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CANADIANSME Empowering Canadian Small & Medium Businesses



Entrepreneurs to follow

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Welcome to the first issue of the year of CanadianSME Magazine. We hope this new year will bring much success to your business and allow you to reach the goals you had set for yourself last year that you were unable to achieve due to the global pandemic. The year, 2020, was an extremely difficult year for everyone, and especially for small business owners. With the pandemic forcing many businesses to shut down during lockdown, it resulted in many businesses going bankrupt and those who have survived experienced a huge decrease in their profits. We’re hoping that 2021 will be a better year for entrepreneurs and bring much success and growth for Canada’s small business industry. To help entrepreneurs start the year strong, we have included several articles and interviews in this issue that we believe will help entrepreneurs succeed. Our article Key Advice to Small Business Owners 2021 includes expert advice and tips from top industry leaders who share their most valued tips that can help entrepreneurs grow their business in the new year. Among the industry experts who share their advice, we have Garrick Tiplady from Facebook and Instagram, Sheri Somerville from the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce, Fab Dolan from Google Canada, Rebecca Pang from RBC and Patrick Diab from Moneris. Other articles you will find in this issue are How to Fix Fighting Sales and Marketing Teams, COVID-19 and Winter Blues and Reviving B2B Marketing in 2021. We have also included a list of inspiring entrepreneurs that we believe everyone, but especially SME owners should follow to learn more. We hope you find this issue inspiring and resourceful. 2021 is a new year and we believe this year will be a great year for entrepreneurs. If we work together and share our resources and tips, we have no doubt that Canada’s small business industry will grow. As always, happy reading and until next time.

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ENTREPRENEURS TOFOLLOW When it comes to be a great entrepreneur, it takes more than starting a successful business. It’s about showing strength and resilience during challenging times, having the determination and the will power to find innovative solutions that can contribute to a company’s success during unprecedented times, and above all to be able to adapt to new situations. These are the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur stand out from the rest.


Dax Dasilva



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The recent global pandemic has put its toll on small business owners and put them in difficult situations. During these unimaginable times, there were several entrepreneurs who showed great strength and were able to strive. They showed resilience and embraced the new way of doing business by implementing innovative strategies and procedures that have not only contributed to their success but inspired others to do the same. Our main goal is to share resources and tips that can help small business owners succeed. We have shortlisted 25 entrepreneurs who have truly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit during COVID-19. We hope that through the story of these entrepreneurs, SME owners will be able to find the motivation they need to succeed.

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This B.C. Woman is on a Mission to Advance Indigenous Communities and all Canadians Stand to Gain

Her efforts are part of a first-of-its-kind initiative to close the innovation gap and leverage untapped potential of Indigenous businesses, researchers in Canada

Candice Loring is on a mission. The 36-year-old member of the Gitwangak band from the Gitxsan nation is out to change the narrative of Indigenous research in Canada.“Historically, research was done ‘on’ Indigenous people, not ‘for’ or ‘with’ Indigenous people,” explained Loring, Director of Business Development and Indigenous Community Engagement for Mitacs — a national innovation organization that fosters growth by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions — and the first Indigenous person to be hired by the organization. Now, thanks to a first-of-its-kind initiative launched by Mitacs, Indigenous-owned businesses and organizations are being connected with the right academic talent to help them achieve their innovation goals.“I’m working for an organization that’s not only hearing my voice but is my voice, helping to make real change within Indigenous research and academia,” said Loring, who joined Mitacs in August 2019. Comparing herself to a matchmaker, she is tasked with connecting highly talented university and college research interns to Indigenous businesses and organizations requiring their specific problem-solving skill sets. According to Statistics Canada, the Indigenous population is the fastest-growing in the country, increasing by 42.5 per cent between 2006 and 2016. Given the same opportunities as non-Indigenous people, Loring said it is estimated that Indigenous communities have the potential to add between $27.7 and $100 billion to Canada’s economy and give GDP a 0.3 per cent boost. She explained the new research initiative by Mitacs is bridging the gap by removing the financial and social barriers that have prevented Indigenous groups from accessing Mitacs programs, which traditionally provide half of the funding for hired interns. For the Indigenous program, partner organizations need invest only one quarter of the project’s cost, meaning they pay $3,750 of the typical $15,000 cost for a four-month internship. To qualify, either the organization must be 50 per cent owned by an individual who self-identifies as Indigenous, or the selected intern must selfidentify as Indigenous. “This is the most aggressive call we’ve launched to date,” said Loring, noting that there are no caps limiting the number of internships that can qualify per business. “The societal impact will go far beyond research because an entrepreneur’s success with their business really lifts up an entire community,” she added.

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Indigenous projects under way Through a partnership with EcoTrust Canada, for example, Mitacs Indigenous interns are currently working on hydroponic innovations to boost local food production and security, programs to help small businesses pivot amid COVID-19, self-sustaining restorative farming solutions, and art programs that encourage youth to share their voices. Other Indigenous interns are advancing novel breast and ovarian cancer therapies, developing a sustainable housing model for teen parents, creating a coordinated Indigenous emergency plan for response to COVID-19 and future emergencies, and revitalizing Indigenous languages. Tarun Katapally, a patient-oriented research leader and professor at the University of Regina’s Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, is currently leading a Mitacs-funded research team working to build a digital infrastructure that will monitor, mitigate and better manage the spread of COVID-19 and other societal issues in Indigenous and northern communities. The team’s initial prototype — an app called CO-Away — is being piloted in Île-à-laCrosse, a mostly Métis community of about 1,500 in northern Saskatchewan. “We’re empowering citizens to engage in a real-time virtual care tool, and in turn, their data is being used by their own community decision-makers to take steps to mitigate risk,” Katapally explained. The app allows users to report COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors, as well as other issues they may be facing such as food insecurity or mental health concerns. Any alerts or messages they receive, advising them on preventive actions to take, come from local leaders and authorities and are based on their individual risk assessment. “Even though the idea is an extension of my Smart Platform, we’re working closely with a citizen advisory council that is providing feedback and steering our development efforts,” Katapally explained. “The idea is to enable Indigenous self-governance and we’re doing that by working alongside Indigenous leaders.”

For Mitacs, “our team is committed to empowering Indigenous innovation in Canada,” said John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs. “Mitacs consults with Indigenous organizations to identify and solve their research challenges, and to leverage available funding; we also make the research connections and enable real job experience that Indigenous students rely on to advance their careers,” he added.

Reflecting on her personal educational and professional journey, Loring said having the opportunity to lead the Mitacs Indigenous initiative is “profound.” After dropping out of school in Grade 10 due to socioeconomic conditions and addiction struggles within her immediate family, Loring enrolled in the university in January 2012 as a single mother of two boys, simultaneously completing high school and working towards a Business Management degree she obtained four years later.

“To have a seat at the table in an organization that truly believes in advancing the Indigenous portfolio because it’s the right thing to do is one of the most profound moments of my life,” Loring said. “I’ve found an allyship here in an organization that knows the importance of making these matches and ensuring Indigenous innovation moves forward in Canada. In the broader picture, all Canadians stand to benefit.”

Quick Facts: Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Government of Yukon.

Learn more: For information about Mitacs and its programs, visit mitacs.ca/newsroom.

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Applications Now Open for Ontario's Small Business Support Grant Province Providing up to $20,000 for Eligible Businesses Impacted by Provincewide Shutdown The Ontario government has opened applications for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The grant, first announced in December, provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown. The tightened restrictions were put in place to help stop the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in Ontario. "As Ontario's employers do their part to defeat COVID-19, they are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of this global pandemic," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. "I encourage every eligible small business owner in Ontario to visit Ontario.ca/COVIDSupport to access the support our government has made available. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, we can all look confidently to the future as we resolve to do our parts and put COVID-19 behind us." Small businesses required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for a one-time grant and use this funding in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business needs. For example, some businesses could need support paying employee wages, while others could need support with their rent. Eligible small businesses include those that: Were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26. Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level. Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria. "Small businesses are the heart of Ontario's economy," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will help thousands of small businesses get through this difficult time, while strengthening our province's economic recovery."

"As the son of two small business owners, I understand what small businesses mean to the families, employees, and local communities they support," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. "Our hardworking businesses can be encouraged that the government's new Ontario Small Business Support Grant offers yet another helping hand that will give them the boost they need to meet the challenges of today and prepare for a brighter tomorrow." Businesses impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown are also eligible for additional supports, including the government's program to provide rebates to offset fixed costs such as property tax and energy bills. These rebates will continue to be available for businesses impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown and earlier restrictions. More information about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and other rebates is available on Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport. Quick Facts The businesses must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This time period was selected because it reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria. They will be able to select alternative months for comparing revenue decline through the application portal. In addition, winter seasonal businesses, such as ski hills, will be permitted to compare revenue from December 2019 or January 2020 to December 2020. The 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover outlined more than $13.5 billion in support for people and jobs. The government is also investing $4.8 billion to address critical areas to support a strong longterm recovery that helps workers, employers and communities get back on their feet, while building the foundation for recovery and growth.




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There is light at the end of the tunnel. Hon. Mary Ng, P.C., M.P. Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade From promoting Canada to the world as a great place to do business, to helping our entrepreneurs and businesses grow and access new markets – Minister Ng is focused on helping Canadians succeed. First elected the Member of Parliament for Markham–Thornhill in April 2017, Minister Ng was first appointed to Cabinet in July 2018 as Minister for Small Business and Export Promotion. After being successfully re-elected in October 2019, she became Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. Prior to serving as a Member of Parliament, Minister Ng served as Appointments Director for the Prime Minister, and as Executive Director for the President of Ryerson University where she oversaw the creation of a world-leading business incubator for tech start-ups. Throughout her 20 years of public service, Minister Ng has been a devoted community leader with a focus on creating jobs, fostering entrepreneurship, and empowering small business to innovate and grow.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? This past year has been an incredibly challenging time for small businesses, who have faced the pandemic with extraordinary resilience, innovation, and recognition that above all, we must all prioritize the health and safety of those around us. With the vaccine rollout, there is light at the end of the tunnel. From the beginning, our government committed to doing everything it takes to support small businesses and entrepreneurs until we defeat the virus. I encourage eligible businesses to continue using support programs available to them– like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account, and the new Canada Emergency Rent Support – all of which are critical in enabling our businesses and economy to weather the storm and prepare for a quick and full recovery.

In addition, our government is also focused on creating and expanding programs and resources that help more entrepreneurs see themselves as traders globally and bring their innovative Canadian products and services far and wide. We are taking a Team Canada approach to this and ensuring all businesses have access to our Trade Toolbox: Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Canadian Commercial Corporation – all of which are there to help Canadian businesses continue to succeed internationally.

We cannot do this alone. To all the business owners and entrepreneurs who have stepped up to support our Looking further ahead, we know that advancing digital trade communities in one of the most difficult periods in modern and e-commerce is one of the best ways we can support our history – thank you. Know that you can count on us to businesses, introduce them to more customers domestically continue providing crucial supports to get you through this and internationally, and help them bounce back. pandemic and be well-positioned for future success.

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Key advice to small business owners “Our government recognizes that COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for small businesses across Ontario. We continue to do everything we can to help small businesses overcome this difficult time. That is why we recently launched the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. This grant provides extra support to small businesses impacted by necessary public health measures so they can continue serving their communities and employing people in Ontario once COVID-19 is behind us. This one-time grant will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to small business owners to help navigate this challenging period. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business. For example, some businesses could need support paying employee wages or rent, while others could need support maintaining their inventory. I encourage eligible small business owners to visit Ontario.ca/covidsupport to apply for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. This website also provides access to other small business supports, including the $600-million property tax and energy bill rebates to support businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures, and grants for eligible small businesses to help offset the costs of personal protective equipment. I also encourage businesses to visit the Small Business Recovery Resources website to learn about other provincial resources available to them. Our government has been clear – we will do whatever it takes to support people and employers during this difficult period. These are significant investments, but it is precisely why we have set aside resources to ensure our response to COVID-19 can evolve throughout the pandemic. As the son of two small business owners, I understand what small businesses mean to the families, employees, and local communities they support. Our hardworking businesses can be encouraged that the government’s new Ontario Small Business Support Grant offers yet another helping hand to meet the challenges of today, and prepare for a brighter tomorrow.”

