CanadianSME Small Business Magazine - July 2024 Edition

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Expert Advice from Louise Southall on Thriving Amidst Economic Shifts

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Combating Burnout in SMEs: Strategies from TELUS Health's Latest Survey

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Featuring Our Business Woman of the Month: Women Helping Empower Women's Founder Dr. Georgette Zinaty

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An Innovative Leader

Welcome to the vibrant month of July! As nature blossoms in its full glory, so too does the spirit of innovation and growth within the pages of our July issue of CanadianSME Small Business Magazine. With a focused theme of "Success for Startups," we aim to resonate deeply with the entrepreneurial community, offering insights, advice, and inspiration tailored to propel small businesses forward.

In this edition, we feature a diverse range of articles and interviews from key influencers and experts. Dive into "The Endowment Effect: You Make It, You Own It," beautifully articulated by Ben Wise and Darren Chiu, co-founders of Captivate. Discover revolutionary wealth management strategies with Simran Kang in "Using MyFO to Revolutionize Wealth Management." Scott De Long provides crucial strategies for managing a diverse team in "Navigating Generational Harmony: Strategies for Managing a Multigenerational Workforce in Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises." Additionally, Geoffrey Blanc offers practical advice in "How Email Marketing Can Boost Your Business & 5 Best Practices for Small Businesses."

Highlighting our commitment to diversity and leadership, we are proud to feature Dr. Georgette Zinaty as our Businesswoman of the Month. A dedicated founder of Women Helping Empower Women, Dr. Zinaty brings invaluable expertise in Diversity and Inclusion to our leadership consultancy and training initiatives.

We are also delighted to share special messages from the winners of the CanadianSME Small Business Awards 2023. Their stories are not just testimonials of success but are also filled with valuable insights and advice that underscore the resilience, innovation, and spirit of the small business community in Canada.

Looking forward, we are thrilled to announce the upcoming fifth edition of the CanadianSME Small Business Summit 2024, scheduled for October 24th. Themed "Fueling Canadian SMBs with Digital Transformation, Inclusion, and Adaptability," this year’s summit promises to be exceptional, with Amazon Business returning as our presenting partner. For more information and to register, visit

As we conclude, I extend heartfelt thanks to you, our dedicated readers, for your continuous support and active engagement. Your enthusiasm is the cornerstone of our mission to deliver enlightening, challenging, and celebratory content about Canadian entrepreneurship. Dive into this issue, engage with our offerings, and subscribe at for more empowering stories. Here’s to a month filled with new beginnings, resilience, and limitless possibilities.

Warmest Regards, SK

CanadianSME Small Business Magazine

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an de Plassche ing Wellness Through ics

Combating Burnout in SMEs: Strategies from TELUS Health's Latest Survey

An Innovative Leader

Chinyere Eni is an accidental banker’ who is passionate about making the world a better place for all and came to banking through a recruitment call.

Eni started working at the age of 14, at a grocery store as a paid job, and as an unpaid counsellor for children with physical challenges After losing a leg to childhood cancer, she knew a thing or two about “adapting to a world that doesn’t adapt to you ”

Being a student leader in high school helped her bring awareness to areas of need which ignited her can-do approach So much so that she launched a club at her university to bring students of different backgrounds together to learn about one another even as she continued with her community volunteerism in the health, education and disability She also co-launched a not for profit focused on supporting African children adopted by non-African families in Vancouver – a chance to connect with their heritage and build friendships

That ability to connect the dots led to a feature in a Vancouver newspaper that led her to joining RBC as a Customer Service Officer. According to Eni, “not growing up with financial acumen, I wanted to learn it, to be able to buy a home one day, pursue post-secondary education and to build a good life ”

TodaysheChairstheGovernanceCommitteefor WilfridLaurierUniversityBoardofGovernorsandis RegionalRepresentativeforOntariowiththeWar AmputationsofCanadaChildAmputeeprogram Shehasservedasanambassadorandwas recognizedforco-foundingthePrincessMargaret CancerFoundationRidetoConquerCancerevent andisnowamemberofthehospital’shallfor significantimpactsincancercare.

Chinyere Eni, Head of RBC Origins

Before her current role, Eni led a team of Vice Presidents in Commercial Financial Services delivering strategic advice to businesses, entrepreneurs and their employees across a wide range of industries.

“SME’s are growth engines for local economies and I marvel at the vision, courage and commitment of entrepreneurs. I enjoy connecting dots and being an intrapreneur at RBC across a variety of work streams,” she said.

Eni is a member of Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and a second-generation member of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria As a woman leader with an intersectional background, Eni feels an acute responsibility when it comes to mentoring the next generation of women leaders

“Representation matters. It shows what’s possible and encourages more lived experiences around the tables that drive the decisions that shape the spaces we live and work in,” she said.

“There was a time when I struggled with so-called imposter syndrome. Then after many years came to acknowledge that systemic exclusion exists and it isn’t just about women’s confidence. It’s critical to honour that those barriers are real and that removing them is a shared responsibility,” said Eni.

Observing role models in and out of the bank helped her to re-imagine her future potential to bring financial insights and enablement to more Canadians

As the recently appointed head of RBC Origins, Eni has a new platform for expanding economic and social inclusion and is focused on cultivating sustainable relationships with rightsholders across Canada for generations to come through advancing reconciliation within RBC

A new approach to RBCs relationship with Indigenous communities

"We're excited about the launch of RBC Origins, including our new Truth and Reconciliation Office – an industry first – as it marks a shift to collaborating with Indigenous communities in ways that are more holistic, while being accountable and transparent about the outcomes of our actions and commitments. We are pursuing that through a review of our core operations, policies and practices," said Eni

As the executive Head of RBC Origins (formerly known as RBC Indigenous Banking), Chinyere is responsible for leading the team focused on driving the economic prosperity of Indigenous communities through the integrated delivery of financial services to governments, not-for-profits, businesses and retail clients

And the time is right Across Canada, there are more than 50,000 businesses owned by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, and that number has continued to grow over the last several years Indigenous people create businesses at nine times the rate of nonIndigenous Canadians, according to the Canadian Council for Indigenous Business

Advice for entrepreneurs

“I get excited about the potential that exists when businesses work closely in step with the community,” Eni says

You might be wondering how Eni managed to accomplish so much She says, “You can not do it alone Surround yourself with a knowledgeable, broad and varied network of people who can challenge your thinking on how to move towards your professional purpose That means being open to hearing perspectives and advice that might be different from your own world view sometimes. When youre able to do so, remember to reach back and pay it forward by sharing your time, knowledge and support with the next generation of entrepreneurs so that your success can have a multiplier effect for the broader community at large ”


Dr Georgette Zinaty brings her expertise in Diversity and Inclusion to our leadership consultancy and training initiatives Dr Zinaty has been an executive and senior leader at the University of Toronto An alumna of the University of Toronto, Dr Zinaty holds a Bachelor degree in English and Political Science, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Liverpool, a Master’s of Science from the Henley School of Business and a certificate on “Leading Strategic Change within Organizations” from Harvard University

She holds a Doctorate in Business Administration a joint program with the Rotman School of Business and the Henley School of Business Dr Zinaty’s research focuses on business leadership, diversity, inclusion and the future of leadership.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

Strength is reflected in strengthening others, which is why entrepreneurs often start a support group; they need support from their peers to navigate the uncertainties of business ventures

One woman entrepreneur who’s making waves in this arena is Dr Georgette Zinaty, who has an MBA, MSc, and DBA Dr Georgette is a prominent figure in the fields of corporate leadership and diversity and inclusion (D&I) This is the reason why she is named the July Business Woman of the Month for her incredible journey and accomplishments What’s more, Dr Georgette has played a pivotal role in promoting inclusive leadership practices and empowering women in several fields as the creator of WHEW! (Women Helping Empower Women), an organization that aims to do just that

A Promising Career and Academic Path

As a matter of fact, her academic trajectory is as impressive as her professional accomplishments Dr Georgette holds degrees from the University of Toronto in English and Political Science, the University of Liverpool in Master of Business Administration, the Henley School of Business in Master of Science, and Harvard University's Leading Strategic Change within Organizations certificate. Her pursuit of knowledge also led her to be a doctoral candidate in a collaborative program between the Henley School of Business and the Rotman School of Business, where she earned her business administration degree

Positions Held by Leaders and Their Results

So, what really distinguished Dr Georgette? Her outstanding leadership talents in several executive roles over her 20 years of service at the University of Toronto During her tenure at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC), she oversaw development and alumni relations and was also the head of the engineering faculty's advancement department She oversaw campaigns that surpassed their objectives, created groundbreaking programming, and greatly increased alumni participation in her previous positions

Dr.Georgette'spioneering researchincorporate leadership,diversityand inclusion,andfuture leadershippotentialhas solidifiedherasaleading figureinherfield.Combining quantitativeandqualitative methods,herresearchhas significantlyilluminatedthe importanceofdiversityin organizationalperformance andwomen'sleadership roles.

While serving as the Director for the University of Toronto Awards and Honours in the Office of the Vice President, Research, Dr. Georgette was instrumental in elevating the institution's profile on a global scale and in setting benchmarks for success In fact, she has also been an active leader outside of academia, having served on the Advisory Board at the University of Liverpool and the Business Excellence Awards Committee of the Toronto Region Board of Trade

Promoter and Trailblazer in the Field of Women's Empowerment

Interestingly enough, initiating WHEW! Women Helping Empower Women demonstrates Dr Georgette's dedication to women ' s empowerment and leadership This charitable organization's mission is to promote gender equality via its many activities and services for women On top of that, she was instrumental in establishing the Leader-2-Leader conference, an annual event that promotes inclusive leadership techniques and encourages dialogue on workforce-related issues

The Canadian Immigrant designated her an "Immigrant Woman of Inspiration" in 2018, and she has won other accolades for her efforts in the workplace and at universities, including the Stepping Up Award for Innovation and the Canadian University Productivity Award (More recent awards include the CILAR Aspiring Innovator of the Year Award. This inaugural annual award recognizes Black, Indigenous Peoples, and People of Colour who are aspiring innovators from across Canada positively impacting their communities and demonstrating great innovations and the Remarkable Citizen Award in Ontario as well as the Heritage Hero Award in Mississauga Most recently, she has been awarded the Inspirational Leader Award by CSPN.

As the Founder WHEW! Women Helping Empower Women, Dr. Zinaty published a book on the scarcity of women and diversity in leadership called Why Not YOU? where 100% of all the profits go to support WHEW!

This and myriads of other acclamations reflect Dr Georgette’s sincere efforts towards a more equitable business ecosystem for the progress of the Canadian economy

Check out Dr. Georgette’s official website here for more information about her initiatives.

CanadianSME Magazine is a valuable treasure trove of entrepreneurial knowledge Click here to subscribe to our monthly editions for updates on Canadian businesses Follow our handle @canadian sme on X to stay current on all current business trends and developments



LouiseSouthallonThriving AmidstEconomicShifts

In a detailed interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Louise Southall, Economist & Small Business Specialist at Xero, explored the implications of the recent Bank of Canada's rate cut to 4 75% on small businesses across Canada Louise emphasized that while the rate cut is a positive signal, its immediate impact on small businesses might be minimal due to the lag between rate changes and their effects on economic activity However, she noted the potential for an "announcement effect" that could boost consumer confidence and, subsequently, spending Focusing on sectors like hospitality and personal services, which are sensitive to economic fluctuations, Louise pointed out these areas might see more immediate benefits from increased consumer spending. Despite the uncertainties, she advised small businesses to leverage digital tools and work closely with financial advisors to navigate the changing economic landscape effectively. This strategic approach could help stabilize and potentially grow their operations amidst ongoing economic volatility.

Economist and Small Business Specialist at Xero

Louise Southall is Xero’s Economist Louise joined Xero in mid-2020 as part of the Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) team The XSBI program uses anonymized and aggregated data from the Xero platform to inform decision-makers about the latest trends in the small business economy in order to support small businesses

She has almost 30 years of experience in economics and business advocacy working with multiple business organizations, councils, government agencies and charities. Her work has covered a broad range of economic and business-related policy issues, membership projects and thought-leadership research. She has a Masters of Economics from Macquarie University and a Bachelor of Economics (hons) from the University of Newcastle.

As Xero's Economist, how do you anticipate the Bank of Canada's recent rate cut to 4.75% will affect the operational and financial strategies of Canada's small businesses in the near term?

The Bank of Canada’s decision to cut interest rates will be welcome news for many Canadian small businesses, particularly given rates had previously been held at a 22-year high on six consecutive occasions since July 2023 That said, the decision represents a single cut after an extended period of record-high rates, and we know that rate cuts can take between 12 and 18 months to fully flow through to consumers and small businesses As a result, small businesses may not feel a huge direct impact in the near term

There are likely to also be positive "announcement effects" from the interest rate cut that may give some businesses a slight bump. Consumers often respond positively to the start of rate-cutting cycles, which is likely to provide a confidence boost to both small businesses and their customers

Overall, this decision should start to at least ease the squeeze on both household budgets and small businesses and hopefully, it will mean that Canadians will soon have a bit more available to spend in their local businesses

Following the rate cut, what kind of immediate financial relief can Canadian small businesses expect? Are there particular sectors that might benefit more than others?

As mentioned, many small businesses will not experience an immediate lift following the decision and will need to wait for consumer spending to catch back up in the coming months However, this rate cut is likely to benefit some sectors more than others

The decision will be particularly beneficial for small businesses selling discretionary products and services (i e non-essentials) These types of businesses tend to be more sensitive to interest rate hikes and will be hoping that customers now have a bit extra to spend in their business Examples include hospitality businesses, arts and recreation, and personal services such as hairdressers and beauticians

With the latest XSBI data indicating some struggles but also signs of resilience among Canadian small businesses, how might the recent rate cut shift the economic outlook for these businesses over the next few months?

It's true that the latest Xero Small Business Insights data showed some stabilization of sales, despite ongoing challenges Canadian small business sales fell 3 8% year-over-year in the December quarter and have been lower than the same month in the previous year for nine consecutive months (i e April 2023 - December 2023) However, the sales decline was less than in previous quarters, a signal that positive growth could be on the horizon

It’s too early to speculate on how this rate change will impact the overall economic outlook for Canadian small businesses in the future. However, now that the Bank of Canada has kicked off a rate-cutting cycle, we will be keeping a close eye on the impact of this rate cut on future Canadian small business sales data to see if it has an impact on their bottom line In any case, a cut of any size is likely to have a direct positive impact on small businesses as it relates to their own borrowing costs, which will be encouraging for many companies.

When cash flows are tight, small businesses should take every opportunity to encourage faster payment times from their customers. This could look like including additional accepted payment methods or easy-to-use payment systems that work in tandem with invoicing software. When consumer spending is low, tactics that get more customers through the door, like loyalty programs or special discounts, can also help boost short-term revenue and customer loyalty.

What long-term financial planning strategies should Canadian small businesses consider to safeguard against similar economic fluctuations in the future?

When dealing with an unstable market with shifting conditions as a small business owner, we always recommend working with an accredited accountant or bookkeeping professional who can review your business’s financial data and provide an expert

recommendation based on your particular case in realtime. A savvy accountant can give you strategic advice tailored to your specific business needs and the current market conditions, and help identify opportunities to save money or boost revenue They can also help introduce digital accounting and tax tools, so you have full visibility of your books at all times and can help remove or automate administrative tasks that distract you from your core business


Dr Matthew Chow from TELUS Health discussed with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine the significant issue of employee burnout in Canada, as highlighted by the TELUS Health Mental Health Index The survey shows that 42% of Canadian workers experience mental or physical exhaustion daily, with younger employees under 40 feeling the effects more acutely This has major implications for small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), which may lack the resources of larger corporations to address these challenges effectively. Matthew emphasizes the potential of AI in mitigating workplace mental health issues by offering personalized support and reducing administrative burdens, particularly in high-stress sectors. For SMEs, leveraging AI and fostering a supportive, flexible work environment are key strategies to combat burnout and enhance overall workplace well-being

TELUS Health's Latest Survey Combating Burnout in SMEs:

Strategies from

Dr Matthew Chow is Chief Mental Health Officer at TELUS Health, a global health care leader and one of the largest providers of physical, mental, and financial wellbeing services in the world

By the time he was forty, Dr Chow had served as founding medical director of e-Mental Health Services and Strategy at BC Children's Hospital He had also co-chaired the BC Specialist Services Committee to improve medical, surgical, diagnostic, and mental health services in a partnership between government and physicians. Dr. Chow has overseen more than $3 billion in annual public health care spending as a member of the Medical Services Commission of BC and has led 14,000 physicians through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and a year of unprecedented climaterelated disasters as President of Doctors of BC.

