CanadianSME Business Magazine May 2020

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Welcome to the May edition of CanadianSME. While we’re only five months within the year 2020, it feels like much longer with the current situation our world is in. To say that COVID-19 has had an impact on the small business industry would be an understatement. Many small businesses have been forced to shut down due to social distancing and while some businesses are still able to operate, job cuts have impacted and have therefore significantly decreased profits. We, at CanadianSME, understand the need for providing resources to Canadian small businesses has never been greater. Our goal has always been clear: contributing to the success of small and medium sized businesses in Canada. Because we understand just how much the SME industry contributes to Canada’s economy, we’ve made it our mission to help them succeed. With this challenging time, we hope to reduce some of the impacts that COVID-19 has had on Canadian small businesses. With that in mind, we’ve included in our May issue, articles and interviews from some of Canada’s top leaders to see what they have to say about COVID-19 and how they believe entrepreneurs can still manage a successful business by following their guidelines and tips. Among our top interviews we have Jim Estill, President & CEO of ShipperBee and Danby Appliances, President, CEO and Chair of the Canadian Federal Independent Business, Dan Kelly, Rhiannon Rosalind who’s the CEO of The Economic Club of Canada, founder of Impetus Digital Natalie Yeadon, Jackie King who is the COO at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Stephen Dekuyper from Beniplus and founder of Goodfood, Jonathan Ferrari. Each of these leaders talk about COVID-19 and their expert advice for SME owners to help them through this challenging time. Additionally, we also have resourceful articles in this issue such as A Strategy Every Industry Leader Must Have, by Mostafa Sayyadi.. We hope you find this month’s issue resourceful during this challenging time. Once again, we thank you for your support and happy reading! canadiansme canadian_sme canadiansme Publisher Shaik Khaleeluddin (SK)

Webmaster Ashraf

Consulting Editor Shiraz Siddique

Social Media Cmarketing Inc

Creative Designer Rakibul Islam

Photography Ahsan Khan 416 617 3058

Client Manager Sheliza Yacoob

Contributors Jim Estill DAN KELLY Rhiannon Rosalind Natalie Yeadon Mostafa Sayyadi

Stephen Dekuyper Jonathan Ferrari Charlie Regan Greg Smith Ken Evans

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ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) ISSN 2562-0649 (Print) ISSN 2562-0657 (Online)

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The contents in CanadianSME Magazine are for informational purposes only. Neither Cmarketing, the publishers nor any of its partners, employees or affiliates accepts any liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of its contents.





With Jim Estill


President & CEO ShipperBee & Danby Appliances




Sail Your Small BUSINESSES Real Talk with Tech Nerds Through The COVID-19 Charlie Regan and David Pandemic Redekop from Nerds on Site BY CANADIANSME

Charlie Regan CEO and David Redekop Co-Founder at Nerds on Site Inc

23 How the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is helping SMEs

Jackie King Chief Operating Officer, at Canadian Chamber of Commerce




Insights On Webcast Series for Canadian Business Leaders IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

Now, more than ever, business leaders must find ways to successfully navigate market challenges while fostering a workforce that can adapt quickly to change. To help, we’ve launched a new live webcast series called, Insights On. Created in partnership with the Financial Post, each episode explores timely business insights on a key topic and includes thought leadership from one of Canada’s leading industry experts. Grab a coffee and join us online for our next webcast:

The Role of a finance team in a moment of Crisis Tuesday May 5, 2020 | 10am PT / 1pm ET Featuring a live discussion with Pamela Steer, CFO at Payments Canada and 2019 CFO of the Year.

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Upcoming Insights On webcasts include: Prioritizing employee experience in a remote work setting

Thursday May 21st, 2020 | 10am PT / 1pm ET

The evolved role of the CIO: Empowering organizations to operate digitally Thursday June 4th, 2020 | 10am PT / 1pm ET

Preparing organizations for the future of travel Thursday June 18th, 2020 | 10am PT / 1pm ET

About SAP Concur solutions SAP Concur is the world’s leading brand of integrated expense, travel, and invoice management solutions. We are driven by a relentless pursuit to simplify and automate everyday processes so your people get more done and you can focus on bringing your business’ true purpose to life. Learn more at or the SAP Concur blog.


HON. PERRIN BEATTY President & CEO Canadian Chamber of Commerce

For being awarded THE ORDER OF THE RISING SUN, GOLD AND SILVER STAR From the Govt. of Japan

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2800 Skymark Avenue, Suite 203 Mississauga, ON. Canada. L4W 5A6 Email:

“Together, Moving Forward” #ISUPPORTSMALLBIZ Image credit: Canva




DMITRY BENIAMINOV TO BE PRESENTED WITH THE 2020 DIGITAL PUBLISHING LEADERSHIP AWARD The National Media Awards Foundation congratulates Dmitry Beniaminov, the 2020 winner of the Digital Publishing Leadership Award. This award celebrates a creator whose career contributions to Canadian digital publishing deserve formal recognition, and it is the Digital Publishing Awards’ highest individual distinction. Beniaminov is a York University graduate, with a Bachelor in Computer Science/Engineering and Psychology, and is certified with the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB). Since graduating, Beniaminov has accumulated over 20 years of experience working as a technology consultant and digital marketing advisor and, as of 2016, offers his services via, Pixel Studioz, his web design firm.

LONDON DRUGS STEPS UP OFFERING SHELF SPACE TO LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19 Attention local small business owners: London Drugs wants to help you sell your products RICHMOND, B.C.- April 28, 2020 – London Drugs is offering up shelf space in select stores to local small businesses who have had to close their doors due to COVID-19. Beginning today, small businesses in Western Canada are welcome to submit products for consideration. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports that only 21 per cent of small businesses in Canada are fully open due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and 50 per cent have reported that they are unsure if their business will survive. As an essential service, London Drugs stores are open and have the ability to help small businesses that have had to close their retail stores, stay afloat.

“This is a really hard time for many small businesses, and we are in a unique position in these challenging times where we can really help out,” said Clint Mahlman, President and COO of London Drugs. “As a 75-year-old Canadian owned and operated company we have always supported fellow Canadian businesses and now is the time more than ever, to come together. As an essential service, we are here to help our local small businesses while also providing an opportunity for customers to pick up their favourite local items and support their favourite local companies.”

FBC LAUNCHES FREE CALCULATOR TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES NAVIGATE WAGE SUBSIDY APPLICATION For small business owners across the country the future is becoming more desperate as restrictions related to Covid-19 continue to wipe out lifetimes of dreams, sacrifice and savings. “Never have small businesses needed to be more agile, focused, and resilient than they do today,” said Steve Ibbotson, President and CEO of FBC Canada. “They also need to do everything they can to hold on to their employees which is why the recently launched Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Temporary Wage Subsidy programs are so crucial in providing an immediate injection of cash.” Helping small businesses hold on to employees was the primary motive for developing the FBC Wage Subsidy calculator. The application process and calculations for Canada’s two wage subsidy programs is complex, coupled with the severe consequences of providing a false claim makes it important you get it right. “Some business owners might think it’s easier to just layoff staff rather than go through the calculations and application process,” said Ibbotson. “At some point this is all going to be over.



The businesses that ramp up their operations the fastest will have a distinct advantage. You don’t want to be scrambling to find employees in that environment so now is the time to do what you can to keep them.”

has launched a free tool ‘QuickStart,’ a self-serve lite version of the product suite for startups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to address these very problems. With Locus’ state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) platform, companies can automate decision making while taking into account the on-ground reality. This free trial is for a period of two months from the start of the subscription.

BUSINESS BAROMETER®: END OF APRIL BRINGS SOME IMPROVEMENT IN SMALL BUSINESS SENTIMENT Small business confidence took some steps in the right direction at the end of April, gaining almost 9 index points since the beginning of the month to 46.4 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®.

“Supply chain management has only become more dynamic and complex with time. While changing on-ground scenarios and pandemics like COVID-19, may impact your operations, Locus QuickStart can provide you with tools to improve and analyze the situation. This offering will continue even after the situation on the ground eases up,” Nishith Rastogi, CEO and Cofounder of Locus.

“Small business sentiment is far from being in a state of recovery, but there are some signs of improvement this month, with business metrics like hiring and wage plans still low but seeing an uptick over last month,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “This could be a reflection of more refined policy responses from government as well as businesses learning to operate more effectively under trying conditions.” Fulltime staffing intentions improved slightly since the beginning of the month but remained low, with 9 per cent of business owners planning on hiring in the next three months, and 48 per cent planning to cut back. Capacity utilization rates also improved slightly to 39.9 per cent. In total, 11 per cent of owners say their business is in good shape, while 54 per cent say it is doing poorly. An index level nearer to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

KICKSTART AUTOMATED SUPPLY CHAIN WITH LOCUS QUICKSTART FOR SMES AND STARTUPS Startups and SMEs are in a precarious situation now more than ever. Companies are struggling to manage volatile demand, fleet and resource efficiency, and rising costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Locus, a global B2B SaaS company that automates human decisions in supply chain, CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


Zoodbox founder delivered the first package in Montreal, QC, Canada (CNW Group/Lite Technology Inc.)

TECH ENTREPRENEURS LAUNCH ZOODBOX - AN ON-DEMAND PACKAGE DELIVERY SERVICE FOR MONTREAL Quarantining in Montreal has been a bit easier thanks to the debut of a mobile app called Zoodbox that allows for simple, fast and affordable exchange of light goods via its on-demand delivery service. The service was founded by a team of tech savvy entrepreneurs, who say the mobile app is the first of its kind in Canada. Zoodbox was welcomed right out of the gate

by Kijiji and craigslist buyers and sellers. It is expected to be a popular delivery option for businesses, as well, who need immediate, reliable cross-town package delivery. Yet now, with COVID-19 restrictions, its use has been growing among city residents who cannot be in direct contact but need to exchange goods. “We launched Zoodbox as the answer to expensive, slow courier services for businesses, people who buy and sell via online community directory listings, and for anyone tight on time,” said Kamal Rezvaninejad, founder of Zoodbox. “What’s been really rewarding for our team though is how the service has helped improve quality of life for those forced to shelter in place during this pandemic.”

WELLO AND RBC PARTNER TO SUPPORT CANADIAN SMALL BUSINESSES NAVIGATING COVID -19 Virtual Healthcare Services And Free Resources To Support Employers Now Available.

Wello and RBC are expanding their existing partnership to offer support to businesses in Canada navigating health and wellness challenges during these unprecedented times. This includes offering RBC business clients the use of Wello, a telemedicine platform that connects business owners and their employees with health practitioners 24/7 by phone, video and secure messaging.

“Our health system is focused on addressing the COVID -19 pandemic, asking Canadians to maintain physical distancing to limit the spread,” says Vince Danielsen, CEO of Wello. “Having employees connect with medical experts through Wello reduces the demand for face-to-face appointments, and ensures employees get access to reliable and timely support for acute and chronic health needs, while staying safe at home.”

Wello provides business owners with low-cost, convenient access to high-quality professional care, ensuring employees are kept well over the long-term. Through a dedicated network of healthcare practitioners, users of Wello have 24/7 access to physical and mental health resources like prescription and medical referrals, consultations on chronic health conditions, mental health support, health education and coaching, and elder, child and infant care.

charge for 60 days. Clients interested in learning more about how to sign up for Wello and to take advantage of the offer can visit RBC Offers for Business in RBC Online Banking or

“In a very short period of time, many Canadian businesses were forced into a zero revenue environment and that is creating anxiety and uncertainty for owners and their employees,” said Greg Grice, Executive Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “One of the ways we can help clients adjust to this new reality is through the mental and physical health support resources offered by Wello to ensure clients and their employees are cared for during these times.”

Wello is a leading Canadian provider of anytime, anywhere virtual healthcare services. Wello services are available through phone and video visits as well as secure webchat. Backed by a 40 year history of providing high quality healthcare through it’s parent company, INLIV, Wello can be offered as part of a company’s health benefits for its employees, as well as through individual and family plans, available at

The virtual healthcare company is also providing resources to the public via their free COVID-19 Resource Hub.This includes weekly live webinars hosted by clinical experts, including Dr. Wendy Smeltzer, a practicing family physician and Wello’s Medical Director.


Business leaders looking for guidance on how to educate and support their employees during the pandemic, and employees seeking health support, mental health resources, and general tips for keeping well, are encouraged to visit for more information. Recognizing the challenges small business owners are facing, RBC and Wello are providing small business clients access to the service at no


Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose‐driven, principles‐led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 85,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at SOURCE Wello



COVID–19: CECRA FOR SMALL BUSINESSES CECRA for small businesses helps commercial property owners pay mortgages and reduce tenant rent.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses provides much needed relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May and June, 2020.

Who is eligible to apply for the CECRA for Small Business Program? To qualify for CECRA for small businesses, the property owner must meet the following requirements:

What is an impacted small business tenant? Impacted small business tenants are businesses, including non-profit and charitable organizations who: •

You own property that generates rental revenue from commercial real property located in Canada.

You are the property owner of the commercial real property where the impacted small business tenants are located.

You have a mortgage loan secured by the commercial real property, occupied by one or more small business tenants.*

You have entered or will enter into a rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May, and June 2020, that will reduce impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%.

Your rent reduction agreement with impacted tenants includes a moratorium on eviction for the period of April, May and June 2020.

You have declared rental income on your tax return (personal or corporate) for tax years 2018 and/or 2019.

* For those property owners who do not have a mortgage, an alternative mechanism will be implemented. Further information will be outlined in the near future. Commercial properties with a residential component and multi-unit residential properties with commercial tenants are also eligible. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement), generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level), and have temporarily ceased operations (i.e. generating no revenues), or has experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.

To measure revenue loss, small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same month of 2019. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020.

How does the CECRA for Small Businesses Program works? CMHC administers the program on behalf of the Government of Canada and our provincial and territorial partners. The program offers assistance for the months of April, May and June, 2020. •

It can be applied retroactively.

Property owners may still apply for assistance once the 3-month period has ended if they can prove eligibility during those months.

Property owners must refund amounts paid by the small business tenant for the period.

*If rent has been collected at the time of approval, a credit to the tenant for a future month’s rent (i.e. July for April) is acceptable if agreed upon by both the property owner and the tenant. This can be a flexible 3-month period.

The deadline to apply is August 31, 2020. CMHC will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners.

The loans will cover 50% of the gross rent owed by impacted small business tenants during the 3-month period of April, May and June 2020.

The property owner will be responsible for no less than half of the remaining 50% of the gross rent payments (paying no less than 25% of the total).

The small business tenant will be responsible for no more than half of the remaining 50% of the gross rent payments (paying no more than 25% of the total).

“More help is on the way for our small businesses across the country. They are the backbone of our families, our communities, and our economy. That is why we will continue working closely with provinces and territories to make sure that Canadian businesses have the support they need during these difficult times.” The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Note: If you are a tenant and struggle to pay your portion, alternate programs are available to assist you. CECRA for small businesses loans will be forgiven if the property owner complies with all applicable program terms and conditions including to not seek to recover rent abatement amounts after the program is over.

“Small businesses are an integral part of our economy, and are vital for families and communities across the country. Many businesses are facing economic hardship and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank and commend the many property owners who have already taken action to help their tenants during this crisis. Today’s program will provide forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower the rent of tenants to keep them prepared to bounce back when this crisis subsides.” The Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation



HELPING LOCAL RESTAURANTS TO CONNECT WITH CUSTOMERS DURING TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY Tina Leckie is the owner of Fiorentina, a restaurant in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood specializing in farm to table cuisine that has been dishing up meals with local ingredients for the past eight years. As many dine-in restaurants and bars close their doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, restaurant owners like Tina are looking for new ways to serve customers and keep the lights on. Over the last two months, the restaurant industry has dramatically changed and Canadians are searching online to understand their new dining options. While

people are still searching for "local restaurants near me," the focus has shifted to alternative mealtime solutions. For example, Canadian searches for "takeout" increased +180% in April compared to January 2020 and we saw “delivery” search interest increase 130% from March to April, compared to the 30 days prior. To help restaurants during this time, Google has launched new tools to make it easier for restaurants to share how they are operating. Canadian restaurants can now update their free Google My

Business business listing to communicate adjusted hours or updated delivery options, such as curbside pickup, no-contact delivery or takeout. These attributes appear on a restaurant’s business profile on Google Search and Maps and are visible when customers are looking for dining options that meet their needs. Businesses can even create a COVID-19 post on their business profile to share any new safety precautions they’ve implemented to keep customers safe.

Toronto’s Fiorentina has updated their Google My Business listing to let customers know they are now offering curbside pickup and nocontact delivery. Businesses can also create a COVID-19 post on their profile to share any new safety precautions they’ve implemented.

For Tina, digital tools have made all the difference in keeping Fiorentina open. “Updating our business profile was easy to do on Google, and this helped us share our new website, and let customers know we’re offering curbside pick-up and delivery, despite being temporarily closed for dine-in,” said Tina. “Now anyone searching for restaurants in the neighbourhood can see that we’re still open and offering adjusted services. Our customers and community have been extremely appreciative of these updates, and continue to support us while we stay open for business.”