Hon. Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, MPP, Brampton South


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Now is the time to innovate and experiment

Garrick Tiplady Managing Director, Facebook & Instagram Canada Garrick Tiplady is a global business leader with twenty years of experience managing and advising businesses at innovative, mission-driven companies. As Managing Director of Facebook Canada, Garrick ensures that Facebook is a positive contributor to Canada’s economic, social and cultural fabric. He leads the Canadian team with a long-term vision and a strong sense of purpose in all areas of the business - whether impacting the innovation agenda in Canada, working across industries with businesses both big and small, or building community at a global scale. Garrick is a strong advocate for the power of technology to enable small businesses and has been deeply involved with Facebook’s efforts to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blume is an amazing example of a business that recognized these consumer trends early on. In October, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel with Bunny Ghatrora, the Co-Founder and COO of Blume. Together with her sister, they have built their brand around a core purpose de-stigmatizing period products and creating a new generation of informed, thriving and confident young women. Since the start of the pandemic, they also launched a new subscription service and are doing extraordinarily well.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021?

Like Blume, the businesses that leverage and learn from these trends will come out stronger on the other side. While it is not clear how the pandemic will impact consumer behaviour over the long-term, we know these changes are here to stay.

“In the span of a few months, the global pandemic transformed the way we live, work, shop, and connect with each other. With lockdown restrictions across the country and a vaccine on the way we should brace ourselves for another year of change. Heading into 2021, small businesses must be thinking about investing in ecommerce, prioritizing convenience alongside health and safety, and communicating their brand values. Now is the time to innovate and experiment. First, Canadian consumers are more open to new shopping experiences. From shopping directly from social channels to subscription-based service models - businesses need to rethink how their shoppers discover their products online. Second, Canadians are expecting more convenience when they shop. We have been spoiled by the ease of ordering online with delivery and pick-up options - and we aren’t going back. Third, we have seen that Canadians are more willing to support businesses that champion causes. Value-driven purchasing is particularly sticky among Generation Z - which as of this year makes up 41% of the world.

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Agility. Community. People. In the best of times these are good rules for any business. In these times, they’re essential. What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021?

Mairead Lavery President and CEO, Export Development Canada

In the best of times, the business has risks. Then there are times like these. EDC is in the risk management business, using our financial and knowledge solutions to help companies, particularly the small- and medium-sized, to grow internationally. In March of 2020, the Government of Canada temporarily expanded EDC’s mandate, allowing us to work with non-exporting companies as well – only the second time in our history this has happened. This kind of thinking, looking beyond traditional roles and practices, is an illustration of the kind of agility many Canadian businesses have exercised in this crisis, and many more will have to exercise before it’s over. That would be my first principle for navigating these kinds of times: be agile. The second is finding strength in your community. This might come in the form of inspiration – learning from the companies that have pivoted from pre-pandemic roles to meet new challenges, found new ways of doing business or gain new customers. Or it could come in the form of emergency financial help through Government of Canada programs. In a crisis, our community is there for us. Third, and I think, the most critical principle is this: put your people first. Early on, we knew we couldn’t hope to deliver for EDC’s customers if we didn’t look after the health and safety of our employees. We transitioned to working from home, offering allowances for office equipment, workspaces and wellness. We added flexibility to our health-care services, vacation and leave policies, and offered new resources for our managers working in unprecedented times. Our employees were confronting risks they had never seen. This was our way of helping them, so they could help you. Agility. Community. People. In the best of times, these are good rules for any business. In these times, they’re essential.

Since joining Export Development Canada in 2014, Mairead Lavery has put values and ethics at the center of her leadership approach. Appointed President and CEO on February 5, 2019, Mairead set out three pillars for her leadership: Champion for Trade; Environmental, Social and Governance Responsibility; and Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. These values are the centrepiece of her – and EDC’s – business agenda. Under her direction, EDC has pursued ambitious objectives, achieving unprecedented growth, and helping more Canadian companies do business in 200 markets around the world while generating over $100 billion in trade and investment annually. In 2020, EDC became a major contributor to the Federal government’s COVID-19 economic response, helping deliver billions of dollars in liquidity to companies across Canada.

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Equip with right technology tools, deployment, and IT support Colin McIsaac General Manager, Lenovo Canada As Lenovo’s General Manager of Canada, Colin is responsible for sales, operations, culture, strategy and customer satisfaction of the region. He has overall P&L responsibility for Commercial, SMB and Consumer products through all major routes to market. Colin’s 23 years of experience spans multiple roles, opportunities, and experiences in the technology business. He has held numerous key leadership positions in both Canada and the US at both Lenovo and IBM. He is passionate about driving broad market engagement and has a strong desire to help enable the customer journey to successful business outcomes. Colin has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto, Canada and sits on the Board of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) and First Robotics Canada.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? With a challenging year behind us, it’s important to reflect on its valuable the lessons learned and what this means in 2021 and beyond. The pandemic forced businesses to adapt and innovate quickly, forever impacting the work environment. Businesses of all sizes had to re-examine the functionality of the workplace and recalibrate to accommodate meet a remote or hybrid workforce – a change that is here to stay. As some companies are returning to their offices, small businesses need to examine how a hybrid work model can enhance collaboration and employee satisfaction long-term. Traditional office environments will transition to business hubs, as home offices become the day-to-day workplace. The typical office setting will move from many desks, conference rooms and shared amenities, to a cooperative business center. Configurable workstations with nimbler and more portable tech will allow employees to readily adapt their surroundings as needed.

For small businesses, this may seem daunting, as many don’t have a dedicated IT department to manage this process. Everything-as-a-Service (XEaaS) will accelerate into the SMB space, shifting capital expense to operational expense as companies gain access to more tech tools, IT services and security at a more affordable price. If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that small businesses and their employees enhance their chances of success when they are nimble, adaptable, and collaborative. It’s imperative to have the right IT infrastructure and expertise in place to support the workplace of the present and future.

As a result, employers will need to equip their workforce with the right technology tools, deployment, and IT support to maximize productivity and collaboration – both while working from home and in the workplace office. To prioritize smart collaboration, companies will need to shift spending to improve IT infrastructure and basic employee needs, such as PCs with enhanced camera and audio capabilities, to ensure employees can be productive, regardless of location.


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Leverage technology that will provide a 360degree view of return-to-work readiness across locations Margaret Stuart Country Manager, Salesforce Canada As Country Manager for Salesforce Canada, Margaret Stuart is responsible for leading the growth strategy and business operations to deliver customer success and digital transformations. Margaret was previously the Senior Vice President of Sales and Operations at Blackberry where she was responsible for BlackBerry’s enterprise software go-to-market, global Inside Sales and the BlackBerry Workspaces solution. Prior to this, Margaret was Vice President, North American Business Development at SAP. Margaret has more than 20 years of experience in sales, go-to-market and product management with technology companies including Longview Solutions and Siemens Healthcare (now Cerner). She’s a board member at Elevate and has a B.A. in Computer Science from Trinity College Dublin. She is also a graduate of The Judy Project, a Rotman School leadership forum.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? Small businesses are what makes a community and Canada’s SMBs have demonstrated resilience and innovation throughout 2020 - qualities that will continue to be important as we head into 2021. Looking at the year ahead, it’s important to double down on digital, while being prepared to innovate safely with customer experiences. The digital imperative is here to stay and frictionless, personalized experiences are the new norm. According to recent Salesforce research, 88% of customers expect companies to accelerate their digital initiatives because of the pandemic. In fact, 68% of customers agree that COVID19 has elevated their expectations of brands’ digital capabilities. Small businesses should also leverage technology that will provide a 360-degree view of return-to-work readiness across locations, employees and visitors, and make data-driven decisions.


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Do something that matters and try to help a few people along your way

Sheri Somerville, BPR, BBA, SCMP Chief Executive Officer AtlanticChamber of Commerce Inc. Sheri Somerville is CEO of Atlantic Chamber of Commerce (ACC), the largest accredited business association in Atlantic Canada representing more than 16,000 businesses through its network of 94 chambers and 29 corporate partners. She is a globally certified communications professional with more than 23-years of multi-sector business experience, and partners with her members to influence an environment in Atlantic Canada where business succeeds.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? In a normal year, business owners are used to solving problems as they arise. But as 2020 unfolded, nearly all small businesses were impacted and likely felt trapped in a continuous game of whack-amole with a torrent of near irresolvable issues and new regulations popping up—all seemingly fixated on defeating their business. The one constant in 2020 was uncertainty, a trend that appears will continue as we enter 2021 and the ground below us continues to shift. Most will likely take a conservative approach in 2021, focusing on profitability and rebuilding. To create stronger businesses that withstand sudden changes, it’s important to take stock of your customers and operations, optimize processes and automate tasks, and consolidate systems or outsources services to optimize your productivity and efficacy. I would recommend starting with what drives your business and processes, your customer. Make sure you know them or get to know them again because their needs and preferences may have changed, and you may need to adapt to meet those new needs. Also take advantage of the Shop Local trend because many want to support their local economy. Change often reveals new customers and market prospects. So, look for any new opportunities that may exist for your product or service. If you need help, your local Chamber of Commerce can make connections in your community, nationally and internationally. Often the best solutions and innovations come from within, so look to your internal teams for ideas, by creating an open culture that encourages this. Leverage their expertise to identify ways to increase your agility, as well as shore up any gaps uncovered in 2020 to ensure you’re ready for future challenges. Routine tasks often eat up time unnecessarily and that’s unproductive. Leverage technology to help automate those processes so you can focus on other priorities. Even the smallest improvement can increase your efficacy, agility, and ability to respond quickly in situations. Take advantage of the supports currently available from governments and organizations like the Business Development Bank of Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, local Community Business Development Corporations—we’re hearing that these organizations and supports are not being fully utilized. Finally, reach out to your local Chamber or Board of Trade. Their teams can help you with guidance, information, and connections to programs, and services that may be beneficial for your business, but they also can leverage the network across Canada to support local business.

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Adapt, innovate and dream big Jan De Silva President and CEO Toronto Region Board of Trade

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021?

Jan De Silva is President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, one of the largest and most influential business organizations in North America. She is spearheading efforts to make Toronto one of the most competitive and soughtafter business regions in the world.

Jan brings to the role more than 14 years of international CEO experience building ambitious, high-growth organizations. Anchored in her leadership is her belief in the power of economic development to lift communities. Prior to joining the Board, she served as CEO of Sun Life Financial’s Hong Kong and Mainland China businesses and co-founded and later sold Retail China Limited. Jan also served as Dean of Ivey Asia for Ivey Business School of Western University. Highly respected for her business advocacy and government engagement, Jan has been Chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Chair of the Canada China Business Council in Beijing, and served on the Board of the Asian Corporate Governance Association. In 2019, she was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to represent Canada on the APEC Business Advisory Council. Jan also sits on the boards of Intact Financial Corporation, listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange; and, Blue Umbrella Limited, a global compliance technology company headquartered in Hong Kong.

In a year of economic uncertainty and turmoil, the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s 13,500 members and partners – the vast majority of whom are small businesses owners – demonstrated an incredible amount of perseverance and determination to keep their businesses afloat. My advice for 2021? Aspire not just to keep the lights on, but to grow. I know that degree of optimism seems premature in a moment of rising COVID-19 cases and government-mandated lockdowns. Still, as every business owner knows, bold goals can help to re-charge entrepreneurs, inspire employees and excite consumers. Here are some of the growth goals I’ve heard from our members in the Toronto region: connect virtually with new distributors in other countries, expanding into international markets; interrogate how the business uses technology to achieve key objectives; re-evaluate front, middle and back-office processes not just through the lens of COVID-19 safety, but also for efficiency and opportunity. By adopting these and other goals in 2021, your business can be on the frontlines of Canada’s economic recovery. And like all New Year’s resolutions, goals are easier to achieve when you have help. At the Board, for instance, we’ve pivoted all our support programs online to stay in step with business owners needing to adjust their growth and trade plans this year. We’ve also created new offerings, like our Recovery Activation Program, to help SMEs across Ontario use technology to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic. Boards and chambers in everyprovince are standing up similar resources. In 2021, access these and other supports. We know that economic recovery won’t be a straight line – it will vary by sector, region and community. We do, however, know how it will be achieved: by small and medium-sized businesses continuing to adapt, innovate and dream big. ABOUT THE TORONTO REGION BOARD OF TRADE The Toronto Region Board of Trade is one of the largest and most influential chambers of commerce in North America and is a catalyst for the region’s economic growth agenda. Backed by more than 13,500 members, we pursue policy change to drive the growth and competitiveness of the Toronto region, and facilitate market opportunities with programs, partnerships and connections to help our members succeed – domestically and internationally. We want Toronto to be recognized as one of the most competitive and sought-after business regions in the world, and believe this reputation starts with our businesses. Learn more at bot.com and follow us at @TorontoRBOT.