Dr. Chow's personal mission is to enable people to make their highest and best possible contribution to their communities This aligns with TELUS Health's strategic intent to be the most trusted wellbeing company in the world by empowering people to live healthier lives

Dr Chow and his colleagues weave together 'high touch' and 'high tech' a global team of compassionate human beings empowered by digital technologies to create remarkable wellbeing experiences for people worldwide

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Given the challenges highlighted in the Mental Health Index, what specific strategies can smaller companies implement to combat employee burnout and to effectively introduce AI tools that support mental health?

What implications do the survey ' s findings have on small and medium-sized enterprises? How might these businesses be uniquely affected by the trends observed in the survey?

Given their size, SMEs often have closer-knit teams, meaning the impact of burnout can be more acutely felt across the organization The loss of productivity and the potential for increased turnover can be particularly disruptive Additionally, SMEs may not have the same level of resources as larger corporations to have other team members jump in to support gaps in productivity due to a lack of motivation and burnout

Encourage regular check-ins and open communication about workload and mental health.

Offer flexible work arrangements to help employees manage personal demands and work-life balance

Provide access to mental health resources, such as the TELUS Health Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which offers personalized support and counselling with 24/7 access in whichever way they prefer

Be open with employees about how the business will use AI and encourage a culture of experimentation so colleagues feel they can learn to use it without the fear of making mistakes

How do you envision AI contributing to solving challenges related to workplace mental health? What are some examples of AI-driven initiatives that TELUS Health is exploring or has already implemented?

AI has the potential to play a transformative role in addressing workplace mental health challenges By leveraging its capabilities for advanced data analysis and pattern recognition, AI can provide personalized support and predictive insights that are essential for early intervention and prevention of mental health issues, including burnout AI is particularly relevant in high-stress environments such as healthcare, where it can reduce the administrative burden on professionals, allowing them to focus more on patient care and less on paperwork Yet using AI to do more admin-type tasks is something businesses across industries can embrace

AtTELUSHealth,weareactivelyexploringand mentingAI-driveninitiativestosupport alhealthintheworkplace.Onebeingthe HealthWellbeingplatform,whichis nedtohelporganizationscultivatea hy,engagedandproductiveworkforce.The rmprovidesuserswithawellbeingscore, withgamifiedchallenges,socialtools,and lthofhealth-relatedcontentwhich rageactiveemployeeengagement. er,theWorkplaceStrategyIndexforMental henablesorganizationstoassessand ncetheirmentalhealthsupportstrategies. ndexisatestamenttoourcommitmentto fyingandpromotingthemosteffective nsforworkplacementalhealth,anditis ntlyavailableatnocosttobothclientsand lientsofTELUSHealth. Theenthusiasmfor ongworkersunder40,asindicatedbythe isapromisingsignthatthefuture workforceisreadytoembracethese technologies.AtTELUSHealth,weareexcitedto beattheforefrontofthistransformation, ensuringthatourAIinitiativescontribute positivelytoworkplacementalhealth.

What opportunities do you see for employers, especially in smaller-sized companies, to leverage these insights to enhance their worrkplace environment and support their employees' mental health and overall well-being?

Employers in smaller-sized companies can leverage these insights to enhance their workplace environment by:

Implementing AI tools that can help manage workload and provide mental health support

Creating a culture that values continuous learning and upskilling, particularly in AI to keep employees engaged and motivated

Utilizing platforms like TELUS Health Wellbeing to engage employees in their health and wellbeing actively

Lucas Matheson

DiscussesCoinbase'sImpacton CanadianCryptoRegulations

In an interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Lucas Matheson, CEO of Coinbase Canada, shared insights into Coinbase's recent registration as the first international cryptocurrency exchange in Canada This milestone, Lucas noted, marks a significant step toward regulated and secure cryptocurrency transactions, aligning with Canadian users ' desire for more regulated exchanges He emphasized the importance of this registration in allowing Coinbase to introduce more complex products in the Canadian market and work closely with trusted Canadian institutions. Highlighting the robust security measures and compliance protocols Coinbase has implemented, Lucas affirmed the company ' s commitment to creating a safer and more equitable financial system through blockchain technology. With a focus on educating Canadians about the benefits of cryptocurrency and navigating regulatory complexities, Coinbase aims to foster a more inclusive and technologically advanced financial landscape in Canada

CEO, Coinbase Canada

Coinbase recently became the first international cryptocurrency exchange registered in Canada. What does this achievement mean for the Canadian crypto landscape, and how does it impact Coinbase's Canadian users?

Lucas Matheson is the CEO of Coinbase Canada He is committed to helping create a more equitable financial system in Canada through the power of blockchain Lucas has always believed in Coinbase’s mission He opened his Coinbase account back in 2014, long before joining the company In his role, he ensures Coinbase is built for Canadians and with their interests in mind Working with partners, government and regulators, he is making crypto more accessible to Canadians. Prior to Coinbase, he was the founder and CEO of Pinshape (exit Formlabs), and Senior Director at Shopify leading various operational and finance teams. Lucas is passionate about entrepreneurship. He spends his spare time advising entrepreneurs and founders on how they can grow and scale, and actively invests in web3 projects and infrastructure.

Coinbase’s registration with the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) as a Restricted Dealer reinforces our commitment to Canada and our efforts to update Canada’s financial system We believe regulation is the key to success for the crypto industry in Canada We know it’s important to Canadians too – 72 per cent of Canadians told us that the regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges is important to them As a Restricted Dealer, Coinbase can also now work more closely with some of Canada’s most trusted organizations and introduce more complex products into the Canadian market

What strategies is Coinbase Canada implementing to ensure a robust and safe platform for Canadian users? How does this commitment align with your broader vision of creating a more equitable financial system in Canada through blockchain?

Coinbase was founded over a decade ago and has a long history of supporting customers around the world In that time, we have built the most sophisticated, safest and trusted digital asset platform in crypto by investing in systems to combat money laundering, and developing best practices for data and reporting compliance We use state-ofthe-art encryption and have a number of powerful security features including know your customer verification, automatic two-factor authentication, password protection and multi-approval withdrawals With our registration, we are excited to open the door to a better, faster, more accessible financial system to even more Canadians.

With the ongoing legal and regulatory complexities in the crypto industry, how does Coinbase Canada navigate these challenges?

We’ve been committed to working with Canadian regulators and government for years, and we firmly believe that regulation is the key to growing the crypto industry in Canada It’s clear that Canadians agree Nearly a third of Canadians (29%) told us they would be more inclined to buy cryptocurrency if there was more regulation in the industry Registration is just the latest step in our ongoing collaboration with regulators to help make Canada a leader in the crypto economy

Many Canadians are still hesitant to invest in digital assets. How do you plan to educate and encourage them to explore the benefits of cryptocurrency? What role do you see the Canadian government playing in this educational effort?

We believe that crypto is the future of money and it’s here to stay We see crypto as any asset class and investors are increasingly recommending exposure to crypto to diversify their assets It's important to remember that crypto is still a relatively new technology. Two-thirds of Canadian crypto owners first bought, sold or traded crypto within the past three years. We are focused on making it as easy as possible for Canadians to access the crypto economy and helping Canadians understand why the world is moving digital The easiest way to learn crypto is by using it - many Canadians start in our self custody wallet earning free crypto through quests and rewards

Given the rapid evolution of technology and finance, what trends do you foresee in the future of the financial landscape in Canada? How does Coinbase plan to adapt and lead in this evolving environment?

There has been an increasing awareness of crypto among Canadians and Canada boasts a tech ecosystem that has the potential to be a leader in the global crypto economy Canada is ranked as Coinbase’s third-most crypto-aware nation globally and our research shows that the existing financial system is not working for everyone 86% of Canadians feel that the system could use an update and 66% of Canadians believe new technology is the key to improving the system We’re excited to continue working with partners across Canada to accelerate the adoption of digital assets, foster economic empowerment, and reshape the financial system

In a recent interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Balaji Gopalan, CoFounder and CEO of MedStack, shed light on the powerful convergence of healthcare and technology through his company ' s innovative platform. MedStack, born out of Balaji’s vision and his co-founder's shared experiences in the tech industry, addresses the stringent demands of data security and privacy within the digital health sector. By leveraging his extensive background in software ecosystems, Balaji has positioned MedStack as a crucial facilitator in simplifying the integration of digital health technologies MedStack’s platform is meticulously designed to ensure compliance with the highest standards of data security and privacy, enabling rapid adoption of technologies in healthcare settings This has fundamentally changed how hospitals and clinics overcome barriers to adopting new technologies, emphasizing a secure and efficient approach to digital health solutions Looking ahead, Balaji envisions MedStack playing a pivotal role in the future landscape of healthcare technology, advocating for equitable healthcare access and supporting the broader integration of cloud-based, realtime digital solutions to enhance patient care across diverse communities.

RoleinTransforming HealthcarewithSecure DigitalSolutions

Balaji leads business development and strategy at MedStack and is an expert in building software platform ecosystem businesses across a wide range of industries. He is a strong advocate for the role of ecosystems in industry transformation and in tackling tough problems like improving healthcare Balaji is a 15-year veteran in product management and a well-respected startup educator and advisor He is the proud recipient of Founder Institute’s Global Startup Mentor Award for Canada’s Most Supportive Mentor

Could you share your journey toward cofounding MedStack and what inspired you to focus specifically on enhancing data security and privacy in the digital health sector?

I’ve always believed that innovation and entrepreneurship are best applied towards solving large, lofty, societal-level problems and that system platforms in particular play a key role in unlocking these innovation pipelines I share the sentiment of many that the friction in healthcare systems, here in Canada and elsewhere, is one of our greatest challenges, and that “health concerns ” have now seeped into all facets of life In conversations with innovators in this field, I discovered that despite the emergence of significant technological advancements, digital health companies are faced with enormous barriers to entry related to data privacy and security expectations, given that health data is the most sensitive data in the world As a platform strategist, this is where I wished to apply my experience and insight

How over heal clini

Heal very and priva care outc and tech heal earli indu crea wate solvi platf heal and guar data mea ente prot and proc Med priva are s in m and privacy, and how does your platform simplify compliance for healthcare applications?

Data security and privacy is a complex space, and it means different things to different people Our entire team at MedStack is diligently focused on our mission to speed the adoption of digital health by driving more consistent, robust and transparent standards of trust, in turn making healthcare better, more affordable and more equitable. To accomplish this, we zero in on the critical juncture at which data security and privacy is

evaluated: the point of enterprise partnership Over the years we have scanned, evaluated, aggregated and reverse-engineered a great number of security assessment processes to determine their commonalities, and with each subsequent review we do on behalf of our customers that database becomes more robust Of course, the challenge faced by any platform is that you ’ re introducing users to new workflows, even if the interfaces are familiar. This is why, this year in particular, we ’ ve doubled-down on developer productivity and benefits


How do you envision the future of healthcare technology evolving, particularly with the integration of cloud-based, real-time digital solutions? What role will MedStack play in this future landscape?

We knew when starting out that we’d be taking on a very big mission and an evolving, challenging and difficult-to-itemize problem But it didn’t take long in looking just at the evolution of healthcare itself, as patients, healthcare workers and family members thereof, to realize that this wasn’t going to be a fleeting opportunity In Canada, the US and elsewhere, the % of GDP annually spent on healthcare has been going up for the past few decades, and only continues to do so And a very large portion of that spend is driven by patients and their families’ needs in longer-term journeys: chronic conditions, aging, mental illness, social determinants of health, etc. On the other side of this we see physician and

nurse burnout and access inequity at alarming rates It is the freeing of data, the protection and trust and privacy ownership of that data in the process, faster analysis and automated responses to that analysis based on multivariate precedent that will enable us to wrap around this growing challenge If we can help more things get built, funded and commercialized, more inventors, architects, creators, data scientists and technologists more willing to take on healthcare as a space, then that’s a very important role for us to play That’s our measure

The WHO constitution highlights health as a fundamental right without distinction. How does MedStack ensure its solutions contribute to equitable healthcare access and address the disparities in health services delivery?

I’m so proud of the fact that so many of our customers, those creating new digital health solutions for patients, families, caregivers, providers, pharmacists and researchers, are inspired by the needs of health equity to do what they do Digital health can be a powerful tool in the redistribution of care, from providing virtual care to patients in remote communities, to ensuring care outcomes for those with speech and language barriers, to rethinking machine learning models to work with broader data sets that ensure more representation and fairness These stories, those of our actual customers today, inspire the whole MedStack team to do what we do. Digital health, in this digital world, can widen the space of healthcare for more equity, but of course, we continue to encourage our community to plan their innovations and business models with fairness in mind, to ensure that technology works for everyone who needs these outcomes

KevinWinters onSteeringLittleCaesars' GrowthAcrossCanadian UrbanCenters

Franchise Development Manager at Little Caesars Canada

In an insightful interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Kevin Winters, Franchise Development Manager at Little Caesars Canada, discussed the strategic methodologies behind the brand's expansion in key Canadian markets like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Atlantic Canada. With a focus on aligning location selection with Little Caesars' growth objectives, Kevin highlighted the importance of a data-driven approach that incorporates demographic trends, traffic patterns, and competitive landscapes This meticulous process ensures each new location offers high visibility and accessibility, crucial for meeting and exceeding customer expectations Kevin also touched on how innovations like the Pizza Portal® are reshaping customer interactions by providing convenience and efficiency Further, he addressed the broader trends driving the QSR industry in Canada, such as the increasing demand for convenience, health-conscious options, and digital solutions, and how Little Caesars is adapting to these demands with strategic menu adaptations and technological enhancements The company ' s commitment to supporting multi-unit operators through rigorous selection processes and substantial backing emphasizes its dedication to long-term growth and operational excellence in the Canadian market.

Kevin Winters is a seasoned professional in the restaurant industry, boasting over a decade of experience. After earning his Bachelors degree from the University of Guelph, majoring in Real Estate, he honed his skills at Recipe Unlimited Corporation (formerly CARA), where he held various roles spanning Real Estate, Portfolio Management, and Franchise Development for both Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) and Full-Service Restaurant (FSR) concepts nationwide

In June 2023, Kevin joined Little Caesars Pizza as a Development Manager, entrusted with leading New Store Growth strategies across Canada With a dynamic background in real estate and franchise development, Kevin is driving innovation and fostering partnerships to expand Little Caesars market presence and franchise network in Canada. His passion for the industry, coupled with his strategic vision, positions him as a key driver of Little Caesars success in the Canadian market.

With your extensive background in real estate and franchise development, how do you align location selection with Little Caesars' strategic growth objectives across Canadian markets like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal?

At Little Caesars, our strategic growth objectives are centered on expanding our footprint in key Canadian markets like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Atlantic Canada To align our location selection with these objectives, we leverage a data-driven approach combined with local market insights We analyze demographic trends, traffic patterns, and competitive landscapes to identify prime locations that offer high visibility and accessibility.

Forexample,indenselypopulatedurbancenterslike TorontoandMontreal,weprioritizehigh-trafficareas neartransportationhubs,schools,andresidential neighborhoodstomaximizeconvenienceforour customers.InVancouver,wherethereisastrong emphasisonlifestyleandoutdooractivities,wefocuson locationsthatcatertobothresidentialcommunitiesand touristattractions.Bytailoringourapproachtothe uniquecharacteristicsofeachmarket,weensurethat ourlocationsnotonlymeetbutexceedcustomer expectations,drivingbothfoottrafficandsales.

Little Caesars is known for its innovation, especially with technologies like the Pizza Portal®. Can you discuss how these innovations are shaping customer experiences and what new advancements we might expect in the near future?

Little Caesars has always been at the forefront of innovation in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry Our Pizza Portal® is a prime example of how we are enhancing customer experiences through technology This self-service pick-up station allows customers to place orders online and retrieve them from the Pizza Portal® using a secure code, minimizing wait times, and providing a seamless, contactless experience Our team is always looking for ways lead the industry in technology and innovation.

What major trends are currently driving the increased demand for QSR options in Canada, and how is Little Caesars positioning itself to capitalize on these trends?