“Small businesses have and always will be critical to the Canadian economy, and as consumers shift purchasing behaviour to online, it’s imperative that businesses are also online and can be found,” says John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas. “Google My Business helps restaurants not only be found online, but also connect with customers and let them know important updates like revised store hours, alternative service options, and new safety measures implemented during COVID-19.” Since launching Google My Business, we’ve helped more than 150 million local businesses globally connect with people who are looking for them online. The pandemic presents unique challenges to the restaurant industry and while the path forward is not yet clear, we’re committed to supporting our local communities. Business owners can learn more on our Small Business Hub or join a free, virtual workshop. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I





ShipperBee & Danby Appliances

Canadian tech entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary Jim Estill, who launched a $2 billion business from the trunk of his car and has settled close to one hundred refugee families over the past four years, defines servant leadership. His mission: showing by example how business leaders can make a positive impact in the world. Jim currently heads multi-national appliance company Danby Appliances and ShipperBee, a disruptor shipping company that is helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint, and is a firm believer in mentorship in business as well as in life. When settling refugee families, Jim moved from privately sponsoring as an individual, to making his company the first business in Canada to become a Sponsorship Agreement Holder. Forty years ago, Jim started his entrepreneurial journey, distributing out of the trunk of his car while a student at the University of Waterloo in 1979. That company became Connect Tech, an embedded computing company, which still exists today, and EMJ Data Systems, which Jim sold to Synnex in 2004 and as CEO of Synnex, grew that company from sales of $800 million to $2 billion in just five years. Jim is a change agent and unstoppable visionary. Four years ago, if you looked at Danby Appliances Co., you would see a staid traditional appliance company. But what did Jim Estill see? He saw a platform, a company which manufactured traditional products in the form of boxes, which could also be transformed into something great. And that’s what makes him an entrepreneur. So, he bought the company and set it on a new path of innovation, new product development and new business initiatives. Over the years, Jim has invested in over 150 tech startup companies, but it is his role as a founder of many successful businesses (ConnectTech, EMJ and Simply Clean), Communitech and YPO Western Ontario that defines his success. The new Danby Appliances Co. is Jim’s latest entrepreneurial chapter together with the creation of ShipperBee.

Image credit: CanadianSME/Ahsan Khan



1. One of the first companies you founded, EMJ Data Systems was a huge success gaining up to $2 billion in sales. What was the inspiration behind founding the company and did you ever think it would become as successful it is today?

Systems, I thought things are great and I can keep on going, but at some point, I’m going to hit a wall. So the fear of slowing down caused me to sell it. The reason I wanted to be CEO of SYNNEX Canada was to protect my staff because I’ve been working with them for over 20 years. I felt the loyalty and being CEO meant that we would be at the same location, so I was CEO for SYNNEX Canada for about 5 years.

When I was in university, I wanted to start a company and do 100 million in sales because I thought that was a big number. When I got to 50 million, I said I better do 200 million. Then I got to 100 million and said I better do 500 million, and I kept on going up until I reached 2 billion in sales. When I first started the company, I wanted to design circuit boards as I’m an engineer. I started by buying computers and got a better deal if I bought 2 computers, and I sold one to someone who wanted it. Soon I bought another computer, some printers, and software. Eventually, I was buying and re-selling computers, so EMJ Data Systems was a reseller of computer products.

3. You’ve created yourself quite the reputation as being a successful entrepreneur. At what stage in your life did you realize your passion for entrepreneurship? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur? When I was in high school, my first successful entrepreneurial adventure was painting houses. When I got the bug of painting houses and working for myself was when I discovered my passion for entrepreneurship. I started my business when I was in my 4th-year university, and it never occurred to me not to start a company so that’s what I did.

2. In 2004, you made the decision to sell EMJ Data Systems to SYNNEX and took on the role as CEO of the company. What made you decide to sell the company and then take on the role of CEO of that company?

4.Over the years, you’ve invested in over 150 tech startups. Do you believe that tech companies have a stronger success rate compared to other industries?

Entrepreneurs will always suffer from entrepreneurial fear. When I worked at EMJ Data



I don’t believe tech companies have a higher success rate, but they do have a higher growth rate, and the growth rate is what I’ve focused on. Change is an opportunity and it happens in technology very quickly. If you start a restaurant business, it’s not going to change very much in the next 20 years, unless you’re speaking about technology for restaurants and that’s a different matter. I’m primarily focusing on my company Danby Appliances and my new venture ShipperBee. Trying to stay focused is very tough for an entrepreneur because we’re always aspiring to do more.

5.Being a tech entrepreneur, what do you believe is Canada’s strength when it comes to the tech sector? Canada has a comprehensive education system. When it comes to the tech sector, Canada is as good as any other country. I like the shred tax claim system that we have, and the cost base is less than the United States. By having a great education system and great people; we can be as successful as any other country.

Image credit: CanadianSME/Ahsan Khan

6.You recently took home the CanadianSME Lifetime Achievement Award. What does this huge accomplishment and recognition mean to you? You don’t do something for the award but it’s nice when you receive it. The only problem with it being a lifetime achievement award is it sounds like you’re done. I just started, so I feel that I’m not yet done. A future goal of mine for the upcoming years is to launch ShipperBee to become a meaningful player in the courier business. At Danby appliances, we’re about technology and change. The parcel mailbox that we created is a change in thinking, so rather than saying we’re an appliance company making bar fridges and freezers, we’re a company that makes large boxes. These boxes are to receive your amazon packages or other deliveries and that’s a market that will be huge within the next decade.

7. You’re a firm believer of mentorship in business. Why do you believe mentorship is crucial in business and what impact does it have on a business? True wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. Entrepreneurship can be lonely – having mentors can help give confidence.

8. When you purchased Danby Appliances many years ago, you had a clear vision about how you could bring it into the new era through innovation and product development. What were some of the methods you used to rebrand the company? Image credit: CanadianSME/Ahsan Khan

I am a tech guy so wanted to use the tech company ways in a smokestack industry. This would include things like speed, faster inventory turns, flexibility, etc. And we did also bring out a tech product – a parcel mailbox with an IP camera and WIFI that emails or texts when you get a parcel.

9. Through Danby Appliances, you’ve created a company culture that cares and a company that’s profitable and has a competitive advantage. What were some of the strategies that contributed to these positive aspects? I try to lead by example. I ask questions. Questions provoke thought.

10. On a final note, what can you tell us about some of your future projects you have planned? What do the next 10 years look like for you professionally? My goal is to use my businesses for the greater good. I know this sounds arrogant but businesses can change the world faster and in bigger ways than just one person can. Tying in economic reward with higher purpose – e.g. environment is the way to scale.

Image credit: CanadianSME/Ahsan Khan



2800 Skymark Avenue, Suite 203 Mississauga, ON. Canada. L4W 5A6 Email:

“Together, Moving Forward” #ISUPPORTSMALLBIZ Image credit: Canva




Healthcare: add more accessible services to connect with patients Mobility, time and travel constraints can be barriers for many when it comes to accessing healthcare. Whether you’re a doctor, physiotherapist or speech therapist, expanding your clinic’s capabilities to include video and collaboration technologies not only helps personalize care experiences for patients, it can also streamline clinical and business workflows, and improve knowledge sharing for faster innovation in care. Here are few ways online conferencing can help your practice: •

Allows for face-to-face consults and assessments between patients and doctors,anytime, anywhere;

Makes diagnoses easier and more engaging with screen sharing capabilities;

Let’s you quickly and easily meet with other healthcare professionals for knowledge sharing;

Connects clinical and administrative workers for virtual training, which can simply be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Education: provide innovative learning solutions for students

office - whatever best suits their schedules. Meeting and sharing information remotely will let team members keep cases on track and stay tuned into the culture of your company.

Learning and administrative decision-making doesn’t have to take place in-person anymore, with new technologies that let students attend courses anytime, anywhere and on any device. Not only can you create a compelling online learning experience with live high-definition video, integrated audio and information sharing through persistent chat platforms like Webex Teams, you can also stimulate group collaboration with virtual white boards and build a digital library of recorded lectures to support self-paced study. And, if you run a tutoring business, you can expand your services to include virtual tutoring. When it comes to administrative work, you can use video to meet and share updates with parents, connect with coworkers remotely and hold training sessions for staff.

Law: create secure virtual consultations and a more digital workforce

These unprecedented times have placed an added emphasis on a business’ ability to be innovative. By adopting video conferencing and collaboration technologies, you can add another layer of customer service and support without adding a significant line item to your balance sheet. Which I’m sure we can all appreciate right now.

COVID-19 has forced many legal practices to adapt quickly to continue serving clients uninterrupted. However, this has also opened new doors for firms once physical distancing starts to ease. With video and collaboration tools, you can look to retain the benefits video conferencing offers to reach new, more remote clients. Drafting shareholders agreements, assisting with restructuring business or helping a client purchase a home can all be done over video conference, safely and securely. With the right video conferencing tools, you can connect virtually while maintaining client confidentiality and keeping records secure. Cisco Webex uses end‑to‑end encryption to keep messages, documents and whiteboard content encrypted from one device to another. You can also use video conferencing to create a more positive work environment for your people: partners and their teams have the ongoing option of working from home, on the road, or the

Lissa Ricci

Vice President Of Small Business Solutions for Cisco Canada Lissa Ricci is vice president of small business solutions for Cisco Canada. She is passionate about technology and how it can help growing businesses achieve their goals. Sign up for your free Cisco Webex account now at



TECH DECISIONS YOU MAKE TODAY CAN HAVE A BIG IMPACT ON YOUR FUTURE It’s important to choose the right technologies when starting a business, but doing so with an eye toward the future could prove to be a difference maker. Image credit: Lenovo

For almost any type of business startup these days, technology plays an important role from day one. As your business grows and changes, your technology needs will also evolve, and the role of information technology decision-makers (ITDMs) within your organization will take on added importance.

Making your technology decisions with these things in mind from the very beginning can be a real difference maker for your business later on.



“When choosing technologies in the early stages of a business, mobility and security should be your primary focus,” says Ian Pitt, chief information officer at LogMeIn, a provider of SaaS business solutions. At the same time, you should consider “baking in” substantial artificial intelligence (A.I.) and/or machine learning (ML) capabilities to the technology you deploy. Doing that now will make it easier to increase levels of automation across your organization as opportunities arise. A.I. and ML are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A.I. is a broad concept used to describe the ability of machines (including computers and software) to mimic human decision-making processes and to perform complex tasks in a humanlike manner. ML is a subset of A.I. that refers to an algorithm’s ability to evolve (learn) without human intervention as a result of being fed massive amounts of data. And these two related developments promise to be major difference makers in how business technology evolves.


ome of your technology needs will be dictated by the industry in which you compete, the customers you target, the size of your current and projected workforce, and other specific parameters. But, almost all businesses will need technology solutions in four key areas, says Ben Loria, chief data scientist at O’Reilly Media, a provider of training and learning resources on computer technology topics: cloud computing; data technologies (including ML/A.I.); mobile computing and platforms; and marketing, adtech, and social media technologies.

ITDMs are critical to business success It’s not unusual for the founder to function as the ITDM in the early stages and to then hand off that responsibility as the business matures. But regardless of who is filling it, the ITDM plays a critical role that will make a difference in the overall success of your business. The position should be fully integrated and respected within the organization, and the person or persons filling it should always be involved in broader business discussions so they can make the right technological decisions—the ones that will make a difference in the company’s long-term health.

By educating their colleagues on the true capabilities and limitations of current technologies, ITDMs can help surface use cases that are amenable to technological solutions,” Loria says.

Cloud computing has matured enough that many businesses are now able to move core systems and applications onto these platforms, Loria says. The availability of specialized hardware that can accelerate computational tasks, such as ML model-building and analytics, is increasing rapidly. Data collection capabilities are getting a big boost from the introduction of cost-effective yet highly accurate sensors. And IT infrastructure is evolving to keep pace with all these developments. Early adoption of a forward-looking approach to technology can pay off in unexpected ways. For example, startups typically follow a consistent pattern of headcount growth with reasonably predictable metrics, Pitt says. Strategic use of A.I. and ML technologies might allow you to delay or eliminate some hires in non-mission-critical positions (administration, for example). This would free up resources for more mission-critical positions, such as sales, that can help your business reach profitability far more quickly. And A.I.-powered travel tools can learn preferences, eliminating the need to have an employee work on complex travel schedules for executives. A.I.-powered personal assistants have the ability to organize and maintain information, including the management of emails, calendar events, files, and to-do lists. These kinds of capabilities reduce a business’s reliance on human admins, Pitt says.

Tech advances are coming fast

In many cases, that means explaining to colleagues that the right course of action would be to evolve gradually—for example, by targeting partial automation as opposed to full A.I. automation that isn’t quite ready yet, he adds. “Practical applications leveraging A.I. and ML are advancing rapidly, and integrating them into businesses is going to become much easier over the next year,” Pitt predicts. ITDMs will have to move beyond conducting simple transactions and fixing things. They must become business strategists who understand the difference technology can make in helping the company achieve its most important goals. “With this shift,” Pitt says, “ITDMs will be considered trusted advisers who take the lead in certain areas and begin fostering closer relationships with C-suite executives.” As that evolution continues, ITDMs have an opportunity to become critical difference makers like never before.

Lenovo is dedicated to providing the technology, services, and support Small Businesses need on their journey to make a difference. For more information, please visit : thinkbook This content was co-produced by Lenovo and Inc., and originally appeared on

Introducing Ownr Grants A $25,000 fund sponsored by RBC Ventures to support and encourage entrepreneurship in Canada.

Image credit: Canva

Since we launched in November 2017, our mission has remained the same. Ownr aims to inspire and enable entrepreneurship in Canada, by providing a platform to launch your business. The recent COVID-19 developments have had a significant impact on the small business community. The Canadian government is taking unprecedented measures to support small businesses - the backbone of our economy. While a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty still remains, we believe these temporary circumstances shouldn’t deter those with a business dream. Many are taking this time to pivot their existing business or to think about starting one. That’s why we’ve decided to launch Ownr Grants, a $25,000 fund to help support Canadian entrepreneurs with a grant of up to $1000 for each successful applicant. Starting and running a business isn’t easy, but with Ownr and some funding to get you on your way, we believe entrepreneurs can feel inspired to thrive during a time of uncertainty and change.

Apply by May 22, 2020. Available to new business prospects, AND businesses registered or incorporated in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta or federally incorporated businesses. For full details see program Terms and Conditions. Alternatively, you can send an email to with the following: First Name Last Name Business Name Province Email Address Website (if applicable) Social Media Handles (if applicable) Business Description How you will use the Ownr Grant funding


Chief Operating Officer, at Canadian Chamber of Commerce

With over 20 years of experience, Jackie King is a proven business and people leader. Currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Canada’s largest and most influential business association – Jackie is responsible for leading the executive and management teams in the development and execution of the organization’s strategic plan; overseeing operational and financial performance; and strengthening relationships with key external stakeholders. Prior to joining the Chamber, Jackie spent 19 years with the country’s top-ranked public relations and public affairs consultancy – Hill + Knowlton Strategies (H+K). She sat on the executive committee of the board of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, served as a member of the National Board of International Women’s Forum Canada (IWFC), currently sits on the executive committee of the Ottawa chapter of IWFC and on the community advisory committee of the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Center.

Image credit: Canadian Chambers



The businesses that ramp up their operations the fastest will have a distinct advantage. You don’t want to be scrambling to find employees in that environment so now is the time to do what you can to keep them.”

has launched a free tool ‘QuickStart,’ a self-serve lite version of the product suite for startups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to address these very problems. With Locus’ state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) platform, companies can automate decision making while taking into account the on-ground reality. This free trial is for a period of two months from the start of the subscription.

BUSINESS BAROMETER®: END OF APRIL BRINGS SOME IMPROVEMENT IN SMALL BUSINESS SENTIMENT Small business confidence took some steps in the right direction at the end of April, gaining almost 9 index points since the beginning of the month to 46.4 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®.

“Supply chain management has only become more dynamic and complex with time. While changing on-ground scenarios and pandemics like COVID-19, may impact your operations, Locus QuickStart can provide you with tools to improve and analyze the situation. This offering will continue even after the situation on the ground eases up,” Nishith Rastogi, CEO and Cofounder of Locus.

“Small business sentiment is far from being in a state of recovery, but there are some signs of improvement this month, with business metrics like hiring and wage plans still low but seeing an uptick over last month,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “This could be a reflection of more refined policy responses from government as well as businesses learning to operate more effectively under trying conditions.” Fulltime staffing intentions improved slightly since the beginning of the month but remained low, with 9 per cent of business owners planning on hiring in the next three months, and 48 per cent planning to cut back. Capacity utilization rates also improved slightly to 39.9 per cent. In total, 11 per cent of owners say their business is in good shape, while 54 per cent say it is doing poorly. An index level nearer to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

KICKSTART AUTOMATED SUPPLY CHAIN WITH LOCUS QUICKSTART FOR SMES AND STARTUPS Startups and SMEs are in a precarious situation now more than ever. Companies are struggling to manage volatile demand, fleet and resource efficiency, and rising costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Locus, a global B2B SaaS company that automates human decisions in supply chain, CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


Zoodbox founder delivered the first package in Montreal, QC, Canada (CNW Group/Lite Technology Inc.)