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Successful planning is the key Claudio Rojas CEO, National Angel Capital Organization

Claudio Rojas is Chief Executive Officer of the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO). Claudio has held the roles of managing director, board member, advisor, and founder of several prominent organizations contributing to Canada’s transformation into the world’s leading innovation economy. He brings an exceptionally long-term entrepreneurial mindset to investments and is a thought-leader on founder-run companies. Incorporated in 2002, the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) has pioneered angel investing in Canada, including the formation of angel groups and development of best practices, intelligence, tools and educational resources to unlock early-stage capital for entrepreneurs. Since 2010, NACO members have invested over $1 billion into early-stage ventures, creating thousands of jobs and supporting community development. NACO members assist entrepreneurs in every region and industry to execute their vision and commercialize their ideas.

Cash flow is critical to small businesses. With uncertainty around when the current crisis will subside, many entrepreneurs are under severe financial pressure. Their businesses are at risk of closure, their employees at risk of being permanently laid off, and their livelihood is at risk. Small business owners would be wise to have sufficient cash flow to outlast the remaining months of the pandemic, however long that could be. This means having multiple contingencies. Reducing certain variable expenses can help to weather the storm. Business owners should also consider the opportunities available to them to leverage government relief programs, and if appropriate, equity capital, revenue-based financing, and similar options to help them bridge the gap to the other side. Successful planning involves anticipating various scenarios and preparing accordingly, yet knowing that there will be brighter days ahead.

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Stay true to your values, remember your purpose, and why your business exists Susan St. Amand TEP, FEA, ICD.D President and CEO

The Sirius Group Inc. (Sirius Financial Services) Susan is a third-generation entrepreneur and the President and Founder of Sirius Financial Services, specializing in continuity planning for families with wealth in the Ottawa region. She is past Chair of Ottawa International Airport Authority, past co-Chair of the Institute of Corporate Directors Ottawa Chapter and Chair of the Ottawa Community Foundation. Susan is an expert in governance and is on numerous national professional associations, private, philanthropic, for-profit, and not-for-profit Boards. She is a designated Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA) and has been a Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX)Board member since July 2017.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? Stay true to your values, remember your purpose, and why your business exists. The solutions to difficult questions can be found when you reflect on the values, vision, and mission of your enterprise. Keep focused on the long term, while delivering on immediate priorities. The most valuable asset you have is your health and the health of your family and employees, so nourish the body and the mind, with exercise, healthy food, and sleep. Prioritize those individuals in your family and your business who are in most need of support. Reach out and stay engaged with your supportive peer community. Peer communities, such as the Family Enterprise Xchange (FEX), provide a wealth of information and an escape from isolation. You are not alone, the exchange of information with peers is invaluable and it may lead to clarity and the resolution of problems that appeared unsolvable. Decisions that are reversible can be made quickly, but take your time to consider the pros and cons of more deliberate nonreversible decisions. Don’t get stuck on one path, allow yourself to take calculated detours as required. If you are unable to deliver your services/products in the usual way, reflect on new options to fill the needs of your clients/customers. Flexibility is key. Keep the lines of communication open and try to start each day with a positive affirmation of the contributions you and your business make to the economy.

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Every industry has had to adapt quickly to the pandemic Jas Saraw Vice President, Canada, Procore.

Jas Saraw is vice president, Canada for Procore Technologies, the world’s most widely used construction management platform. Passionate about innovation and the construction industry, he has over 18 years of technology leadership experience specializing in SaaS, ERP, CRM, financial, e-commerce and content solutions. Working with his team and through his interactions with construction companies across Canada he brings a unique understanding and viewpoint of construction technology as it applies and is being applied practically coast to coast. Jas currently leads the Procore Canadian business unit comprising over 35 employees in 2 Canadian offices.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? It will be important to delineate between matters of process and matters of culture. Every industry has had to adapt quickly to the pandemic, and in construction, the abandonment of handshakes was immediately noticeable. When we talk about whether handshakes are a thing of the past, we’re talking about culture. Something we’ve learned in construction is that culture determines a lot of what happens. It’s one reason the industry has been slow to digitize. If you improve a process in a way that also requires a cultural shift, you might encounter more resistance than you otherwise would. Handshakes are a benign example of this. We also come up against cultural resistance when creating pathways for women in construction, and making the industry one that young people seek out as desirable. And now we are seeing the pandemic force changes in how we work, and how people work across many industries. I’ve learned that culture is not something external that just happens, it’s something you can influence. We’ve done that at Procore – we put a lot of thought into the culture of the company and its downstream effects on every aspect of the business, from recruitment to retention to our ability to execute against certain goals. I would suggest not being complacent and saying, “We changed this process,” as if the matter is settled. You might be talking about something that’s actually part of a workplace or industry culture, and that can be slower to change, or to change in a way that sticks. No matter the size of your organization, or the business you’re in, talking to employees and getting feedback is important. We should all be thinking about this in 2021. It adds to the list of things to do as part of the recovery, but personally I find it heartening. It is also one more thing within our control, and I’m not sure everyone realizes that.

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Key advise to small business owners for 2021 Peter Gima

Manager, Small Business for AWS in Canada. Over the course of 2020, we have seen unprecedented change in the market that SMEs operate in. Organizations that had operated in a stable and healthy environment were quickly faced with new conditions that threatened revenues, and in many cases their business. So what separated the organizations that thrived during this period of change, from those that were threatened? Here are the top observations we have found from working closely with a wide variety of SMEs across Canada. First, organizations that had the ability to quickly respond to a reduction in customers or revenue by reducing their IT infrastructure, were able to immediately lower their IT spend. We have since seen many of these organizations quickly spin up their IT infrastructure again as market conditions stabilized or improved, allowing these SMEs to nimbly handle increased customer demand and revenue opportunities. This was the case for a company that provides entertainment experiences for restaurants and bars. Their business model changed throughout the year as shelter in place orders due to COVID-19 heavily affected the hospitality industry. Another example is London-based VidHug. The platform creates video montages for special events. At the start of the lockdowns in March, about 300 users engaged with the platform daily, but in four weeks, it ballooned to 130,000 people a day. At the time, VidHug had one employee – the cofounder. The service was able to scale to meet demand because of the elasticity of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

Second, agile organizations were able to quickly adapt their product or delivery models to capture new markets, including the ability to deliver services virtually, shift to an e-commerce model, or connect with new customers well beyond their traditional or local markets. Third, customers who were collecting data properly were able to quickly analyze trends, and leveraged that analysis to make smart business decisions including where to focus resources, and to identify hidden opportunity. As we move into the new year and develop new strategies, SMEs should take the opportunity to rethink how their IT model aligns with their business. Is their IT infrastructure limiting growth and innovation, and it is managed as a cost centre? Or, is their IT infrastructure a driver of growth and innovation, and managed as a revenue centre? Will SMEs be ready to take advantage of new opportunities? These are hard questions, but the answers may not be as difficult as they sound.

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Continue to build your presence online Fab Dolan Director of Marketing at Google Canada Fab Dolan is the Director of Marketing at Google Canada. At work and in his talks, he draws on his experiences leading iconic businesses—brands such as Cheerios and Green Giant, and revolutionary upstarts such as Android and

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What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? 2020 will forever be remembered as a year that shook small businesses. But, it should also be remembered as a year where Canadian entrepreneurs showed their resilience, creativity, innovation and their ability to be nimble. Almost overnight, small business owners across the country closed their doors, and had to pivot their operations online to stay connected to their customers whether that’s implementing curbside pick-up, offering online yoga classes or selling products through their website.

As 2021 gets underway, my advice for small business owners is to continue to build your presence online. The habits Canadians formed while staying home are here to stay and that means online is the first stop for many in their purchasing journey - even if they later end up purchasing in-store. There are a number of free resources available for Canadian small businesses looking to get online for the first time and resources for those looking to expand their digital presence. See my top three picks below.

Visit Google’s Small Business Hub, which provides the tools needed to get online, connect with customers and build digital skills. More than 1.5 million Canadians have visited the site to date.

For small businesses looking to expand their presence in other cities or countries, check out Market Finder, a free tool to identify new potential markets, discover helpful operational information and start selling to customers at home and around the world.

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You need to adapt, pivot and move with speed Nunzio Presta CEO of BuyAndSellABusiness.com.

Nunzio Presta, BCom is an ex pro hockey player turned entrepreneur. He is known for his speed, endurance and strong leadership. He has helped build, grow, advise and set the tone for businesses with one main goal: to add value to the world. Currently he serves as the CEO of BuyAndSellABusiness.com.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? I think it’s fair to say there isn’t a playbook for 2021. As small business owners and leaders, it’s going to be super important to stand strong on our vision, but be agile in the details of that vision for 2021. Why? Because in challenging times things are uncertain and you need to adapt, pivot and move with speed. And we can’t confuse speed with fast! Speed is being decisive and taking action on uncertainty while having the willingness to experiment the right way and in the right direction. Fast, on the other hand, is making poor quality decisions. Mixing this up in 2021 will be deadly. Also, we all need to move forward into 2021 with gratitude – being grateful for what we have versus what we’ve lost. It will also be important for us all to be accountable, looking deep inside and asking ourselves: what I can do better for all my stakeholders? However, here are 3 ways that I feel we make 2021 better:

WELLNESS We need to build and protect everyone’s energy by encouraging better eating, exercising, meditating, reading, protecting family time, talking with friends and sleep. In a remote/work from home world, the effects will boost productivity for everyone in your organization.

RESILIENCE OPTIMISM We need to understand that organizational resilience requires employee well-being. So, we have to take care of our people and cannot afford to tarnish relationships for “a moment in time”. If we don’t have people, we don’t have a business. Bottomline: successful people and organizations all get knocked down in some way, no one is exempt, but they don’t stay down very long. Their vision, purpose and grit snap them back into shape.

We need to be as optimistic as possible, while uncovering the truths. A pessimist never inspired anyone, especially during challenging times. The primary ingredient for progress is optimism - the unwavering belief that something can be better drives us all forward. The year 2021 will be about hope and rebuilding. Now, let's get to work!

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You need something to strive for and to give you hope as you look forward

Jeff Dawley Founder Cybersecurity Compliance Corp.

Cybersecurity Compliance Corp.

In 2017, I found myself once again in the position of Chief Financial Officer taking on an IT department and looking for information on how to assess the department’s performance, but more urgently in today’s environment, our cybersecurity status. After several months of research and seminars, it became clear to me that the market was inadvertently conspiring to prevent small businesses from having the ability to engage affordable, stage-appropriate cybersecurity help that would actually provide a full picture of our cybersecurity exposure. Subsequent conversations with business executives, board members, and industry professionals confirmed that there are two particular barriers that make it difficult for small businesses to find a starting point when dealing with their own cybersecurity needs.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? In some ways, the transition to 2021 is much like previous years. We turn the page on obstacles and barriers faced, we celebrate challenges overcome and threats survived, we look ahead to the potential of a new year and chart a course to take advantage of emerging or soon to be revealed opportunities. In other ways, this year’s transition is nothing like we’ve seen in recent memory. Lockdowns continue, the virus evolves, unrest grows and we face as much uncertainty looking forward as we have seen in some time.

Having said that, the principles remain the same. Put 2020 and it’s challenges in your rearview mirror. Dwelling on lost opportunities, failures or past disasters will not change them into successes. It will only inhibit your ability to adapt and grow moving forward. Create a plan based on your best guess as to what is to come. You need something to strive for and to give you hope as you look forward, and it is much easier to adapt an existing plan than it is to create one from scratch as the tide shifts.

Be kind to yourself and to others. This may be cliché, but everyone is dealing with their own stresses in the current environment, yourself included. Remind yourself to respect those you deal with, show empathy for those around you and make sure you take time, to be honest about your own needs and to make the time to address them. It will take a community of people, from your local neighborhood to our broader global community, to help one another survive and emerge stronger from this challenging period, but I have faith that we will arrive at a more balanced and peaceful work/life environment than we had before the chaos of COVID impacted nearly every element of daily life.

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Look for digital tools that provide you with flexibility Patrick Diab Chief Product Officer Moneris Patrick Diab, Chief Product Officer at Moneris, oversees the ongoing evolution of the organization’s product portfolio. Mr. Diab evaluates emerging technologies and how they can be leveraged to create more agile and robust business solutions. With over 18 years of experience in the payments industry, Mr. Diab has implemented solutions for a multitude of industry segments. He has also held roles in technology, product and client integration.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? “Having the right tools and the right partners is more critical than ever. It can take a long time but put in the work now will pay off down the road. Look for digital tools that provide you with flexibility and a range of options that can grow with your business. Make sure all the partners you work with are aligned with your vision, and have real conversations about where you can and can’t compromise. Now is a great opportunity to revisit your business plan for 2021 and beyond. While you can’t anticipate the unexpected, you can reimagine how you deliver products or services that help your customers by asking yourself the hard questions. What processes and digital tools do you already have in place? Do they support your customers’ wants and needs now as well as your longterm vision? How has your long-term vision changed? What tools and partners do you need to close those gaps? Most importantly, continue to believe in yourself. Know that as a small business owner you have the strength to adapt to whatever the world throws at you. Your community is here to support you and would not be the same without you.”