Several major trends are driving the increased demand for QSR options in Canada, including convenience, healthconscious dining, and digital transformation Consumers are seeking quick, affordable, and high-quality meals that fit their busy lifestyles

Little Caesars is positioning itself to capitalize on these trends through various initiatives Our "Hot-N-Ready" model addresses the demand for convenience by offering freshly prepared pizzas that are ready for immediate pick-up To cater to health-conscious consumers, we are continuously making sure our menu includes fresh, more nutritious options and transparent ingredient sourcing

Moreover, our investment in digital platforms enhances the overall customer experience By offering online ordering, delivery services, and the innovative Pizza Portal®, we meet the growing demand for digital convenience These efforts ensure that we stay ahead of market trends and continue to attract a diverse customer base.

Could you elaborate on Little Caesars' approach to selecting and supporting multiunit operators? What makes a candidate stand out for potential expansion opportunities?

At Little Caesars, we believe that the success of our franchisees directly contributes to the overall success of our brand Therefore, we have a rigorous process for selecting and supporting multi-unit operators We look for candidates with a proven track record in business management, a strong financial background, and a passion for operational excellence

A standout candidate for potential expansion opportunities is someone who demonstrates a deep understanding of the QSR industry and a commitment to maintaining our high standards of quality and service We provide comprehensive training programs, ongoing support, and access to cutting-edge technologies to ensure our operators are wellequipped to manage multiple locations successfully

By fostering a collaborative relationship with our multi-unit operators, we ensure that they are aligned with our strategic objectives and positioned for long-term success

From your journey in the QSR industry, what have been some key lessons learned, and how do they inform your strategies at Little Caesars? Additionally, what are some upcoming projects or initiatives at Little Caesars that you are particularly excited about

Some of the key lessons we have discovered with Little Caesars in Canada is that our guests want convenience, value, and quality offerings As there are many new and existing QSR options for a Canadian consumer across the nation, it is imperative for our operations to ensure they are Hot N Ready and provide a consistent experience. As Canada continues to open new traditional locations, we are also exploring and beginning to gain traction with the express or non-traditional segment of gas and convenience offerings Although Canada already operates a few express locations today, this segment has a strong runway to market underserviced areas while delivering the same experience and quality offering ExcitinginitiativesfortheLittleCaesarsbrandinCanada areofferingmulti-unitincentiveprogramsfornewor existingpartners.Wewanttohelpsupportthosethat haveanaggressivevisiontogrowthebrandonamultiunitscale.LittleCaesarsinCanadaisalsotakingthe initiativetosoonofferaveteranandfirstresponders’ program.TheLittleCaesarsbrandisconsideredalegacy franchiseopportunityandmodel,andsupporting throughincentivesorothernewofferingsisanotherway forLittleCaesarstohelpsupportandgrowournetwork.


Founder of The Microdose Diet

In an interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Peggy Van de Plassche discussed her transition from a successful career in finance and venture capitalism to founding The Microdose Diet Peggy's move to the burgeoning field of psychedelics highlights her dedication to wellness and innovation Driven by the profound personal benefits she experienced from microdosing psilocybin, Peggy's shift is not just a personal revolution but a strategic embrace of an emerging wellness trend At The Microdose Diet, she aims to democratize microdosing, making it an accessible part of daily wellness routines, thus addressing mental health crises and enhancing daily functioning for many.

Peggy VandePlassche onInnovatingWellness ThroughPsychedelics

Peggy Van de Plassche spent 20 years in the financial services and technology industries as an executive, venture capitalist, board member, advisor, entrepreneur and public speaker She sat on the boards of prestigious organizations, such as Invest In Canada, worked with first-class financial institutions, such as BMO, CIBC, OMERS and Power Financial Corporation, and spoke at global events, such as Collision

Peggy now focuses her time and energy on the psychedelic industry

She is the founder of The Microdose Diet, a holistic protocol based on the combination of alternative medicines, including microdosing psilocybin, that aims at rewiring the brain, calming the body, mastering the emotions and raising the energy to reach more success.

Her book, MORE! The Microdose Diet – The 90 day plan for More Success, Passion, and Happiness will be published in May 2024 by Simon & Schuster

Peggy launched The Brain Power Microdose, a premium microdosing product that helps support memory, mental focus, stamina, cognitive health, mood & brain functions, while relieving symptoms of stress & anxiety

Her online course “The Microdose Diet for Career Growth” will launch early May

An experienced public speaker, she participated in more than 50 global events from NYC, Toronto and Bogota to Amsterdam, San Francisco and Zurich Peggy’s latest speaking engagement on “Microdosing for More Success, Passion and Happiness” has generated tremendous engagement from all genders, age groups and professional occupations.

What inspired your transition from a successful career in finance and venture capitalism to focusing on the psychedelic industry, specifically the development of The Microdose Diet?

The transition might seem surprising, but it was driven by two powerful motivators

First, the impact of The Microdose Diet on my life was extraordinary My performance, mental wellness, and overall zest for life skyrocketed. I knew I had to share this transformative program with a wider audience to help others experience these incredible benefits

Second, my background as an early-stage investor taught me to spot emerging trends, and psychedelics are the next big thing These tools have immense potential, and were just beginning to explore their possibilities Joining this industry felt like a chance to drive more success, passion, and happiness in the world

For those unfamiliar, could you explain what microdosing involves, particularly with psilocybin, and why you chose this specific psychedelic for your wellness regimen?

Microdosing involves taking tiny, sub-perceptual doses of psychedelics like psilocybin (from magic mushrooms) or LSD These doses, typically about 1/10th to 1/20th of a recreational dose, don't induce intense hallucinations Instead, they offer subtle benefits such as enhanced creativity, improved mood, increased focus, and overall mental well-being without disrupting daily life.

For psilocybin, a typical microdose is around 100mg taken every 2-3 days The key to optimizing the benefits lies in a mindful and strategic approach, which is the essence of The Microdose Diet

I chose psilocybin for several reasons: it's natural, widely accessible, and affordable This makes it an ideal choice for integrating into a wellness regimen

I'mincrediblyfortunateto haveexperiencedthe

benefitsofpsychedelics firsthand,andI’m committedto democratizing microdosingpsilocybin asamainstream wellnessroutine.


Can you share some of the key professional and personal improvements you ' ve observed since incorporating microdosing into your routine?

I've seen tremendous improvements in three key areas since incorporating microdosing into my routine: performance, mental health, and connection to self and others

1) Performance: Microdosing has boosted my focus, creativity, and attention, putting me in a state of flow and significantly increasing my productivity.

2) Mental Health: I've experienced a notable reduction in stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, along with an overall mood lift.

3) Connection to Self and Others: My empathy and compassion have deepened, enhancing my relationships both personally and professionally.

These benefits seamlessly enhance leadership, teamwork, and family dynamics, making a positive impact across all areas of life When done consciously, strategically, and with high-quality products, microdosing psilocybin is an incredibly effective tool for personal and professional growth

With your extensive research into the area, what scientific evidence can you discuss that supports the benefits of microdosing for mental and physical health?

The scientific community is increasingly interested in the potential benefits of microdosing for mental and physical health The growing body of evidence suggests significant potential for microdosing as a tool for enhancing mental and physical health Here are some key points supported by recent research:

1) Mental Health:

Depression and Anxiety: A study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found that individuals who microdosed reported lower levels of depression and anxiety compared to non-microdosers. This suggests that microdosing may help alleviate symptoms of these mental health conditions

Mood Enhancement: Research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry highlighted that microdosing can lead to mood improvements and a greater sense of well-being

2) Cognitive Function:

Enhanced Creativity and Problem-Solving: Studies, such as those in Nature: Scientific Reports, indicate that microdosing can enhance creativity, problem-solving abilities, and divergent thinking Participants reported feeling more creative and able to approach problems from new perspectives

Focus and Productivity: Preliminary findings from various studies suggest that microdosing can improve focus, attention, and productivity, allowing individuals to enter a state of "flow" more easily

3) Physical Health:

Reduced Inflammation: Some research suggests that psychedelics, including psilocybin, have anti-inflammatory properties A study in Cell Reports showed that psychedelics can reduce inflammation at the cellular level, which may have implications for overall physical health and chronic pain management

Neuroplasticity: Research published in Cell Reports also found that psychedelics can promote neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to form new neural connections This can potentially aid in recovery from brain injuries and improve cognitive function over time.

4) Connection and Empathy:

Improved Social Connection: A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology reported that microdosing can enhance feelings of social connectedness and empathy Participants felt more connected to others and reported improved social interactions

Microdosing still faces skepticism and legal hurdles. What are the potential risks and common misconceptions associated with microdosing, and how do you address these in your advocacy and educational efforts?

Microdosing faces skepticism and legal hurdles due to outdated stigma from the 70s and a lack of education. Common misconceptions include confusing microdosing with macrodosing, leading to fears of hallucinations and misuse The reality is that microdosing involves tiny, subperceptual doses that enhance mental wellness without impairing daily function

Potential risks include improper dosing and lack of quality control, which is why education and responsible use are crucial Im actively addressing these issues through advocacy and education through my own platform, The Microdose Diet, and as a newly appointed board member of MAPS Canada, a leader in psychedelic research and public awareness

Organizations like MAPS and the Microdosing Collective are pivotal in spreading accurate information and advocating for sensible regulation Despite slow progress from Health Canada, the initial studies are promising, showing benefits like improved mood, focus, and reduced anxiety

We'reovercomingthesetbacksoftheWaronDrugs bypushingforwardwithresearch,education,and compassion.Thebenefitsofmicrodosingaretoo significanttoignore,andIamcommittedtobringing thisknowledgetotheforefront.

She is active on social media – Substack, Linkedin, Apple Podcast, YouTube and IG, – with more than 40k subscribers and followers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT: You can pre-order “MORE! The Microdose Diet – The 90 day plan for More Success, Passion, and Happiness” on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

SimranKang: UsingMyFOtoRevolutionize WealthManagement

CEO & Founder at MyFO

Small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners are essentially running a family office, whether they know it or not The major difference between an SME owner and a traditional family office is that for an SME owner, their major investment is in one asset: a core business The financial health of any enterprise is crucial, often presenting a challenging landscape for business owners Navigating this terrain requires reliable finance and wealth management strategies

The First Step Towards Digitization

During her tenure at PwC, Simran Kang not only identified the fragmented and cumbersome nature of conventional wealth management but also experienced it firsthand while running a successful multi-family office Families often relied on various tech stacks and siloed solutions to manage the numerous operational aspects of a family office, leading to inefficiencies, high costs, and cumbersome management. "Managingdiverseassets,staying compliant,andintegratingmultiple toolswereconstantchallenges," Simranrecalls."Itwasclearthere wasasignificantopportunityto innovateandsimplifythese processes. "

This vision led to the creation of MyFO, a unified system for comprehensive asset monitoring and management MyFO’s innovative features and AI-powered tools revolutionize family office management, allowing everyone to manage their finances efficiently and effectively. By centralizing data, MyFO ensures that critical information is always accessible, enhancing both speed and accuracy in financial decisions

For example, a family office previously juggling multiple investment aggregation software, Excel files for reporting, document management and storage systems, and task management software can now use MyFO to streamline all these functions into one platform This not only reduces operational costs by up to 30% but also significantly improves decision-making speed and accuracy

Families no longer need to worry about the inefficiencies of scattered records, piecing together tech solutions and spending time getting organized We often hear from our customers about the frustration of managing fragmented systems and the relief MyFO brings by integrating everything seamlessly

Customer Success

Since implementing MyFO, many family offices and SME owners have reported significant reductions in operational overhead SME owners, in particular, are finding immense value in the platform For instance, they can now ensure that best practices for estate planning are in place, such as having a comprehensive shareholder agreement This not only saves on legal and administrative costs but also keeps documents organized and easily accessible.

Additionally, SME owners can leverage MyFO's business valuation tool to ensure they are appropriately leveraged, tax efficient, and have adequate insurance, providing peace of mind that their business is financially sound and their future is secure By centralizing these critical functions and leveraging direct integrations with accounting platforms, MyFO enables SME owners to focus more on strategic growth rather than getting bogged down by administrative tasks With SME owners able to focus on strategic growth, MyFO provides real-time actionable data insights leveraging a multitude of sources enabling SME owners to make informed decisions faster, demonstrating the transformative power of MyFO in real-world applications

By addressing these core challenges and leveraging cutting-edge technology, MyFO is setting a new standard in the industry It ensures that family offices and SME owners can operate more efficiently, focusing on what truly matters: growing and preserving wealth across generations

Leading the Way in Innovation and Empowerment

Simran Kang's leadership at MyFO is driven by her belief in the transformative power of empowerment and innovation Under her guidance, MyFO has achieved notable milestones, including being featured in Forbes' Family Office Software Round-Up, recognized as one of UBS's Top 10 Female Founders of the Year, and showcased at Morningstar's Fintech Showcase These accolades underscore MyFO's commitment to staying ahead of the curve and continually enhancing its offerings.

MyFO's advanced solutions and state-ofthe-art technologies empower families to take control of their financial futures By providing powerful and accessible tools, MyFO helps users seamlessly navigate the complexities of wealth management Simran's vision for the future of wealth management is rooted in this commitment to empowerment and innovation Her leadership has propelled MyFO to the forefront of the industry, enabling families worldwide to achieve financial independence and setting new standards for excellence in wealth management

Learn more about MyFO’s solutions by visiting their official website here.

CanadianSME Magazine is a valuable treasure trove of entrepreneurial knowledge. Click here to subscribe to our monthly editions for updates on Canadian businesses Follow our handle @canadian sme on X to stay current on all current business trends and developments


MartinFox DiscussesJobRetention inUncertainTimes

Managing Director - Canada at Robert Walters

In an interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Martin Fox, Managing Director - Canada at Robert Walters, discussed the emerging workplace trend he calls "The Big Stay " This phenomenon marks a shift from the "Great Resignation," with employees increasingly choosing to remain in their current positions due to concerns about job security amid economic uncertainty Unlike the resignation wave, where employees sought better pay and opportunities, "The Big Stay" reflects a cautious approach to career moves, influenced by fears of economic downturns and job instability While this trend benefits companies by reducing turnover and retaining experienced staff, it could potentially stifle innovation and slow economic growth by limiting new talent influx and fresh ideas Martin highlighted that a significant percentage of Canadian professionals now prioritize job security over higher salaries, driven by the current economic climate's uncertainties and the rising cost of living.

Martin Fox joined Robert Walters in Dublin in 2006 focusing on recruiting accounting professionals for the financial services sector for 6 years. He then spent 5 years in the Group’s global head office in London (UK) where he started and grew numerous specialised Accountancy & Finance teams before returning home to Toronto to establish RW’s first office in Canada in 2016 The business focuses on recruiting top calibre finance & operations, legal, risk & compliance and technology professionals across the Greater Toronto Area and Canada-wide They offer a highly specialized service to candidates and clients, leveraging the long-established track record the group holds with many of the world's leading institutions

Could you elaborate on the concept of "The Big Stay" that you mentioned? How does this phenomenon contrast with the previously popular "Great Resignation" and what implications does it have for the labor market?

"The Big Stay" is all about employees deciding to remain with their current role and employer due to concerns about job security. This is quite different from the "Great Resignation," where people were leaving jobs in droves for better pay and opportunities What we ' re seeing now is a hesitation to move, driven by economic uncertainty

This trend has its pros and cons On one hand, companies benefit from reduced turnover and the retention of experienced staff On the other hand, it can lead to stagnation, as both employees and companies miss out on the fresh ideas and innovation that come with new hires This could potentially slow down economic growth since labor movement is a key driver of a dynamic economy

Recent studies suggest that a significant percentage of Canadian professionals now value job security more than the potential for higher salaries. What factors do you believe are driving this shift in priorities?

The shift towards valuing job security over higher salaries is largely due to the current economic climate People are cautious about making big changes in uncertain times, and the economic instability we ' ve seen recently has made job stability more appealing Factors like inflation, unemployment concerns, and general economic uncertainty are making employees prioritize a secure job over the potential benefits of a higher salary

The cost of living is also a big factor people need to know they have a steady income to manage their expenses

In what ways do you see the current economic climate influencing professionals' decisions to stay put in their jobs or seek new opportunities?