TECH ENTREPRENEURS LAUNCH ZOODBOX - AN ON-DEMAND PACKAGE DELIVERY SERVICE FOR MONTREAL Quarantining in Montreal has been a bit easier thanks to the debut of a mobile app called Zoodbox that allows for simple, fast and affordable exchange of light goods via its on-demand delivery service. The service was founded by a team of tech savvy entrepreneurs, who say the mobile app is the first of its kind in Canada. Zoodbox was welcomed right out of the gate

by Kijiji and craigslist buyers and sellers. It is expected to be a popular delivery option for businesses, as well, who need immediate, reliable cross-town package delivery. Yet now, with COVID-19 restrictions, its use has been growing among city residents who cannot be in direct contact but need to exchange goods. “We launched Zoodbox as the answer to expensive, slow courier services for businesses, people who buy and sell via online community directory listings, and for anyone tight on time,” said Kamal Rezvaninejad, founder of Zoodbox. “What’s been really rewarding for our team though is how the service has helped improve quality of life for those forced to shelter in place during this pandemic.”

Over the course of my carreer, I have observed that start-ups and small businesses are pretty lean organizations that focus primarily on developing and selling the product or service. Many tend to put significant resources into marketing the benefits of the product or service, but not as much focus on or a clear understanding of the importance of strategic communications to building and enhancing corporate reputation overall. In other words they think marketing IS communications and anything beyond that is a nice to have. Essentially corporate reputation is the value that stakeholders attribute to the company and it’s products or services, based on their perceptions of the company’s image and behaviour over time. Ultimately, corporate reputation will determine whether a business strategy succeeds or fails as it impacts the company’s ability to:

Attract and retain talent

Be resilient in time of crisis

Attract customers

Have a license to operate – favorability of political

stakeholders/build support for public policy initiatives Protect shareholder value

Facilitate entry into new markets

Attract investors

Reduce threat of competitive attack

Enhance corporate brand value

Establish differentiation

Simultaneously, I led and managed multiple, complex national and international client files. My professional experience as a consultant has been built over 19 years in the field of strategic communications and public affairs. Therefore, throughout the course of my career, I have built a comprehensive knowledge of best practices in,

5. Having spent 19 years in the PR world, what would you say is the biggest challenge that small businesses face when it comes to creating a positive image for their company?

Prior to joining the Canadian Chamber, I spent almost 19 years with Canada’s top-ranked public relations and public affairs consultancy. My success at the firm was largely based on my ability to lead. I advanced through the ranks - from an entry-level intern to executive leadership - within an international company that prides itself on rewarding performance, leadership and teamwork. In my final role at the firm, I ran the second largest office and was responsible for developing and executing office policies and the business strategy. My focus was to foster and advance integration and collaboration across teams and to enable them to proactively create opportunities to develop new streams of revenue and position the firm as a leader driving the change that was happening in the highly competitive and evolving public relations and public affairs industry.

My experience has not only strengthened my skills, it has honed my instincts to be able to lead our organization through constant change and disruption, in addition to effectively navigating the complex national and international environment in which the Canadian Chamber operates.

When I joined the Canadian Chamber, I was given the mandate to modernize and grow the organization, which included improving our relevance and impact in helping Canadian businesses thrive, as well as enhancing the country’s competitiveness to benefit all Canadians. The Canadian Chamber operates within a complex and dynamic, multi-stakeholder environment and serves a broad network of businesses of every size, sector and industry in every region of the country on a wide array of issues. Therefore, the skills and experience I gained over the course of my career are essential to delivering on my mandate.

Finally, I gained extensive experience working with public and private sector stakeholders to plan for and manage numerous contentious issues with broad economic, financial and political considerations. I was responsible for building, nurturing and managing strategic relationships, networks and communications linkages with key stakeholders and partners, to ensure alignment and integration of activity in advancing corporate goals and objectives. These groups include government at all levels (political and bureaucracy), media, business associations and organizations, clients, prospects, partners (law firms, investment banks etc.), employees (nationally and globally), and various community and civil society groups.

I have always considered myself a generalist. I could never quite figure out exactly what I wanted to do or what I wanted to focus on. I did not focus on becoming a subject or service expert. I loved communications and public relations, but I also loved the business of the business. I loved to learn and try new things, and thrived when the stakes were highest and during times of change. So instead, I tried to get as much experience in as many areas as I could in order be a well-rounded leader with the ability to make a difference.

and the evolving nature of communications, reputation management, public consultation, as well as the competitive and noisy public policy landscape, and the machinery/operations of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. I have counseled boards, senior executives and officials, developed and executed integrated, sustainable, results-driven strategies for clients in almost every sector and industry in the Canadian economy.

4. Prior to joining the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, you accumulated almost two decades of experience in the public relations industry. How do you believe your past experience has prepared you for your current role?



So, in addition to marketing and selling, small businesses need to think about and have in place a targeted, integrated, audience-centric communications strategy and invest in its execution. Communications success will enhance reputation and will be based not only on the company’s ability to tell the right story in the right way to the right people, but on how effectively it has place mechanisms in place to listen to audiences needs and feedback to help inform whether the corporate strategy is working or if refinement or a pivot is required.

6. What’s the best advice you can give to an entrepreneur who’s looking to expand internationally? Scaling across borders can be complicated and resource intensive, so entrepreneurs considering international expansion must first assess whether expansion will truly benefit the company or if it will take away from the core business. Do you have the finances and resources to support the initial investment to entering new markets and to sustain efforts to deliver on growth forecasts? Will what you are selling in Canada have the same appeal in other markets and can you build a solid enough customer base?

• •

Have the right team in place (centrally and locally); Have the right infrastructure in place (IT, decision making, data management etc.);

For projects planned for the near future, one that I am very passionate about is the Canadian Chamber’s Inclusive Growth initiative. This came from our firm belief that diversity and inclusion in the workplace fosters creative thinking, innovation and problem solving, providing organizations—and the country—a competitive advantage. Research shows the most successful organizations are creating diversified and inclusive workplaces in which individual differences and the contributions of all employees are recognized and valued.

Adapt to the local market as needed; and

Our inclusive growth initiative will build on our work in the area of fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces and will support businesses looking to fill their talent and skills gaps. In doing so, we will enhance opportunities for underrepresented segments of the Canadian population to participate in the economy and foster stronger communities across the country, resulting in a more prosperous Canada that benefits all Canadians.

Customize customer support to accommodate time zones, languages etc.

Our inclusive growth initiative provides a platform for sharing information and resources,

Take advantage of government support programs; Establish local partnerships and networks to build relationships; Enlist experts to navigate the regulatory environment;



empowering our members with best practices and tools. It amplifies the good work and successes of those leading the way and facilitates engagement to advance and advocate the public policies and government programs that will have the greatest impact. In 2020, we will branch out from our work in mental health, accessibility in the workplace, and with Indigenous populations on reconciliation to introduce three councils: •

Council for Women’s Advocacy, with a focus on women and the workforce

Advisory Council for Veterans, with a focus on integration into the civilian workforce

Council for New Canadians, with a focus on meaningful labour market integration

Companies that succeed internationally also:

7. On a final note, what are some of the projects you have planned in the near future? What are you hoping to accomplish next professionally?

A critical first step is to have a thorough understanding of the market to which you want to expand. Do a significant amount of research on the economy, cultural and language differences, the regulatory environment, the talent pool, the infrastructure, the banking system, and the political environment, as well as aligning your strategy accordingly.

Image credit: CanadianSME

Once you determine your company is ready to go global, there are a number of other things business leaders should be doing or thinking about to ensure success.

Each council will be comprised of senior business leaders who will help us determine what meaningful action, activities and support we can undertake to achieve the greatest success for businesses across Canada. As for what I want to accomplish next professionally, I don’t know specifically, but I do know that what every it is will be based on what’s guided me throughout my entire professional career: to lead and to make a difference.

CANVAS, ONTARIO’S FIRST CANNABIS STORE WITH A SOLO FEMALE OWNER, OPENS SECOND OUTLET WITH LAUNCH OF NEW MOUNT DENNIS LOCATION Community-focused CANVAS announces owner will donate 50 per cent of profits from opening days to local food bank

Photo courtesy of Monica Healy Photography

Their hands may be covered in protective latex for now, but their commitment to deliver a ‘white glove’ experience for customers is unwavering, as CANVAS — the first residential cannabis retailer in Ontario to be solely owned and operated by a woman — announces the opening of a second store just months after arriving on Ontario’s emerging retail cannabis scene. “From day one, we focused on building for the future and meeting the growing need for cannabis products within Toronto communities,” said CANVAS Founder Helene Vassos, whose new store, CANVAS Mount Dennis, is located at 1285 Weston Road.

Photos courtesy of FORREC Designs

The store launches online today at, with pick-up of orders available when the brick-and-mortar location opens on Wednesday, May 6. As an opening special, CANVAS is offering a 10 per cent price drop on all products purchased online from May 4-6. “Our goal has always been to bring a personal touch to the cannabis retail experience,” explained Vassos, whose first store opened in December on the Danforth and has seen exponential month-over-month growth since then. “Our stores are located in beautiful, thriving neighbourhoods that are undergoing major redevelopment, and whose residents are looking for access to a sophisticated and fresh outlook on the cannabis retail experience,” she said “We relish the opportunity to be a part of this growth moving forward and hope to open one or two additional locations before the end of the year.”

CANVAS is taking the opportunity to plant its roots in its new community immediately, and Vassos has announced that she will donate 50 per cent of all profits from the first three days of operation – May 4-6 – to the community's local food bank.

Photos courtesy of FORREC Designs

Though no one could have predicted that an unprecedented global pandemic would become a part of CANVAS’ growth plan, the store is taking every precaution to keep customers safe until Ontarians are safe and restrictions are eased. Like its original location, CANVAS Mount Dennis will adhere to strict COVID-19 preventative measures through online sales and curbside pick-up service only,

installing a protective Plexiglas shield at the front entrance for pick-up orders, providing hand sanitizer to customers, and ensuring social distancing through visible markers and signage. Operational hours have been shortened to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.), with staff wearing masks and gloves. The new location mirrors the original CANVAS Danforth store with its warm hues, natural elements and subtle, stylized elegance, including walls and a ceiling enveloped in real moss. It caters to a varied clientele of all ages and carries a wide selection of cannabis products and accessories, including edibles, oils and topicals. “We know our customers by name, we engage with them, and we’ve formed strong relationships,” Vassos said, explaining that her staff is focused on helping customers find the best products for their needs. “It has been a wonderful, positive experience that I look forward to replicating in Mount Dennis.” Following the success of her first store, the timing was right to expand CANVAS, Vassos explained. She credits her accomplishments in good part to an amazing support team that includes a core group of senior staff and family members, and a business model based on employing full-time permanent staff. “Success is really about believing in your customers, your service and your products. It’s as simple as that,” said Vassos. “You can’t get sidetracked or intimidated by what’s happening around you in this industry – you have to believe in yourself and your skills, and believe that you’ve created something that is of value to the community.” To learn more about CANVAS Mount Dennis and its curated line of cannabis products and accessories, now available for online purchase via CANVAS’s prepaid, ‘Click and Collect’ purchase platform, visit




In a matter of days, we were thrust into what will likely be the greatest social and economic disruption since the Second World War. Businesses are now focused on survival, retaining clients and employees, and managing the HR and employment law ramifications of pandemic-induced layoffs—among a raft of other operational challenges. The economy has transformed to such an extent, and at such unprecedented speed, that many business owners have been left in a state of entrepreneurial shell shock, experiencing a paralysis in strategic decision-making as they wait for the next COVID-19 development to shake their business or industry to its core. Some are facing the opposite (albeit somewhat more pleasant) predicament as they struggle to meet demand—think manufacturers of medical equipment, for example. It’s simply too early to say how the coronavirus pandemic will play out, but we should assume that it will take months before normalcy is restored. That’s why it’s so important to heed



the lesson of previous recessions: companies that fail to innovate, provide exceptional service or adjust their business model will suffer. Strong, forward-thinking leadership is more important than ever. In other words, we can’t bury our heads in the sand and hope this all goes away. It simply won’t.

solvent throughout the crisis. How can you service their needs? Do you need to work with them to defer billing or temporarily reduce prices or fees? How can you shake off the shock and pivot your business, finding opportunities to provide products or services to clients in new or different ways? Creativity and speed to market are key right now.

Ultimately, you need your people to remain focused and productive to increase your organization’s chances of survival. Some will be up to the task, while others won’t. That could necessitate some difficult HR decisions and possible terminations. But at this point you need to focus on fielding the very best team possible.

Now is the time to be proactive and prepare to change in order to stave off financial disaster. Think practically: analyze your balance sheet to lower expenses and maximize efficiencies wherever possible. Tap into new programs such as the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy— which will aid qualifying businesses by covering up to the first 75 per cent of pre-crisis wages (to a maximum of $847 per week) of existing employees for up to three months—or apply for interest-free loans of as much as $40,000 from the Canada Emergency Business Account.


t’s humbling to think that just more than a month ago, the global economy was thriving. With unemployment low, many organizations struggled to find talent. Other companies turned down work because they were simply too busy. A vast global recession was the least of their worries. That all changed with the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 crisis.

Be strategic and determine which of your existing customers are the most likely to remain

As a manager, it’s important to be available and visible. Communicating with employees on a daily basis will help maintain engagement as bleak headlines stoke their anxiety levels. And be prepared to lay it on the line—if your business is in critical condition, tell them. Make clear the level of urgency and remind them that by working together, you can successfully emerge from this situation a leaner, stronger company on the other end. We may be sailing in uncharted waters, but a commitment to leadership and effective management can save businesses and position them for renewed growth once this is all over. The looming question: which of us is up to that entrepreneurial challenge?

Image credit: The Economic Club of Canada

Defining Leadership: RHIANNON ROSALIND CEO of The Economic Club of Canada


hiannon Rosalind, a serial entrepreneur, is the CEO and sole shareholder of The Economic Club of Canada. On her podium, the highest profile and most recognized in Canada, she has hosted some of the most relevant speakers of our time. The likes of President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and former President of France Francois Holland have all graced her stage. Rhiannon is the youngest women in Canadian history to be inducted into the Most Powerful Women in Business Hall of Fame. She is the founder of Lunar Club – a monthly gathering of eclectic women where she shakes things up by interviewing some of the most powerful feminists in Canada. Her 2019

guests include Marie Henein – the high profile Canadian defense attorney and the former Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne. She is a nationally recognized philanthropist - she is the founder and CEO of The Jr. Economic Club of Canada where, in partnership with the National Inuit Youth Council of Canada, she created the first ever financial literacy program for Inuit youth across all four arctic settlement regions. As of 2019, 50,000 youth have participated in her programs. She is the co-founder and CEO of The Global Institute for Conscious Economics - a forum dedicated to awakening business leaders to the benefits of consciousness (mindfulness) and validating the link between mindfulness and economic prosperity.

Rhiannon is a former board of governor member at, her alma mater, Ryerson University (voted not appointed). She is a former board member of the Ryerson University Alumni Association. She is an advisory board member to the Ted Rogers School of Management MBA. She is the co-author of a groundbreaking book ‘Capitalist Buddha: Waking up to conscious business’ where she shows how consciousness (mindfulness) can: (1) improve individual health, (2) optimize performance by maintaining a state of ‘flow’, (3) enhance creativity and innovation, and; (4) increase organizational performance by functioning at optimal levels more consistently, and; (5) enhance sustainability through the integration of both eastern and western practices. As part of this book, she co-designed the first ever university course on conscious business. Rhiannon was the creative vision behind her own TV series that ran through Rogers and Bell Media (Much Music) for six seasons. She is currently a regular on Toronto’s most popular radio station - News Talk 1010. Rhiannon is also the proud mother of two young boys, Luke and Bennett and enjoys exploring Toronto with them in her spare time.



1. As CEO of the Economic Club of Canada, can you tell us more about the organization and how it’s inspiring the next generation of leaders? I’ve been the CEO and Owner of The Economic Club of Canada for almost 9 years and over that time we have certainly changed. When I first took over the organization, it was a much more traditional public policy forum, serving very senior level executives working on Bay Street. Over the years, we have evolved into a much more inclusive organization, where Bay Street leaders can mix with artists, creators, young people, educators, and policy makers. We are still talking about the most important issues impacting the Canadian economy, but I believe we are facilitating that conversation in a much more open and transparent way. I believe that innovation of thought is born out of diversity. I’m focused on involving our younger generation in a much more meaningful way, having them join the national economic discourse now. We operate as a social enterprise, using the profits from over 100 events each year to support programing for young leaders through our Jr. Economic Club platform. We also work to have equal access for young people at many of our most important events. The complex challenges we face as a country, require ideas and solutions that will work for all Canadians. I think those ideas will come from intergenerational dialogue and that’s why I keep challenging the traditional hierarchies.