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We should retain and build on how we communicate with each other in our businesses, and beyond

David W Smith CMC, ACC Leadership Coach & Consultant | President @Logia Consulting™ | Co-Founder @Virtual Leadership Matters™ David Smith, BComm, CMC, ACC, RPM has over 30 years of experience as an organizational leader and a decade as certified executive coach, facilitator and management consultant. He has served as a corporate executive (CEO), business owner and entrepreneur in multiple start-ups in different industries including one of Canada’s ‘50 Best Managed Companies. He is the President of Logia Consulting Inc™. and Co-Founder of Virtual Leadership Matters Inc™.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? I fondly recall a cheeky little film on customer service from the 1980s called Remember Me. This short film inspired us all to remember those customers that we might have unwittingly ignored. Customers make decisions one way or another and our indifference to them does not bode well. How does that link to business advise for 2021? 2020 brought us lots to remember including that unwelcomed intruder, COVID-19. As the wounds are assessed and the subsequent learnings mount, I suggest we retain and build on how we communicate with each other in our businesses, and beyond. As the pandemic arrived in the first quarter 2020, we all used our communication skills to ensure customer needs were somehow served, the supply chains adapted and our staff remained informed and safe. Much of the communication was adrenalin-driven and compliant in nature, checking in

with remote workers on Zoom or MS Teams to ensure people weren't checking out. StatsCan reported that 3.4 million people moved to remote work and remain so today. I was struck by this recent quote from Lori Beer, JPMorgan Chase and Co.’s Global CIO, “How we interact with our clients and the collaboration tools we're now using to work remotely really change the dynamics around how we can affectively collaborate in our business… Those are trends that absolutely will continue to accelerate.” We must assume that changing how we interact with clients and our teams is not a fad. This will require new skills, new tools and perhaps new styles of leadership. As well it's important to also ‘Remember Me’ with our families. To ensure we remain healthy and vibrant, and live to serve another day, we must also Remember Me and look after ourselves and those who matter the most in our lives.

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Omar Allam CEO & Founder - Allam Advisory Group What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? We have been tested like never before. 2020 was a year full of unprecedented trials, and what we have endured will have a lasting impact on how we live and do business. As we reset in 2021 – to restart and recover, there is a sense of optimism and relief laced with withdrawal and doubt. I think we are going to be at very uneven paces across many industries and everyone needs to be quite measured and think realistically about fundamentals. Everyone wants to go back to the playbook they’ve had from previous recessions. This is different, this is a global health crisis. The traditional view of profit and the impact of supply chains will never be the same. We’ve seen some industries become permanently impaired as a result of it and we’ve seen an acceleration and an improvement in the prospects for other industries. I think there is room to grow. The wisest thing to do today is blocking the noise, never be restricted. Approach challenges and opportunities with a straightforward positive mindset, utilizing creative thinking.

Omar Allam is the CEO and founder of Allam Advisory Group, a global trade advisory consulting firm. As CEO, he is involved in all aspects of managing AAG’s national and international operations and workforce, leading efforts to set the firm’s business goals and growth strategy, driving sales and revenue generation, performance and culture. He leads strategic international growth initiatives, which includes oversight of sectoral teams and client work in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He is also co-leader of AAG’s Global Healthcare Practice.

Show initiative, step forward, take risks, embrace teamwork, deliver with creativity, have a sense of responsibility and ownership. Those who overshoot, will outperform. It is also OK if you don’t have it all figured out. If everyone in business would be authentic and admit they don’t know exactly what to do all the time, we’d be so much further ahead. Because when people feel the need to emit a perfection persona, it creates this ego blockage around them that we have to bust through to get things flowing again. It’s such a waste of time and completely unnecessary. Let's just admit that we are all constantly learning. When we do, it opens up so much room for trying new things (which, sometimes leads to failing). Failing is learning in real time and there is no reason why you can’t learn the hard way. While failing can be soul crushing, just remember that it’s the best training you can get. Remember, small business owners, you are not alone. We are on the front lines of commerce together, driving economic growth and boosting job creation – the heartbeat of the Canadian economy.

Approach challenges and opportunities with a straightforward positive mindset, utilizing creative thinking

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Be innovative & expect the unexpected Andria Barrett President - Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce

Andria Barrett is the President of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce and believes that success in the Black business community, results in a stronger and more successful Canadian economy. She is responsible for leading a team that contributes to creating and supporting Black-owned businesses across the country and was responsible for partnerships with Uber, Facebook and SheaMoisture. She is also the Founder of the Diversity Agency, a Speaker's Bureau and works with a team that specializes in facilitating workshops in Unconscious Bias & Anti-Black racism. The Diversity Agency works with Chambers of Commerce, Government Agencies and Corporate Canada to create programs for their organizations. Andria has contributed and participated on economic recovery roundtables and is committed to supporting Black entrepreneurs across the country.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? My advice for small business owners in 2021 can be summed up like this.

Don’t look back. Look ahead. Be innovative. 2020 was hard, very hard. It was painful and forced many of us to rethink our business plan, business model, and product and service offerings. We’ve seen companies redefine their niche and for some, simply close down. Be customer centric. How is the pandemic affecting them and what little things can you do to improve their experience during these times.

Be prepared to break all the rules. Be prepared to change your business model. Be willing to experiment with your business model. As your customer behaviour changes, be prepared to change your behaviour to enable long lasting relationships or create new ones.

Embrace change. Find a way to connect with your current and new customers. Just because you can’t see your customers doesn’t mean you can’t interact with them. Now, more than ever is the time to get back to basics. Include a handwritten note in your shipping package, follow up with a courtesy call or reach out to your consumers on social media.

Be innovative & expect the unexpected. Look at your business from every angle, every side and perspective. Look at your business from the point of view of your suppliers, customers and even your competition. Ask yourself, what you can do to keep generating revenue and satisfying your customers. Look for trends and areas of opportunities for your industry or sector. Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it.

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SMEs should revisit their vision, mission and core value statements Laura Williams, LLB, CSP Lawyer, Speaker, HR Business Consultant, Workplace Investigator, Thought Leader, Corporate Trainer, Instructor, Podcaster Founder and Principal, Williams HR Law and Williams HR Consulting Inc.

Laura has built two highly respected firms which respectively provide proactive HR law and HR consulting advice designed to minimize workplace law challenges, maximize employee engagement and boost bottom line performance. Laura is also a seasoned workplace investigator, routinely engaged to conduct complex workplace investigations, and is recognized for specific expertise in investigations related to equity, diversity and inclusion. As a professional speaker, Laura regularly delivers keynote talks on topics relevant to entrepreneurs, business leaders, HR professionals and lawyers. Laura has recently launched a podcast for business leaders and HR Professionals called, We Thrive Forward – Conversations with Laura Williams which is available on all major platforms.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? Many SMEs not only were blindsided by the impact of the pandemic they, frankly, felt “sucker punched” – like the rug had been pulled out from under them. Maneuvering and adapting has not been an option in many cases to survive, but those that will ultimately thrive are the ones that are seizing this opportunity to focus on three I’s when contemplating changes during this period: Introspection, Innovation, and Inclusivity.

I n t r o s p e c t i o n : SMEs should revisit their vision, mission and core value statements to ensure they are still relevant and aligned with business objectives, which may have shifted in the pandemic. It is also critical to ensure organizational goals are clear to employees, and that everyone knows their role in fulfilling them. Further, leaders must be equipped with the necessary skills to stabilize employee morale and engender trust, as the pandemic has destabilized workplace cultures and mental wellness, and employees are increasingly demanding transparency from leadership, along with compassion and empathy.

I n n o v a t i o n : While the dust has far from settled in terms of the pandemic’s impacts, SMEs should explore the degree to which areas of their business need to be recalibrated, improved and/or modernized. Innovating to ensure that internal employee work and client service delivery models are relevant, optimized and efficient is essential.

I n c l u s i v i t y : According to a 2020 ADP survey, nearly half (47%) of all Canadians aged 18-34 feel more loyal to organizations that value equity and diversity. SMEs lacking talent with diverse backgrounds and perspectives are disadvantaged in recruiting and retaining employees and should identify this as a priority for improvement. SMEs should also be inclusive by leveraging input from all internal resources when considering operational changes, as this provides avenues to discover opportunities that may not be apparent to leadership. The degree of change that SME’s have had to endure as a result of the pandemic can only be effectively navigated if leaders are proactive, intentional, strategic, and focused during these times. Incorporating the three I approach above, among other things, can help organizations build stronger foundations to be better equipped for the future economy when the pandemic subsides.

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Staying flexible and agile Laurence Cooke Founder and CEO

nanopay Corporation Laurence is the founder and CEO of nanopay Corporation, a technology company that offers business-to-business payments and liquidity management solutions to businesses and financial institutions. Active in the payments community, Laurence is Chairman of the Paytechs of Canada Association, and has been a member of the Payments Canada Stakeholder Advisory Committee, FinPay and the US Federal Reserve Faster Payments Task Force. Prior to starting nanopay, Laurence worked with WIND Canada and was Vice President of Wireless at Shaw Communications Inc. He was also Chief Operating Officer of Bell Mobility and Bell Distribution Inc (BDI), where he was responsible for all of Bell Mobility’s operations and led a team of 9,000 employees. At BDI, Laurence was responsible for all retail for Bell Canada. Prior to joining Bell, Laurence was a senior executive in Accenture’s London Strategy Practice. Laurence cofounded two wireless data businesses in Europe, Melodeo, Inc. and Xtempus.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? 2020 has been a trying time for small businesses, and while we can now hope that 2021 will be a more positive year, it will likely provide many of the same challenges. I believe these three things will be key for small business owners in 2021:

Staying flexible and agile Leveraging digital solutions wherever possible, and Raising ample funding or finding a strategic partner Flexible and agile: Although large companies have more resources, they are less flexible and less quick to adapt. This entire year has been an exercise in survival, and survival requires adaptation. Through e-commerce and digital marketing, small businesses can reach a far greater audience, and do not need to sacrifice their brand, reputation, or customer service. The real key here is that SMEs must continue to provide premium, personal customer service through this new medium.

Go digital: A recent study in Canada saw that 83% of respondents are willing to pay more for local products. Improving (or building) your company website, increasing your use of social media and leveraging targeted digital advertising are all ways to broaden your reach and ensure your business continues to connect with your target audience. Raise capital: We are seeing a time of unprecedented liquidity challenges, so I recommend raising money (if possible!). If your business is not in a position to raise funds, another alternative is to partner to expand into new markets. There is a great opportunity for small businesses to digitize larger legacy businesses–bringing technology and knowhow to a company with established customers. Ultimately, what makes small business owners special is their determination and perseverance. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature” –John D. Rockefeller

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Provide customer-centric products and services Elaine Kunda Founder

Disruption Ventures

A serial entrepreneur Elaine has successfully built teams and realigned business strategies for over 15 years. She recently launched Disruption Ventures, a VC fund that invests in femalefounded and managed companies. This was a natural progression for Elaine as she has spent the past 6 years consulting and advising start-ups and early-stage companies, helping them reach their goals and access financing. Prior to consulting, she was CEO of B5Media. The company was sold to Alloy Digital in April 2012. Elaine was also the CEO of Ziplocal which was sold to Canpages in 2009. She spent over six years at Toronto.com, Canada’s top online regional portal and started her online career in Business Development at Grey Advertising in 1998. A recognized expert in the digital media space, Elaine has spoken at premier events such as Exceptional Women in Publishing, McMaster Professional Development Day, DigiDay’s Digital Publishing Summit, Internet Week New York and the 2011 Marketing to Women Conference.

Elaine also serves as a dedicated advisor to the G(irls)20, which works to encourage G8 and G20 leaders to prioritize the political empowerment and economic freedom of females worldwide. The organization’s summit brings together female candidates from each G20 country to debate social issues and devise economic innovations. Elaine has also been appointed to the McMaster Alumni Association Board of Directors.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? Most people on this planet were happy to ring in 2021, with cautious optimism. Everyone was hit by the pandemic, but no group more than small business. Small businesses are used to being scrappy, fight the big, global companies and typically the way they do that is with better service, attention to detail and providing a more customercentric product and experience.

