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4 Unbelievable Uses of Gold Bars

With the slow but steady stabilization of the global economy featured in many outlooks for the future year, it’s finally time to loosen up and start taking more risks. Considered a safe haven during economic hard times, gold bars are the precious metals many investors rely on and store in their safety deposit boxes or safes. For many, these improving economic times mean cashing in those gold bars, stored through bad days.

An awesome example of an unexpected use of gold bars is a recent story about nine of Canada’s leading gold miners donating over $ 3.3 million worth of gold bars to fund the battle against cancer at Princess Margaret. With the huge number of people impacted by the disease, this cause and many others are certainly worth donating to. But whether you’re interested in investing that stored capital or donating it to a good cause, let us introduce 4 unbelievable uses of gold bars sure to get your wheels turning:

1. Donate to Cancer Research or a Charity of Your Choice

Not many investors would consider cashing in a gold bar without a good reason or а reasonable amount of financial security. Unless, of course, you need the money to sustain your endeavors. Otherwise, those pretty gold bars will stay hidden for another day. So if you’re in that first situation, why not consider giving some of that money to the charity of your choice? Not only will you benefit from feeling better about yourself for helping, but you can donate the money through your organization or business and enjoy the benefits of the positive PR.  Being able to afford to help change lives is something that should not only bring a sense of accomplishment, but also a positive impact on one’s community.

2. Fund Your Startup or Expansion

Of course nobody ever said you have to give up on your gold bars for a good cause. Have you ever considered putting some funds behind that side project or great idea and turning it into a reality? Is it high time you take the risk and invest in expanding your startup? All those questions have one answer: asset-based lending. Companies like Zillidy offer the perfect solution to all those who search to fund an endeavor without having to cash their gold bars in.

An asset-based loan is a type of collateral loan in which a specific personal possession such as jewelry, luxury watches, or precious metals (such as gold bars) are used as a collateral for a loan. Why is it a great idea? You don’t have to waste time with documentation, your gold bars will be taken care of by professionals, and you’ll get them back once you’ve repaid the loan! If you’re eager to get your startup going, you won’t regret the decision.

3. Become a Gold Member

With Christmas approaching, you might consider giving yourself a present! Keep the “gold” in gold bar and use that cash to buy a gold membership. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or your business has you checking into hotels often, obtaining a gold membership for specific companies will not only guarantee greater convenience, but will also make sure you get the service you deserve, and all while saving money! Make sure you choose to invest into a membership that will add value to your life and your business.

4. Re-Invest

Obtaining gold bars is a popular investment, but if you are considering cashing the bars in, you may be ready for another smart investment. Start by researching which markets are in demand or on the rise. Furthermore, you can invest in some of the most promising startups in Canada. Make sure you re-invest wisely and balance your risk levels. That way you can ensure your capital will increase over time, so eventually you’ll be able to invest in more of those gold bars!

Would you use gold bars to fund your startup? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below!

Is An Open-Office Plan Good For Your Business?

Open-office plans seem to be all the rage these days, but they’ve actually been around for more than half a century. But lately, whether you’re a tech startup or a well established company, this seems to be where the business world is heading. Of course following a trend for its own sake is an all-too-common mistake many businesses make. So it’s important to understand the trend, it’s pros and cons, before making the decision to change up your office environment.

There are a ton of things to consider here, data gathered from a wide variety of studies indicates open offices influence people’s work in them in an enormous variety of ways. Everything from how often employees get sick to reducing ethics violations can come into play. You should also look at who will be working in this environment, are they easily distracted? Do they suffer from fatigue because of the stressfulness of their jobs? These are also important things to consider. So overall, the best thing to do is look at the entire list of pros and cons and decide whether an open-office would work best for your office and your type of business.

 

 

3 Easy Ways to Finance A Great Office Christmas Party on a Tight Budget

With the holidays right around the corner, if you’re a small business owner, you might be pondering over the option of whether you should be throwing a Christmas party at your office or not. After all, although they can be great fun, events like this are not exactly cheap.

But giving an office party has many benefits to offer. As Charles Cotton, reward adviser of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, says, “A Christmas party can be used as a way of reinforcing that you’ve come through a tough year and survived.” You can use this time to bond, share, and make your team feel strong, as the new year rolls around. You’ll get an incredible teamwork ROI from just one party, and that’s certainly worth the investment.