2. Through the platform of the Economic Club, you’ve featured some of the most high-profile leaders of our time, such as Amal Clooney and Michelle Obama, just to name a few. Among the many people you’ve hosted, who would you say has inspired you the most and why? To be very honest, the person that had the greatest impact on me as an entrepreneur was the late Ted Rogers. He spoke with the club back in 2008, when I was still just an employee of the organization. He spoke very openly and candidly about his many failures and successes as a business person. He spoke of the importance of preparation, positivity and risk. Although it was early in my career, something in his delivery really hit home with me. I find myself still following his advice to this day. I think he was a very important business figure in Canada. An icon really, and a very classy person. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


Image credit: The Economic Club of Canada

3. How does it make you feel to be the youngest woman in Canadian history to be included in the Most Powerful Women in Business Hall of Fame? I’m humbled and honoured to hold that title. It’s very meaningful to me, and I hope that it inspires other young women to go after their dreams. Ageism can be a real problem in our world. Sometimes we discredit ideas that come from the younger generation, but I feel now more than ever, the voices of young people are needed. We are, as a society and an economy,

in need of deep systemic change if we are going to tackle climate change, mental health, equality and reconciliation in a meaningful way. Being a younger woman, I feel that I have the responsibility to use my platform and privilege to elevate new voices that haven’t traditionally been included. When someone like me is awarded and publicly recognized for this kind of work, it moves the needle in a positive way for others hoping to do the same. When we see others that look like us in positions of power, we gain more confidence in ourselves.

4. In your book Capitalist Buddha: Waking up to conscious business of which you’re the co-author, you discussed the benefits of consciousness in business. Can you further explain this theory and why you believe it’s important for leaders? I believe that evolving human consciousness through practices like mindfulness and meditation can lead to better business outcomes. Not only are these practices better for mental health and wellbeing, but they can also help us bring more awareness into our thought patterns, daily routines and decision-making habits. As a collective, I believe we are making many unconscious choices that lead to environmental degradation, financial instability, and poor physical and mental wellbeing. We don’t necessarily want to make these choices; they have just become normalized over time. When we bring consciousness to our actions, patterning, and mental programing we have the ability to make better choices. As business leaders, this kind of work is critically important to the success of business and the wellbeing of our planet.

5. What would you say is the most challenging part of being a leader in today’s world and what do you believe are some of the strategies that we can implement to help overcome that challenge? I think mental health is by far one of the biggest challenges of our modern age. Our world is so fast paced, and constant digital connection makes it impossible to separate work and life. I think its time we prioritize the health and wellbeing of our labour force. For many business leaders, this will require new strategies and new ways to measure success. Profit is important, but without balance its unsustainable. Embracing new technologies to support remote working will give people more personal time and reduce pollution and commutes. I also believe we must rethink compensation to mean more than just money, but also life balance and wellbeing. I also feel its important for business leaders to understand how important our connection to the planet and nature is. Productivity, innovation and creativity don’t just appear because we have some white boards and bean bag chairs, true innovation and creativity comes from people who are happy, connected and purpose driven.

6. If you could give a message to the next generation of leaders, what would it be? Start now. Lead now, save your money now, go after your dreams now- and speak up now. There is no time to wait. Don’t doubt the value you bring. Sometimes those that have spent the least time within the system can more clearly see what the challenges are. Don’t underestimate your power to change the world.

7. On a final note, what would you say is your overall goal? What are you hoping to accomplish through the many platforms and organizations you’ve put in place? My goal is to help foster a new economic dialogue that promotes the wellbeing of people and the planet, working in harmony with profitable business models. I really feel that social entrepreneurship and social enterprise are they real way forward. Good profitable business, solving social issues is something I’m very passionate about. I feel excited to help a new generation of thinkers connect to some of these ideas- in hopes that we can drive real meaningful change.

Image credit: The Economic Club of Canada



Image credit: Canva

Small Businesses across the country have been hit hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Larger businesses have a better chance of survival; however small businesses will only live for a few months with a limited cash reserve.

Sail Your Small Businesses Through The COVID-19 Pandemic BY CANADIANSME Small Businesses across the country have been hit hardest hit

ideas to move ahead. Always remember to calm your mind

by the COVID-19 pandemic. Larger businesses have a better

before getting involved with any form of decision making. In this

chance of survival; however small businesses will only live for a

situation, it is better to step back- reassess and ask for trusted

few months with a limited cash reserve. When something as big

opinions; rather than taking actions immediately. Ask for

as these pandemic hits, it becomes difficult not only for the

emotional support when needed.

business owner, but also for the employees they support. So, how can small business owners survive the turbulent times that follow the COVID-19 pandemic? There are no one-word answers. However, there are certain steps that you can follow to sail through these difficult times.

Responsible governments around the world are putting initiatives together to support small and medium scale businesses. Make sure to keep up to date with how the

Don’t panic, take care and hold your calm This can be really difficult especially when cash is running out quickly, always remember to take good care of yourself in a manner that works for you- for instance, eat timely, exercise well and get enough rest. This will keep your mind calm which will in turn keep your staff calm and therefore make space for a healthier mindset for everyone to think of new and innovative CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I

Tap into the aid provided by the government


government aid can help cut business costs, as well as other support systems such as banks that also have social responsibilities. If you are registered in more than one market (eg. UK), make sure to learn about the other market’s government aid for small businesses as well. However, these plans can change overnight, so being up to date is key during this time.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a deck of plans to support small businesses facing the economic impacts of this pandemic. These measures will help Canadian small businesses protect the jobs that Canadians depend on to pay their employees and utilities in this difficult time. The proposed plan already commits $107 billion in aid for these businesses. You can tap into many of these resources depending on the type of business you run. Check your eligibility and take advantage of plans such as the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Plan your 3-month financial strategy

Upskill your staff It is advised that you keep your staff- they depend on you, and if you have secured a good team, they must already be supporting you. Train your existing staff for additional skills, which will make them more productive, rather than hiring new full-time employees. In this digital age, there are plenty of affordable online courses that your staff could learn from. This will allow them to focus on other areas of the business when their department is out of work- for instance, salespeople can help the marketing team when they are out of work.

Image credit: Canva

All small businesses have the same key expenses, this includes

office rent, salaries and utility bills. Other expenses vary from industry to industry. Talk to who you need to pay in the coming three months (landlords and business suppliers) and figure out what options you have to spread out the expenses. There is a high chance that there will be options in place, as it should be in their best interest to keep your business running. Always have a plan for payments to other small businesses as they need to keep afloat too. Analyze your personal expenses and talk to the people you support to have a realistic idea of how your personal expenses can be controlled and divided in the next three months. See if you can cut costs. But use this as the last measure against the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic will create. You can perhaps stop hiring any full-time employees, and instead, look for project-based freelancers. You can also downsize your office or use a co-working space for more flexible payment terms. Image credit: Canva



Virtual Business Solutions During Quarantine With Natalie Yeadon Co-Owner/Managing Director - Impetus Digital

Image credit: Impetus Digital

1. What was the inspiration behind the founding of Impetus Digital? What are you hoping to accomplish through the company? Before starting Impetus Digital, I worked in a myriad of positions in the pharmaceutical industry in both Canada and the US. During my 18-year career in the industry, I noticed that despite my best efforts to keep connected to customers, there always seemed to be a disconnect in our dialogue flow. I would find myself having some great conversations in advisory board meetings and then never finding the time or opportunity to follow up with my advisors after the fact. I noticed that this was a huge gap and that there was a great opportunity to help solve this. This was the eureka moment that sparked the flame to launch Impetus. At Impetus Digital, our aim is to build the bridge to allow for ongoing conversations between life science companies and their customers. We have facilitated this through the development of multiple best-in-class asynchronous and synchronous virtual collaboration tools through our Impetus InSite Platform®, all of which are not only safe and highly compliant and secure, but also simple and fun to use. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


2. Impetus Digital has been known to revolutionize the way that companies conduct events. What are some of the strategies and methods that Impetus Digital refers to when it comes to being innovative in the industry? Impetus has always been a very forwardthinking company. There has definitely been some resistance from the pharmaceutical industry in the past when it comes to moving away from traditional “one-off” in-person advisory board meetings to shorter but frequent online meetings, but we have remained strong advocates for virtual collaboration. We have conducted several analyses based on our own data from in-person, synchronous virtual, and asynchronous meetings (where participants can contribute on their own time over a 2–3-week period), and the data favoring virtual meetings are quite impressive. For example, compared to in-person meetings, we have found that asynchronous touchpoints result in over 30% higher participant engagement rates and in an increase in the quality and quantity of insights of more than 40%. Of course, cost is a huge factor as well, so being able to offer cost-

savings of about 75% often helps to sway clients who may be reluctant to go virtual. To stay innovative, we practice what we preach and actually use many of the brainstorming techniques that we recommend that our clients use for their own advisory boards. As an example, we offer a virtual “Six Thinking Hats” tool designed for in- depth problem-solving by making participants think about an issue from six different angles. We used this approach during a recent team meeting to brainstorm solutions to a problem we were facing and it was extremely effective. Our online platform and tools are also very versatile and we have a lot of experience in quickly adapting them for new use cases. To give an example, after using our asynchronous annotation tool to review a journal article during an online advisory board touchpoint, we had an advisor comment that our platform would be perfect for virtual journal clubs. Based on this feedback, we were able to instantly create a process for using the platform for journal clubs and now offer this as a standardized product. Finally, it is important to always look for ways that you can improve on your current offerings and know when to let go of something if it is not working. We are not afraid of discussing controversial or sensitive topics and we always encourage our clients to have those “courageous conversations” with their key opinion leaders (KOLs) as well.

3. Many small businesses are suffering currently due to the world lockdown. How would you say the current world pandemic situation with COVID-19 has affected the business? Unlike many other businesses that rely on having people visit them in person, the enforcement of physical distancing has actually resulted in a huge surge in our business. We are busier than ever and are in the middle of hiring several new team members to help us keep up with demand.

Even before COVID-19, we were encouraging our clients to replace or supplement their in-person meetings with regular online touchpoints in order to create sustained and authentic relationships with their customers and to minimize their environmental footprint. The current situation has really highlighted the importance of safe and secure online collaboration, and everyone is becoming more open to trying different types of virtual meetings. These are very uncertain times. Many of our clients had already planned and booked in-person meetings for the spring and summer, so we are happy to be able to help them adapt to the “new normal” and seamlessly engage with their colleagues and customers through our online platform.

4. What are some of the virtual solutions that Impetus Digital offers to its customers to help them during these challenging times? Impetus Digital offers a range of virtual solutions and services that are designed to supplement or replace inperson meetings with internal and external stakeholders such as customer advisory boards, steering committee meetings, medical education and training, and internal brand planning sessions. We offer two main types of meeting technologies: synchronous virtual meetings and asynchronous touchpoints. The former includes innovative features such as real- time polling, whiteboarding, screen-sharing, and breakout sessions. However, our large portfolio of asynchronous tools is what really sets us apart. Through our online platform, we offer virtual discussion forums, anonymous survey tools, annotation and selection tools, debates, case studies, interactive widgets, “gamestorming” activities, and more. Our platform is safe, secure, and GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant, which is an absolute must in the pharmaceutical industry. We have over 11 years of experience in “virtualizing” in-person meetings, so we are able to help our clients transfer their meetings online very quickly and efficiently. Our services also include strategic and digital support throughout our clients’ projects.

5. On a final note, Impetus Digital is a 100% remoteworking company. What would you say is the biggest challenge and the biggest advantage of being a remote company? In terms of challenges, working remotely makes it a bit more difficult to know what everyone is working on at the moment, especially as the team is expanding. This is not a huge issue, and the team meets regularly to make sure that we are all aligned and that there is transparency. I would say that the advantages largely outweigh any challenges. Having the choice to work remotely is highly appreciated by our team members. It offers a lot of flexibility; you don’t have to waste time commuting to and from the office every day, especially if the weather is bad. You can spend your lunch break walking your dog or doing yoga. If you’re sick, you can move your schedule around or work in bed. We trust our employees to get the work done, even if they don’t sit at their desk for 8 hours straight between 9-5. Not being limited by location also means that we can get the best talents on our team. While most of our team members are living and working in the GTA, we have employees in other parts of Canada as well. With the current situation, we didn’t have to change our day-to-day business, because we were already working remotely and are used to communicating and collaborating virtually. We truly do practice what we preach, and with the right tools, virtual collaboration can be just as effective as face-to-face.

COVID-19 is having a huge effect on how healthcare professionals see and treat their patients, so it is extra important for life science companies to interact with their KOLs frequently right now, and we are able to help them do this in a safe and interactive manner.



EYE ON TECH Image credit: Canva


Now more than ever, we’ve seen how vital alternatives to in-person solutions are for businesses. By building out your virtual offerings with online conferencing and collaboration tools, not only are you able to provide more flexibility for existing clients, you can also use it to reach new clients and customers. For example, my company, Cisco, expanded the capabilities on our free Webex solution to include support for up to 100 participants, HD video, and desktop, application, file and whiteboard sharing options. Webex, like other meetings and online conferencing solutions, can provide the foundation for your virtual services and help your employees stay connected with clients. No matter the industry, from finance to healthcare to education or even law, here’s how you can leverage online conferencing solutions to deliver impactful virtual and video experiences.



Finance: build stronger client relationships with remote advising From packed schedules to cross-country moves, it’s not always possible to meet in person with customers and clients. And while email is a convenient way to share quick updates, having the opportunity to see each other faceto-face can help develop deeper, more meaningful relationships. This is especially true in financial advising, a business that’s known for its longlasting - and even intergenerational - client relationships. With a video conferencing solution, you can expand your services to offer remote advising. This provides additional flexibility when it comes to scheduling, letting you meet clients wherever they are on whatever device is most convenient, from laptops to phones. Screen sharing makes it simple for everyone to review documents together in real time, and you’re able to retain a key aspect of communication from in-person meetings – visual cues. This can make complex or difficult conversations easier to have and reduce the odds of something getting lost in translation.

Most people have stopped their Google Ads and moved their budget to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO will improve your rank in search results and help you overtake your competitors once the pandemic is over. This investment has the potential for huge returns once things go back to normal.

Optimize your Delivery Methods You should consider the fact that seeing customers in person will change forever once the pandemic is over. Consider generating revenue, leads, and appointments through other means.

Enjoy this period I agree that it is hard to enjoy this pandemic as the risk that follows is unprecedented. But remember, difficult times only test you for your ability to bounce back. Be cautiously optimistic that your business will do better once all of this returns to normal. This is a unique time in history and every moment is worth soaking in. Chances are that your business will be just fine. Meanwhile, stay safe and stay home!

Here are some classic examples from around the world that small businesses are doing to promote their services: Doctors are offering virtual consultations instead of the regular in-person consultations Financial advisors and other similar professionals are also opting for virtual consultations Local retailers are offering home delivery instead of allowing customers to visit their stores Massage parlours and beauticians are promoting their products instead of their services since they can’t see customers in person Certain restaurants and gift shops are offering discounts for up-front payment. Meaning, you can offer certificates where customers can pay $75 now and shop for $100 worth, when your business reopens

Focus on your Current Customers The Coronavirus pandemic is a good reminder to all of us that it is easier (and cheaper) to reach existing customers than to search for new customers.

Make sure you are helping your existing customer base in some way or another. This can be done in the form of additional services, faster delivery times or discounts on bulk orders, etc. Look out for other businesses that you can partner up with to offer more discounts and offers. Image credit: Canva





am a Co-Founder and President of BeniPlus Inc., which provides simple, flexible and affordable group benefits to small businesses throughout Canada. Small businesses account for some 98% of the companies in Canada and employ almost 70% of the labour force. They are also responsible for much of the creativity that occurs in the marketplace and I love them for that. As a small business owner myself and having worked with a number of small businesses, I know the challenges we face. My focus is on making it easier for small businesses to take care of their employees by offering them the benefits they need at a cost the company can afford. Before BeniPlus, I spent a couple of years in the individual health insurance market in Canada, serving clients throughout the country with one of the most successful brokerages in the sector. Prior to my time in the insurance industry, I spent 20 years in the commercial real estate industry with stints in Toronto, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. I spent 17 years in China helping small and medium sized companies set up, relocate or expand offices, manufacturing operations and R&D centres. For the last five years of my time there, I ran my own commercial real estate brokerage firm affiliated with the largest tenant-representation-only firm in the United States.

1. What was the inspiration behind the founding of BeniPlus Inc.? What are you hoping to accomplish through it? My partners and I founded BeniPlus because we believe in small businesses. We have spent decades in the insurance industry and saw that small businesses were underserved in the area of group benefits. It’s can be difficult and costly for them to provide benefits to their employees. And this lack of benefits makes it more difficult to for small businesses to attract employees and to take care of them once they’re on the team. We believe there’s a great opportunity to marry technology and a unique and innovative product to provide simple, flexible and affordable benefits that employees want and employers can afford.