The key for all businesses in 2021 is just to STAY ALIVE. Figure out how to keep your lights on so that you can thrive when the world opens back up. That means, cutting costs wherever possible, negotiating contracts and payment terms, and getting creative about how to earn another dollar. There is likely a surge that will come on the other end of this, and as long as you’re there to benefit from it, you can start to make up for some of the loss. Think about what customers will need and want on the other side and be ready and vocal about how you can help. There’s no better time to connect with your customers, personal phone calls, emails, social media. Remind them that you are still around and that you need their support. People want to be supportive, so help them help you.

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Relax and take it one step at a time Steve McLellan CEO, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? Go to where the puck is going, not where it has been, and not where you may want it to be. While the original quote is a Great One, it still rings true. Our economy is moving online and continues to be in a constant state of transition. For businesses, this means you must be digitally active, which means having your systems online and your products visible to your customers so that they can make a decision to buy on their schedule, not yours. For small businesses, this means better websites, more social media and making responding to questions, sales or requests sent to you an online top priority. For larger businesses, it means having the capacity to sell online and provide full details and benefits to the global market who are looking at your amazing digital presence if you have one (or else your competitors if you don’t). This does not mean you need to look like Amazon, but it does mean you have to look alive, current and ready to do business. Your most important front door is no longer the one with the sign and building number that is open 8-5 PM – it is the one facing the entire global market that is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

This idea is intimidating for most businesses, so relax and take it one step at a time - but do move forward. Don’t be afraid to get help, either from the company across the street or across the country. Don’t try to do it yourself unless you have the skills and the time. And you probably don’t have the time, or else you would have done it already. Go get the puck.

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Plan ahead for peace of mind Rebecca Pang Vice President, Commercial Financial Services at RBC Rebecca Pang is the Vice President, Commercial Financial Services at RBC where she leads a team of relationship managers with a focus on Asian markets in Toronto. They provide commercial banking services for example business loans, commercial mortgages, and cash management. Previously, she was the Senior Director, US Strategic Business Development for RBC, where she led the development of strategic planning and investment initiatives for traditional and emerging U.S. banking sectors through Innovation and Mergers & Acquisition. Prior to this role, she had held various progressing roles at CIBC including the head of retail channel analytics to drive and support recommendations on various retail channel strategic initiatives, as well as the roles of director of Strategy & Corporate Development and director in mergers and acquisitions. Prior to coming to Canada 13 years ago, Pang has also worked in China Netcom as assistant to the CFO and Investor Relations Officer where she led the first ever outbound acquisition by a Chinese State-owned enterprise. She has also worked at McKinsey and Company in Hong Kong. Pang received her MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and later earned her Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Business Valuators designations. Pang currently serves as the board of Toronto Zoo, Yee Hong Foundation as well as the Advisor for the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre. She was previously appointed as the Dean Council Member for Ryerson University Ted Rogers School of Management.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? This year has been far from predictable, so as you tap into your resiliency reserves, here are 3 tips to help you stay confident as we head into 2021: 1. Focus on what you can control The secret to weather an economic downturn is to invest in human experiences. Employees. This group is your greatest asset. Treating your employees as such can pay back in dividends. Customers. It’s difficult (and costly) to acquire new customers during an economic downturn. So strengthen the relationships you have with existing customers. This can reduce costs and maintain steady cash flow.

Suppliers. Strengthen your relationships with your suppliers to keep your supply chain intact and help prevent business disruptions. 2. Plan like a futurist Futurists analyze current trends and statistics to predict future scenarios. Consider political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTLE) trends that could have an impact on your business in the coming months, years, and even decades. Then ask, how can you best position your business to deal with those changes? Planning like a futurist can prevent business disruption, poor customer experiences and financial outcomes. 3. Find ways to lean into uncertainty Use uncertainty as an opportunity to thrive. For instance, if your competitors fail to plan for a recession, they may be forced to cut down on marketing and public relations initiatives to conserve resources. Plan ahead for peace of mind If you plan ahead, you’re in the driver’s seat. Focus on what you can control, and capitalize on opportunities that arise during uncertain times. Make smart investments you can protect your business from future turmoil. However, keep in mind that you’ll only be in a position to invest if you plan ahead.

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Redefine your market The year 2020 will be one to remember for many reasons, and with the arrival of the vaccinations, many businesses will go back to somewhat of a new normal. SMEs have demonstrated their resilience, and they have adapted to new challenges. Although not every SME was able to make it, those that adopted changes were able to withstand the storm that COVID-19 brought during the past year. If your SME has already been able to benefit from many of the Government of Canada’s COVID financial support, loans and access to credit, I want to share with you a simple recipe of advice that is key to your business, and that will help you succeed in 2021 and beyond: Sales, Marketing, and Exports.

Sales: Have you been using the same sales strategy for the last decade? How can you increase your sales? These are some of the questions that if you haven’t asked yourself, you should. As you develop your sales strategy for this year, you should look at rewriting your sales proposals, and forecasting which products or services will need to be revamped, recycled or removed from your business. There might be some of them, that might no longer be worth keeping. Take the time to analyze those sales, and if they don’t need to be in your business anymore, make that decision!. I’d say, less is more.

Marketing: Emiliano Introcaso CITP, P.Log., CCI, MBA Export Advisor at Export Development Canada (EDC)

Emiliano has close to two decades of experience working with manufacturers and exporters looking to increase their global growth by providing them with support and guidance in all things export. His strategy not only focuses on navigating companies through the complexities of global supply chains but also on the small details that can make or break an international trade transaction. Emiliano is an Export Advisor at Export Development Canada (EDC), a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) with the Forum For International Trade Training (FITT), an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Registered Trainer on Incoterms® 2020 and a Certified Instructor (CCI) with the Canadian International Freight Forwarding Association (CIFFA). Emiliano completed a Master of Business Administration (Global Leadership stream) at the University of Fredericton.

In 2021 you should review and update your marketing plan (or develop it if you don’t already have one!). There might be new marketing strategies you will discover that your SME could implement. Redefine your market, revamp your marketing budget by investing in digital strategies and reposition your products or services that make the most profit for your company. Concentrating on your biggest money makers is one of the marketing strategies that big companies out there consider. Where can you find a marketing plan template? You can visit BDC’s Templates and Business Guides to get you started!

Exports: The last piece of this recipe of advice, is to research which of your products or services are exportable. Although not be an easy task, moving into a new market can bring potential risks, but learning about them, as well as understanding the exporting process will help you to select a market entry strategy into new markets. The Forum For International Trade Training (FITT) & Export Development Canada (EDC) have published FITTskills Lite Series. These sets of simple export guides provides you with the knowledge you need, to understand the different aspects of exporting, to help you enter new markets with confidence.

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For each piece of bad news, find the good news. What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? Covid has changed the world. Although it is terrible, it is an entrepreneur’s dream. Change is opportunity and this has created massive opportunity. There is a covid economy and there will be a post covid economy. There are many opportunities that entrepreneurs can find in both. The recovery will be good for some business segments and bad for other. Choose the ones you can thrive in. For each piece of bad news, find the good news. I like to focus on the “right sized� business opportunity for me. A small business can benefit from this. Danby Appliances makes appliances and we sell about 2,000,000 of them per year. A small business could easily compete with Danby by choosing an appliance where there will be only 50,000 sold. This would be too small for Danby but could be a great business for a smaller company. At the same time, I tend to avoid choosing a market that is too big for us. I would not want to go head on into a market against a player that make 100,000,000 appliances. The message is choose your niche and choose your market size wisely. Jim Estill is currently CEO of both of Danby Appliances and ShipperBee, a new venture that is revamping outdated shipping channels into a system that is better for consumers, retailers and the environment. Jim is a Canadian technology entrepreneur, executive, and philanthropist. He started his first computer distribution business from the trunk of his car while in university and grew that business to $2 Billion in sales. Jim has invested in, mentored and advised many technology companies including Blackberry. He joined their board before they went public and served for 13 years. Jim is the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Ontario winner.

Jim Estill President & CEO

ShipperBee & Danby Appliances

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Think and take your time to learn how to surf a new wave Lina Khalifeh Global SpeakerAuthor of SheFighter Book

Founder of SheFighter

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? 2020 has been one of the toughest years for many businesses, but as an entrepreneur, all we can do is learn how to surf a new wave. Adaptability is the key advice I would give to all entrepreneurs. Don’t compare yourself with how you used to do business, instead take time to think of different ways to generate revenue and survive. In order to change how your business operates, you need to change how you think. You cannot think of the same way. It’s okay to seek mentorship or consultancy during that time. I have personally looked for a consultancy from many Canadian businesswomen owners. All I had to do is ASK. People out there are looking to help each other. I know that your ego might stop you from asking someone for help but drop that ego for now. Remember it’s okay to seek help and mentorship during this challenging times. Many businesses do not know how to move everything virtually, so It is absolutely okay to seek help in the IT field. Find the expertise that knows how to do it faster than yourself. I always seek help using freelance websites like: Upwork.com, and Fiverr.com. I look for the freelancer’s reviews and hire him or her. There is always a need for a service or product even during a crisis. Think and take your time to learn how to surf a new wave.

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A clear vision for growth Grace Kusta Nasralla Operations Executive, e-presence Consultants Inc

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? My key advice to small business owners for 2021 is to carefully evaluate the past year with its business failures and successes and identify the changes that have caused the decline and/or progress in the business. Some of these changes may be permanent so one has to work around them and maybe come up with new ideas and programs to implement for years to come. The 2021 progress plan should be drawn from the 2020 learnings, and once that is done the business owner can move into 2021 with a clearer vision for growth. Despite the struggles that small business owners have had this past year, we saw great support from the consumer for small businesses during the last two months of 2020 and that is an indicator that consumers still trust small businesses and we should build on that trust.

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Determine your available resources and capacity Warren Coughlin Business Coach, Helping Your Build.... A Business That Matters Warren helps principled entrepreneurs build a Business That Matters. That is one that delivers to you, the owner, attractive profits and a fulfilling lifestyle while also creating positive impacts on customers, team and the larger community. In other words, it is one that helps make the world - or just your corner of it - a better place. This requires a combination of solid business skills and disciplines guided by deeply held values. He’s been helping entrepreneurs do this since 2002. They have experienced everything from 8 figure exits, to 7 figure salaries, from rapid expansion to minimized operational work because of the development of great leaders and high performance values-driven cultures.

What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021? In 2021, your business is likely to be tossed about on a sea churning with both opportunities and risks. To survive and thrive in these waters, here are some principles and one strategic imperative. Bad things will happen. Prepare for them. Opportunities will arise. Seize them. Ideas won’t make you successful. Great execution of ideas will. Execution succeeds when you properly allocate resources. You have 3 resources: time, team and money. Use it wisely. One strategic imperative in 2 parts incorporates these principles. Plan. Then execute the plan. A goal is not a plan. A plan requires a goal (or goals). But it needs more. It needs you to ask hard questions to analyze what’s working, what’s not working and what might be coming. It asks that you determine your available resources and capacity. It requires that you choose an area of focus. If you try to fix or take advantage of everything at once, you’ll succeed at none of it. It insists that you choose priorities, identify specific tactics, assign accountability for the tactics, schedule those activities and then measure or evaluate the results. And finally, it absolutely demands that you respect it. If you write a plan and then stuff it in a drawer or ignore it the first time an unforeseen wave hits, you will be at the whim of fortune, and not in control of your fate. This means you must execute the plan, course correct when you drift off the plan (because you will) and hold each other accountable to what you have agreed to do and to achieve. If you do this, you will have more control, experience greater confidence and produce better results faster, more predictable and with far less stress. Smooth sailing.

How to Fix Fighting Sales and Marketing Teams Paul Sparrow Area Managing Partner & CMO At Chief Outsiders

It’s easy to understand why this happens. In this new era of austerity, both sales and marketing departments are asked to do more – a trend that has pushed these pros into one another’s swim lanes. In some companies it’s common for an outside sales associate to generate leads and pursue them to the finish line; conversely, marketers, with a digital kingdom at their disposal, can generate prospects and use a variety of technologies to move them down the funnel. But are these qualified leads? Are they motivated prospects? It’s time to stop sowing the seeds of dysfunction and get back to the basics. “It’s simply not a smart use of a company’s money for these professionals to cross over,” said Shannon Muniz, a fractional Chief Sales Officer with Sales Xceleration in Orlando, FL. Since the era of cavemen, the roles of sales and marketing professionals have been well defined. The earliest marketers would create awareness for that remarkable invention, the wheel; and the salespeople would roll it down the streets, sharing the features and benefits to interested customers, then collect five dodo-birds in compensation. In the million years since, these departments still have a similarly symbiotic existence -- but a lot seems to have changed in the digital era. Today, the gap between sales and marketing represents a gray area at most companies — from the smallest distributors, to the largest multinational enterprises. Out of necessity, or simply because so many marketers these days are subject to revenue accountability, sales and marketing team members often scrape for leads and cross into each other’s turf. This misalignment can be quite costly: A recent study reports that about 10 percent of a company’s annual revenue is squandered when these teams work at cross purposes.