Holiday Office Bash: A Great Investment in Your Team

Parties at the office are great team building events, which can boost employee morale, strengthen the company culture and even help you increase your brand’s presence locally. They allow people who work together to socialize in an informal atmosphere, which will increase staff engagement, help them identify with the company’s core values, and start the next year with even greater commitment.

When you’re just starting out or if your company’s net income isn’t really all that far out from its gross, then such a luxury may seem like something you can definitely live without. But while you may feel you’re saving money, the decision to skip the bash might later seem like a huge missed opportunity. Investing in your team now will show you great returns in the new year and the next.

But how much should you invest? Trying to decide how much you should spend on your office festivities can seem tricky. But the Canada Revenue Agency makes it easy — it considers any office party expenditure over $100 per person as taxable, so aim to keep your target budget below that, to save on costs.

But once the planning’s done, where can you get the money from? Fear not! You don’t have to reach into your pockets to make it happen. There are many hassle-free financing options available for business owners in Canada. Here are 3 great methods you can use to finance an awesome Christmas party at your office:

#1 Business Credit Cards

Provided you have a good credit score, this is one of the easiest ways you can finance your Christmas party this time around.

Business credit cards are easily available and the minimum payment on them is usually low. These cards are especially useful if your company is still young and doesn’t have a lot of money coming in just yet.

However there are a few drawbacks — you really don’t want to be defaulting on your payments. While the required payments are small, they can quickly add up and put a nasty debt on your company and ruin your credit score. Bottom line is, don’t spend more money than you have to and can afford to pay back!

#2 Friends and Family

It is indeed surprising how many entrepreneurs overlook asking their near and dear for help when they need it. So if you have a friend or a family member with whom you have strong relations and who has some cash to spare, then by all means, ask them. The biggest advantage here is, of course, the low-to-no-interest rate as family members usually have no issues giving money on faith.

However, this is a double edged sword, so do be careful. Since we’re talking about people who mean a lot to you, it is best not to take more money from them than you can pay back. You should always try to find a good balance between financing an event yourself and having a creditor help you out. This will help to ensure that you don’t damage your relationships with those closest to you.

#3 Small Business Loans

You can also opt for newer kind of loan — a small business loan, given against assets, such as those that are provided by Zillidy. Business Asset Loans are faster than other financing options, as they don’t require any credit checks or lengthy loan applications. Plus, these loans are fully supported by the valuable asset that you leave in our possession, so we do not require any personal guarantees from you, either. We’ll work with you to help you plan out your loan so you can pay it back in full, and get your valuables back.

Finally, our small business loans don’t affect your credit score, so а loan can help you fund your Christmas Party without any fear of damaging your credit standing. When it comes to finding financial support for your business, whether now or throughout the year, you can rely on us to back all your efforts and help you reach success.

Give Your Employees the Party They Deserve

Few events brings people together better than Christmas and regardless of whether you’re just starting out or are an established business, gathering everyone to foster a powerful team spirit is an opportunity not be missed.

Do you feel that holiday celebrations at the office are a great way to build a stronger working culture? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Cash in on Your Ideas: Organize Your Creative Entrepreneur Space

Organize your entrepreneur's creative space.

Tip #1 to boost creativity: elevate your legs.

As an entrepreneur you know that your small business grew from one little gap in the market where you planted a strong idea. Your seed of inspiration grew into something marketable, which goes to show that the entrepreneurs’ creative space is a fundamental currency for success. This is why it’s so important to keep your creative channels open and primed for new ideas.

In the same way that you take out business loans to keep your business’ bank balance healthy, it’s important that you find ways to replenish your bank of creative ideas, so you can keep on thriving.

How to Organize Entrepreneurs’ Creative Space

Thinking about your company’s finances, how closely do you monitor your incomings and outgoings? Where do you invest your time and money to keep your bank balance healthy? We’re pretty sure you’ll be keeping a close eye on your financial health to make sure funds for your small business don’t dry up. Equally, you need fresh ideas to grow and these thoughts need the right conditions to flourish. If you fear your proposals are overdrawn or your inspiration is at zero, we’ve got four top tips for Canadian entrepreneurs to boost creativity throughout the day, month and year. It’s as easy as learning 1, 2, 3.