2. In your expert opinion, what is the biggest challenge that SME owners face and how can BeniPlus help them overcome these challenges? Entrepreneurs face many obstacles when starting and growing their business so it’s difficult to limit the challenge to just one. But the biggest one is getting and keeping the right people. As important as products and funding are for a company’s success, neither of these are much help without the right people to make it happen. Small businesses often find it difficult to attract and keep people because they’re competing with big companies for top talent, especially in CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


a competitive landscape. The BeniPlus Benefit Wallet makes it easier for companies to provide the benefits that employees want while allowing employers to set an affordable benefits budget. Small businesses want to offer benefits to attract top people, but they worry about keeping up with rising benefits costs. At BeniPlus, we remove the risk of unknown rate increases by allowing small business owners to set their annual benefits budget. We give employers the option to offer benefits for as little as $100 to $200 dollars per employee per month.

3. COVID-19 has forced many business owners to close their doors temporarily which has caused many challenges for them. What are some of the solutions that BeniPlus can offer to small business owners during these uncertain times? We know how difficult it is for small businesses at this time. Many of them have invested in group benefits plans they simply cannot afford, and the current situation is making them brutally aware of that fact. Our product is an ideal solution for companies who want to provide for their employees, but simply cannot afford to do so with a traditional group benefits plan. Our plan lets companies set the budget they can afford, while still providing helpful benefits for their employees. It’s an opportune time for businesses to reassess their costs and to implement programs that are more suited

Image credit: BeniPlus

to their situation. When it’s time to renew an existing benefits plan, we recommend that small business owners look at their options before renewing for another year of costly (and perhaps unaffordable) benefits.

4. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs who are currently struggling due to COVID-19? It’s difficult enough for small businesses to succeed with the everyday obstacles and constraints we already face. Throw in a pandemic that has shuttered doors and forced layoffs and we’re left with a unique set of circumstances that threaten our very existence. The first thing we all need to do is to figure out how to survive. Most companies are going to need to cut costs, while still trying our best to take care of our people. It is an opportunity for owners to take the quick wins and cut unnecessary overhead costs. A deeper dive may also lead us to reassess our cost structure and perhaps even to refocus our business in light of what might become a new marketplace paradigm.

5. On a final note, what are some of the future projects that Beniplus has planned within the next few years? Where do you see the company heading 5 years from now? We’re currently in the last stages of developing our own app that will allow us to offer a unique group benefits plan and platform, unparalleled in the market. We want it to become the goto resource centre for our small business clients, where they can find simple, flexible and affordable solutions related to all of their benefits needs. We hope to introduce our initial app in June, which we will continue to develop thereafter.






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DAN KELLY President, CEO and Chair of CFIB

1. COVID-19 has caused many small businesses across Canada to close their doors due to social distancing. What are some of the initiatives that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has put in place to help small businesses during these challenging times? CFIB in normal times offers a service called business counselling. We have about 20 people who receive calls from small business owners and offer them direct guidance and support in their dealings with the government and human resources. Typically, we would get 50 calls per day but since the COVID emergency started in mid-March, those calls quickly rose to the point where we’re getting 800 per day. We’ve gone to 20 staff taking calls to almost 100 staff taking calls in the matter of a few weeks. We’re making sure that we’re updating our special COVID website We try to keep the most current information on all the support programs and advice for business owners on what they can do to make sure their business takes them across the finish line during this emergency phase. The other big thing we’re doing is advocating for our members. CFIB has been the leading voice for wage subsidy to ensure that the government can pick up some of the wage costs of employers to help them through the emergency phase of COVID.

2. What would you say is the biggest challenge that Canadian SME owners will face once COVID-19 is behind us? The biggest challenge in the short term that CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


Image credit: CanadianSME

we’ve heard loud and clear from our members is the concern about paying wage bills. Many businesses have had to turn to layoffs and others are trying to hang on to their staff so that’s why we advocate for significant wage subsidy for employers. The second biggest concern that we’ve heard from members is paying their rent and other fixed costs. We’ve been advocating changes and pushing provincial governments to step up as Saskatchewan has. The federal government has opened the new Canada Emergency Business Account which offers direct support and ten-thousand-dollar forgivable loan as part of a forty-thousand-dollar loan, so those are good measures. Longer-term, we are trying to make sure the economy and employers are prepared for a slow movement towards reopening. So, it’s important to keep employers and employees connected during this emergency phase and why pushing for the wage subsidy is important. I think we’re going to need support after the emergency phase is over after businesses are allowed to reopen. I worry deeply about tourism-related businesses in the hospitality sector. If this is over in May or June, are tourists going to return in the summer from either overseas, the US or Canadians travelling? Are we going to see those

kinds of things happening in the summer of 2020? That is a make it or break it for the tourism sector, so we’re making sure there is support to keep businesses alive during the second phase of this which is the non-emergency phase where businesses are allowed to go back to normal. I suspect the impact is not going to be a short term one. I’m certain that there will be thousands and thousands of businesses that will never reopen as a result of what’s happened and that’s a real shame because we’re already hearing from many of them.

3. As President and CEO of CFIB, what advice can you give to small business owners during this difficult time to help them keep their business successful? One piece of advice is to stay connected with your employees either formally or informally with workers either on your pall roll or off. If you had to lay them off, try to stay in touch regularly with your former employees because you would hope that you’ll be able to reopen and rehire. Second is to recognize that this isn’t your fault. There are a lot of business owners that are deeply worried about whether they are going to survive. We had some business owners call

us that are thinking about taking their own lives because they’re feeling so much pressure from trying to ensure that their families, their employees and their customers are taken care of. Business owners must realize that there is almost no business in Canada that is fully prepared to deal with something like this and to not blame themselves. A lot of business owners are seeing their life dreams vanish in their hands and they’re internalizing this, and that’s something we’re going to make sure doesn’t happen. Third, recognize that recovery is going to be a long one and it may take a year or two before you’re able to get back to what normal might be. Many businesses had to hustle to change some business practises, like retailers that weren’t online adding an online option to try to keep some business activity. Restaurants that are doing more take-outs or delivery than they did before. These practises that they have moved to will be good things for their businesses long term. So, it’s important to try to learn whatever lesson we can from the emergency phase and hopefully, some of those experiments will have proven to be successful and become things that can carry on for a business.

4. Some small businesses are required to stay open as they are considered part of the essential services. What are some of the measures and procedures they can implement to protect the safety of their employees and customers from COVID-19? There are a million things that businesses in different sectors are doing. It’s been neat to see how quickly the grocery sector has responded with shields between customers and employees, sanitizing check stands in between customers, and making sure they’re doing cleaning of the store after they close. Its been great to see how quickly many businesses have reacted to COVID. For others, it’s trying to expand driveup services, so if you’re a pet food store and you’re forced to shut down, you might be able to bring a curbside delivery where somebody can drive up and the clerk can bring the items in the trunk. There’s a lot of things that employers are implementing to keep their employees safe but to also protect their customers with physical distance and that’s a good thing.

5. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs so that they can remain proactive even though they have been forced to close their doors during the COVID-19 outbreak? There’s a variety of things. If you’re entirely closed you can encourage to book appointments

for the future, sell gift cards or gift certificates so you can have a trickle of income coming in through the emergency phase. Others are trying to ensure they have online or telephone orders as an option for their customers. But in many cases, some businesses are not going to be able to serve clients. If you’re a hairdresser, a nail salon, or a physiotherapist, where there’s physical touch between clients and the employee, it becomes more challenging. So, it depends on the business sector as to how they’re able to reengineer in their business. Image credit: CanadianSME

I heard a Zumba teacher doing this through zoom conference calls and reports that she’s making more net proceeds because she’s not having to pay rent at a community centre to teach her classes, she’s doing it online and her clients are still paying 5 or 10 dollars per session. There’s a lot of innovation happening among business owners and that’s good to see and one of the reasons why I’m so proud to represent entrepreneurs.

6. In your expert opinion, do you believe that with everything going on right now with the COVID-19, now is the perfect time for entrepreneurs to bring their business online through e-commerce? For many businesses that haven’t been online, the first step could be to do something through telephone and allow your clients to make purchases and pick them up in-store or get it delivered. The next step would be to go online whether fully or partially. I’m impressed with what Shopify has done to help small businesses by offering a 90day free trial to help businesses create an account and step up an e-commerce site to get through the emergency phase. They’re also allowing through that for people to buy gift cards, so Shopify has been terrific through this whole thing.

7. On a final note, what is one positive thing that you believe entrepreneurs will gain from the COVID-19 outbreak? What important lesson will they have learned?


he most powerful lesson I think many have learned is the importance of automating as much as possible. It’s not a perfect solution in every business, but ensuring you have options for customers in times like these is important and it’s awesome to see what businesses have been able to fashion in very short periods of time. So, retailers looking to Shopify to get more of their products online with a seamless system. For restaurants, using UberEats and SkipTheDishes has been a godsent for many businesses to be able to have those options available. I’m hoping that as we get out of the emergency phase, some of those options that businesses owners have explored will become the mainstay of their businesses and they’ll keep those practices afterwards.




By Mostafa Sayyadi


ilitary leaders often provide what is called “Top Cover” flying above their followers to ensure their mission is a success. Submarines travel with pilot ships to guide them. This is what corporate leaders need to do. After WWII, leadership theoretical models at Ohio State and the University of Michigan studies stemmed from research based on military leaders and their followers. This was mostly funded by the GI Bill that helped many soldiers pursue academic degrees. Political leaders are not any different than organizational businessmen. More and more business men and women are becoming political candidates and people are responding positively. The reason being---the two do go together. At the heart of leadership are a large amount of followers. Without the support of followers, leaders will fail. The question is: Can CEOs see Dwight Eisenhower as a perfect example for leadership? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”



Eisenhower, one of the former presidents of the United States in World War II, effectively led both American government and the Allied Forces in Europe in defeating Adolf Hitler. Hitler has been posited as a charismatic leader as he converted many brilliant people to follow him but the difference with his leadership style is that he represents the “Black Hat” of leadership. A leadership status that is not only a failing platform but one that represents destruction as opposed to innovation and expansion. Eisenhower’s leadership provides lessons for CEOs in today’s organizational challenges. Eisenhower argued that leaders must care for their people as individuals, always remain optimistic, and place themselves with and for the people, and, most importantly, provide the WHY behind what you ask them to do. Many executives are familiar with leadership surveys developed by scholars and this article is not about measuring aptitude or defining leadership styles. It is about getting the information needed to be successful in the right

hands of executives worldwide. Business leaders must be aware that Eisenhower fundamentally affected the way a government performed its functions. This article raises a vital question as to what executives can learn from Eisenhower’s leadership. I attempt to blend scholarly concepts with real world application through thoroughly looking at a perfect example for leadership. Based on this article, executives can now see that Eisenhower could, in fact, make a fundamental change in the processes by which the government served their clients.

Real Talk with Tech Nerds Charlie Regan and David Redekop from Nerds on Site

Charlie Regan, CEO Nerds on Site

David Redekop - Co-Founder at Nerds on Site Inc

1. Nerds on Site is known for providing top of the line cyber security solutions to entrepreneurs. What sets the company apart from other similar organizations?

endpoints and the secret to their monetization of cybercrime is their ability to drag out all the information that’s housed inside of all your company’s systems, and that’s what AdamONE does in the marketplace.


It has a secret sauce called “don’t talk to strangers”, the same advice parents gave children when they were first able to walk around and move on their own “don’t talk to strangers” because it’s dangerous”. Computers and all other devices when their online should not talk to strangers, they should only talk to clients, suppliers, and only to team members who are part of that network of trusted collogues. Criminals find a way to get your servers, cameras, and your computers to talk to them in other places like Asia, Russia, and Ukraine, so the “don’t talk to strangers” features protects that.

One of the major differences is our security platform and protocol. It is quite unique, and David and his team have just succeeded in having it patented in EU and its pending in the US as a status of intention to grant. It’s called AdamONE and its at the core of our security protocol. The secret to making money if you’re a criminal using cybercrime as your vehicle is to get stuff that isn’t yours. That means they have to invade computers, phones, servers, security cameras, printers, and everything that is online today. It is quite a remarkable assortment of

Criminals, when they’re looking at a client who’s protected by AdamONE, all of a sudden their curve isn’t flattened, their curve, is flatlined and nothing comes out, so before long they think we must be dead in the water let’s move on to someone else who is still alive - that’s the biggest single differentiator. The fact that it’s a very reasonably priced product in the SME space is also important, but most importantly we help companies protect their stuff like nobody else right now.



Image credit: Nerds On Site

2. What are some of the best solutions for entrepreneurs when it comes to protecting their data and confidential information? David: To protect their data and confidential information is to take an entire attitude of distrust of computers and technology and how they are going to be abused and misused. The moment you take the approach of I don’t trust an application or I don’t trust this program, you turn out to be questioning how you got the program, how it was installed, who suggested that you have it, did you look for it, versus someone just telling you to install it - so that’s a really good strategy from a perspective that is all-encompassing. The other important strategy to apply is all online accounts should be protected with multi-factor authentication, meaning it is no longer just a username and password required for you to access online recourses. In addition to these names and passwords, an additional factor is required such as a number tumbler that could come in a physical form or an authenticator app on your smartphone. The best option you could have is a physical key that cannot be duplicated such as a Google Titan Key or a YubiKey that is just like the one for your vehicle, house or safe in the bank - it’s the only key that works and cannot possibly be duplicated. This may sound overly excessive but the thing about security is that it’s always too much until it’s not enough, and that’s when we get caught - even those that are reasonably security vigilant.

3. In your expert opinion, what is the biggest challenge that entrepreneurs face when it comes to protecting their business from cyber attacks? David: The biggest risk that causes them to get attacked is thinking that someone else has my back or that I’m not going to be targeted because I’m a small



business and why would they target me, I have nothing to offer. That laissez-faire attitude is what overtime exposes such a business into becoming a target. It’s not just one industry that is being targeted, and we have now observed this by a very careful study that organized crime will focus on one sector at a time. No one is completely safe because we don’t know what the next sector or industry that will be specifically targeted. Even though one industry is targeted by cybercriminals, very often in that lasso a lot of others get caught up in the process as well. Not to mention that if there if is an indicator that your organization is particularly weak in one area, then why wouldn’t they target that area of weakness. We have seen cybercriminals make shifts based on what is going on in the industry. For example, if a security researcher follows the modern responsible disclosure process by where they find the weakness in a popular program, they will typically contact the vendor and say, “by the way, I found this weakness in your system and I’ll give you 90 days to fix it. But at day 91 I’m going public with my findings.” At that time hopefully, the vendor has already secured the weakness. In many cases, the big companies like Microsoft and all the other big security companies that have had their weaknesses exposed in the last year, and all had a patch – a security fix before it was publicly known. The problem is when it’s published, you still have a very large amount of an installed base that hasn’t yet patched the systems. As soon as there is a weakness that is known, the cybercriminals immediately target and say, “this is excellent, we now know of a new weakness, let’s go ahead and target that.” A very specific example, that I’m surprised is not more dominant in the media is how we have about 1 billion smartphones that are powered by outdated android. They are still in use today and have known vulnerabilities that will never be patched, so the market for cybercriminals is extremely large considering that we know there’s a billion vulnerable android phones in use today.

Image credit: CanadianSME

Charlie: One of the dangers that SMEs are presently experiencing is the move from in-house or inbuilding teams to remote locations. We’re talking about a footprint that is now distributed, but now much more importantly, hardware and software that may not, in fact, be secure. As many doors, windows, cracks and holes in the walls that criminals had previously, there are many more today. We know that cyber-attacks are up more than 500% and, in some sectors up more than 600% since COVID was declared a pandemic. It’s a frightening time presently because criminals are finding their way into private data and who knows how long 6 or 12 months from now when they go about the process of monetizing because they spend a lot of their time just surveilling, looking around, sniffing here, sniffing there. Once they begin the process of monetizing this access to data, there will be a crush in the marketplace once again of things like ransomware, identity theft and alike.

organization because to patch and to resolve a cybercrime incident in a company is always more expensive than to prevent it. Any organization that holds personally identifiable information of individuals - the cost of a breach in Canada that insurance companies use for cyber insurance, is estimated to be $197 per lost record. If your organization houses 10,000 records, then the actual liability case is almost 2 million to mitigate with either preventative mechanisms, cyber insurance policy, or both. The 10,000 records will not take you anywhere close to the 2 million dollars of liability that represents to protect in the first place.

It’s the same situation many decades ago before automobile insurance was required by law. As human beings, we tend to think irrationally, there’s a good book by the author Dan Ariely who wrote about the concept in his book called Predictably Irrational. We would not be opting for car insurance because the $150, $250, $300 a month that would cost us we would say, “no, I’m just going to drive carefully and not have any accidents and I’ll save myself that money.” The majority of us would not be purchasing insurance because we have this predictably irrational disposition that it’s not going to happen to me - and that is how cybercrime is today. It impacts our chance of success because we have this outsized risk that we’re not taking care of proactively if we don’t take the proper security posture and implement a cybersecurity implementation.