This chasm has been observed in companies both small and large. That said, a company’s size and resources can have a decided effect on how blurry the lines may be between these functions. So, let’s look at how small, mid-sized, and larger companies tend to allow this dysfunction, and what steps can be taken to foster cooperation and an increase in revenue!

Small (less than $10 million) The Dysfunction: Most small companies are helmed by an entrepreneur or founder. Since, in many cases, they created the product, they tend to know it backwards and forwards. Though they will hire sales representatives to supplement go-to-market efforts, they often don’t employ marketing help – or focus on

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branding and the customer journey. “They’re more dedicated to selling and not really to thinking about generating leads, or even interest or demand,” said Muniz. “They want sales closing deals, and that’s about it.” The Cure: To grow the business, the small company CEO needs to face the situation and break out marketing as a distinct function. A small-company marketing staff (often just one or two individuals—in-house or outsourced) can supplement efforts with any number of contemporary strategies and tools, which they can deploy to crank up qualified leads, open the funnel, and make the sales process more efficient. “Neither sales nor marketing should be dragging the other one down the road,” Muniz said. “They need to work together.”

Medium ($10-$50 million) The Dysfunction: Though most medium-sized companies have distinct, and fully-staffed, sales and marketing departments, the sales team typically leads the charge, and receives the criticisms and accolades – and the marketers are left to catch the bouquet. In a kind of “make me some sales collateral and get out of the way” sort of relationship, marketing is the slave of sales -- and it’s not healthy. At this level, sales professionals sometimes can harbor an operationally-focused mindset – a reliance on experiential instinct versus science, which is an affront to a good marketers’ more data-driven approach. “The marketer is stuck on the outside, looking at all of this information, at the marketplace’s dynamic shifts, and at distinct trends,” said Muniz. “When a salesperson eschews data and demands trade show booths and collateral instead, it takes the teeth out of the marketer’s mouth. ”The Cure: Simply, marketing needs a mandate to use their analytical skills to perfect the go-to-market strategy. They need an endorsement to live at the strategic level – to take a step back and lead an effort to move the revenue-generating engine from good to great. If a company lacks the marketing leadership to make strategic decisions, a fractional CMO can be hired to negotiate a middle ground between sales and marketing that creates unified harmony —and a healthy revenue engine.

Because both departments are fully staffed, distinct, and have specific responsibilities, they tend to operate in silos with limited coordination of efforts. Dysfunction is apparent through veiled or even blatant finger pointing: “If they’d do their jobs, we’d have more revenue!” Not good. Marketing departments at the larger-company level tend to be brand-driven – they generate a lot of content and maintain the front entrance of the building. Style points based on branding, marketing personas, and content generation tactics tend to mute effectiveness at this level. “The larger the company gets, and the larger the marketing team gets, the less focused they are on generating leads,” Muniz said. As a result, most of the activity stays at the top of the funnel, and less qualified leads flow to the sales organization. The Cure: Marketers need to be motivated to manage the dichotomy of their existence – sure, they should manage the brand, but resources need to be appropriately allocated to impacting the buyer’s journey and the cultivation of quality leads. “This can be a challenging thing for a larger company to manage,” Muniz said. “To ensure that marketers are supporting the company’s need to hit its number while also building the brand, they need a strong marketing leader to make sure that’s managed really well.”

Bottom-line If the dollars a CEO invests in marketing are not yielding quality outcomes that help sales generate expanded customer deals and produce new clients, the investments are not sound. So, let’s be clear---marketing is just as responsible for revenue growth as sales. Regardless of company size, as the CEO what are you doing to encourage sales and marketing alignment in your business? The growth of your organization, no matter today’s size, depends heavily on the two functions coalescing into a healthy revenue-generating and growth-producing machine. It’s up to you to make sure that happens.

With a fractional sales or marketing executive, a mid-market CEO can ‘rent’ skilled C-level talent for a modest investment and get a lot of runway out of that. The fractional talent can make sure the components of the revenue engine (that would be marketing AND sales) are healthy, aligned, and working in tandem.

Large ($50-$200 million) The Dysfunction: The key benefit to sales and marketing functions at large or even enterprise companies (greater than $200 million in annual revenue) may also be their downfall.

Paul Sparrow is an Area Managing Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at Chief Outsiders, the nation’s leading fractional CMO firm focused on mid-size company growth. He builds sustainable revenue acceleration engines and drives their execution on behalf of his clients which include CEOs, business owners, and private equity firms.

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COVID-19 and Winter Blues This New Toronto High-Tech Mental Health Clinic is Using Breakthrough Therapy to Meet Surge in Demand Amid Pandemic Toronto, ON – As more and more Canadians struggle to cope with the unprecedented impact of living through a global pandemic – with 50 per cent reporting their mental health has worsened as a result of COVID-19, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – a new, unique high-tech mental health clinic in Toronto is seeing a surge in patients of all ages. “If you have a predisposition for mental distress, the pandemic may trigger clinical levels of anxiety or depression that require professional intervention,” said Dr. Leo Steiner, who opened TMS Clinics of Canada in September to pioneer a groundbreaking, non-invasive treatment that combines cutting-edge brain technology – called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – with talk therapy to treat depression, along with anxiety, OCD and other mental health issues. Since opening its doors, the clinic is busier than expected, treating an equal number of men and women aged 18 to 75 with an impressive success rate. “More than 70 per cent of the people we’re seeing are experiencing a reduction in intensity of their symptoms, and roughly 60 per cent are approaching full remission,” Dr. Steiner said. The clinic’s unique approach involves a combination of cutting-edge technology – the world’s most advanced TMS machine developed by Israeli scientists and approved by Health Canada that uses magnetic fields to stimulate the brain’s nerve cells – with psychotherapy specifically designed to accompany the technology. Unlike a small number of Ontario hospitals that are using TMS primarily as a research tool, TMS Clinics of Canada is providing a patient-centric service that combines daily 20-minute TMS treatments together with supportive talk therapy sessions. Most patients report significant improvement after about four weeks of treatment, according to Dr. Steiner, with some patients able to wean off their prescribed medication entirely. How TMS works TMS works by sending painless electromagnetic pulses to stimulate circuitry in areas of the brain that have decreased activity in people who suffer from mood disturbance. Patients wear a specially designed helmet to carefully map out the precise area that requires stimulation.

Dr. Steiner explained the game-changing technology solves a prominent “disconnect” in the brain, common in people who suffer from clinical levels of depression and anxiety. Brain imaging studies of these patients reveal underactive connectivity between the rational, planning area of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) to areas that regulate emotions, motivation and energy. Without adequate connectivity, patients simply don’t have the circuitry they need to get well. “In very broad strokes, it’s similar to ballroom dancing,” he said. “You have the ‘lead’ that knows the steps but lacks the passion, and you have the ‘follow’ that has all the energy, but lacks direction. They clearly need one another to dance. The front part of the brain is the lead, it knows what to do when, and the back is the follow, where the energy and passion reside. If you cut the connection between the two, your emotions are untethered from the part of the brain that should be directing them.”

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Life-changing results For Emma Piggott, a 32-year-old resident of Keswick, Ontario, the clinic’s novel approach has been life transforming. After suffering from deep depression, OCD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for more than half of her life, the young mother of two boys was desperate for help. When she suffered a major breakdown in September, her parents encouraged her to give the new TMS clinic a try. “I’ve been in and out of therapy for years and used to be on a variety of medications,” Piggott said. “Since I started TMS treatment, I’m a changed person. I’m more engaged with my kids, I get up in the morning and I’m back to being the happy, positive person I was when I was younger,” she said, adding that even her sons, ages eight and nine, notice a difference. Not only does Piggott now feel like a huge weight has lifted, she’s also moving forward with her dream to become an electrician and recently started a pre-apprenticeship program. “Throughout the pandemic, people have been saying what a horrible year 2020 was,” she said. “For me, it was one of my best years yet because I finally got out of my depression.” Sam Bessey, a 50-year-old war veteran who began experiencing post-traumatic stress-related depression following 21 years of military service, including four stints in Bosnia and two in Afghanistan, reported similar results from his TMS treatment. “Before the therapy, I felt completely black and hopeless, and had no happiness at all,” said Bessey, who is based in Chalk River, Ontario, and was treated with Dr. Steiner’s TMS and talk therapy for just over five weeks. “The treatment alleviated my depression and I now have a larger emotional range of feelings, am more present with my family and not as reclusive as I was,” he explained, adding that his wife and three grown daughters noticed a change in his previously flat voice tone after just three weeks. “I may not always be happy now, but if I’m not, it’s my choice not to be and not the black feeling in my brain blocking it.” Dr. Steiner, who has more than 30 years of experience in the mental health field, has worked with indigenous populations, federal inmates and military veterans, as well as in both inpatient and out-patient psychiatric departments in GTA hospitals. With a specialty in Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology, he decided to invest in TMS technology after visiting several clinics in the U.S. where the treatment has been approved by the FDA for the last 10 years. “I know what patients look like when they’re in the midst of treatment and I couldn’t believe it. People were actually beaming, optimistic and happy. There was a certain amount of energy in the room that you just don’t see in a traditional clinic setting,” he said.

The breakthrough machine used at TMS Clinics of Canada is capable of precisely targeting deeper, more diffuse parts of the brain. In addition to treating depression and anxiety, the clinic just acquired a coil designed to treat OCD that was approved by Health Canada just last month, and is expecting to treat smoking cessation in the future. “Many of the people I see simply cannot talk. They’re angry, depressed, despairing and they just sit there while the hour ticks by,” Dr. Steiner explained. “This treatment often helps them open up and facilitates talk therapy.” For those feeling down amid the pandemic, especially with winter weather expected to negatively impact Canadians’ mental health, Dr. Steiner offers the following advice to help keep depression at bay: Give yourself permission not to be happy. Depression is a disease that causes the brain’s circuitry to stop working properly. Just as you wouldn’t expect to get up and walk if you were in a wheelchair, depression puts you in an emotional wheelchair and it’s impossible to simply snap out of it. Exercise daily. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something, even as simple as a daily walk around the block. Take a break. Even if you don’t feel like watching TV, turn on your favourite comedian or funny movie and laugh. Make a commitment to take care of someone or something. If you try to take care of your own happiness, there’s no end to it and you’ll never feel fulfilled. If you focus on someone else’s happiness – even a small gesture like making a phone call to someone who’s lonely – you can make a big difference in their life and in turn, it will boost your spirits. Create a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Figure out something you really like to do – drink coffee, exercise, take care of a pet, for example – and use it to trick yourself into getting moving. View depression as an opportunity. You’re going to go through a hard time, but if you embrace your symptoms, recognize the signs and take steps to get better, you will find the silver lining.

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Each year, the CanadianSME Small Business Magazine organizes the CanadianSME Business Awards that are designed to recognize the contribution that SME’s provide to the Canadian economy. Small Business owners work very hard to make their small businesses a success, and those businesses that export get special attention during this year’s awards.

Demonstration of their knowledge in international markets and strategies used to export their products or services,

The Exporter of the Year Award is a key category during this year’s ceremony. Many SMEs have had to pivot in the way they normally conduct their business and were able to endure 2020 despite the challenges they faced. In order to win the Exporter of the Year Award, the judges will be considering entrepreneurs that have expanded their business internationally, and that have either completed exports or signed partnerships overseas during these challenging times. The criteria to be used to select the exporter of the year includes:

Evidence in export sales growth.

Explanation of how the SME was able to overcome the challenges faced during their global expansion, Implementation and use of technology or other innovative tools, in their export strategies that helped their operations,.

The deadline to apply for the Exporter of the Year Award has been extended until February 15th 2021 and the winner will be announced in April 2021. To ensure your SME is considered for this exporter recognition, please register online by submitting the questionnaire provided for this category. Some of the judges for this year include the Honorable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade and Mairead Lavery, President and Chief Executive Officer at Export Development Canada (EDC).

