting your customer’s needs as they are now, not what they were when you launched your business. It’s much easier said than done, but leaning into a challenge is the best way not to be overwhelmed by it.

Young Entrepreneur of The Year

Jeremy Hedges President at The Canadian Shield Jeremy Hedges may be just 27-years-old, but he has always understood what it means to be a leader and that confidence led to the creation of The Canadian Shield, one of the earliest responders to the COVID-19 pandemic fight, filling the need for personal protective gear. Hedges traces his leadership instincts and the need to make a difference in the community to his youth. Growing up in Cambridge, Ont., he was heavily involved in athletics and student leadership when he attended Preston High School and Wilfrid Laurier University, where earned a degree in international development and politics. He credits his university studies for giving him a sense of the challenges and hardships people face around the world.

“It's a pretty incredible honour to receive Canadian SME's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Very thankful for the support from my team and all of their hard work to make sure our frontline healthcare workers had the PPE they needed to keep them safe. We also had really great community supporters like Communitech that enabled us to move fast and in many ways, we wouldn't be where we are without help from teams like theirs.” “Wishing all of my fellow small business owners the best as we hopefully near the end of the pandemic. It's been a marathon sprint and we've all been pushed to our limits to adjust.”

Technopreneur Of The Year Award

Clive Dias Founder, President and CEO,

iS5 Communications Inc. Clive is a seasoned entrepreneur and the Founder, President and CEO of iS5 Communications Inc. He has well over 25 years of experience in the Power, Transmission and Distribution, and Communications industries with GE Multilin and RuggedCom. At RuggedCom, Clive was the Chief Operations Officer where he provided short and long-term growth strategies while spearheading the expansion of the company operations locally and internationally. He provided hands-on leadership and engagement through various cross-functional departments while maintaining and optimizing P&L responsibilities. He participated in the company’s successful M&A activity, integration activities, and instrumental in the overall growth of the company since its inception. He succeeded in meeting the demands of the company’s increasing revenues year over year leading to the eventual sale of the company. Prior to RuggedCom, he worked at GE Multilin as the Manager of Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Test. He was integral in the design of products and solutions and in the sale of the company to GE. Clive is a CMET from Ryerson University, has a Six Sigma Blackbelt, and holds 6 patents.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award for Technopreneur of the Year was a very proud moment for me and iS5, especially during the pandemic. The team at iS5 did not stop working during these times and we are very proud of everyone’s continued dedication to the company and our customers. iS5 provides products to utilities and other critical infrastructure verticals that in turn are relied upon to ensure their customers have reliable power. Thank you again for awarding me and iS5 this award and congratulations to all the winners and nominees from the 2020 Canadian National Business Awards. Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times My advice to small business owners is to make sure that they look after and support their employees. They are the company and without them, we would not have a business. Empower them and they will power your business.

Technopreneur Of The Year Award

American Best Selling Author H. Jackson Brown, Jr said, “Don’t work for recognition, but do work worthy of recognition.” We share this philosophy at ElectricGo, and it is truly an honour to be recognized by the CanadianSME National Business Awards. Our team works hard despite challenges, to provide value for our partners and customers. It has always been clear to me that our team's work is recognition worthy, and we are pleased that the CanadianSME agrees. I would therefore like to express our sincere appreciation on behalf of ElectricGo. We are truly humbled to receive this award. To our colleagues in the technology sector, we have a massive responsibility as leaders in charge to make the world a better place. The current and future generations are depending on us to provide jobs and improve their quality of life. We must therefore continue to innovate creatively; while sustaining the environment and our scarce natural resources. Innovation and growth come primarily from within. Let’s challenge our teams to deliver epic productivity levels by continuously exceeding customer’s expectations. Happy customers promote our brands, and a popular brand is a valuable one.

Gurinder Singh Founder, ElectricGo Gurinder has a Bachelor’s of Commerce degree with Honours and is also an Accountant. He has competed at various athletics competitions such as winning gold at professional powerlifting and bronze at natural bodybuilding. He built ElectricGo from the ground up, which has now partnered with some of the largest education institutions and chains. Gurinder has grown ElectricGo to partnerships in cities throughout North America including as far south as Orlando, Florida. Gurinder’s energy and resilience is contagious, and he successfully delivers excellence in any engagement. Outside of work, Gurinder’s community service efforts vary. He has supported a number of local community centers. He has served as the Chair of the Parks Committee. In this role, he facilitated the process of acquiring artists to complete a $50,000, six-month community art project. Gurinder has also served as the Treasurer of a local community centre. In this role, he applied his Accountancy background to manage an $850,000 budget, provide leadership during key events, and implemented an in-house payroll system for approximately 60 employees to increase efficiency. Gurinder was constantly building relationships for the Centre and took it upon himself to steward getting them in a position to be sustainable. Gurinder currently serves as a volunteer Trustee of a local non-profit association, serving a community of 200,000.