4. What impact can cyber breaches have on the success of a company?

5. More and more companies are embracing remote work. What are some of the solutions and programs that Nerds on Site provides to companies who are based remotely so that can keep their business safe and secure from data breaches?



The impact of cyber breach of the success of a company I’m not sure, but we know that there certainly is an impact on the lack of success. There’s a negative impact on the success of an

Working from home has opened new cybersecurity risks that are outsized and amplified because not everybody is prepared with a secure environment in their own homes. At

home, we tend to be more relaxed about people that use technology, we install entertainment software and computer games - a lot of these games use aspects of the computer that make it less secure and much more vulnerable to attackers. Generally speaking, home routers don’t have security or content filters, so that sets up a home environment to expose a business use to additional cybercrime. Our answer to that is to offer a secure work from a home device that can not only work safely from the home environment but also work safely from anywhere else. As soon as we have our quarantine listed, and we start visiting hotspots again like coffee shops for WIFI, we want devices to be safe there as well. These devices come pre-secured before they get into the hands of individuals that work from home and make it so that it is very difficult for cybercrime to ever occur on those deceives. Charlie: It’s called home to base, H to B, a great product.

6. On a final note, given the current situation with COVID-19, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs? David: My advice would be to not be afraid. Keep building your business as aggressively, as hopeful and as positively as you did before, this will pass. Charlie: We are the SME. Globally the heart and soul of the economy. We have seen governments responding, specifically in our space for that reason. They know that if the SME attitude, spirit and passion, die -so does the company. SMEs need to be the beacon and they need to be talking. Even though you may not be allowed to venture on the streets or your neighborhoods, please make full use of all the communication tools available to you. Your face, your smile, and your eyes are more powerful than you might give them credit for. Not just your voice but get your face on applications like Zoom so that others can participate. Our families are being impacted in a positive way because we’re spending more time together and finding more ways to include more people around the dinner table – even if we have an iPad at the end of the table. We need as SMEs to be the ones who continue to create and innovate. We must use this time to think, to read, to learn, and to use the grey matter upstairs, along with the heart and soul behind that grey matter. We are the lunch kit.



HR TIPS FOR REMOTE WORK: BOOSTING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT By: Ryan Wozniak, Senior Vice President Of Legal And Operations, Peninsula


ue to COVID-19, remote working has become a necessity for many businesses. However, many business owners may be at a loss for how to adapt to such a sudden switch. The question now is: how to continue operations with as little disruption to business as possible? One important factor in this is keeping employees engaged and productive. While remote working has its benefits, it can also pose challenges for employers and management. Low engagement is a top concern for businesses with remote workers, and this can have a significant impact on productivity. To help businesses succeed during this challenging time, here are Peninsula’s tips for boosting engagement in employees that are working remotely.

Establish a Policy Having a company policy on remote working is helpful because it establishes a set of rules and expectations for employees to follow. With clear instructions, employees may be less likely to waste time or act inappropriately while working remotely. Work from home policies should include guidance on appropriate use of company equipment, such as laptops and phones, to prevent distractions and misuse. A work from home policy should also set requirements for responsiveness. These should outline what modes of communication the employee is expected to use and how quickly they must respond to emails, calls and messages. Policies should always be easily accessible to employees for their reference

Offer Flexibility Life has changed for everybody, and that may extend to people’s circumstances at home. Employees may have children home due to school closures or they may have to take care of other dependents or family members who are sick due to COVID-19. Their ability to work will be affected by their environment and responsibilities and it’s important to be sensitive to that. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


Allowing employees to work flexible hours where possible can help them attain a better work-life balance and improve the quality of their work. With the option of working when it is best for them (subject to operational requirements), employees will be more focused and efficient when working and are less likely to get distracted by their other obligations. To ensure they are still integrated with their team, special hours may be set for when they must be available for virtual meetings and other communications.

Improve Communication One of the best ways to keep employees engaged is through good communication. Having virtual team meetings, group calls and chats will ensure that your workers still feel part of a team and that they are valuable. From a management perspective, checking in with employees regularly conveys expectations and motivates them to work as usual. Isolation may negatively affect some workers’ productivity, especially if they aren’t being held accountable for completing their work. For this reason, it is important to set targets and goals for remote workers where applicable.

Set Goals and Targets In order to do their best work, some employees need structure and consistent management. Setting targets and goals for your employees to work towards ensures there is steady, trackable progress and that projects are being completed on schedule. Deadlines help motivate workers and provide them with a schedule to follow even when their work experience might seem devoid of all other regular routine. Management should check on employees’ progress and whether they have enough work to do regularly but should be careful not to micromanage them daily.

Ask for Feedback Get your employees involved by asking for their input on how the business can be improved. Listening to and implementing your employees’ ideas demonstrates that you value them and

Image credit: Peninsula

can help to engage employees in their work. This is especially important for workers who are not physically connected to a workplace. Employers can also ask employees about their remote work experience and whether it needs any improvement. To prevent wasted time due to unresolved issues, encourage employees to immediately raise their concerns with management if they run into any obstacles when working from home. Employees should be instructed on how to report any technical issues and how to address any other work-related problems they might have. Quick problem resolution allows employees to sustain their regular work pace at home without permanently slipping to lower levels of productivity.

About Peninsula Peninsula is a trusted HR and Health & Safety advisory, serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide. Clients are supported with ongoing updates of their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance. Contact us today to learn more about how we help employers succeed: 1-833-247-3652.

MAKING CanadianSME sat with Joanna Griffits, founder &


CEO of Knix and Knixteen and discussed about their Knix GoFundMe initiative to raise funds to support PPE needs of Canada’s frontline workers

with Facebook, Instagram and GoFundMe

On March 21, Knix Founder & CEO, Joanna Griffiths and 26-year old brother, Dr. Chris Griffiths, started a Knix GoFundMe initiative to raise funds to support PPE needs of Canada’s frontline workers. The company leveraged their Facebook and Instagram channels to promote the campaign and share milestones with their community. Since, the Toronto-based global intimates companies has secured over $250,000 in community donations, financing 200,000 units of certified masks and gloves to hospitals and clinics across Canada. Just last week, the company announced a collaboration with the Robert Kerr Foundation to expand the campaign’s reach to support PPE needs for the GTA’s homeless shelters and drop-ins. Joanna Griffiths is the Founder and CEO of Knix and Knixteen the direct-toconsumer 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 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. What can you tell us about the Knix GoFundMe Initiative and how it’s helping those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic? The idea to launch a fundraiser was sparked from a conversation I had with my brother who is a doctor at a Hamilton hospital. He had noticed that PPE supplies were already running low at his hospital and expressed concern around a PPE shortage in Canada. We saw an opportunity to leverage the company’s existing supply chain to help support healthcare frontline workers. After understanding the severity of the issue, we immediately contacted our suppliers to see if they could help and the answer was YES. We started the campaign with the goal to raise $50,000, and within less than 48 hours we surpassed this number. We have currently received $400,000 in donations and have secured over 330,000 units of certified masks and gloves.

Joanna Griffiths Founder and CEO of Knix and Knixteen


Our goal is to help bridge inventory gaps while larger government programs are put in place.

To get a better understanding of where the PPE supplies should be donated

Knix recently announced its collaboration with the Robert Kerr Foundation

we went straight to the source and created a private form to confidentially

to expand the campaign reach and gain more donations. How do you

track supply requests. This allows us to match available products for

believe this partnership will help the campaign and those in need?

donation with those who need them most. Over 175 institutions across the country have submitted requests to the platform illustrating the seriousness of the shortage. To raise funds for the campaign, the company relied on its Facebook and

The Robert Kerr Foundation committed an immediate contribution of $100,000, and a dollar for dollar matching program, up to $100,000. This partnership with the Robert Kerr Foundation allows us to access one of our most at-risk communities, people experiencing homelessness.

Instagram channels and managed to raise over 250,000$. Why do you

The donations provided by the Robert Kerr Foundation will go towards the

believe promoting through social media had such a huge impact on the

purchase and distribution of PPE for homeless shelters, drop-ins and


agencies in Toronto and the GTA, while Knix will continue to use community

We have such a tight-knit community at Knix, both internally and with our customers externally. One of our biggest avenues for communication with Knix customers is done through our social platforms on Facebook and Instagram. It was a natural fit to leverage these platforms to share the PPE campaign with our community. Facebook and Instagram are set up to promote information sharing and make it very easy for users to access and share fundraising campaigns with their friends and family. What we have seen is that Canadians are really eager to help frontline works during this crisis, our GoFundMe campaign gives them the opportunity to do so from the comfort of their home.

raised funds to provide PPE for frontline healthcare workers across Canada. On a final note, what are some of the areas that you believe need the most help during the COVID-19 and how is Knix planning on helping them? Our goal is to help bridge inventory gaps while larger government programs are put in place. Securing PPE during COVID-19 is difficult because the cost and the amount of supply is changing every day. Since we have existing relationships with PPE production facilities we are able to act quickly to secure items. This helps ease the stress on healthcare facilities that are running low on masks and gloves and gives the government more time to put a more prominent distribution plan into place.

HOW JEWLR IS SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY Jewlr: Toronto-based online jewelry company Jewlr usually uses their CNC laser to craft personalized adornments for their customer base. Today, they are using that same laser to manufacturer face shields for Ontario’s frontline workers. After hearing the need for personal protective gear among Canada’s frontline staff and understanding the mass shortage in masks, Jewlr founder Tony Davis and his team decided to put their manufacturing equipment to work creating protective shields that help preserve much-needed face masks. To date, the company has crafted and shipped over 2,500 face shields to frontline workers across Ontario, all as donations to their community. Healthcare workers have begun sharing their appreciation for the What was the inspiration behind the decision of creating protective gear for Canada’s frontline staff? As soon as the call went out for companies to help, we looked at the equipment and capabilities that we had at Jewlr to try and do our part. It turned out that our laser cutter was the perfect machine to make re-usable face shields which were a vital tool in protecting front line workers.


Jewlr has created and shipped over 2,500 face shields since the beginning on the COVID-19 pandemic. How have frontline workers responded to the face shield donations? We have shipped over 3,500 right now and we continue to do so. I had an ER Doctor describe them as lifesaving. For many others it gives them the comfort that they have an extra layer of protection and allows them to do their job with more confidence and less fear.

Tony Davis has more than 25 years of software engineering, he is well known for inventing and

What’s been the most challenging part of creating the protective gears and having them

creating the WinFax PRO communication system, the

delivered to Canadian health workers?

major offering of Delrina Corporation. In 1996, he

Most challenging part is sourcing the plastic needed to make the shields. Obviously, they are in

subsequently acquired by BackWeb Technologies Inc.

short supply and we understand that the U.S.-based factories are not sending more stock to

(NASDAQ: BWEB). In 1998, Tony co-founded Delano

Canadian suppliers. So, we have had to adapt to what is available and change our design to deal

Technology Corp. to bring to market the industry's

with different thicknesses of material.

first e-mail application server. Tony was co-founder

How do you believe this will impact the business in a positive way?

founded Lanacom Inc., an Internet company

of Brightspark in 1999 where he was a Managing Partner for 12 years, and was also co-CEO of

Most importantly, our staff feels that they and the company could make an important and vital

Brightspark 3.0, an Internet company developing

contribution to the people who have no choice but to work on the front lines.

Internet solutions leading to the creation and growth of and, where he serves as CEO.

GREG SMITH Greg Smith is the founder and CEO of Thinkific, the most trusted platform that makes it easy to create, deliver and sell online courses. Greg was working as a corporate lawyer for one of the largest law firms in the country when he launched an online course as a side project. Revenues from his course soon surpassed his salary as a lawyer, and Greg jumped into online education full time. Since then, Greg and his team at Thinkific have helped thousands of coaches, authors, speakers, and companies create and sell their own online course as a way to grow their business.

Image credit: Thinkific



COVID-19 EXCLUSIVE TIPS GREG SMITH: Founder and CEO of Thinkific

1) The number of organizations that offer online courses is tremendous. What sets Thinkific apart from other similar organizations? What are the aspects that make it stand out? At Thinkific, our mission is to revolutionize the way people learn and earn online by giving them the tools to turn their expertise into a sustainable business that impacts both them and their audience. Since day one, we’ve been very focused on helping create successful businesses through education. A few things make us stand out: 1) We focus on helping you create and grow a successful business. We help entrepreneurs create sustainable, scalable businesses that drive transformative learning experiences for students. We’ve helped thousands of entrepreneurs and large companies turn their expertise into revenue through courses, and have educated millions of students on our platform to date. Seeing the net positive impact of successful business and improved education on our economy and communities is the driving force behind the evolution of our product and services. 2) Thinkific is the easiest platform to get started with and to customize for your business needs. We’ve built the platform so anyone can easily build and launch a course that fits your brand, without any advanced coding knowledge required. Using our custom designed themes and learning environment, you can integrate your course page into your site and upload any type of content for a seamless experience for your audience. On Thinkific you can also price your course however you want it, receive payment in 135+ currencies, translate your course into 40+ languages. 3) We help you create an amazing learning experience so the course or membership you offer is unique and an amazing product that



delivers results. Every feature we’ve built, from landing pages to the student learning environment, is designed to maximize student sales and their overall experience. Without happy, successful students, an education business will not be sustainable. Our team is obsessed with ensuring that our software is focused on creating successful students. We’ve spent a lot of time doing deep research into how students learn, looking at a ton of data to optimize the platform for transformative learning experiences. From the way instructors interact with their students to the design of the learning environment, our goal is to maximize the impact on each student..

to stabilize their revenue. The industries we’ve seen with the most increase in online course creation since the outbreak are health and fitness (up 279%), art and entertainment (up 334%), and education (up 494%).

2) Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Thinkific has been doing a lot to help people, such as offering free live training and increasing their support team to help entrepreneurs during these challenging times. In your expert opinion, what would you say is the biggest impact that COVID-19 has had on small businesses and how has Thinkific stepped up to help them?

We just launched the Thinkific $1 Million Entrepreneur Growth Fund to help entrepreneurs rapidly create and market online courses. The program is available to entrepreneurs who want to build a course for the first time, and existing course creators looking for coaching towards profitability. We match each creator with a mentor and pay for their services to plan, create, and set up a course. We’re giving away one million dollars with the goal of boosting momentum for course creators and seeing them succeed through the crisis. Anyone can apply or nominate someone here.

It’s a very challenging time for a lot of businesses right now, large and small. With a total disruption of the status quo, people are looking for digital solutions to remain operational. For many, their ability to find a virtual solution to connect with their customers means the difference between weathering the storm and closing their doors for good. A Thinkific we’re creating the opportunity to not just weather the storm but actually grow and thrive during the pandemic. We are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of businesses putting their content online across every industry. Tons of small businesses run by in-person teachers like music, art and fitness instructors are moving their training online, with a 372% increase in them creating online courses since the outbreak. Many productbased businesses like Shopify sellers are seeing ecommerce slow and are creating online courses

To help entrepreneurs and small businesses who need to get online fast, we’re offering advanced support, training, and programs to help. We offer LIVE training webinars every Tuesday and Thursday to show you how to build your online courses, move your training online, stay connected to your audience, and keep your business running. Anyone can join and register for free here.

We’ve also grown our support team so we can continue to offer every customer exceptional email and technical support for their courses. We are hiring more employees across the company to best service the surge in demand.d

3) What were some of the strategies you used when coming up with solutions to help entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s always been important to us to contribute positively to the world, and that’s never more important than in times of crisis. We believe it is our social responsibility to do all we can to support and accelerate those working hard to

address this crisis. Our team and technology make us uniquely positioned to help organizations rapidly adapt to change by moving their education and training needs online. In launching the Thinkific $1 Million Entrepreneur Growth Fund mentioned above, we saw an opportunity to leverage our existing ecosystem of entrepreneurs to create a positive impact. There is a flywheel of entrepreneurs looking to start businesses and go online, SMBs looking to provide them professional services, and students looking for online education. We created the fund to add momentum to that flywheel, stimulate the education economy, and leverage the power of entrepreneurs helping other entrepreneurs in this time of crisis. As the landscape evolves, we will continue to look for new ways to add value during the uncertainty and help in any way we can.

4) Among the many ways that Thinkific is helping people during the COVID-19, which solution is best for small business owners who are struggling due to social distancing? Recognizing that each business is different, there are a few ways we are best positioned to support small business owners and entrepreneurs based on their needs: 1) Moving events, workshops, and in-person training online. Small businesses structured around face to face sessions can leverage Thinkific to create a digital training experience. One example is Thrive Specialized Training, a small business offering inperson personal training and fitness programs. They created a 28-day online fitness course on Thinkific for their clients to do at home and stay active while in quarantine. 2) Building and connecting with your community. For businesses looking to better connect with their clients and community on an ongoing basis, building a membership site on Thinkific is an option. With a membership site, customers pay a recurring fee to get access to your exclusive content and community. On Thinkific, you can

also build course-specific communities and build up a thriving digital community within your branded site.