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The deadline to apply for the Exporter of the Year Award has been extended until February 15th 2021 and the winner will be announced in April 2021. To ensure your SME is considered for this exporter recognition, please register online by submitting the questionnaire provided for this category. Some of the judges for this year include the Honorable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade and Mairead Lavery, President and Chief Executive Officer at Export Development Canada (EDC). Why would you want to be recognized with the Exporter of the Year Award? Earning an award is an opportunity to show your clients, employees and the general public, how much your business was able to accomplish during one of the most difficult years for SMEs. By being recognized, your SME is not only validated, but also is acknowledged for its credibility and helps enhances the trustworthiness in the market. Last year’s winner was Diego Lai from Laipac Technology, Inc. The company was founded back in 1999 by Canadian entrepreneurs Maria C. Pacini and Diego Lai. Laipac Technology has become an industry leader in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) products and services.

Emiliano Introcaso – Export Help Advisor at EDC Emiliano has close to two decades of experience working with manufacturers and exporters looking to increase their global growth by providing them with support and guidance in all things export. His strategy not only focuses on navigating companies through the complexities of global supply chains but also in the small details that can make or break an international trade transaction. Emiliano is an Export Advisor at Export Development Canada (EDC), a Certified International Trade Professional (CITP) with the Forum For International Trade Training (FITT), an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Registered Trainer on Incoterms® 2020 and a Certified Instructor (CCI) with the Canadian International Freight Forwarding Association (CIFFA). Emiliano completed a Master of Business Administration (Global Leadership stream) at the University of Fredericton.

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5 Years Studying Ransomware This is what I’ve learned. ‘We've learned that the best thing we can do is just make ourselves less of a target. I liken it to security cameras on a home. If a burglar walks down the street and sees 9 houses with security cameras and one without, they're likely to break into the one that’s unprotected; it's very similar to computer security’ Anne Genge CEO, Alexio Corporation I've been in this business a long time and I've never seen what I've seen in the last five years. We have learned that antivirus is really just one single, little, tiny piece of data protection. We have learned that if a cybercriminal really wants something, they can just come and take it. Today’s biggest cybersecurity threat to any business is ransomware.

What is ransomware? Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption to deny access to computer systems and/or threatens to publish the victim's data unless a ransom is paid. Major governments continue to get hacked, so we've learned that the best thing we can do is just make ourselves less of a target. I liken it to security cameras on a home. If a burglar walks down the street and sees nine houses with security cameras and one without, they're likely to break into the one that’s unprotected, and it's very similar with computer security.

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Today, the minute anyone's email address is involved in a breach, they immediately become part of a big list on the dark web. These lists get accessed, sold, and resold to cyber criminals who will use these massive lists of 5,000 - or even 200,000 email addresses to send phishing emails.

Hackers hack systems by tricking people These phishing emails are designed to trick people into giving the hackers access to systems and data. They know that a percentage of folks will click on them and that a significant number of those will actually click on either the attachment or the link that they've put in there to deposit malware. Then they can install whatever tool they want to spy, steal your data, or drop a ransomware onto your computer.

A combination of tools and training is needed, even for the smallest businesses Today's protection needs to include multiple different types of tools working together to secure computers and prevent us humans from doing things that put systems at risk. It also requires that we create policies around how and where and what type of technology will be used to access customer data. The final step - and probably the most important in solving this global cybersecurity challenge - is that every person with a computer needs to have a basic understanding of cyber security.

Everyday computers have been weaponized It's really quite alarming, if you think about it. Computers across the globe have been weaponized. We wouldn't give anyone a car without them learning how to drive it. We wouldn't allow someone to take our money at a store without them knowing how to ring through our groceries. And yet nowadays, every person has a computer. We collect, transmit, and access information about ourselves AND others, and people are doing this while completely oblivious to the rules that keep everyone safe.

Cloud applications can be safer, but not if you share passwords Cloud applications present another risk. People share passwords and user accounts in order to save money on licensing, but this creates a massive amount of risk. Your customers give you their information with the trust that you're going to properly care for it, and yet what we can see is that many businesses are NOT caring for it adequately. There are literally as many breached records as there are people on this planet. Think about the implications of our information being publicly available. We're not just talking about our finances. It could be our bank accounts, it could be our investments, it could be details of our wills. Even worse, it could be things to do with our health records like our mental health, the types of medications we're taking, whether we've had a cancer diagnosis, or another type of disease. These things can affect employment, they can affect our relationships, and they can affect our overall wellbeing. So even if someone does not steal our money, the fact that our records are out there floating around for public consumption creates anxiety and potential for us to not be able to have the type of employment and life that we may want. There's lots to do in ensuring we are protecting our customers, our businesses, our employees, and our families. Find your gaps and fix them. If you need help, connect with us – we’re here to help. My wish for 2021 is that all people will seek out the knowledge they need to ensure that they’re caring for people's secrets.

Laws apply to all businesses collecting customer information Anyone collecting and using customer data needs to have continuous training to understand current threats to their business, their customers, and their jobs. There are data protection laws both federally and provincially that mandate how owners and employees handle personal information. No matter which study you look at, they all tell a tale of a massive number of breaches that are successful, due to human error. This human error can be the everyday person using the computer; in some cases, it's a business owner who has not invested in proper cybersecurity. In other cases, it could be an IT provider who has not configured their setup securely.

Anne Genge, CEO, Alexio Corporation

Anne Genge is an award-winning privacy and cybersecurity educator and innovator. She understands the unique challenges of small businesses and has made it her mission to provide understandable data security strategies to everyone working with customer, client, and patient data. More information is available getalexio.com/about-us

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Reviving B2B

Marketing in 2021 Dr M Muneer, Managing Director of CustomerLab Solutions, Co-founder of non-profit Medici Institute The pandemic has battered the economy across the globe in more ways than imagined. Business-to-business (b2B) companies have been most affected with not many possibilities for regular marketing activities. Will 2021 augur a better start for business-to-business companies? The science and art of research have changed drastically now in comparison to the last 30 years. With the advancement in technology and social media the face of research has changed completely – more so in the last few months. Several avenues have opened up for market researchers to learn, co-create and reach out. Gone are the days of large questionnaires and filling up on hard copy printouts. The profile of market researcher as someone who troubles you at malls or hotels and wastes your time is changing. They are no more some paper pushers. And they are not just number crunchers or sociologists either. Market researchers have now realised that in order for them to grow their business it is not enough any more to have a large field force to reach out to statistically significant numbers amongst the population. They need to help grow business and deliver breakthrough results through facilitating a constant dialogue between them and their customers. Isn’t this a tectonic shift? Perhaps as a result of this realisation, the research agencies created online community forums for their clients. Despite having problems of varied nature in terms of too small a number for quantitative studies and too large for qualitative, biased vs. non-biased, and opinionated vs. non-opinionated, these online communities are growing and delivering practical results for clients. At most clients these communities are helping to drive innovation and new product development. With Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor and the likes, researchers are able to do a meaningful conversation with consumers. And, as experts predicted, broadband has increased the broad-based reach of researchers. Handheld devices are making this much easier today. Researchers can now literally walk in their customers’ shoes, getting up close and personal in a highly scalable manner.

With all these going around, the idea of unbiased sample is getting a beating. What does it really mean? By sacrificing the pure research methodologies, will researchers damage the prospects of their clients? What is the best way to get practical insights from target customers using technology such as mobile and social media? Here are some thoughts that will help clients and researchers find timely and actionable results: With all these going around, the idea of unbiased sample is getting a beating. What does it really mean? By sacrificing the pure research methodologies, will researchers damage the prospects of their clients? What is the best way to get practical insights from target customers using technology such as mobile and social media? Here are some thoughts that will help clients and researchers find timely and actionable results:

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Try to be a generalist than a specialist. If your research goal is to identify relevant and useful information, then you can gain valuable insights by talking to a “general” group of people than by generalising findings to an increasingly elusive “generic” population. If your issue is about depth of relationship, the best general group of people you need to talk to your loyalty programme members. If your client wants to attract the shampoo fans to their brand, you need to help tap into those shampoo fans. By being a general fact-finder, you are not trading off your ability to find specific solutions; you are merely reaffirming your understanding of the larger consumer population. Practical orientation is a good virtue to have. It is more important to be able to have actionable research than perfect findings. What this means is that one must go beyond creating perfect research designs and non-bias respondents, but apply a wide range` of techniques, which will give results that are good enough. Focus on relationships. Many critics of non-pure research complain that responses from branded communities will be biased. But it is not true. When one has a strong relationship or belonging to a brand or person, the feedback from him or her will be much more genuine as they have a vested interest in improving the properties. Think about your favourite brand and ask yourself if you would not give critical inputs to them in case asked for your comments. You will want the brand to stay successful. Blind testing is out, openness is in. Respondents feel more confortable to talk to people when they identify themselves as part of a particular brand. Unknown brand studies will not gather open feedback. Many leading brands like to do unbranded or false identity studies to gain insights and these have often failed. There are many examples where a test market gave great adoption rates but flopped miserably when launched nationally. Go natural. Social media allow researchers to enter directly into their comfort zone and encourage relaxed participation. This natural process will enable consumers to openly share information and participate in discussions. Creating artificial settings for focus groups is passé. No need for focus group rooms and physical presence in the pandemic-altered markets. Collaborate more with consumers. Researchers prefer oneon-one interviews for avoiding group or herd mentality, especially for quantitative analysis. In today’s world, group is not so separate from self as social media and networks are encouraging this behaviour. By collaborating with such groups, candid feedback can be obtained to devise strategies.

Researchers need to be more focused on co-creating, collaborating and discussing with final consumers in order to drive business growth for themselves and their clients. Clearly, the relationship is more important than pure research.



When it comes to be a great entrepreneur, it takes more than starting a successful business. It’s about showing strength and resilience during challenging times, having the determination and the will power to find innovative solutions that can contribute to a company’s success during unprecedent times, and above all to be able to adapt to new situations. These are the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur stand out from the rest.

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

The recent global pandemic has put its toll on small business owners and put them in difficult situations. During these unimaginable times, there were several entrepreneurs who showed great strength and were able to strive. They showed resilience and embraced the new way of doing business by implementing innovative strategies and procedures that has not only contributed to their success, but inspired others to do the same. Our main goal is to share resources and tips that can help small business owners succeed. We have shortlisted 25 entrepreneurs who have truly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit during COVID-19. We hope that through the story of these entrepreneurs, SME owners will be able to find the motivation they need to succeed.

Dax Dasilva Founder & CEO Lightspeed Dax Dasilva is the creative mind behind Lightspeed, Never Apart, and Age of Union. Founded in 2005, Lightspeed develops a cloud commerce platform used by retail and restaurant customers in over a hundred countries. The company’s mission is to bring cities and communities to life by powering independent businesses.

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Trent Fequet CEO, Steel River Group A proud Indigenous entrepreneur and business leader with 23 years of experience with some of Canada’s most prominent pipeline, infrastructure, and mining companies, Mr. Fequet founded Steel River Group 3 years ago based on the belief that there has never been a better time to reimagine how a private Indigenous business defines, creates and captures value for Indigenous communities’ & people. To achieve this goal, Mr. Fequet centered his company around Governing Principles, which are deeply rooted in Indigenous values, beliefs, and culture. The foundation is grounded by a strong sense of community, centered around people and relationships. These relationships are premised around creating alignment between three critical groups: Steel River Companies; Indigenous Communities; and Alliance Partners through Steel River Group’s Inclusion Ecosystem Model.

Jean-François Gagné

Founder and CEO, Element AI

Jean-François Gagné is the CEO and founder of Element AI. He oversees the organization in all functional areas and is responsible for guiding and implementing Element AI's strategic vision. Jean-François Gagné is a seasoned entrepreneur in the field of AI. Prior to Element AI, he founded two companies that he successfully retired from in the field of AI and operations research. As CEO of Planora, JF led efforts to bring a highly innovative SaaS solution to market in the competitive workforce management space by combining an innovative blend of machine learning, research operational and user experience. He went on to become the world's youngest senior executive at one of the top 20 enterprise software companies, as a product manager and chief innovation officer at JDA Software, where he managed a portfolio of over 100 products and 1,400 developers in more than 20 offices around the world. JF is also a digital advisor to the Canadian Prime Minister, Canadian representative to the WTO and the only nonEuropean citizen on the European Commission's High-Level Expert Panel on AI, where he was a lead author guideline for European AI regulations.

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Taylor Lindsay-Noel Founder – Cup of Té

Taylor Lindsay-Noel is a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Toronto, Ontario Canada. Twelve years ago she was a Canadian national gymnast but in 2008, under the direction of her coach, she had a devastating accident that instantly paralyzed her from the neck down for life. Since then Taylor has persevered through adversity and has received a BA in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson University. She is currently balancing being a motivational speaker, podcast host, disability advocate, and owner of Cup of Té Luxury Loose Leaf Teas.