The current economic climate is making many professionals more cautious about changing jobs With high inflation and fears of a downturn, the security of a known job is very appealing Many are afraid of layoffs, particularly in new positions where they haven't yet built a strong rapport or proven their value

There's also a noticeable decline in new permanent roles, which further discourages job changes In these conditions, staying put feels like the safer bet for many professionals

It's noted that many professionals continue to interview for new roles without the intention of leaving their current positions. What do you think motivates this behavior, and what can employers learn from it to enhance their retention strategies?

When professionals interview for new roles without intending to leave, they're often looking to understand their market value and stay informed about industry trends This behavior shows that while employees appreciate the security of their current job, they are still on the lookout for better opportunities

Employers can take this as a cue to focus on improving job satisfaction through competitive salaries, opportunities for growth, and transparent communication about the company ' s stability and future plans. By addressing these areas, companies can better attract top talent and encourage potential candidates to accept a new job offer.

How important is leadership transparency and communication in maintaining employee loyalty and retention?

Leadership transparency and communication are absolutely crucial for building trust and retaining employees When leaders are open about the company ’ s performance and future prospects, it gives employees a sense of security and belonging Clear and consistent communication helps employees feel aligned with the company ’ s goals and more invested in its success

This level of transparency creates a sense of loyalty and reduces the likelihood of employees looking for opportunities elsewhere

Navigating GenerationalHarmony: StrategiesforManaginga



“I Thought I Was A Leader”

The landscape of Canadian small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) is undergoing a profound demographic shift With millennials and Generation Z comprising a significant portion of todays workforce, business leaders are faced with the challenge and opportunity of managing a multigenerational team effectively


Generational Dynamics in Canadian SMEs

In Canada, the workforce is increasingly diverse in terms of age demographics. Millennials and Gen Z are not only entering but also reshaping the workplace dynamics with their unique perspectives and digital fluency According to recent Canadian labor force statistics, these younger generations are not just employees; they represent the future leaders and innovators of our businesses

Benefits of Embracing Generational Diversity

Embracing generational diversity is more than a strategic choice it's a necessity for fostering innovation and sustainable growth in SMEs Each generation brings distinct strengths to the table While older generations like Boomers and Gen X offer experience and stability, millennials and Gen Z contribute fresh ideas, technological prowess, and a drive for purpose-driven work environments.


Understanding Generational Communication Styles

One of the key challenges in managing a multigenerational workforce lies in navigating diverse communication styles Boomers and Gen X may prefer face-toface interactions and traditional communication methods, whereas millennials and Gen Z often favor digital communication channels like instant messaging and video conferencing Bridging these communication gaps is crucial for enhancing collaboration and productivity across generations.

Building Trust Across Generations

Trust forms the foundation of effective teamwork and collaboration In a multigenerational workplace, building trust requires acknowledging and respecting generational differences Canadian SMEs can foster trust by promoting open communication, encouraging mentorship programs that facilitate knowledge transfer, and creating inclusive environments where every generation feels valued and understood

Mentorship and Knowledge Transfer

Mentorship programs play a pivotal role in bridging generational gaps. These programs not only facilitate the transfer of valuable knowledge and skills from experienced employees to younger counterparts but also promote a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization Canadian SMEs can leverage mentorship to capitalize on generational strengths and drive long-term organizational success


Navigating generational diversity in the workplace is not without its challenges, but Canadian SMEs stand to gain immensely from embracing and leveraging the unique strengths of each generation By fostering an inclusive culture, implementing effective communication strategies, and investing in mentorship programs, SME leaders can build resilient teams capable of driving innovation and achieving sustainable growth in today's rapidly evolving business landscape

As SMEs in Canada continue to adapt to demographic shifts and changing workforce dynamics, the ability to navigate generational harmony will be a critical determinant of organizational success By embracing diversity and fostering an environment where every generation can thrive, Canadian SMEs can position themselves as leaders in innovation and workplace excellence

Scott De Long, Ph D is a renowned author, speaker, educator, and serial entrepreneur with three successful company exits With a doctorate in leadership studies, Scott De Long teaches practical applications of academic theory in communications and entrepreneurship at the university level His latest book, "I Thought I Was A Leader A Journey to Building Trust, Leading Teams & Inspiring Change," reflects his approach to leadership As CEO of Lead2Goals, he provides coaching, counseling, and training for growth-oriented organizations Additionally, he co-hosts The CEO Podcast, discussing pivotal topics for business leaders

For more insightful content, visit http://scottdelong net or catch Scott’s show Lead2Goals and TheCEOpodcast on YouTube You can also stay updated with Scott on Instagram @scottdelongphd

Preserving Family Memories

Amidst the technological storm of digital, somewhere in the middle, emotions and humaneness are lost.

This is why the significance of preserving family stories and legacies has never been more critical than it is in an era where digital distractions are abundant This is where No Story Lost, a unique and innovative venture co-founded by cousins Andrew Hall and Jeremy Bryant, enters the picture Their personal experience underscored the value and challenges of recording their grandfathers life story, which motivated them to develop a service that could help other families do the same

The Origins of No Story Lost

Interestingly enough, No Story Lost's journey began with a deeply personal quest: documenting their grandfather's life story The experience was enriching and illuminated the potential for this endeavour to be timeconsuming and labour-intensive without the right tools and support Fueled by this realization, they established No Story Lost, a company committed to assisting families in preserving their histories through professionally written, designed, and printed memoirs.

In fact, Andrew Hall, the co-founder of No Story Lost, shares a deep love for storytelling and a profound understanding of the human value that these projects hold Outside of work, Andrew enjoys travelling, sports, and spending quality time with friends and family His personal experiences and interests have significantly shaped the company ' s approach to making the preservation of family memories both meaningful and accessible

A Shared Vision and Diverse Expertise

As a matter of fact, Jeremy Bryant's path to co-founding No Story Lost includes a job change motivated by a desire for greater influence Starting out as an auditor at a Big Four accounting company, Jeremy partnered with his cousin Andrew and co-founded Mealshare, a nonprofit supplying approximately 6 million meals to underprivileged youngsters His experience with Mealshare, along with a sabbatical spent designing and building a home, provided Jeremy with the skills and vision required to co-create No Story Lost

What’s more, Jeremy, who resides in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife, Emily, harmoniously balances his professional pursuits and his passion for the outdoors He frequently embarks on hikes in the Rocky Mountains His dedication to purpose and passion has been the impetus behind No Story Lost's mission to assist families in preserving their loved ones ' most meaningful stories, memories, and advice.

Personal Connections and Impactful Storytelling

Manifestly, , No Story Lost offers a distinctive experience that resonates profoundly with families who are interested in preserving their legacies A personal anecdote shared by a client who utilized their service to compose a memoir for their father, Herb Tyler, a cinematographer with a distinguished career in broadcast news, serves as a testament to the influence of their work The culmination of this project was a cherished coffee table book that resulted from extensive recorded audio interviews, the curation of photos, press credentials, and special memories from colleagues

The journey of writing this book for Herb and his daughters was emotional, therapeutic and an illuminating experience of delving deeper into the life of their father The initiative not only captured the spirit of Herb Tyler's career, but it also helped him connect more deeply with himself as a 71-year-old reflecting on his life, and bring new connection, perspective and to his daughters, partner and admiration for his former colleagues and peers in his field This anecdote demonstrates the enormous influence that No Story Lost can have on its customers

Herb Tyler says, "Initially daunted by the idea of documenting my travel tales and cherished memories, the prospect of writing a book seemed overwhelming and unfamiliar It wasn't until a friend mentioned No Story Lost, that everything fell into place With my daughter Ashley's initiative, I connected with their team, where a dedicated producer guided me through weekly interviews, shaping my experiences into structured chapters With the support of a dedicated writer, and the invaluable assistance of my daughter Jacqueline, we transformed drafts into a final printed memoir after meticulous collaboration This concept is fantastic as everyone has a story, big or small that needs to be preserved for their family With the team, and my daughters efforts, we now have memories for years and years to come that are permanently etched in print I was blown away with the finished product "

AndrewandJeremy's businesspartnershiphas receivedsubstantial attention,including appearancesonDragons' Denandbeingonthe backuplistforAmazing RaceCanada.Their commitmenttoassisting hundredsoffamiliesin preservingtheirlegacy demonstratestheir convictioninthepowerof narrative.Ultimately,they havebuiltNoStoryLostto encapsulatethepastinto long-lastingtreasures, promisingthatnostoryis actuallylost.

“Abigsurprisewe’vehadwiththebusinessistherangeof clientsthatwe’vealreadygottentoworkwith.Wewrotea bookaboutatwo-year-old(throughinterviewswithhis parents)andhavealsoworkedwithpeopleintheirlate 90s.We’vehadclientsfromAustralia,tomiddleAmerica, theMiddleEast,Africa…everycontinentactually!In additiontotheCanadiancustomerswesetouttoservein thefirstplace,”Andrewsays.“Thattellsusthereisn’t reallyawrongtimetocapturestories.Ifthere’sa milestonebirthdayoranniversary,that’sgreat-butany timesomeonehasstoriesandgreatexperiences,there’s ameaningfulbookthere.”


Andrew and Jeremy’s favourite part of running No Story Lost (aside from doing strategy sessions together as best pals), is when they get a chance to give feedback on a book and get to read the amazing, funny, heartwarming and intriguing stories that their clients have shared It helps them remember that every person really does have valuable stories to share


Andrew is also a life coach, a practice in which he helps entrepreneurs be happier and get more of what they want. He shares insights from his coaching certification in addition to countless lessons learned from his career, which he has encapsulated in a self-published book

Intrigued? Check out their website here for more information

CanadianSME Magazine is a valuable treasure trove of entrepreneurial knowledge Click here to subscribe to our monthly editions for updates on Canadian businesses. Follow our handle @canadian sme on X to stay current on all current business trends and developments.

Startup Canada announced the top 6 winners of the Startup Global Virtual Pitch Competition, the national qualifier for the 2024 Startup Global Pitch Competition Grand Finale Pitching to a virtual audience on Tuesday, June 25, the six winners included:

Eunice Wu, Co-founder & CEO, Asepha

Daniel Lirette, CEO, GrowDoc App Inc.

Amir Soleimani, Founder & CEO, Tree Track Intelligence Inc.

Helen Yin, Founder & CEO, Inoki Bathhouse Inc.

Athanasios (Thanos) Kritharis, CEO, FIBR.BIO

Azadeh Dastmalchi, Co-founder & CEO, VitalTracer Ltd.

“The annual Startup Global Pitch Competition is a great opportunity for early stage entrepreneurs looking to export their products and/or services outside of Canada,” says Isabel Nolan, Program Manager, Startup Canada “Over the last few years of hosting this event, we have seen entrepreneurs from tech to food and everything in between pitch their businesses for the first time through the Startup Global program It has been exciting to see these entrepreneurs build their confidence and understanding of exporting and go on to grow their businesses internationally!”

On Monday, June 24, 240 Canadian entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and industries participated in a virtual closed-door competition Entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to judges from differing backgrounds in the global market, highlighting the strength of Canadian small businesses Twelve entrepreneurs, each with a unique story and vision, were selected as the finalists and went on to pitch their businesses in a virtual livestream on Tuesday, June 25. Later in the day, our top six finalists were selected.

"I was absolutely blown away by the level of talent and the brilliant ideas showcased by the 12 ambitious Canadian entrepreneurs that pitched. It's not just inspiring but also a fantastic learning experience for me as a judge to see the future of business innovation up close,” shared Daniel Lewis, Co-Founder of Daniel's Chai Bar & PEKOE. “This competition is a game-changer for early stage entrepreneurs, offering invaluable exposure, constructive feedback, and a chance to connect with fellow visionaries. Keep pushing boundaries, and remember, your ideas have the power to change the world!"

The Startup Global Virtual Pitch Competition would not have been possible without the support of our incredible panel of judges A special thank you to our first-round judges, Claudia Worms Sciama, Google Canada; Daniela Tixi, Keiretsu Forum Toronto; Dominic Fielden, Rocky Mountain Flatbread; Enrique Sobalvarro, Enrique Sobalvarro, Advisory Services; Joshe Page, Scotiabank; Jeff Hohn, Trade Commissioner Service; Lora Rigutto, Forum for International Trade Training (FITT); Lucas Alencar, Google Canada; Manish Puri, Google Canada; Reena Khulla, Agilis Executive Consulting; and Zahra Qureshi, Social Venture Circuit for their participation! Our round 2 judges were Molly Middleton, Showrunner and Senior Producer of Dragons' Den and Daniel Lewis, Co-Founder of Daniel's Chai Bar & PEKOE The Startup Global Pitch Competition is presented in partnership with UPS and Export Development Canada

On October 30th, in Kitchener-Waterloo, the top six will compete live among ten finalists from across Canada for a $70,000 cash prize pool The Grand Finale of the 2024 Startup Global Pitch Competition is a mustwatch event, and it will be available to watch live virtually and in person through Startup Canada Tour registration.

RevealsSymcor'sStrategy forOpenBankinginCanada

Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy, Product and Innovation Officer at Symcor

In an enlightening interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Saba Shariff, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy, Product and Innovation Officer at Symcor, delved into the transformative role of COR CONNECT in shaping the Canadian financial landscape. With a rich background in telecommunications and start-ups, Saba's approach to innovation is deeply rooted in a customer-centric philosophy, making her an adept leader in steering Symcor's innovative services. COR.CONNECT, born from this philosophy, is a testament to Symcor's commitment to fostering an interoperable, compliant, and secure Open Banking environment This suite notably simplifies data sharing and connectivity among financial institutions, positioning Symcor as a pivotal player in Canada's financial industry Saba's leadership not only highlights the strategic integration of technology in finance but also underscores her dedication to mentoring the next generation of women in STEM, further amplifying her impact on the industry and beyond

Saba Shariff oversees multiple teams responsible for designing and launching innovative products that address industry-wide challenges, along with a mandate for charting Symcor’s corporate strategy towards continued growth Saba joined Symcor in 2002 and held progressive senior positions thereafter

Prior to joining Symcor, Saba had preceding experience in both start-ups and telecommunications sectors. Named as one of Canada’s Top 50 Women in Fintech in Canada, Saba is a sought-after public speaker who shares insights on topics such as Open Banking, Innovation and Women in Technology in the Canadian financial industry.

Saba obtained her Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English, Rhetoric & Professional Writing from the University of Waterloo Saba is a mentor with Women in Open Banking, an Honorary Chair of the Princess Margaret’s Weekend to Conquer Cancer event, and a Board member for Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) In her spare time, Saba enjoys travelling, trying new and interesting cuisines and avidly cheering on her favourite sports teams

With your extensive background in telecommunications and start-ups before joining Symcor, how has this diverse experience influenced your approach to innovation and strategy in the financial technology sector?

My prior experience has been instrumental in honing my ability to be agile and adapt easily, which have been key to navigating a dynamic market landscape where innovation and disruption are the only constants

In my role at Symcor, I have the pleasure of leading teams responsible for designing and launching innovative services that address industry-wide needs We ensure our clients never have to go it alone in facing and addressing market challenges A startup background helped influence a customer-centric mindset early-on, which I have built upon and nurtured throughout my career

In this industry, which can sometimes be distracted by hype and buzz, having worked at startups, helped equip me with a lens to discern true opportunities, informed by research and insights, that can deliver genuine customer value

Through the various experiences I have had in my career, I have always felt a strong calling to actively mentor the next generation of women in STEM I currently serve on the Board of Women in Communications and Technology and am an active mentor in the industry with the aim of driving meaningful progress in the careers of that next group of female leaders in business and technology

Can you describe the core mission and services of Symcor, particularly in relation to the new COR.CONNECT suite, and how it positions Symcor in the Canadian financial industry landscape?

For over 25 years, Symcor has been a trusted technology provider of payment, security and data services Constantly innovating and supported by the utmost security, Symcor’s suite of services support a client’s complete business life cycle Our commitment to making tomorrow’s challenges today’s business has been instrumental in shaping our COR CONNECT Open Banking solutions

Built with privacy-by-design as a principle, Symcor’s COR CONNECT Hub offers data providers an interoperable, compliant and secure Open Banking platform to safely share authorized data via APIs. COR.CONNECT Link enables data recipients to power innovative use cases through streamlined access to our data network.