6) On a final note, where do you see the business heading 5 years from now? How would you perceive the future of Thinkific?

3) Stabilizing revenue.

Our goal continues to be to help entrepreneurs create and grow their businesses. Over the next 5 years our goal is to continue to be the go to place for anyone looking to grow a business by sharing their knowledge, skills or passions.

For entrepreneurs looking to create a new revenue stream, creating an online course is a great way to productize your expertise, add value to your audience, and grow your income. For example, Beauty Inc. Canada is a small business that sells products and in-person professional training for eyebrow and eyelash professionals. They added online courses to their Shopify store and within two weeks saw their revenue double. 4) Generating leads. If you’re struggling to generate leads for your business with the meeting and event restrictions in place, you can leverage online courses to do this. Create a short, helpful course and share it for free to your network. This will give prospective clients a taste of your services, encourage people to share your content, and raise your visibility. Anyone can create and launch up to three courses for free on Thinkific on our free plan.

5) What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs and business owners when it comes to helping out and providing resources during the COVID-19 outbreak? The biggest way I think we can help in all areas right now is with empathy. Everyone is under a heightened level of anxiety and stress these days and so keeping that in mind in every interaction we have is key. Whether it’s a person you walk past in the grocery store, an employee or team member, or in offering advice or help to other businesses - remember that now is a time for extra kindness and empathy. It’s also a great time to be building your audience by providing value in any way you can. This can mean free webinars or courses or live training or streaming sessions. Everyone is stuck at home and looking online for entertainment, learning, engagement, and hope. It’s your opportunity for you and your business to step up and help others, to share what you’re good at or what’s working for you.

The online course industry is experiencing massive growth. In early 2019, the online course market was forecast to be worth $300B by 2025. The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly accelerating this timeline, as we’re seeing a surge in entrepreneurs and businesses moving their content online. In looking ahead with these trends in mind, we are confident that we’ll continue to play a big role in helping more entrepreneurs build successful businesses through online education. We will also continue to invest in serving the needs of larger organizations as we grow. In late 2018 we launched Thinkific Plus, providing advanced support and features to larger organizations needing employee onboarding and product education solutions. It’s exciting to think of the increased impact we can have as we continue to scale and evolve our product – from making education more accessible, to being a driving force for entrepreneurship and economic growth. We are currently a team of just over 130 people and scaling fast. Fostering a great company culture has always been a top priority, and is something that will continue to guide our growth. We’ve been certified as a Great Place to Work® and one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures. Maintaining an environment of equal opportunity where 50% of the leadership team are women, and people with diverse backgrounds are celebrated is one of our north stars as we grow. Thinkific is hiring for a ton of roles across the company. If you’re passionate about education and entrepreneurship, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our careers page for available roles.



THE NEED TO Paper Informal Business Alliances By: John H. Simpson, Principal of Shift Law Professional Corporation and Certified Specialist in

Image credit: Shift Law

Copyright and Trademark Law


t is common for small businesses to form alliances with others in pursuit of mutual opportunities. While such alliances sometimes take the form of legal partnerships or joint ventures, they are often more casual than that. In all cases, it is important for the parties to draw up agreements setting out their intentions as to how the alliance will work and what is to happen if and when it ends. Too often, I meet clients who failed to do this and find themselves in messy litigation when their alliance breaks up. A case I argued recently in the Federal Court of Canada will serve as a cautionary tale. My client operated a commercial realty brokerage in Montreal with ambitions to expand into Ontario. He proposed an idea to a colleague where the colleague would open a brokerage in Toronto using my client’s new branding and would help my client revise its website to advertise both brokerages. That would give both brokerages the appearance of a national presence and it would save the colleague the effort of having to develop his own brand and website from scratch. They decided that if things worked out they could enter a profit sharing agreement.



Meanwhile, the colleague incorporated the Toronto brokerage with a friend of his who was previously unknown to my client. They used my client’s brand as the name of their corporation. The three men discussed some of the details of the arrangement but got distracted with more exciting things like making money before agreeing upon anything or consulting a lawyer. A couple of years later, the friend bought out the colleague’s shares in the Toronto brokerage. Not having any personal history the new owner of the Toronto brokerage, my client cut him off from the shared website and told him that the Toronto brokerage could no longer operate under the shared brand. Not surprisingly, the Toronto brokerage refused to change its name, saying that it owned the name jointly with my client or, at the very least, was entitled to continue using it in the Toronto

market. My client sued, claiming that it was the exclusive owner of the brand, that the Toronto brokerage had only ever been allowed to use it under a revocable license from my client and that my client had terminated the license when the Toronto brokerage changed hands. The case raised a number of complex legal issues, including who owns a trademark that different parties have been sharing, whether a party can be bound by a license that they deny the existence of and how such a license may be terminated. At the end of the day, the Court ruled in my client’s favour. But litigation is costly and stressful and the case could well have gone the other way given the technicalities of trademark law. All of this could have been avoided if the parties had consulted a lawyer at the outset or at least turned their minds to what would happen if their alliance broke up.

How Goodfood is helping those in need during COVID-19 Jonathan Ferrari, CEO, Goodfood

1. What was the inspiration behind the launch of the Breakfast Club of Canada COVID-19 Emergency Fund? What were Goodfood’s contributions? Goodfood is committed to helping feed Canadians across the country. When our longtime partner, Breakfast Club of Canada, launched the COVID-19 Emergency Fund, we jumped on the opportunity to support their cause. We quickly mobilized initiatives to encourage our members to donate to the fund, with Goodfood matching up to $10,000 in donations over the past few weeks. It’s important for us to do our part to help the growing number of Canadian families dealing with income loss and food insecurity worsened by the pandemic.

2. What are some of the strategies that were most effective in raising funds for the foundation? We are proud to say that the Goodfood team was able to raise $58,609 for Breakfast Club’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund through the generosity of our members and our donation matching. Getting the word out to our members through Facebook, Instagram, and email helped us achieve — and exceed — our fundraising goals.

3. Goodfood recently announced its partnership with the University of Montreal Health Centre Foundation. What can you tell us about this collaboration and how you will work together to help Canadian families during these challenging times? Our healthcare workers are the true heroes of our community, especially during these challenging times. To show our appreciation for all the healthcare professionals and volunteers


Image credit: Goodfood

onathan Ferrari is changing the way Canadians eat dinner. As Co-Founder and CEO of Goodfood (, he leads a dinner subscription service that makes it easy to prepare delicious, original recipes at home using fresh ingredients sourced from local farms. Launched in 2014 in Montreal and employing 3,000 people in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver & Calgary, Goodfood delivers more than 3 million meals each month to Canadian subscribers coast to coast.

Jonathan and his co-founders launched Goodfood to address Canadians’ desire for healthy, fresh and locally sourced food. Each Goodfood delivery comes with all the raw ingredients needed to cook delicious meals for the week, in exactly the right portions to reduce unnecessary waste.

working hard to keep Canadians safe every day, we partnered with Montreal’s CHUM Foundation to feed frontline medical personnel and volunteers during the month of April. We are providing these essential workers with quick and nutritious ready-to-eat meal solutions to sustain them during their shifts. We salute them for all the hard work they are doing every day and we will continue to help however we can.

4. On a final note, what advice can you give to other entrepreneurs that are in a position to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic?

facing right now, if you are an entrepreneur who is in a position to help, now is the time for you to reach out and make a difference in your community. If you have the resources, identify organizations that need assistance, help them raise funds, mobilize your teams to come up with initiatives, and volunteer if you can. There’s a lot we can do together. As they say, there’s never a lack of resources, just a lack of resourcefulness. We need to be resourceful now more than ever. Let’s work together to flatten the curve and help our communities.

We’re all in this together. Although there’s no perfect solution to address the challenges we’re CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


Thought Leadership

Thoughts on Business Leadership

PAMELA PELLETIER National Sales Director, Dell Technologies Pamela Pelletier is a National Sales Director with Dell EMC and a part of the senior leadership team. She has a proven leadership track record and more than15 years of experience driving sales growth in the technology industry. She thrives on challenges, particularly those that expand the company’s reach. Pamela coaches and mentors colleagues at Dell EMC and within the broader IT industry by leading several groups that aim to help women in tech reach their full potential. Image credit: Dell Canada

What is your definition of Leadership? Leadership is something that often gets misconstrued. A leader often time gets interpreted as someone who is in a position of authority. It’s important to distinguish the difference between managing and leading. To me a manager is more of a title, where someone is responsible for a group by way of that title, however, that’s not to say a manager couldn’t be a leader. Leading is more of a reflection of influencing people to act towards a common goal. I see leadership as a means for providing direction, guidance, motivation and inspiration. The best leaders are able to instill confidence in their people. And to do that, leaders must empower others through a combination of leading by example, providing guidance and listening.



What are the most important


values and ethics you demonstrate

Technologies. Trust is the glue that holds

as a leader? For







important should


demonstrate are integrity, confidence and trustworthiness. I try to show integrity in all aspects of my career, I believe it’s very important,







selflessness coupled with a desire to do what’s right even when faced with a tough decision. And part of doing that is being confident, even if I don’t have all the answers. My team looks to me when they face challenges, and so I always want them to feel they can come to me and feel at ease knowing we can get through anything together. Lastly, I believe that increasing trust really acts as a force multiplier. My team needs to trust me, I need to trust them, and together we need to trust each other and the entire





everything together. The concept of leading in ways that act as a force multiplier can be very impactful. Lately, I’ve been especially inspired by my team as we navigate working remotely (because





during one of our virtual team meetings, I asked members to share some of the new ways they are working, as well as share how they are adjusting and keeping healthy both mentally and physically. I was so inspired by the feedback, and it helped me personally navigate through this difficult time. I was equally as inspired by the creativity, innovation and willingness to go above and beyond to help our Dell customers as well.

How do you encourage the

personal development. This is supported by

development of your employees?

Dell’s stance on gender equality: it’s a business


I like to look at development in two ways.



First, in terms of career development which

Personal action from our 145,000 Dell team

As a leader, I feel that it’s not

would include the various programs that we

members, including me, is one of the ways

offer at Dell Technologies at the global and

Dell Technologies has a diversity moonshot

only my responsibility to


goal of having 50 percent of our global

mentor my teams but to also

development, which consists of day-to-day

workforce and 40 percent of our people

coaching and providing feedback. Leadership

leaders be those who identify as female by

continually seek out new

matters now more than ever, and as a leader,


training and development for

Reaching our 2030 gender diversity goals will

myself. For example, last year

require closely examining how we build,

I participated in a year-long






it’s important to be able to provide informal mentorship alongside development programs and doing so must be a fluid process. Day-today coaching and feedback, for example, should be frequently programmed into a leaders’ schedule, while career development programs offered by Dell are ways of investing in team members and highly encouraged by leaders at all levels. Something I’m passionate about is ensuring that all team members, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities to learn and grow. As a leader, I’ve discovered that women and men respond differently to coaching and feedback, and as a result, I’ve tailored my approach, especially as it comes to career and







develop and retain female talent in our workforce. Through strategic partnerships

global development program

with organizations like Girls Who Code and

tailored to my specific

programs like Girls Who Game, we’re building tomorrow’s talent pipeline by enabling girls and female students of all ethnicity to see the path to a career in technology. We’re also opening doors through initiatives like Dell

division and expertise. It was such a rewarding experience, exposing me to some really

Career Re-Start and our Diversity Leadership

amazing content where I

Accelerator Program that ensures women at

learned new methods and

every stage in their careers can build their tech and business acumen—whether they are

ideas for leading my team.

re-entering the workforce after taking time away or looking to take on a management role.

Image credit: Canva CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I


PAYPAL NOW AVAILABLE ON WALMART.CA Survey finds 58% spike in Canadian online grocery shoppers in just four weeks First time PayPal has teamed up with a Canadian retailer that sells groceries Image credit: PayPal Canada

Canadian consumers had already embraced online shopping before the pandemic, as 95 per cent reported in early March that they had made an online purchase. Before the health crisis, online grocery shopping was less popular, with only 19 per cent reporting engaging in the activity at the time. Now, the most recent survey shows close to one in three Canadians surveyed (30%) are shopping online to buy groceries. That survey also found that since the outbreak, more Canadians have started to shop online for essential items like household supplies (41% increase) and toiletries (33% increase), as well as other items like entertainment, toys and games (18% increase). 81% say new online shopping habits are here to stay The new research findings seem to mark a substantial shift in Canadians’ shopping behaviours. When asked if their online shopping habits would change in the coming months, the vast majority of respondents (81%) said they anticipate shopping online the same amount or more, and 44 per cent said they expect to increase their online shopping. “In the current climate, we understand that shopping online for groceries and other everyday essentials is the need of the hour,” said Paul Parisi, PayPal Canada President. “We are delighted to announce that now more than seven million active PayPal users across the country can use their digital wallet to shop online at Walmart.” Issuer’s reward program terms and conditions apply.



Survey methodology

“We are proud to be the first Canadian retailer that sells groceries to offer PayPal, making online shopping more accessible for more Canadians,” said Alexis Lanternier, Executive Vice-President of eCommerce for Walmart Canada. “PayPal has a long-standing reputation as a safe and trusted payment provider and together, we’re helping Canadians shop for the products they need right now.”

TORONTO, April 15, 2020 — PayPal is now available as a new payment option on Walmart. ca as more Canadians shop online for groceries and essentials than ever before, according to new research. A survey commissioned by PayPal in early April shows that 30 per cent of Canadians are shopping online for groceries. This marks a 58 per cent jump from a comparable survey conducted just four weeks earlier, before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.

Canadians who shy away from online shopping worry about secure payments The most recent survey found that among Canadian respondents who don’t shop online, 39 per cent are worried about putting their financial information on the Internet. Walmart has chosen to include PayPal into their online checkout to help put shoppers at ease as the payment platform doesn’t share personal financial details with third parties. Choosing PayPal during checkout means Canadians have the flexibility of paying for their purchase with their bank account, Visa Debit card, or credit card linked to their PayPal account while earning their card-associated reward points . Opening an account is free and customers are not charged a fee when making purchases.

The findings include results of two surveys executed by Edelman through the Angus Reid Forum, the first taking place between March 3rd and 4th, and the second between April 1st and 2nd, 2020. The surveys were each conducted in English and French and included nationally representative samples of Canadians (1,562 and 1,503 respectively) who are members of the Angus Reid consumer panel. About Angus Reid Forum surveys:

The precision of Angus Reid Forum online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians. About Walmart Canada Walmart Canada operates a chain of 408 stores nationwide serving more than 1.5 million customers each day. Walmart Canada’s flagship online store, is visited by more than 900,000 customers daily. With more than 90,000 associates, Walmart Canada is one of Canada’s largest employers and is ranked one of the country’s top 10 most influential brands. Walmart Canada’s extensive philanthropy program is focused on supporting Canadian families in need, and since 1994 Walmart Canada has raised and donated more than $400 million to Canadian charities. About PayPal PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. By leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering more than 300 million consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy. For more information, visit



he global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and has drastically affected the daily lives of Canadians. Today, RSA Canada is announcing measures to help alleviate some of the burden that Canadians are facing as a result of the pandemic. This includes financial relief estimated at $75 million in savings for personal and commercial insurance customers who are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, as well as support for the most vulnerable Canadians through a $100,000 donation to Food Banks Canada. “In the last month, Canadians have changed where they work, how much they drive and what they need to protect themselves, their families and their businesses,” says Martin Thompson, President and CEO, RSA Canada. “As a national insurer, our promise is to be there for our customers when they need us most, so we are implementing new measures to provide meaningful assistance during these uncertain times.”

Providing relief for those facing financial hardship RSA Canada is providing several relief measures to assist Canadians who are impacted financially by COVID-19. Every customer’s situation and insurance needs are unique, so options are designed to provide enhanced flexibility and assistance. RSA Canada will also be implementing additional auto and property insurance premium relief measures moving forward, to support customers during the crisis. The following measures will be in place until June 30, 2020 and will continue to be reviewed as the situation develops: •

Reduced premiums for customers who are driving or commuting less or who are no longer using their vehicles if circumstances have changed due to the pandemic. Customers should contact their broker or insurance representative to make changes to their auto coverage.

Flexible payment options, payment deferrals and support for customers who are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Customers who have been impacted by the pandemic should contact their broker or insurance representative to discuss the available options.

Coverage for customers who are temporarily using their vehicle for delivery services – such as an employee of a pharmacy, restaurant, grocery store, or as part of an app-based food delivery service. This is available for all personal auto insurance policies and will not change the customer’s premium. Customers should contact their broker or insurance representative to confirm this coverage.

NSF fees for personal and small commercial policies charged by RSA Canada occurring after April 1, 2020 will be waived. Some financial institutions may charge separate NSF fees and customers are encouraged to contact their local bank for more information.

As all Canadians are encouraged to ‘Stay at Home’, customers who are required by their employer to work from home due to the current situation with COVID-19 can rest assured that the coverage they already have in place will not be impacted.