Jim Estill

President & CEO, ShipperBee & Danby Appliances

Jim Estill is currently CEO of both of Danby Appliances and ShipperBee, a new venture that is revamping outdated shipping channels into a system that is better for consumers, retailers, and the environment. Jim is a Canadian technology entrepreneur, executive, and philanthropist. He started his first computer distribution business from the trunk of his car while in university and grew that business to $2 Billion in sales. Jim has invested in, mentored, and advised many technology companies including Blackberry. He joined their board before they went public and served for 13 years. Jim is the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Ontario winner.

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Graham Wong Founder & CEO of LAUFT

Graham is the former principal and founder of Urban DNA, an advertising agency in downtown Toronto, that was founded in response to the lack of diversity in the advertising industry in Canada. The agency from the top down prided itself on recruiting talent from a broad spectrum of candidates from diverse backgrounds. This enabled the agency to successfully create innovative campaigns for brands like Athletes World, Toronto Public Health, and others. Graham has been a creative entrepreneur for over 17 years building, executing, and deploying brand strategies for some of Canada’s best-known brands including Aeroplan, Nike, 3M, Greenpark Homes, Fujitsu, City of Toronto, Ontario Ministry of Health, and Enbridge. He’s also a UX strategist and architect for solutions for clients such as Toronto Public Health, Jibestream, CTT Pharmaceuticals, INUO, and CAMH.

Ariel Mashiyev CEO at iLobby®

Ariel Mashiyev’s startup, iLobby, introduced breakthrough employee screening technology at the onset of the pandemic – now he’s helping Ontario businesses meet new COVID-19 regulations In 2017, serial entrepreneur Ariel Mashiyev took over a small three-year-old company that had developed a simple visitor signin app for businesses. Three years later, Toronto-based iLobby is a global leader in enterprise visitor management solutions, setting record month-over-month growth, and now helping companies in more than 45 countries keep their employees safe with automated screening tools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Mashiyev’s quick pivot to add innovative body temperature scanners, COVID-specific screening processes, and touchless technology to the system’s capabilities when the pandemic began, iLobby has given businesses the ability to implement crucial tools to help protect their workplaces and meet regulations, particularly in Ontario, where businesses are mandated to comply with the province’s new daily requirements for COVID-19 employee screening.

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Kirk Simpson Co-Founder, CEO Wave HQ

In 2010, Kirk co-founded Wave and has since guided the company to 400,000 active small businesses registered 260+ people on the Wave team and over $100 million in funding raised from investors around the world. In 2019, he and wave were named Most Admired CEO and Most Admired Corporate Culture by Waterstone. The wave was acquired in June 2019 by H&R Block for over $537M – the 7th largest tech exit in Canada since 2001. Under Kirk, Wave has won numerous awards for leadership, culture, and innovation, including the Deloitte Fast 50, the KPMG Fintech 100, and Great Place to Work Canada. In addition, Kirk has served as an advisor to the Next 36 and provides mentorship to young entrepreneurs and startup visionaries.

Tareq Hadhad Founder of Peace by Chocolate

Tareq Hadad is the founder of Peace by Chocolate based in Antigonish, NS. Tareq and his family came to Canada in 2015 after a civil war forced them to flee their home in Syria in 2013. In 2020, Tareq won the prestigious Immigrant Entrepreneur award presented by RBC.

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Priya Chopra Founder and President 1Milk2Sugars

Born and raised in Montreal with an East Indian heritage, Priya Chopra is the founder and CEO of 1Milk2Sugars, a thriving public relations agency specializing in influencer marketing, social media and media relations. Priya launched 1Milk2Sugars in 2012 and expanded its footprint within a year, making it one of Montreal’s only boutique agencies to penetrate the national media hub of Toronto. During that same period, Priya helmed the creation of 1Milk2Sugars’ social media division, giving her team first-mover advantage in the now-critical digital space. In this episode, Priya discussed women entrepreneurship, diversity and inclusion, and how to establish your brand purpose.

Manjit Minhas Co-Founder and Co-Owner

Minhas Breweries

Manjit Minhas is 40 years old and was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. This Petroleum Engineering student turned beer baroness is a Dragon on the hit TV show Dragons’ Den on CBC in its 15th season (for which she has been on for 6 seasons/years). Manjit leads a privately owned empire that had revenues in excess of $210 million last year. Manjit is the co-founder and co-owner of the Minhas Brewery, Distillery and Winery. She started her companies at the ripe age of 19 in Alberta, when she launched her spirits in 1999 and her beers in 2002 in Alberta with her business partner and brother, Ravinder Minhas. Together with $10,000 they gave the big boys a run for their money, thereby becoming the first successful company to enter the Canadian beer industry in many decades. Currently, she has over 90 brands of beers, spirits, liqueurs and wines. Her products are sold in 5 provinces ( Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia), as well as 47 states throughout the USA and 16 other countries.

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Mallorie Brodie

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder Bridgit Mallorie holds an Honours degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business, and has almost 10 years of entrepreneurial experience. She holds various entrepreneurial awards, including receiving the top prize at Google Demo Day, being named Techvibes Entrepreneur of the Year, being named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30, being named to the Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators list, and being named to the Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction list.

Cara Hirsch Founder and CEO Hirsch + Associates As founder and CEO of Hirsch + Associates, Cara Hirsch is a real estate aficionado with over a decade of experience helping some of the GTA’s most notable builders successfully bring their projects to market. Leveraging experience honed through growing up in a real estate family, Cara built on her formative years by establishing a company defined by passion, collaboration, and a hands-on approach. Cara’s instinctual industry knowledge enables her to successfully launch each project she works on and knowing that no two projects are alike, she employs tailored strategic planning from the outset.

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Michele Romanow President & Co-founder - Clearbanc Tech Titan, Michele is the youngest ever entrepreneur to join CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den. She previously cofounded e-commerce platforms SnapSaves (acquired by Groupon) and Buytopia. Michele is ranked in WXN’s “100 Most Powerful in Canada” and listed as the only Canadian on Forbes’ “Millennial on a Mission” list. She is a director on the board of Vail Resorts, Freshii, SHAD, Smith School of Business and League of Innovators.

Makini Smith Mindfulness Practitioner: 4X Author/Coach/Podcaster Founder of A Walk In My Stilettos, Makini Smith, is an award-winning entrepreneur. She has successfully crafted a business in personal development as a mindset coach helping women reach their goals, a certified Proctor Gallagher consultant for her mentor Bob Proctor, and 4-time published author. Her first book is titled “A Walk In My Stilettos: How To Get Through The Struggle With Grace” with the foreword written by Linda Proctor (wife of Bob Proctor), her second book “A Walk In My Stilettos: 111 Affirmations To Help You Heal” was inspired by the encouragement of her readers. Makini created her third book “A Walk In My Stilettos: The Gratitude Journal” to share her success tools with other women which was followed by “The Couples Gratitude Journal”.

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Natasha Koifman President of NKPR Inc

Natasha created NKPR in 2002 to combine her two passions: sharing stories of substance and championing important causes. Recognized as one of Canada’s most powerful and innovative women in public relations, Natasha has been honoured with awards from the Women’s Executive Network (WXN), Notable magazine, BizBash and others. A sought after speaker and commentator on public relations, marketing, popular culture and fashion, Natasha writes a regular column for Huffington Post and is a frequent contributor to Entertainment Tonight Canada and Newstalk 1010 radio. Believing strongly in giving back, Natasha is the President of the Board for Artists for Peace and Justice Canada and on the Board of Directors for APJ USA. She also supports various other charities working to improve the lives of others. Natasha divides her time between Toronto and New York City.

Eva Wong Co-Founder & COO, Borrowell Eva is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Borrowell, a Canadian fintech company that helps consumers make great decisions about credit. She provides leadership to the Product, Engineering, Design and Data teams and is a member of the Executive Team. Eva’s career has spanned both the private and not-forprofit sectors, including roles at The OTF Group (a Monitor spin-off), Maple Leaf Foods, UNDP and Oliver Wyman. She has studied or worked in the US, Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe.

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Trang Trinh, CPA, CA Founding Director & CEO - TREC Brands

A recognized strategy and operations leader with 10+ years of experience. Completed 10+ transactions ranging between $1 million to $14 billion during her consulting career at Deloitte, leading the cannabis sector with an M&A lens. Trang brings vision, deep relationships in the sector, mentorship and kindness to her role in leading TREC Brands.


Shahrzad Rafati is the Founder and CEO of BroadbandTV (BBTV), a media-tech company that is advancing the world through the creation, distribution, management, and monetization of content. Shahrzad actively pursues ways to encourage social change and is a champion for equality in all forms. She is passionate about job creation, education, and advancing opportunities for women and girls. In September 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed her to represent Canada on the G20 Business Women Leader’s task force, a global initiative to drive actionable, measurable, and results-driven solutions to impact women’s economic empowerment.

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Andria Barrett President, Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce

Andria Barrett is the President of the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce where she believes that success in the Black business community, results in a stronger and more successful Canadian economy. She has been with the Chamber since its inception and is responsible for leading a team that contributes to creating and supporting Blackowned businesses across the country. Under her leadership, the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce has established partnerships with organizations including SheaMoisture, Uber Eats & Facebook. She is also a Speaker with the Diversity Agency and works with a team that specializes in facilitating workshops in Unconscious Bias & Anti-Black racism.

Laurence Cooke Founder & CEO nanopay Laurence drives the vision to offer CBDC to central banks, and leads the overall strategy and direction of nanopay to deliver scalable payment and liquidity solutions to banks and businesses. Laurence is responsible for raising capital, managing investor relations, and taking the business to new heights.

Prior to founding nanopay, Laurence worked with WIND Canada and was Vice President of Wireless at Shaw Communications Inc. He was also Chief Operating Officer of Bell Mobility and Bell Distribution Inc (BDI), where he was responsible for all of Bell Mobility’s operations and led a team of 9,000 employees. At BDI, Laurence was responsible for all retail for Bell Canada. Prior to joining Bell, Laurence was a senior executive in Accenture’s London Strategy Practice. Laurence co-founded two wireless data businesses in Europe, Melodeo, Inc. and Xtempus.

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Carinne Chambers Founder and CEO Divacup Carinne Chambers and her mother, Francine Chambers, are disrupting the age-old industry of feminine hygiene through their invention and promotion of the DivaCup. Founded in 2003, the DivaCup’s reusable concept makes it far more environmentally friendly as well as affordable for women, who spend thousands of dollars on hygiene products throughout their lifetime. Today, the Ontario based invention is sold in 22 countries worldwide and is widely recognized and respected for the benefits it provides to consumers. Chambers has received several awards for her entrepreneurial success, including EY Entrepreneur of The Year for Sustainable Products and Services, EY National Special Citation Award for Industry Disruptor, and Chamber’s was named on Canada’s Top 40 under 40 list.

Joanna Griffiths

Founder and CEO - Knix and Knixteen Joanna Griffiths is the Founder and CEO of Knix and Knixteen the direct-to-consumer intimate apparel brands that are reinventing intimates for real life. Since launching the company in 2013, Joanna has built Knix into one of the fastest-growing intimate apparel brands globally. Through a focus on product innovation and the brand’s mission to empower women to be unapologetically free, a Knix item is now sold every 7 seconds, and the company has shipped over half a million orders in the last twelve months alone. Knix was recently named the 6th fastest growing company in Canada with over 3800% 3-year growth. Joanna holds multiple patents and has been cited in hundreds of media publications including Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, and more. Joanna has been recognized on both the national and international stage for her work as a marketing disruptor championing the topics of body inclusivity, fertility, mental health, and postpartum. In 2018 Joanna was named Women of Influence’s Entrepreneur of the Year and more recently she was the recipient of the Retail Council Of Canada’s Marketing Innovation Award.

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Cherif Habib

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Dialogue Cherif Habib is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dialogue, Canada’s leading virtual care company. Launched in 2016 and has raised over $100M in venture funding, Dialogue offers its service to millions of individuals and provides care to more patients every day than the largest emergency rooms in the country

Elle AyoubZadeh Founder - Zvelle

Elle AyoubZadeh founded Zvelle in 2015 with the desire to combine meaningful design with impeccable quality and heightened consciousness. Elle traveled extensively to find the finest accessories craftspeople in the world, settling on an Italian factory whose multigenerational team shared her exacting standards and unwavering values. Her aesthetic vision borrowed from many cultures and traditions to reveal something elegant and timeless. Most importantly, every style would have a story. Each design is an invitation to further your story as you move through the world.

Profile for CanadianSME

CanadianSME January 2021  

Welcome to the first issue of the year of CanadianSME Magazine. We hope this new year will bring much success to your business and allow you...

CanadianSME January 2021  

Welcome to the first issue of the year of CanadianSME Magazine. We hope this new year will bring much success to your business and allow you...