COR.CONNECTenablesparticipants toavoidthetime,effortand expenseofdevelopingtheirown OpenBankingplatformandmeet evolvingandcomplexregulatory requirements.Thisallowsour clientstofocusoncorefunctions andprovideinnovativesolutions fortheircustomers.

COR CONNECT accelerates clients’ readiness for Open Banking and helps unlock their business objectives

Open Banking is a significant shift in how financial data is managed and utilized. Could you explain how Symcor’s initiatives in Open Banking are set to transform the services for small and mediumsized enterprises in Canada?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Canadian economy, constituting over 98 per cent of all businesses in the country and as such, it’s critical for SMEs to have access to innovative services so they can provide better services to their customers Further, SMEs employ almost 90% of the private workforce Empowering organizations that employ the vast majority of Canadians will contribute to our overall economic growth as a country

Open Banking provides a unique opportunity to foster greater competition among solution providers, resulting in more innovative products and services that can serve the needs of SMEs

SMEs will have easier access to a wider range of financial products and services, from tailored lending options to deeper insights into their cash flow, helping them optimize their working capital to avoid shortfalls and fuel business growth

We are very excited about the potential of Open Banking as it fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation within the financial industry, encouraging the development of solutions specifically designed to meet the unique challenges faced by SMEs It is a game-changer and will empower SMEs to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape

What are some of the most promising opportunities you foresee in Open Banking for enhancing consumer-driven banking solutions?

Currently, an estimated nine million Canadians commonly share their financial data by providing their online banking credentials to thirdparty apps This practice, known as credential sharing or screen scraping, carries inherent risks, including the exposure of sensitive banking information to external parties

Financial service providers will be able to leverage Open Banking to gain a comprehensive understanding of customer risk and obtain a 360-degree view of their clients This enables them to offer services that might otherwise be out of reach for consumers and businesses. For instance, if you are new to Canada and lack an extensive credit history, certain lenders could utilize your banking information to assess risks and underwrite lending products

Open Banking can empower SMEs with better financial management tools and enhanced access to services For example, businesses could share their account history with external lenders or brokers, facilitating faster loan decisions and decreasing the reliance on paperwork Open Banking will also support greater financial inclusion for Canada’s diverse and underserved entrepreneur class in areas like increased access to loans Real-life transaction data can supplement credit checks, adding rigour and enabling more equitable decisions

Reflecting on your recent engagements, such as the keynote at The Payments Canada Summit and Open Banking Expo, what are your views on driving innovation through collaboration and competition in Open Banking?

While at first glance it may seem that competition and collaboration are two ends of a spectrum, the reality is, they are two sides of the same coin. Open Banking isn't just about sharing data; it's about building a collaborative ecosystem where the burden of foundational capabilities shouldn’t fall on every participant By focusing on key processes together, businesses can devote more energy to innovation Through interoperability and through collaboration, we can ensure seamless and secure data exchange among entities

Moreover, Open Banking overcomes the pitfalls of outdated datasharing methods like screen-scraping, promising greater privacy control and empowerment for individuals over their data It's not just about revolutionizing finance; it's about reshaping how Canadians interact with our data and the services that shape our lives And for SMEs, Open Banking will enable them to make more informed decisions, enhance their competitiveness, and foster growth in an increasingly interconnected digital economy


Ever wonder why that chipped mug, a relic from your college days, feels irreplaceable? Or why your well-worn trainers, despite their holes, feel more valuable than a brand new pair? This isn't mere sentimentality It's the endowment effect, a behavioural quirk that makes us value what we possess far more than what we could acquire and it holds great potential for your persuasion toolkit

What's the Endowment Effect, Anyway?

Simply put, the endowment effect is the irrational, though totally understandable, tendency to inflate the value of something just because it’s ours. Whether its a humble mug, our used car or our stock portfolio, studies have consistently shown that we place greater value on things already in our possession It's like a mental boost that kicks in when we possess an item, making us reluctant to part with it even if we wouldn't have paid that much for it initially

The endowment effect isn’t confined to ownership - it extends to the sweat equity we invest as well Think about that DIY project you completed or that team brainstorm session that led to a breakthrough idea The more we pour our time, energy, and creativity into something, the more its value appreciates in our mental accounting In fact, the impact is so pronounced that it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Ikea Effect’ for the extra affinity we feel for the Billy Bookcase after putting in the elbow grease of building it

Whether you ' re a marketer crafting a campaign or a CEO negotiating a merger, understanding the endowment effect helps unlock greater influence and persuasive power.

Details & Examples:

How can savvy business people like you harness this seemingly irrational bias to your advantage? Let's dive into three proven strategies:

The Power of Touch: Granting potential customers temporary ownership through free trials or samples can spark the endowment effect, making them more likely to commit to a purchase when the trial period expires. The allure of possession, even fleeting, can tip the scales in your favour.

Beyond Consumerism, Collaboration: Inviting clients into the creation process through workshops, brainstorming sessions, or design input fosters a sense of ownership and investment. This psychological buy-in makes them more likely to value the end product, transforming them from mere consumers into loyal advocates

The Bespoke Experience: Offering personalized products or services tailored suits, customized service, bespoke travel itineraries taps into our primal desire for uniqueness. When customers actively participate in creating something tailored to their needs, the perceived value skyrockets

Monthly Challenge: Test the Waters

It's time to put the endowment effect to the test! Here's your challenge for the month:

Experiment: Identify opportunities to foster a sense of ownership amongst your customers or employees. It can be as simple as asking for feedback on prototypes, a collaborative social media campaign, or hosting a virtual brainstorming session.

Engage: Create a space where individuals feel comfortable contributing their ideas and effort Whether it's a digital suggestion box, a team-building exercise, or an open forum for discussion, the goal is to cultivate a sense of shared investment

Empower: Recognize and celebrate the contributions of those who participate Publicly acknowledge their efforts, implement their suggestions (where possible), and show appreciation for their involvement This not only reinforces their sense of ownership but also fuels their commitment to your brand.

Remember: The endowment effect is a subtle but powerful psychological tool Whether it's through ownership, effort, or co-creation, you can tap into this natural bias and nudge your customers towards better outcomes

Want to Learn More? Check out these great resources:

You can find a simple overview on BehavioralEconomics com here that outlines some of the original research by Richard Thaler, and separately by the late Daniel Kahneman

For the updated view on the Ikea Effect, check out this article from The Decision Lab.

of persuasion They are sought after speakers on the psychology of persuasion and have appeared at industry events, conferences and corporate training programs To book them for an engagement, please reach out via LinkedIn


Democratizing Financial Advice

With the rising cost of living, millions of Canadians aren’t saving enough for retirement, but new innovative technology solutions may help avoid this looming retirement crisis Recent studies show that only 14% of Canadians have a high level of retirement readiness.

According to a recent Deloitte report, “near-retirement advice is inaccessible or inadequate” which means that for most people “high-quality retirement planning isn’t easy to come by, especially for those in need” Owen Winkelmolen, Founder and CEO of adviice ca is here to revolutionize that

Led by the vision of making financial planning ‘ a norm ’ for the average Canadian household, is a SaaS platform that delivers customized, collaborative, and easy-to-use financial planning for all. The platform is made for both clients and advisors, as well as clients seeking fee-only advisors to help them create a custom financial plan, and it empowers Canadians to take financial planning into their own hands using Artificial Intelligence (AI). “Up to this point, customized financial planning was mostly restricted to high net-worth and high-income individuals, which is ironic, because I believe that average Canadians would benefit a lot more from financial planning,” shares Winkelmolen

From numbers to personal finance

Determined to democratize financial planning now, Winkelmolen realized his passion for numbers and personal finance early on through his extensive career at Canada’s leading brewery, Labatt Brewing Company Starting from supply chain, moving into sales and pricing, and eventually finance and cash flow, Winkelmolen developed an interest in the world of numbers and decided to pursue his Financial Planning Certificate from the, now, Toronto Metropolitan University Reflecting on his journey, Winkelmolen says, “Financial planning is so interesting, because it is a unique mix of personal finance and human psychology Even when I was in undergrad, I always wondered if there was a job that would allow me to mix both fields.” Trying to make this dream a reality, Winkelmolen set on a path to discovering something similar for himself after his Financial Planning Certificate, only to find just a few opportunities in the advice-only advisors' market This led him to create PlanEasy ca, a B2C platform designed for individuals, couples, and retirees to provide them with unbiased financial advice, free from any sales pressure

Scaling for impact

Like many other innovative ventures tackling nationwide issues, Winkelmolen soon realized that the next phase of PlanEasy ca, achieving economies of scale and truly making financial planning a commonplace for all Canadians lies in leveraging technology This would open pathways to new target audiences, markets, and product offerings “We started strictly as a B2C platform, but a huge focus for us has always been efficiency, scale and how can we offer this easily, making it widely accessible and inexpensive This is where technology comes in and why we shifted focus from PlanEasy to Adviice,” shares Winkelmolen.

With three core product offerings, Adviice’s core product is B2B SaaS where it provides its AI-powered platform to advisors with the capability of white-labelling, lead generation, and collaborative planning to help them engage more clients Adviice also provides the same platform as a B2C SaaS product where anyone can get direct access to their platform to create a strong financial plan for themselves. Finally, Adviice provides an advisor Marketplace where clients have the option of talking to a fee-only advisor, if needed The platform is offered directly to clients for only $9 per month, with a special focus on retirement planning to help individuals and couples easily transition into this new phase of their lives. “Our AI Strategies focus on common retirement questions like how you can minimize tax, how you can decumulate your assets, when to start your Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), your Old Age Security (OAS), or when to draw from investment accounts like RRSPs and TSFAs,” shares Winkelmolen Looking to soon expand their offerings to business owners, new grades, young families, the team has seen rapid growth since they launched their powerful tool for direct use by clients. Winkelmolen credits this to their meticulous and years-long platform development process

Building a robust platform

Having a solid foundation of their model through, this platform was built organically through rapid client onboarding, detailed client feedback, and weekly new feature additions “We already had our B2C model to engage customers directly through PlanEasy ca, and so with adviice, we started looking into the financial planner marketplace too To have a platform ready quickly, we started onboarding one or two new clients every week and kept introducing them to an updated version of the platform Since we began our venture right before the pandemic, we were wellpositioned for the shift to online financial advice We made quick iterations, added new functionalities on a weekly basis which helped us create a great platform based directly on client feedback,” shares Winkelmolen

The future of financial planning with AI

What makes the adviice platform incredibly powerful, is not only the client collaboration and easy-to-use capability, but also in its AI-powered technology Recognizing the importance of having human touch regardless of technology, robot, or AI in place, Winkelmolen leverages AI on his platform to help financial planners explore different financial strategies in just seconds, helping planners to fully focus on building strong client relationships. “We have to understand that everyone has their own behavioral biases and personal experience with financial planning That's where the advisor will come in The platform identifies the best strategies for a client, and the planners help execute those strategies with the client This includes following up with them and providing more like a coaching service than doing the detailed technical financial planning,” says Winkelmolen For Owen, this is what the future of AI looks like in the FinTech industry With similar platforms coming into the picture, Owen believes that AI will initially be leveraged to empower financial planners with the technical aspect – the math and the numbers This will help planners focus on assessing every unique client situation and finding the best path forward for them based on the clients goals and values

Growing and seeking investment

From raising funds organically through a pool of well-established industry advisors who believed in their idea to getting investment through the 519 Growth Fund and being a recipient of TechAlliance’s i d e a Fund™, adviice ca had a clear uptick in the demand for their product which led them to seek investment. Winkelmolen shares, “We had a strong pull from the market which was a very clear indication that if we provided this as a software solution to other advisors, we could help scale up this sort of financial advice and provide more financial planning in Canada ” Aiming to create hundreds of thousands of financial plans for Canadians every year, adviice ca is rapidly growing, currently raising a seed round

Their ultimate goal? “Our vision is a financial plan for everyone in Canada, not necessarily through adviice, but we want to make it so normal and so commonplace to have a financial plan that it's the rule rather than the exception,” shares Winkelmolen.

Safety is the most important in all sectors, especially in the mining industry One company that has emerged as the mining sector safety pioneer is Sofvie Developed with the particular requirements of miners, managers, and industry executives in mind, Sofvie is an all-inclusive solution for the mining industry In fact, their objective is to elevate performance levels throughout mining operations and seek to build safer work conditions, engage teams, and reward work cultures

Industry-Grown Expertise

So what sets Sofvie apart? Deep industrial experience is at the heart of its foundation Built with the needs of miners in mind, the platform is designed to handle the extreme circumstances encountered by those engaged in this dangerous occupation The Sudbury location of the company ' s headquarters is a

testament to its commitment to the mining community, which plays a crucial role in shaping the platform to meet user demands What’s more, Sofvie also has health and safety professionals on staff, including a head of training and implementation with a background as a safety manager for a large mining company

Comprehensive Training and Implementation

Sofvie understands that effective deployment and ongoing training are key to maximizing the platform's value Their team of professionals is well-versed in adult learning principles and Sofvie's features, offering best practices and support Each client is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Specialist, who guides them through the change management process and ensures a smooth transition. This personalized support empowers clients to effectively use the platform and achieve their safety and performance goals

Transparent and Flexible Solutions

Sofvie’s platform offers all out-of-the-box use cases and form generation features, as well as clearly defined user prices, to aid in budgeting for future growth Sofvie also provides a white glove service option, which includes all basic onboarding services in the licensing charge This ensures clients get the assistance they need for effective deployment and maintenance

“In a world where we have to be bigger stronger faster we also need to make sure we deliver safer. We help our clients to achieve safe performance by scaling their leadership and already successful methods. Making sure all are performing in accordance to the plan and vision in a way that is in real time is transformation. Let's build the workplaces where everyone wants to part of together!” - Gus Minor, Chief Innovation Officer at Sofvie Inc.

Ultimately, Sofvie is revolutionizing mining safety and performance by concentrating on industryspecific demands and offering superior support, allowing businesses to function at their peak

To learn more about solutions, visit their official website here.

CanadianSME Magazine is a valuable treasure trove of entrepreneurial knowledge. Click here to subscribe to our monthly editions for updates on Canadian businesses. Follow our handle @canadian_sme on X to stay current on all current business trends and developments

Celebrating Small Business Success

In an atmosphere filled with anticipation and celebration, CanadianSME Small Business Magazine proudly presents the highlights from the 5th Annual CanadianSME Small Business Awards On the evening of June 7th, 2024, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre came alive as it hosted this prestigious event, sponsored by Google Canada. This remarkable occasion marked a significant milestone in celebrating the extraordinary achievements of small business owners from coast to coast, highlighting their essential role in driving the nation's economy and fostering innovation

The night was a resounding success, casting a spotlight on 29 outstanding businesses through coveted awards, including the Editor's Choice Awards and the newly introduced Champions of Small Business Hall of Fame. These honors recognized individuals and businesses that have made remarkable impacts in their respective fields, setting new standards of excellence and innovation The presence of Premier Doug Ford, Minister Rechie Valdez, and Nina Tangri added an air of distinction, with their special messages underscoring the government's unwavering support and acknowledgment of the small business sector's contributions to economic growth

Adding to the event's grandeur were numerous business leaders and dignitaries who took part in felicitating and presenting the awards to the winners. Their involvement brought an extra layer of prestige and inspiration to the evening, making it an unforgettable experience for all in attendance.

We are delighted to share the special messages from the winners of the CanadianSME Small Business Awards 2023 These messages not only reflect their journey and accomplishments but also offer invaluable advice and insights for small and mediumsized business owners and the SMB community. Their words of wisdom, forged through hard-earned success, provide inspiration and guidance, encouraging others on their entrepreneurial journey This collection of messages is a testament to the resilience, innovation, and spirit of the small business community in Canada, offering a beacon of hope and a source of motivation for all aspiring entrepreneurs.


RBC Small Business of the Year 2023

(Up to 10 employees)

TOP 1 Winner

Roo & You Inc.



Founded in 2017 as Chew Chew Baby Roo, Roo & You is a community-driven business dedicated to creating fun, design-forward products that are a lot less about being expensive and a lot more about having fun.