To support its commercial insurance customers, RSA Canada is providing relief measures as well as guidance to help them mitigate any risks they face as a result of the pandemic. Commercial customers are encouraged to contact their broker to discuss options further. •

For commercial insurance customers, RSA Canada is adjusting its rating approach to support business owners and the challenges many of them are facing.

For small and mid-sized businesses that have been directly impacted and are experiencing temporary closures and changes in operations, RSA Canada is working with its broker partners to be as flexible and accommodating as possible including allowing mid-term coverage adjustments, payment deferrals and premium adjustments.

For businesses that are making changes to their operations to support the current crisis, RSA Canada is providing flexible underwriting solutions.

RSA Canada is also providing guidance to help businesses that have shut down to protect their idle property and fleets.

Customer-first commitment As risk experts, RSA Canada’s employees have a role to play in helping customers manage the uncertainties and complexities of today’s world. RSA Canada continues to work with industry associations to identify and address common challenges and emerging issues that may impact customers, and to help them manage and get ahead of potential risks. All parts of the company are working hard to maintain strong service levels to ensure customers receive assistance when they need it most. Customers are encouraged to leverage RSA Canada’s online claims submission tool which is available at (not available in Quebec).

About RSA Canada Supporting the most vulnerable Canadians through Food Banks Canada RSA Canada is donating $100,000 to Food Banks Canada to purchase food products for those who are living with food insecurities, especially during this challenging time. The company continues to match employee donations to community causes that they care about most, including local food banks, as part of its corporate responsibility program. Currently, Canada’s supply chain is working in overdrive to keep up with the unprecedented demand for food and other goods due to the current pandemic. This has made it more difficult for food banks across the country to receive in-kind donations in the same quantity and frequency that they had before the pandemic. Food Banks Canada is facing several challenges:: •

Drastic declines in the number of volunteers;

Significant surges in the number of clients accessing food through food banks;

Dwindling donations when compared to regular operations.

About Food Banks Canada

“Giving food to those in need can be difficult in the best of times and COVID-19 has made that task even harder,” says Chris Hatch, CEO, Food Banks Canada. “Food banks are experiencing high demand across the country as a growing number of Canadians suffer income loss. That’s why we’re grateful for the support of

organizations, such as RSA Canada, which are helping provide nourishment to those who are most deeply affected by the pandemic.”

The RSA Canada group of companies includes Roins Financial Services Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Quebec Assurance Company, Johnson Inc., Unifund Assurance Company, Western Assurance Company, Ascentus Insurance Ltd., Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company and RSA Travel Insurance Inc. (collectively, “RSA Canada”) and is part of a group of companies headed by RSA Insurance Group plc. RSA Canada employs more than 2,800 people across Canada and is one of the oldest insurance companies in the country with roots dating back to 1833. For more information, visit

Canadians who are interested and in a position to support Food Banks Canada can make a donation at or contact their local food bank to determine which resources are needed most.

Food Banks Canada provides national leadership to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow in collaboration with the food bank network from coast-to-coast-to-coast. For 40 years, food banks have been dedicated to helping Canadians living with food insecurity. Over 3,000 food banks and community agencies come together to serve our most vulnerable neighbours who – last year – made 1.1 million visits to these organizations in one month alone, according to our HungerCount report. Over the past 10 years, as a system we’ve sourced and shared over 1.4 billion pounds of food and Food Banks Canada shared nearly $70 million in funding to help maximize collective impact and strengthen local capacity – while advocating for reducing the need for food banks. Our vision is clear: create a Canada where no one goes hungry. Visit to learn more.





Image credit: Canva

“I’ve got a theory: if you love your workspace, you’ll love While there are many aspects you may want to look at your work a little more.” Cynthia Rowley individually, let me help you with a brief guide to the various work space options that are currently available to you, so you As many of us are going into week 6 of social isolation, can determine what maybe the right fit for your business. what were temporary accommodations to support the continuity of our business are now becoming a core The traditional office space offers full privacy, customization element of our operations. To support business continuity, and still be a necessity for your business, but the square companies are investing in technology and other office footage or location may not longer be. More often than not, equipment to ensure they and their staff remain productive. traditional office spaces have a lot of wasted spaces and under So what will happen when we get the green light to return to work. What are we returning to? Does our office need to accommodate all of our staff members, now that we know some key functions of our business can work remotely? After all, according to Benefits, “Nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadian employees work from outside one of their employer’s main offices for half or more, according to Regus Canada.”

utilized common spaces, such as hallways, meeting rooms, vacant desks etc. Also, long term leases can be a significant expense and ultimately eat into the bottom line of any business. In addition to the lease cost, there are a host of operational costs as well such as cleaning, maintenance, office equipment etc. which also contribute.

Fortunately, there are some excellent alternatives to the norm, which allow any business to control their costs and operational expenses, while continue growing in a professional This is a great starting point for any business to evaluate environment. Here are four alternative options you can whether their operations support their strategy, Efficiently. consider, when evaluating your office requirements.







This cost saving initiative often works very well for businesses who want to share costs of operations, such as rent, common area costs, cleaning, share services such as internet or copier etc. More often than not, the office is shared who know each other and can cross refer business to one another, if the businesses complement one another. . However, office sharing has its disadvantages as well. There are privacy issues and handling potential clients could also become a reason for conflict. Finally, what if you have outgrown the space or simply want another office, how do you handle that? Personally, I have seen some amicable friends sharing an office separations, while others have resulted a separation in the relationship as well, so its very important to go into this arrangement with clear boundaries established at the onset. BUSINESS CENTRE SHARED OFFICE CONCEPT

Many people aren’t familiar with a Business Centre. It is a shared space provider of turnkey offices with the benefits of many amenities such as meeting rooms, reception services, shared kitchen etc. The value of a business centre / shared office, is that the tenants only rent the space they require and they save considerable dollars on other overheads such as meeting spaces, kitchen and other common areas. Depending on the provider, space can be used immediately and there are flexible lease options to help you determine whether this is the right fit for you. Another advantage is that as your business grows, you can add additional spaces, if required. If additional locations are required, Business Centres are a great option for satellite offices for any organization globally and locally. Disadvantages include the compliance of rules and regulations of a centre, lack of signage as well as privacy.

“According to the GCUC global coworking report, there are currently 3.1 million coworkers in the world and the number is forecasted to nearly double by 2022.” Source Coworking spaces are an excellent way for people self employed, freelancing or remotely working to work outside the home, network and have great opportunities to collaborate with other professionals. There are also significant savings in technology without long term commitments. However, a disadvantage is also no fixed space, lack of privacy and noise concerns. Similar to Business centres, coworking spaces have strict rules and regulations in place as well. VIRTUAL OFFICE

A very important segment of business owners simply don’t have a need for an office. However, they require a business address to separate their business from home, a professional meeting space as well as additional services such as phone or courier management. A virtual office is a great solution for a minimal cost. Its an office without a physical office, which provides flexibility for a very important segment of the population.

Is it crucial for all your team members to be in the office at the same time?

“It appears in the long term, companies are going to minimize their office obligations to core (essential) staff and uses only. They will attempt to maximize their utilization for flexible office spaces, where they can grow and take office space on demand (shorter term leases). These include business centres, shared offices and co-working spaces.” Sam Kohli, founder of Greater Toronto Executive Centre

This pandemic has changed the way we do business. How will your operations shift to continue supporting your strategy?

The disadvantages are that there is no permanent space and all important documents have to be brought in when needed and meeting spaces are subject to availability. All the above options are great alternatives to working from home or a traditional office space. However, when evaluating your work environment, ask yourself: How accessible does your office need to be to your clients, vendor partners and/or team? What are the key requirements for your functional office space? I.E. Meeting rooms, open space vs offices, reception, kitchen etc.

Ritu has over two decades of experience in operations, marketing and business development. Married and a proud mama of two, Ritu enjoys writing about her professional and personal life experiences.

revenue in March 2020 and 30% for April 2020 and/or May 2020 to qualify for this subsidy.


What small businesses owners can do to navigate tax and cash flow during COVID-19 by Dave Walsh, Tax Service Line Leader, BDO Canada

If your business does not qualify for the CEWS it may still qualify for SBWS, equal to 10% of the remuneration paid during the eligible period up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Loans and credits It may be essential that certain business leaders apply for loans and credits for additional cash relief. The Government of Canada has introduced the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) which will provide $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support through Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). It may be essential that certain business leaders apply for loans and credits for additional cash relief. The Government of Canada has introduced the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) which will provide $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support through Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Image credit: Canva

The COVID-19 crisis has presented unexpected challenges and disruptions for small and medium-sized businesses across Canada. Business leaders should take the right tax planning steps and apply for wage subsidies and other government incentives as support options available to help navigate the pandemic

for those that are expecting a tax refund. Taxpayers should take advantage of the extended tax payment deadlines for any balance owing. Tax that becomes owing on or after March 18 has been deferred to September 1 with no accumulating interest or penalties. GST payment and customs duties are also extended to June 30. In times of market turmoil and depressed business valuations it is important to seek out This pandemic has put immense pressure on opportunities that may be available. Canadian businesses across numerous sectors and industries. It is important to pay It may be an ideal time to consider the tax attention to what the Canadian government planning idea of an estate freeze, or if you have is implementing to support small businesses. already done so an estate re-freeze, to manage Support options continue to evolve and your estate and taxes in an effective manner. develop as the government reacts to the ongoing economic crisis. Staying up to date Wage Subsidies on these developing activities is an important The government has created two wage subsidy step in getting through the pandemic. options for Canadian businesses: the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Tax Planning the 10% Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS).

It is important that you be proactive and prepare your tax returns early for a better understanding of your current tax situation. The federal government has extended tax return deadlines for filing and paying any amount owing for businesses and individuals. Filing early can provide an additional cash flow opportunity

The CEWS is available to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks and is retroactive to March 15, 2020. The subsidy will be available at a rate of 75% of weekly remuneration paid to a maximum of $847 per employee. Your business must see a drop of at least 15% of

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides credit for small businesses to pay for immediate operating costs such as payroll, rent and utilities. It is available to employers with $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019 and operating as of March 1, 2020. CEBA will provide interest-free credit of up to $40,000 to eligible businesses and if you repay the loan by December 31, 2022, 25% (up to $10,000) will be forgiven. If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022 the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5% interest. Many provinces across Canada are also offering additional support including loan guarantees, Crown utility bill payment deferrals, province loan payment deferrals and enhanced small business loan programs.

Dave is the Tax Service Line Leader for BDO Canada, leading the Firm's Tax Services team. Dave has over 25 years of experience in public practice advising clients across a diverse range of industries in Canada and around the world. Dave is a member of the Executive Leadership Team of BDO Canada and is a member of the Tax Leadership team for the BDO Global network.




When it comes to security, many business people carry a pre-disposition against the cloud as a location for system functionality and data. Perhaps it is a reaction to giving our hard-won, proprietary and often confidential data to some external pair of hands, perhaps it is a knee-jerk reaction to the frequently reported data breaches, either way the best decision is an informed decision. Someone recently said, looking up at the sky “there are no clouds, only Linux servers”, and they are not that far off base. The cloud is just another term for a huge collection of external servers that house and run solutions and storage, accessed remotely by users. That would suggest that not all cloud applications or cloud service providers are equal. From a business perspective, I can tell you I usually prefer cloud-based options in today’s world. First, solutions for payroll, accounting and basic spreadsheet and word processing applications are putting much more money into their cloud-based applications than they are into their installed solutions. Second, as a centralized service, they can price more competitively while ensuring updated patching and release management across all clients. And third, as a part of my disaster and business continuity planning, having direct access to our systems via any secure internet connection reduces the planning I need to do internally.

From a technical perspective, some of the features that make cloud-based solutions and stored data secure include:

Data Redundancy

Safe Sharing

Cloud-based solutions usually store multiple copies of each piece of data. There are many cloud back-up service providers for additional redundancy, with automatic back-up features that remove the element of human error, where someone forgot to back-up the system or the back-up is stored in the same location as the live data.

Granting access to information no longer requires making a copy, emailing confidential data or risking the information in a potentially unreliable thumb drive. Setting up an additional user and configuring access unique to that user is a relatively standard feature and as long as the solution uses at least two factor authentication for access, provides a much safer and more reliable means of sharing data.

Security It is still incumbent on you to ensure you stick to a robust password policy and update your own internal security policies and procedures. Cloud providers generally publish their security policies, so rather than trying to create your own and then implement them on site or at a data center, you can review the published policies and ask for clarification where necessary.



When considering a move to the cloud, either to a SaaS-based application or moving your proprietary solution to the cloud, some critical considerations include planning the migration both on the technical side and with respect to processes and procedures to take advantage of the benefit and reduce the impact of differences between legacy systems and the cloud-based environment. Hiring the right advisor can be the

difference between a successful migration or installation, or complete failure. In short, this is a great time to consider moving to cloud-based applications and storage, while workforces around the world are finding better ways of staying connected with their homebased teams. In the end, you will likely end up with better security that you had before.

Jeff Dawley President and Founder Cybersecurity Compliance Corp.



can join in the fight, as many brands have done. Whether it’s producing or shipping supplies for healthcare workers or providing a relevant service for frontline essential workers, it is important to show how businesses are helping to galvanize others to pitch in.

2. In your expert opinion, what do you believe consumers are currently looking at when it comes to choosing a business / brand for their needs during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Managing Partner at APEX PR A seasoned, bilingual corporate communications specialist and media trainer, Kenneth has worked with a diverse range of communicators — from reality TV hosts to several of Canada’s top 100 CEOs. A 19-plus year veteran of APEX, Kenneth leads the agency’s corporate communications and training divisions, working with individual leaders and corporations in enhancing their business development and reputations through strategic public relations. Kenneth’s category credentials include financial services, insurance, retail, consumer packaging goods, sports, consumer electronics, alcohol, energy and entertainment. Kenneth is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and a graduate of Dalhousie University.

1. As Managing do you believe owners to show are contributing COVID-19?

Partner at APEX PR, why it’s crucial for business their support on how they towards the fight against

Firstly, our customers want to hear from us. In fact, a recent study by Corus discovered that 56% of Canadians want brands to communicate how they are helping in the fight against COVID-19. It is crucial for these businesses to communicate to their customers about what they are doing during this crisis period, how the customer can help and how the business is planning to get back to business when this is all over. It’s helpful for owners to communicate to their employees, customers and other active stakeholders about their tactics and pivots. By communicating their work and plans, they inspire others on how they

People are fundamentally looking for brands to meet their immediate needs. For consumers, that is primarily brands in food, health and wellness, technology and so on. Canadians are also searching for ways to sustain as best they can the local/micro-economy by sourcing independent booksellers, restaurants who offer takeout or delivery, and other local services. They are looking for brands who can help them right now, to get them through this pandemic. These brands will most likely re-emerge when isolation gradually shifts in promising ways and offers optimism in the months to come. Lastly, brands that are showing an altruistic side during the pandemic will find a new level of loyalty in the so-called “new normal.”

3. What do you believe is the biggest challenge that entrepreneurs are currently facing when it comes to maintaining a positive image of their brand? Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic? Many small businesses are preoccupied with their short-term and medium-term survival and rightly so. Keeping the lights on and operations sustained for the sake of employees and customers takes precedence over image. However, I would still advise business owners who are working morning, noon and night to keep communicating, and yes marketing, to customers as they’re looking for a semblance of continuity from pre-lockdown, as well as eager to engage with brands and businesses that have value and meaning to them now, but particularly when the economy gradually starts to re-open. Brands assisting with COVID-19 efforts, from a communications and marketing perspective, also need to show others how they are pivoting, helping their local communities so to create a multiplier effect among peers to follow suit, so as

to improve the odds of re-emerging effectively.

4. Some businesses have chosen to remain silent during the COVID-19 outbreak. How do you believe this will impact their brand and business? I’m sensitive to the reality that some businesses are just working double-time to keep clients, customers and employees engaged and sustained, let alone communicating helpful news to their wider networks. But there are also a lot of brands and businesses staying quiet right now because they’re too self-conscious to insert themselves into the conversation for fear of saying the wrong thing. Consumers are fickle, particularly now, so keeping below the radar could have unintended consequences when things turn around, such as lost customer engagement and business. But ultimately, we have a responsibility as business owners and brand leaders to show we care. To help our local economies, employees and neighbours to ensure that the economy we come back to has the best potential to recover. That is the true essence of public relations, which is communicating to sustain and enhance diversity of relationships. And that is why we launched our Virtual Media Training module recently. To help leaders find the words, deeds and actions to engage in the most appropriate and sensitive manner.

5. On a final note, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs when it comes to brand authenticity and why it’s important during this trying time? First off, let’s define authenticity because it’s thrown around a lot. Brand authenticity means to be genuine to your core values and your organizational mission. It will be different in the context of working through what the business means today, during the pandemic, and what it will mean after. The world will not be the same as it was before March 15, but what will remain intact are brand values. Business owners must hold these values near and dear throughout the pandemic as many customers have not visited or engaged with their business for two months or more. Thus, it is important to remind customers that you are here, you will be here and your core business concepts will be here once this is all over. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 I



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