Being a parent really changes your life, because, well, you get to be a kid again! Sometimes that comes at the expense of our adult sensibilities, grown-up relationships, and hard-earned dollars. As parents, we know what that can feel like. Not everything needs to be dinosaurs and spaceships

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award is an incredible honor for our young company. We've definitely faced imposter syndrome, but this award truly validates our team's hard work and dedication. The recognition from the business community confirms that our efforts are making a significant impact. It’s a testament to the support from our customers and partners who have believed and continue to believe in our vision. This award not only celebrates our achievements but has also fueled our motivation to continue on our path and push forward.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Our advice during this recovery phase, and really at any time, is to treat the business community as a true community. Communities support their own when needed and, through shared experiences, provide meaningful assistance to each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or for advice from others. Sometimes, it's a kind word or a piece of advice that makes a lasting impact and fosters positive change. By nurturing these connections and showing up for each other, we can create a resilient and thriving business environment together.

RBC Small Business of the Year 2023

(Up to 10 employees)

TOP 2 Winner W Design Co.



Lesley is the founder, CEO & Creative Director of W Design Co. (formerly Lesley Warren Design Group). Founded in 2007, W Design Co. is an award winning, full-service marketing and graphic design agency dedicated to building brands and growing businesses. Lesley is a passionate creative who has dedicated her life’s work to bringing brands to life. With over 25 years of industry experience from Graphic Designer and Creative Director to Founder and CEO, Lesley has honed her craft in all facets of the design world. Her passion and integrity continue to foster growing and meaningful client relationships, while also making her a respected voice and trusted agency partner. Her pursuit to build and transform brands of any size in any industry has been the cornerstone of helping business and not-forprofit communities alike find success together, even in times of uncertainty.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

I am extremely honoured and humbled for this recognition. A heartfelt thanks to Canadian SME Business Magazine and RBC. This award represents the dedication, passion and talent of the entire W Design Co. team, without whom, none of this would be possible. They continue to inspire and motivate me, and I am filled with gratitude and pride for our collaborative efforts. This award validates the 17 years of perseverance, determination and hard work that has shaped what the agency is today and is further proof of the amazing things that we will continue to achieve together.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

The business landscape is ever changing and while entrepreneurship can be very rewarding the journey can be long and arduous, filled with challenges and uncertainty. My experience has taught me the importance of passion, resilience, and innovation. Following my passion and doing work that is meaningful to me has fueled my drive and determination to succeed despite the ebb and flows of business. I believe that building resilience takes time, strength and help from others. Surrounding myself with a network of respected and trusted peers has provided valuable insights, mentorship and guidance, supporting my entrepreneurial journey. It goes without saying that change is constant and inevitable. Embracing a growth mindset has encouraged me to explore new ideas, take calculated risks and learn from my failures. Enjoy the phase you’re in, don’t forget why you went into business in the first place and have the strength to persevere!


Small Business

of the Year 2023 (Up to 10 employees)


Founder&CEO DREALEE|Fitness+Dance

Drea has worked with many dancers, directors, and celebrities as a choreographer, dancer, and celebrity fitness trainer across Europe, Canada, and the USA. Some professional experiences include: the NBA, 3 Grammy Award Shows, America’s Got Talent Live, Michael Jackson’s movie premiere in Las Vegas, celebrity fitness trainer at Tracy Anderson Method, the TV Show, “Masters of Illusion”, assistant choreographer for the Paul Mitchell Hair Shows and being a faculty member of the Dance Teacher’s Web Conference in Las Vegas. Drea is currently working on producing and choreographing a show that will offer Canadian performers a platform to showcase their artistry.

TOP 2 Winner DREALEE | Fitness+Dance

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

After being shut down multiple times during the pandemic, we weren’t sure if we were going to survive. We continued our classes over Zoom however it was far from the same as in person classes. We missed the human connections and interactions that were typically made with our students in person on a daily basis. Our passion for dance, fitness and community gave us the strength to not only persevere, but the capacity to excel and win this award. One of the best rewards is seeing our students’ smiling faces in class: learning, growing and developing into kind human beings. This award is truly a reminder of the responsibility we have to serve our community with integrity, passion, and a commitment to excellence.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

As we navigate through this recovery phase, remember resilience is your greatest asset. Embrace adaptability and innovation; they will be crucial in seizing emerging opportunities. Stay closely connected with your customers; their evolving needs will help guide your strategies and assist in your decision making. Prioritize financial health—seek support and explore new revenue streams. Consider the “tough times” and mistakes as learning opportunities to improve your business’s systems and operations. Collaboration with peers and local communities can amplify your impact and boost brand awareness. Above all, maintain optimism and patience; recovery takes time. Know that you are not alone on this journey. Your continued perseverance and commitment to excellence will continue to inspire your communities’ small business owners and its future leaders.



Business of the Year 2023 (Up to 10 employees)

TOP 3 Winner Kits for a Cause


FounderandCEO, KitsforaCause

As President and CBO (Chief Bargain Officer) of the Bargains Group, Jody has mobilized her award-winning discount wholesale and promotional products company to revolutionize the business landscape.

Jody’s most recent impact initiative is Kits for a Cause (KFAC), a social enterprise dedicated to providing purposeful engagement to employees and other groups by matching them with charities through kit-packing events. To date, KFAC has engaged: 120K+ employees, to deliver 750K ‘kits’, to >5K charities globally...reinvesting $11MM in communities worldwide.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

As the founder of a successful for-profit company, I am thrilled and honoured that the team and judges at CanadianSME Magazine have bestowed this award on my Social Enterprise, Kits For A Cause. This truly validates the time and effort my team and I have spent building an organization that recognizes our changing times. We are committed to coaching companies on the importance of weaving a message of giving back and making a difference into the fabric of the workplace and making massive impact in our community.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Being an entrepreneur and building an organization from scratch isn’t easy. I learned early on the importance of hiring for ‘culture’ and not purely for ‘skills ‘– culture cannot be taught! I am blessed with an outstanding team that has embraced wholeheartedly my mantra of ‘GIVING BACK MAKES GOOD BUSINESS SENSE’. Please reach out if we can help create a customized employee engagement program for you that can be your ‘poster child’ initiative to aid in recruitment and retention…while making massive impact in the community.

UPS Small Business of the Year up to 50 employees


NHCI Is one of the country’s leading providers of registered and Non registered healthcare, home & social care staffing services. Our services include but are not limited provision of on demand and long term staffing solutions of : Registered Practice Nurses, Registered Nurses, Personal Support and Home Care workers, HCA’s, Homemaking/Housekeeping services, Residential/ community mental healthcare staff(DSW’s, CSW’s, CYW, SSW’s, ), Caregiver Support and Respite Care.These we provide to help fulfill the short and lo ng term human capital needs of Hospitals, correctional facilities, the long term and retirement home sector, community living organizations, shelters and to those retiring at Home

TOP 1 Winner Nexim Healthcare Consultants Inc.

Be humble and accept that no one of us knows it all – so find mentors, independent advisors or peer groups through which one can filter their thought before execution . It help checking for blind spots or even to add a few insights which when considered make for better decisions. Founder&CEOofNexim

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We were finalists in two categories; SME of the year up to 50 employees and CSR of the year; a testament to both our outstanding Business & community contributions to our sector and society. The competition we faced included some of the most out standing business run by some of the most out standing individuals; it was an honour to share the stage with them.

By winning the 2023 SME ward; Our business joins an elite group of business which have a valid claim to being leaders in their space, excellent at solving some of Canada’s challenges while serving our customers.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

For SME navigating this recovery and related risks

Pay attention to the federal fiscal up dates and related announcements from the feds re –Interest rates, tax incentives and other incentives to hire more staff . This will help them lower cost of capital or hire talent with out increasing cost of production

Be responsive or flexible to changes brought about new ways of servicing clients, means of production and reduced waiting times as more clients adopt & expect business to use digital tools enhance the customer experience

UPS Small Business of the Year up to 50 employees


Kristy Miller is the founder and CEO of The Scented Market, a fast-growing Canadian business known for its self-care mission and soy wax candles, home decor, and body products. With a passion for creating sensory experiences that transcend the ordinary, Kristy has built a reputation for excellence in the candle industry.

Kristy's journey began with a simple fascination for scents and their power to evoke emotions and memories. In 2018 she began crafting beautiful, eco-friendly candles for her family and friends to enjoy, pouring countless jars out of her kitchen in Guelph, ON. Shortly after, her dedication and unique signature style paid off and she moved production into her first retail store. As of 2024, The Scented Market has expanded to four retail locations in Ontario and supplies hundreds of stockists throughout Canada and the USA.

TOP 2 Winner The Scented Market

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

The Scented Market Team and I are incredibly honored and humbled to receive the Small Business of the Year Award for Businesses Up to 50 Employees. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without our team, whose hard work and passion drive The Scented Market forward. I am also deeply grateful to associations like Canadian SME for recognizing Canadian businesses and their achievements in leadership, innovation, and dedication to growth. This award is a testament to our collective effort and the unwavering support from our community. Thank you for believing in us and inspiring us to reach new heights.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

To my fellow small business owners, I encourage you to be resilient and stay committed for the long haul. Now is the time to focus on building a stronger foundation for your business. Invest in your team, embrace innovation, and adapt to changing market conditions. Challenges will arise, but your determination will lead to success. Believe in your vision, stay true to your values, and strive for excellence. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep pushing forward, and you’ll emerge stronger and more resilient than ever.

UPS Small Business of the Year up to 50 employees

TOP 3 Winner Vision Project Services


Bryan is the founder and CEO of Vision Project Services. Born and raised on the family cattle and grain farm in Sedalia, AB, Bryan developed a strong work ethic that only young farm hands can truly appreciate. Through his work ethic, grit and determination, Bryan first achieved entrepreneurial success in 2014, when he established a consulting company servicing western Canada’s ski resorts.

It was during the pandemic that Bryan shifted his focus to the in-demand services of construction and home renovations within the Columbia Valley. Established in 2021, Vision Project Services proudly offers top-to-bottom construction and renovation services with a unique 'customer first' service approach. Vision has been built on hard work, dedication and most importantly, its people.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the award for Small Business of the Year was an absolute honour. To do so in such an amazing venue surrounded by many accomplished businesses was truly humbling. Our team and community of Invermere deserve this award - they are the reason why Vision Project Services has been and continues to be successful. The support, energy, passion, and dedication that our people pour into Vision are the cornerstones of our business. We are so proud to represent the team and what they stand for. Thank you to the organizers for an incredible evening and for putting us on the map!

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Dreaming is the easy part of running a business. It turns out that the pieces of the puzzle that are not easy are the ones that you will tell stories about, provide wisdom because of, and galvanize you for the next set of challenges. Planning, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to executing are key components to achieving success. The most important element is good old-fashioned problem-solving. Our world is full of challenging situations and self-doubt; think outside the box and be a problem solver. Be innovative, be authentic and bet on yourself.

Constant Contact Small Business of the Year

(50+ Employees)

ChiefExecutiveOfficer ofCOSTI

Samina Sami, M.Ed. and Executive MBA is the Chief Executive Officer of COSTI. COSTI is a community-based diverse organization that has been providing a broad range of services to immigrants and refugees in the greater Toronto area since 1952.

TOP 1 Winner COSTI Immigrant Services

Samina has a personal connection to settlement services as a child of immigrants and she began her career in the settlement sector, establishing the HOST program in Peel Region. Committed to giving back to the community, she has personally focused on access to education and employment for diverse communities, with a proven track record of dynamic and visionary leadership of more than 26 years in the public sector.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We are deeply honoured and grateful for this award and recognition. COSTI’s journey began over 70 years ago and today, we are a multicultural organization dedicated to serving all newcomers to Canada. Our mission remains rooted in our core values: serving those in need and strengthening the community. COSTI now operates through four service pillars, offering 38 programs across 17 locations, impacting tens of thousands of individuals annually.

This award reinforces our belief in the power of community and the importance of providing equitable opportunities for all.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

To our fellow small businesses and nonprofits, you are the backbone of our communities. Your perseverance and innovation inspire us every day. Hard work, creativity and collaboration can truly make a positive impact. It's a reminder of how important small businesses and nonprofits are to our community and neighborhoods. Your determination is an inspiration, continue doing what you do because small changes make a big difference. Working together with partners and supporters like you, we will continue to build a prosperous and inclusive Canada.

Constant Contact Small Business of the Year (50+ Employees)

Moatassem Moatez is an Entrepreneur, TEDx Speaker, and Founder and CEO of MYCourier Inc., an award-winning lastmile delivery company based in Ontario.

As an independent entrepreneur, Moatassem’s success stems from a strong track record in the corporate world, where he led the marketing and sales teams at top multinationals. In 2012, Moatassem co-founded his first startup, which secured a partnership with a leading technology communications company and launched several successful ventures in the Middle East.

TOP 2 Winner Mycourier Inc.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award for “Business of the Year” is a tremendous honour that serves as a reflection of our team’s dedication and hard work. Since launching in 2020 during a global pandemic, MYCourier has faced numerous challenges, but our team has emerged stronger. Our culture promotes growth and respect, empowering our team of operators, delivery associates, and dispatchers to thrive as extensions of our partners' brands. Moving forward, we remain committed to providing excellent delivery service with a smile!

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

The biggest barrier for entrepreneurs in any industry is fear. Fear of losing money, friends, or colleagues can be paralyzing, but overcoming it is essential for success. Once you push through that fear, the impossible becomes possible.

Every business faces obstacles and setbacks, but what distinguishes successful businesses is their ability to keep moving forward despite these challenges. Focus on progress, no matter how small, and remember that each step brings you closer to your goals. Growth happens outside of your comfort zone, so stay resilient, stay focused, and let your determination guide you to success.


Constant Contact Small Business of the Year

(50+ Employees)

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We are extremely thankful and honored to have won the Business of the Year (50+ Employees) award. Winning this year’s award is a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication in offering impactful and therapeutic services to our clients. We would also like to extend our congratulations to all of the other winners and express our respect and admiration for their accomplishments.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

The last few years have been unprecedented, and many small businesses have had to learn how to quickly adapt and persevere through challenging times. Our advice to other small businesses would be to remain open to change, stay committed and resilient and to never lose sight of the vision you have for your business.

TOP 3 Winner Kaizen Health Group

Kaizen Health Group is a top-rated healthcare provider in Peel Region. We offer therapeutic services based on individual need, that improve the general health and well-being of our patients. We specialize in therapeutics treatments such as Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Fascial Stretch Therapy and more!

Diversity and Inclusion Award 2023


Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

It feels great to be recognized for our work driving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) outcomes in Canada. For the past 16 years, our goal has always been to empower workplaces to celebrate all employees, regardless of gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada has benefitted from working with hundreds of those workplaces and we couldn’t do our work without their collaboration. We share this honour with each and every one of them.

Colin Druhan has been at the helm of Pride at Work Canada since 2014, steering a tenfold increase in revenue. A champion for community-led initiatives, he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which funds grassroots efforts to fight HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The former President of Volunteer Toronto, Canada’s largest volunteer centre, Colin is committed to public service. In 2020 he was named a DiverseCity Fellow by CivicAction, a recognition that underscores his dedication to inclusive civic engagement. Originally from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Colin earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from NSCAD University in Halifax. He supplemented his skills through executive education programs at the Rotman School of Management and Cornell University. In 2020 he completed the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at Harvard Business School.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Creative solutions and fresh perspectives are essential to face the economic and social pressures impacting businesses today. DEI is not about hiring people who aren’t qualified, like a lot of people say it is. To us, it’s about recognizing that your business is not tapping into all of the great, qualified talent it could be grabbing up and deciding to do something about it. Or, it could be a recognition that everyone in the workplace deserves to be safe, not just a chosen few whose needs have been considered. Two-Spirit, queer, and trans people have not always had the opportunity to be out at work and, because of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, a lot of us are still not out at work. When some employees can’t be themselves, it means the businesses they work for aren’t getting everything they have to offer. That’s a missed opportunity for the employee, for the business, and for Canada’s economy.

Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2023

Jenn Harper

FounderandCEO, CheekboneBeautyCosmeticsInc

An award-winning social entrepreneur, Jenn Harper is the founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics INC. Cheekbone Beauty aims to help every Indigenous person see and feel their value in the world while developing sustainable colour cosmetics that won’t end up in a landfill.

Jenn Harper is an Anishinaabe woman and is a member of the Northwest Angle #33 First Nation in Kenora, ON. Throughout her life, Jenn has struggled with accepting her Indigenous roots. She was estranged from her Indigenous family for much of her child and adult life. After learning about her grandmother’s experience in residential school, she understood how her family was affected by generational trauma. Harper has been making a name for herself in the beauty industry for a number of years but gained popularity quickly after appearing on CBC’s hit show, Dragon’s Den in 2019. Since her appearance on the show, Jenn has been featured as Chatelaine’s “Woman of the Year in 2019”, Canadian Business’s “2022 New Innovator’s List”, and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Women of Influence in 2022” list.

She continues to be deeply involved in all aspects of Cheekbone Beauty operations, including product innovation with the Cheekbone Beauty chemist and sustainability experts to reimagine beauty products, starting with raw ingredients all the way to how all products are packaged. As part of its sustainability mission, Cheekbone Beauty is associated with organizations such as Pact Collective, 1% for the Planet, and B.Corp. These partnerships show the brand’s commitment to both people and planet.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

I am deeply honored to receive the Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Canadian SME, sponsored by Xero and Google. This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team at Cheekbone Beauty. Our mission to create sustainable, high-quality beauty products rooted in Indigenous culture continues to drive us forward. Thank you to everyone who has supported us on this incredible journey. Together, we are making a difference in the beauty industry and beyond. Learn more about our story and join us in celebrating this achievement.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Never give up on your dreams. For entrepreneurs, this isn't just a motivational quote; I believe it's a guiding principle.

The rise of Indigenous entrepreneurship has been a powerful force in reshaping business landscapes in Canada. Very proud to among so many other incredible Indigenous entrepreneurs and our community is growing! No matter how challenging the road may seem, remember that every setback is a setup for a comeback. Keep pushing forward, and you'll find success waiting for you at the pinnacle of your efforts.

Tech Business of the Year 2023

Pathway Communications specializes in providing innovative and costeffective IT and communication solutions for businesses of all sizes. Rooted in Canada, we offer a wide range of services, including Managed IT Services, Cybersecurity Solutions, Data Centers, Cloud, Colocation, Voice, Data, and Internet, to help our clients stay connected and operate securely in today’s fast-paced world.

Pathway employs over 150 qualified and trained staff on three continents and operates fully-equipped data centers in Markham, Toronto, and Montreal. All of our services are designed to pass through our Tier III data center backed up with ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 certification, and SOC 2 Type II compliance for ultimate reliability, security, and privacy.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

It is a great honor for all of us at Pathway Communications, to be recognized as the winners of the CanadianSME National Business Award in the category "Tech Business of the Year"! This award is the result of the untiring efforts of our incredible employees and partners who, each day, strive to earn the trust and loyalty of our clients through the exceptional service they deliver. This award further encourages us to continue providing exceptional IT services and solutions to meet the security, performance, and cost needs of our clients. On behalf of all my colleagues at Pathway, I would like to thank the CanadianSME Magazine for this prestigious award. It not only recognizes Pathway's accomplishments but also highlights the strength and vibrancy of the Canadian tech industry. We look forward to continuing our journey of excellence and innovation in the months and years to come.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

The past few years presented unprecedented challenges to small and mid-sized businesses (“SMBs”) across Canada. The pandemic tested the resilience and adaptability of these businesses in ways never imagined.

Now, as we traverse this phase of recovery, we must recognize how important SMBs are to the Canadian economy. SMBs make up almost 99.8% of all businesses in Canada. They contribute to over 50% of the Canadian GDP and employ 88% of Canada's private sector workforce. They are more innovative and develop more patents per employee than larger companies.

Being a small business ourselves we, at Pathway are truly inspired by the strength, determination, and perseverance of small business owners to adapt and overcome hardships. We will continue to offer cost-effective, high-quality IT services to support the unique needs of small business owners. By learning from adversity and supporting each other, we will all rebuild to be stronger and more resilient than ever.

TOP 1 Winner Fullintel Customer Service Excellence Award



As President and Co-Founder of Fullintel, I lead a global team that provides award-winning media monitoring and measurement software and services. Fullintel is positioned where the PR Agency and monitoring software intersect. Our expertise and disruptive technology help our clients achieve a competitive advantage by providing the insights needed to win a meaningful share of voice with content that builds audience trust and the data to navigate issues successfully. Our Executive reporting is delivered to the C-suite of some of the largest brands in the world.

With over 25 years of experience in the PRtech and martech sectors, I am passionate about building new software products that radically improve current processes, driving profitable growth, building strong teams, and creating value for our clients.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award for Customer Service Excellence is a fantastic honor for Fullintel. It’s a testament to our team’s dedication to delivering top-notch service to PR teams across the globe. This award reflects our commitment to innovation and client satisfaction, and it inspires us to continue setting higher standards in the industry. We're thrilled and grateful for this recognition!

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

As we navigate the recovery phase, my advice to small business owners is to stay resilient and adaptable. Focus on understanding your customers' evolving needs and leverage technology to enhance your service offerings. Collaboration and innovation are key—embrace new ideas and partnerships that can drive growth. Remember, the challenges we face today can be the stepping stones to a stronger, more dynamic future. Keep pushing forward, stay connected with your community, and never underestimate the power of excellent customer service. It’s what sets you apart and keeps your customers coming back.

Customer Service Excellence Award 2023

TOP 2 Winner Harbinger Network Inc.


Founderof Harbinger NetworkInc

Tony Labora founded Harbinger Network Inc. (HNi) in 2010, and at the time was singularly focused on Construction Recruitment. Today, alongside his Business Partner, Albert Aragona and almost 30 team members and growing, HNi now specializes in over 10 major disciplines across Canada. A senior staffing executive with over 20 years' experience of building Sales and Recruitment teams in Canada and the USA, Tony established a credible brand and reputation among several Business Owners and is viewed by many in the business community as an indispensable partner.

A graduate of George Brown College in Toronto, Tony has been invited as an invitational speaker to various local colleges and industry associations, and has always supported worthwhile charitable causes.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Harbinger Network Inc. (HNi) are deeply honored to receive this prestigious award from CanadianSME Magazine. At HNi, we believe that exceptional customer service is the cornerstone of our success. This recognition is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our entire team who strive tirelessly to exceed our clients' expectations every day.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

In Canada's competitive SME landscape, prioritize exceptional customer service. Amidst fierce competition, it's your key differentiator, fostering loyalty even in economic fluctuations. Build lasting connections, understanding that satisfied customers are your best advocates, attracting new business and retaining existing clients. Exceptional service enhances brand reputation, setting you apart from rivals. Invest in training and empowering your staff to deliver personalized, attentive service, ensuring every interaction leaves a positive impression. Remember, in the flux of economic tides, it's the bond forged through outstanding customer service that fortifies your business, sustaining growth and resilience.


TOP 3 Winner Fourth Avenue Medical Aesthetics Customer Service Excellence Award


Multiple award winning medical aesthetic clinic. Jacqueline and her dedicated team, which includes three talented women and a full medical staff, operate within a clinic that provides a spa-like atmosphere, ensuring a relaxing and pleasurable experience for each client. They prioritize building strong relationships with their clients, considering them part of their extended family. Understanding the influence of social media and the impact it has on self-esteem, Jacqueline and her team are committed to helping clients address their concerns and improve their self-image, rather than drastically altering their appearance..

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

First of all I would like to say thank you! Thank you for allowing us to receive an award based on something I love to do and are so passionate about.

The people we meet, the change in each patient's confidence and the personal experiences on a daily basis solidify how important our roles are as health providers regardless of what sector of health care we are working in!

Never doubt yourself in business, this award has solidified what we have been working toward. Believe in yourself and continue to stay on the path regardless of society pressures and remember what you represent- that has always lead us in the right direction.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

My staff are the front of the company, they are well deserving of this award and recognition and the hard work they put in day in and day out. We could not have won this award without them. Many years ago I opened this business terrified knowing I had to count on myself for my success and not rely on anyone else to help but the need to change the business of cosmetics was a task I was willing to take on.

The changes in society, social media and the financial demand have been difficult however staying true to my ethical values have prevailed against all odds and we have gained the trust in our patients and continue to do so on a daily basis. We gain our patients confidence by assisting them to feel beautiful inside and out- not selling but rather improving the small concerns to help them feel confident on a daily basis. Gaining multiple awards and recognition has been overwhelming and satisfying to know we are doing something right. I am excited for the future, I am always looking forward to the next adventure and am blessed to have gained this award. Thank you again and thank you to everyone that supports and encourages me on a daily basis!

2SLGBTQI+ Inclusive Excellence Award 2023

QueerTech is on a mission to queer the Canadian tech ecosystem. Operating since 2016, QueerTech is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting workforce and economic development across Canada by fostering entrepreneurship and providing opportunities for the 2SLGBTQ+ community to access employment, professional development and meaningful connections in the technology industry. The organization is also a national leader in workplace inclusion advocacy and progressive 2SLGBTQ+ equity, diversity and inclusion policy facilitation.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

The QueerTech team is thrilled to be recognized for our 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion efforts across the country. We are endlessly proud of the incredible community we have fostered over the years, and this recognition only affirms our commitment to creating a more inclusive, safe and prosperous tech industry in Canada. We are dedicated to shaping a future where everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, feel seen, safe and respected at work. Thank you CanadianSME for this honour, and for your work in acknowledging that queer inclusion matters.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Today, Canadian small business owners are faced with gargantuan hurdles - from COVID-19 recovery and founder burnout, to a fragile economy and the rapid emergence of new technologies, like AI, that are reshaping where and how we work.To navigate these barriers effectively, we must remember that our strength and prosperity lies in our people. We encourage you to fully embrace a people-first leadership approach - invest in your team’s well-being, development and inclusivity. Transparency and accountability with your workforce can go a long way in fostering an environment of trust and innovation. By focusing on our people, and thoughtfully investing in them, we are building resilient and adaptable organizations while also paving the way for a more inclusive future economy. We believe that people, and the ways in which we empower them, will be the drivers of true business success in this new era of digital transformation.

Best in Award 2

Jeff Rushton serves as the Co-Owner, President & CEO of Media Resources. In this capacity, he directs the strategic growth & direction of the Company, with a primary focus on expanding the Company’s digital sign manufacturing and installation businesses. Apart from overseeing the Company’s operations and internal culture, Jeff dedicates about 50% of his time to engaging directly with customers to truly understand market needs.

Before joining Media Resources, Jeff held various CxO level roles in leading technology and media companies across the United States & Canada. As part of this deep history, it was during his first decade of work experience ending as the CFO for Mediacom (now Outfront Media Canada) that he developed a deep passion for the Out-of-Home Industry.

spirit of our entire team. It reinforces our commitment to excellence in delivering high-resolution digital display products and digital signage solutions. Thank you so much for this incredible recognition. We look forward to continuing to set new standards in the industry, and to driving innovation that meet the evolving needs of our customers!

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

To all small business owners navigating the recovery phase, resilience and adaptability are key. Focus on all your strengths, invest in innovation, and always prioritize the well-being of your team! Collaboration and community support can provide invaluable resources and opportunities. Remember that changes also present opportunities for learning lessons and growth. Stay customercentric, as understanding and meeting their evolving needs will truly drive your success. Lastly, celebrate every milestone, no matter how big or small, and remain committed to your vision! We are all in this together, and our collective resilience will pave the way for a brighter future.

Sustainable Business Award 2023


Matt Wittek, Founder and CEO of Fill it Forward, is a social entrepreneur on a mission to inspire the world to reuse. Since graduating from the University of Guelph in 2003, he has been a leader in creating sustainable solutions that help people and the planet. His efforts have eliminated millions of single-use items from landfills and oceans by leveraging innovative products and technology. Through partnerships with organizations worldwide, Fill it Forward has funded over 500 charitable projects addressing the global water crisis promoting hygiene, sanitation, and education in vulnerable communities. Matt’s collaborative efforts with retailers, food service operators, universities, lodging partners, and brands have facilitated the adoption of reusable products by millions of people around the world. His impactful work has been featured by prominent media outlets such as Canada AM, CBC's The National, Breakfast Television, and the Globe and Mail.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

It is truly a privilege and an honour for Fill it Forward to be named one of the CanadianSME National Business Awards recipients. Thank you for recognizing our innovation and effort to create sustainable solutions. This achievement stands as a testament to the dedication of our team and our community's unwavering commitment to make a positive environmental impact. We extend heartfelt gratitude to our valued clients around Canada and the world, whose support and collaboration have been crucial in expanding our reach and fulfilling our mission of inspiring the world to reuse.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

As a small business owner, it's crucial to maintain an open mindset. Embrace new ideas, adapt to change, and welcome different perspectives. Your vision serves as a guide, but it's through your team's dedication and hard work that this vision comes to life. Trust your team, recognize their expertise, and support them to succeed. Working closely with your team strengthens the quality and output of your collective efforts. While trusting your team is essential, it's equally important to trust yourself. Believe in your judgment and vision to navigate challenges and uncertainty. This supports your decisionmaking and sets a strong example for your team. Balancing trust in your team with confidence in your own instincts creates a foundation for a resilient and successful business.

Best in Retail Award 2023


CEOandFounder ofKevitoGroupLtd.

Kenton Chan is the visionary CEO and founder of Kevito Group Ltd., a leading operator and franchisor of Asian-inspired food and beverage brands. Under his dynamic leadership, Kevito Group manages prominent brands like Chatime, Canada's top bubble tea and boba brand, and Bake Code, the foremost Asian-European bakery in the country. Kenton's innovative approach has transformed the Canadian beverage landscape, winning the hearts of millions with Chatime's exceptional flavors and quality.

With profound expertise and intuition in the retail and hospitality sectors, Kenton, alongside his co-founder Thomas Wong, has expertly navigated competitive challenges and market shifts. Their unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation extends beyond beverages. Together, they are pioneering an Asian-focused food ingredients and equipment distribution business, showcasing their versatility and entrepreneurial spirit.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We are honoured and grateful to receive the "Best in Retail" award from CanadianSME Business Magazine. This recognition reflects the dedication and passion of our head office team, franchise partners, the loyalty of our consumers, and our commitment to providing and constantly improving upon exceptional experiences. Winning this award inspires us to continue innovating and growing in this dynamic and ever-changing retail landscape.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

As we all navigate this challenging economic phase, resilience and adaptability are key. Embrace change, leverage technology, and prioritize customer relationships. Focus on building a supportive community around your brand and listen to your customers' evolving needs. Challenges can be opportunities in disguise; stay positive, be proactive, and invest in your team's growth. Remember, your passion and perseverance will drive your success. As difficult as it may seem at times, it is possible to create a thriving business landscape in Canada.

Best Business Innovation Award 2023

Leon Punambolam

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We are honoured to receive the prestigious CanadianSME National Business Award for Best Business Innovation of the Year. The greatest achievement of all is that our nomination for this award came from our own customers. This recognition underscores our commitment to revolutionizing surgical risk insurance and innovation in the space. At Samos, innovation isn't just a goal; it's our driving force as we continue to redefine industry standards and empower small businesses across Canada.

Seasoned entrepreneur, angel investor, and insurance innovator with over 20 years of experience in leading strategic, financial, technology, and operational initiatives across various sectors. I am passionate about creating and scaling businesses that deliver value, efficiency, and customer satisfaction in the insurance industry.

As the CEO of Samos Insurance, I am responsible for driving the vision, strategy, and execution of the company's transformation and growth agenda. I co-founded Samos Insurance in 2021 with the support of the prestigious Y Combinator program, with the mission to provide accessible, affordable, and personalized insurance solutions for the modern consumer. I leverage my expertise in risk management, process improvement, and innovation to build a customer-centric and data-driven culture, and to foster strong partnerships with key stakeholders. I am always looking for new opportunities and connections to learn, share, and collaborate.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Small business owners are the backbone of our communities. Here's my advice to them:

Adapt and innovate: See what customer needs have changed and adjust your offerings.

Embrace the journey: Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Stay connected: Reconnect with loved ones who support you and surround yourself with a strong team.


Community Impact Award 2023


PresidentofDrewlo HoldingsInc

Drewlo Holdings Inc. is a family-owned business that has been developing, constructing and managing apartment buildings for 65 years. We boast some of the most luxurious buildings in five cities in Southwestern Ontario.

Over 9,300 units are built, owned, and managed by Drewlo Holdings. To provide the best tenant experience, we employ the best in property managers, maintenance and landscaping teams, in addition to our construction and development teams.

Being a family company, we take pride in our buildings and are constructing new ones with an eye to what tenants value in making an apartment their home.

OUR MISSION at Drewlo Holdings' is to develop, construct, and manage highquality communities to provide our residents with the best living experience. As a family-owned company, we are committed to providing friendly and prompt service that sets a standard of excellence in our industry.

OUR VISION is to provide exceptional housing for the many residents who choose our communities. We strive to deliver quality homes and services while continually innovating and enhancing relationships with employees, contractors, and communities.

COMMUNITY We invest in our community, and we are committed to giving back. We are proud to be an inclusive housing provider.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award for Community Impact is a tremendous honour for Drewlo Holdings. This recognition underscores our commitment to fostering community well-being and providing innovative housing solutions. We are immensely proud of our team’s dedication and the positive impact of our initiatives, such as the Rent. Save. Own. Program, and our extensive community engagement efforts, including substantial donations and volunteer work, have had on young Canadians, newcomers, and diverse community groups. This award motivates us to continue striving for excellence and to make meaningful contributions to the communities we serve.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

To fellow business owners navigating the recovery phase, resilience and community focus are key. Embrace innovation and adapt to changing needs. Building strong relationships within your community can create a supportive network that benefits both your business and the local area. Prioritize sustainability and long-term impact over short-term gains, and remember that every challenge presents an opportunity for growth. By staying committed to your mission and values, you can thrive and make a lasting difference.

Best in AI & Automation Award 2023


Modern Requirements is a leading enterprise requirements management software solution provider. Its award-winning flagship product, Modern Requirements4DevOps, is the only Requirements Management tool that is fully embedded in Microsoft Azure DevOps, cementing its status as an industry leader. This Canadian company is a Gold Microsoft Partner and was recently recognized as an AI Transformation Partner on a global stage by Microsoft for its new groundbreaking AI Requirements Management tool Copilot4DevOps Plus. Notably, Microsoft also named Modern Requirements as one of the select five Microsoft partners using generative AI to enhance productivity. Modern Requirements is SOC Type 2 and ISO:9001 certified, exemplifying its unwavering commitment to quality, safety, and security of its solutions. The company is also a Gold Medalist and Champion Requirements Management Solution, winning multiple awards consecutively from SoftwareReviews, a third-party, independent IT research and advisory firm.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We are incredibly honored to receive the CanadianSME National Business Award for Best in AI and Automation for our AI tool, Copilot4DevOps Plus. This recognition underscores our team's relentless dedication to innovation and excellence, and celebrates our strong partnership with Microsoft. We are committed to empowering businesses and teams to reach their goals with greater efficiency. With this award, we are inspired to continue pushing the boundaries of technology, delivering unparalleled value to our clients, and shaping the future of AI-driven solutions. Together, we are building a brighter, more innovative future.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

In this thrilling new era of AI, the drive to innovate and embrace change has never been more vital. Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence can dramatically elevate productivity, potentially doubling or tripling your output. This can be achieved by integrating AI into your products and services and utilizing it within your operations. At Modern Requirements, we create cutting-edge solutions like Copilot4DevOps and Codeless ONE, boosting our clients' productivity by 2 to 5 times. Our ambitious goal for 2024 is to enhance our own organizational productivity by at least 2 times, ensuring we remain competitive and future ready. I firmly believe that AI will be the cornerstone of future success for most organizations, driving innovation and growth like never before. Embrace this journey with optimism, and together, we can build a brighter, more resilient future for businesses in Canada.

Fastest Growing Company of the Year 2023


Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award for Fastest Growing Business is an incredible honor. Starting as a mother-andson team driven by kindness, we've even amazed ourselves with our progress. It was an extraordinary privilege to be mentioned alongside the outstanding entrepreneurs and small businesses in this category. This recognition validates our hard work and dedication. Our community, and team around us has been the driving force behind our growth, and their support inspires us daily. We invest heavily in coaching and inspiring our staff, and their commitment has helped us achieve this recognition. We are deeply grateful and excited for the future.

Sparkle & Sheen is an esteemed cleaning company based in Edmonton, Alberta, renowned for its commitment to excellence and community engagement. With over a decade of expertise, we offer comprehensive cleaning solutions for both residential and commercial spaces, utilizing eco-friendly products and meticulous attention to detail.

What sets us apart is our dedication to serving others. We provide elderly companionship, errand running, and innovative concierge services alongside our cleaning offerings. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve adapted to meet evolving needs, ensuring our clients’ safety and well-being.

Moreover, our commitment to community extends beyond our services. We actively support initiatives such as monthly blood donations, volunteering at local food banks, and a Pay-itForward program, demonstrating our ethos of giving back.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

I encourage you to never lose sight of your purpose. Our entrepreneurial journey has been filled with challenges and uncertainties, but we've learned that success often lies just beyond our comfort zone. Continue to shine brightly and inspire others to join us in making a meaningful difference in the world. Don't be afraid to extend kindness and support to your "competitors"; our primary goal should always be to improve the lives of those in our communities. We provide free coaching to many cleaning companies across Canada because we believe our knowledge and support can help far more people than we could reach alone. By fostering a spirit of collaboration and compassion, we can all contribute to a brighter future. Remember, the strength of our businesses is rooted in the well-being of the communities we serve. Stay resilient, stay inspired, and keep making a positive impact.

Best Professional Services Award 2023


Rob Hong is co-founder and CEO of Sapling Financial Consultants. Rob’s analytical prowess and strategic thinking have been instrumental in steering the company's remarkable growth.

Since launching Sapling Financial Consultants in 2015, Rob has been the driving force behind the company’s strategic direction. Under his leadership, the company has achieved impressive milestones, including entering the competitive U.S. market in 2019, with U.S. revenues surpassing those in Canada for the first time in 2021, and expanding the company’s service portfolio with the addition of data analytics and quality of earnings offerings.

Rob started his career in investment management, where he fostered his expertise in financial modelling, researching over 100 publicly traded companies and overseeing $150 million in client assets. After that he transitioned to KPMG LLP's strategy & operations group, leveraging his modelling skills, diving deeper into database analytics, and contributing significantly to highprofile projects.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

We are honoured to receive the award for Best Professional Services! Thank you CanadianSME Business Magazine for the recognition.

Since we began in 2015, Sapling has strived to bring high-caliber financial modelling, FP&A, due diligence, and data analytics services that are tailored to small and mid-market businesses. This recognition underscores our commitment to innovation and excellence in serving Canadian businesses.

We also extend our appreciation to our dedicated team, clients, and supportive vendors. Your trust and collaboration drive us forward, and we are committed to exceeding expectations and continuing to grow and deliver excellent work.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Our piece of advice for business owners is to stay adaptable to the evolving landscape and explore new strategies. One of the keys to success when staying adaptable is to make the right decisions. To make the right decisions it is important to eliminate the noise and to inform your decisions based quantitative facts and measured performance. During challenging times, it is vital to seek support, which can make a significant difference in reaching your goals. Having a solid foundation and team will help pave the way to success.

Entrepreneur of the Year 2023

James Nguyen


James Nguyen was born and raised in Ottawa and graduated with a degree in Economics from Carleton University. He has been recognized as an Ottawa Top Forty under 40 recipient, 2023 Canadian SME National Entrepreneur of the Year nominee. He is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Quantropi, a Quantum AI cybersecurity company that he founded in 2018 where the company has been recognized as a NATO approved supplier, 2022 Deloitte Fast 50 company and 2023 Future In Review – FiRe Starter recipient.

As an emerging leader in deep-tech, he has been privileged to have worked alongside some of the greatest minds in the industry. Prior to working with quantum technologies, he worked on commercializing graphene technologies and was in banking prior to getting into tech. James likes to travel and enjoys growing his network of change makers. As an active angel investor in early-stage companies and speaking at global events, he hopes to help bring technologies to market sooner that will solve meaningful problems for the world.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the Entrepreneur Canadian SME National Business Award was an incredible honour and a testament to our Quantropi team's hard work and dedication. This recognition inspires my team and me to continue striving for excellence. I am so grateful for the unconditional support from our investors, Board members, partners, and colleagues. Without them, I could not have the same impact on the business landscape.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

As you navigate your journey, remember that resilience and adaptability are key. Focus on listening and truly understanding your customers', employees', and shareholders' ever-changing needs, and be open to advice. Be prepared for change, and always lead with your heart.

Technopreneur of the Year 2023

David Gens is an award-winning business leader and former director of the Canadian Lenders Association. He is the Founder & CEO of Merchant Growth and the Founder, Managing Partner, & CEO of the Merchant Opportunities Fund. He is passionate about helping Canadian businesses access the financing they need to grow. David built Merchant Growth from humble beginnings in his apartment to now being one of Canada’s largest online business finance companies. Merchant Opportunities Fund, the primary funder of the Merchant Growth loan portfolio, invests in specialty finance portfolios across North America.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the Canadian SME Award for "Technopreneur of the Year 2023" is a tremendous honor for Merchant Growth. This recognition highlights our commitment to innovation and excellence in the fintech industry. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team, who continuously strive to provide cutting-edge solutions for small businesses across Canada. We are incredibly proud and motivated to continue our mission to bring the most convenient and accessible financing experience to Canadian business owners.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

As we navigate this recovery phase, our message to small business owners is to stay resilient and adaptable. Embrace technology to streamline your operations and enhance customer experiences. Focus on building strong relationships with your customers and community, as these connections are invaluable. Don’t hesitate to seek out financial support and resources designed to help small businesses thrive. Remember, challenges also bring opportunities for growth and innovation. Stay positive, keep learning, and continue pushing forward. Your perseverance and creativity are key to your success.

Business Woman of the Year 2023

Tracy Sicard

Tracy Sicard is an accomplished leader in the Learning and Development industry. As the Chief Executive Officer and Owner of TuesdayAfternoon Media Inc. (TAM), an award-winning learning experience and solutions agency, Tracy leads a team of 45 employees who create custom learning solutions with one goal in mind: make a positive impact.

Under her leadership, TAM has grown steadily and has become one of Canada’s leading providers of learning solutions, working with organizations from a variety of industries and across the world. The quality of TAM’s work has not gone unnoticed, having won multiple awards for experiences we have developed in partnership with our clients. TAM is also a WBE Certified Company - a rigorous certification process that validates TAM’s excellence as a Woman-Owned Canadian business.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

I am grateful for the support of our phenomenal TAM team and all of our amazing client partners. Winning Business Woman of the Year with some of the TAM team present - including my work and life partner, Peter Sicard, who co-founded TAM with me - gave us a chance to not just celebrate an individual success, but to also celebrate the acknowledgement that our approach to business works! It is possible to be a successful Canadian values-based, woman-owned business when you stay true to your vision, and keep at it year after year. I carry with me so much that I’ve learned from working with incredible women inside and outside of TAM.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Leading a business over the past few years has been full of challenges, but also many opportunities when you look for them. Despite the rollercoaster of changing circumstances and conditions, the thing that has kept us steady and moving forward is our commitment to our values and remaining focused on them in every interaction and partnership - and not wavering from our commitment to creating solutions that empower people to bring their best forward. Taking this approach has helped us to upshift our thinking and keep moving forward!

Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2023

Lacey Koughan

Lacey Koughan is a young business owner (24strong) and dancer, living in Charlottetown PEI. Lacey grew up dancing and performing and always had a dream of opening her own dance studio one day. In 2016, at 16 years old, Lacey made that dream come true. She has since become a graduate from the StartupZone (PEI) and a Vancouver based accelerator, LOI Labs (where she was mentored by Chip Wilson and Ryan Holmes) Lacey’s passion and dedication to her work has led her to be recognized as The 2023 Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Canadian SME), The Rising Entrepreneur of the year (PEI), One of Atlantic Canada’s 30 under 30 innovators, And nominated as one of Atlantic Canada’s 25 Most Powerful Women, and Canada’s young entrepreneur of the year. Lacey has had the opportunity to speak to various schools and groups about her entrepreneurial journey. She is passionate about empowering Island youth to believe in themselves and their abilities and is excited for what’s to come in the future.

As we navigate through this recovery phase as business owners, my message to my fellow entrepreneurs is to remember why you started. When times get tough ( as they often do ) its vital that we are able to focus back on the reason why we started our business. Our mission and our values are what will keep us going and bring us out even stronger, on the other side. FounderandCEOat24STRONGYouth

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

"I am truly honoured to be named the 2023 Young Entrepreneur of the year. I left the Awards Night feeling inspired and motivated to continue working hard to grow my business, in hopes of empowering even more youth to believe that they too, can make their dreams come true. Thank you to the entire SME team for your support."

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Inspirational Leader of the Year 2023

Margarita Simkin


As founder and chairwoman of INKAS® Group of Companies, Margarita has been successfully building businesses and brands from scratch and bringing strategic direction to all divisions within the company. Ms. Simkin has been instrumental in building INKAS® into a global brand known for continuous industry-leading innovations, and leading multiple brands which have gone on to be acquired by major players in their industries.

Among her accomplishments are founding and serving as the President of INKAS® Security Services Ltd. for over two decades. Ms. Simkin’s vision and unwavering work ethic led the company to become one of Canada’s “Big 3” Cash In Transit providers within short time.

Ms. Simkin also served as Managing Director of INKAS® Financial Corp. Ltd. in the United Kingdom and led the company in successfully obtaining full membership in the LINK Network. Mrs. Simkin developed all aspects of the distribution network across the UK, and managed all aspects of the company’s operations across its entire network.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

Winning the CanadianSME National Business Award is an incredible honour for INKAS® Safe Manufacturing. It truly shows the hard work and dedication of our entire team. We are committed to innovation, quality, and leadership in the manufacturing industry. Likewise, we are deeply grateful for the support of our clients, partners, and the small business community, which has been instrumental in our success. This award motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries and striving for even greater achievements.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

To all small business owners navigating this recovery phase, remember that resilience and adaptability are your greatest assets. Embrace innovation and remain open to new opportunities, even in challenging times. Focus on understanding and meeting the evolving needs of your customers, as their trust and satisfaction are paramount. Invest in your team and foster a culture of collaboration and continuous learning. Lastly, stay true to your core values and vision, as they will guide you through adversity.

Together, we can rebuild stronger and more resilient businesses that contribute to a thriving economy.

Immigrant Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023

Morteza Javid

Dr. Morteza Javid has earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto and then started teaching at UofT. This experience allowed him to become intimately familiar with universities’ strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the quality of teaching.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

It is a great honor to win the CanadianSME National Business Award for Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year. This award recognizes the hard work and innovation at LABonWEB, where we use generative AI to create interactive simulations that transform education. As an immigrant entrepreneur, this award validates the challenges we have overcome to improve the quality of teaching in colleges and universities. I am thankful to CanadianSME, our dedicated team, and our supportive partners. This recognition motivates us to continue our mission of making education more engaging and effective worldwide. Thank you for this incredible acknowledgment.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

To all small business owners dealing with the recovery phase, I understand the challenges you are facing. My heartfelt advice to you is to fully embrace innovation and adaptability. At LABonWEB, we have experienced the significant impact of using technology to turn challenges into opportunities. Investing in digital solutions and staying flexible can significantly strengthen your resilience. It's crucial to prioritize understanding your customers' changing needs and be prepared to adjust your strategies accordingly. Collaboration and networking with other businesses can provide invaluable insights and support. Above all, please remember to be patient and persistent; recovery takes time. Your unwavering dedication and innovative approach will drive your business forward. Stay positive, stay committed, and continue to push boundaries. Your perseverance will make a difference.

Digital Business of the Year Award 2023

PresidentatPagePros CEOatPagePros

Page Pros is one of North America's fastest-growing digital marketing agencies, celebrated for its award-winning suite of services. Their mission is to deliver affordable, high-quality, and high-performing online marketing solutions. Having already achieved success for thousands of businesses, Page Pros is now on a mission to empower millions more around the globe.

Your thoughts on winning the CanadianSME National Business Award

This award is a remarkable achievement by our entire Page Pros team, showcasing their daily commitment to excellence. At the beginning of 2023, we were just getting started, and now, with 30 employees and thousands of clients, we've been honoured as the Digital Business of the Year. We are incredibly excited and motivated for what the future holds.

Your special message/advice to small business owners during these challenging times

Trust your instincts and follow your heart. For the first few years, put your CEO title aside and become the hardest worker in the room until your business becomes entirely self-sufficient. Prioritise creating the best possible product and service, and commit to continuous improvement every single day in every aspect of your business.

JoeDevereaux JesseGalati

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