# 1 Invest in Your Physical Wellbeing

Happy marathon runners in Toronto.

Exercise can boost your creativity.

Think about how much you might spend in one year on products that help you to work in the most efficient way you can. Life is much easier when you have a well-oiled machine that doesn’t struggle to compute daily tasks. Now use this same calculation to work out how much time you should invest in your own brain power to build the foundations of your creativity. Scientific studies are underway to prove once and for all that exercise has a positive impact on your grey cells, so get yourself to the local gym, and swim, run, or play team sports to boost your brain matter. The investment will pay off if your creative muscle is tensed and toned, ready to fire off some ideas.

#2 Trade Creative Ideas with Others

As your company grows, you’ll need to surround yourself with the right people to keep it moving in the right direction. Think about how much money you might spend on staffing, consultancy fees or advice. This trade-off in business skills is important in your creative space, too. Bounce ideas off other people who work as entrepreneurs or mingle with professional people who do something completely different.

Meeting new people draws you outside of your own business bubble to study how other people make successful negotiations. There are professional networking groups all over Canada that you can sign up to right away. Find your local group and get talking — you never know who you’re going to meet or how their story might inspire your own creative thought process.

#3 Keep Your Work-Life Balance in Check

To pull off a successful business strategy most entrepreneurs are putting in extra hours on a daily basis, but this can quickly lead to burn-out. As relationships can suffer and friendships can dwindle away, creativity can also dry up if you don’t learn to prioritize.

Everything flows a lot easier when your most urgent needs are satisfied — don’t think your creativity is any different. In the same way that your body needs fluids and your business needs money to survive, your creative space needs room to breathe if you’re to come up with anything new. Slot in time for whatever makes you happy as often as you can. Whether that’s watching a film with your family, walking the dog, meeting an old friend for lunch or browsing an art gallery, it’s important to keep something back for a rainy day.

#4 Surround Yourself with Positivity

Office cubicle covered by post-it notes.

Make your work space enjoyable.

All work and no play stifles creativity. If your office is grey and tired, you’ll be feeling the same way in no time at all. Add some color to your surroundings. Buy a desk calendar with funny quotes. Put up some pictures of vintage humour or cartoons that make you smile. Laughter is a great way of reducing the stress that is often associated with running your own business. The effects of finding something funny are said to boost circulation and release healing biochemicals. If this isn’t worth a small corner of the entrepreneurs’ creative space, then we don’t know what is.

Your Creative Space Needs Credit, Too

Futurpreneur Canada reports that the number of entrepreneurs in Canada is higher than ever before, but do they have the creative edge? In the same way that you top up your bank balance with asset-based loans, personal loans, grants or sponsorship, the entrepreneurs’ creative space needs this same attention. Invest some of your time and energy into the areas we’ve highlighted to build creative foundations. These will support your business growth and who knows what you could come up with next.

Step outside of your office for a moment. What place could you go to right this second and how might it inspire your creativity?

Toronto Government Grants: Free Money for Your Small Business

When you’re the owner of a small business you investigate every possible avenue that may lead to vital funds for its growth. Naturally, business loans (a bank loan, asset-based loan or a personal loan from a family member) are your first consideration. However, did you know you can also apply for a government grant to fund the foundation of your business? If you’re based in Toronto we’ve a great selection of grant options below to get you thinking about your options.

Start Your Financing with Government Grants

A government grant is money for your small business that doesn’t have to be paid back. However, there are very strict guidelines for getting your hands on it – you can’t apply for a government grant by filling in an online form and expect a check in the post the following week. The application process for a government grant is not as fast as it is for an asset-based loan, but if you put together a strong case and you are successful in receiving the grant, it’s a strong cash injection for your business to supplement your income.

Generally speaking, the money from a government grant comes from foundations or organisations that wish to financially support good causes – not only charities, but innovative businesses too. If your small business is in engineering or is science based, you will find ample opportunity to apply for a government grant to assist with production and marketing as well as staffing costs. Green thinking or initiatives that support Ontario’s environment, for example, are popular with grant givers, but there are others who support music, film and creativity.

Best Canadian Government Grants for Small Businesses

Thinking beyond the bills and expenses, a government grant can fund extra research or resources to help nurture your small business in any number of creative and innovative ways. Here are some examples of government grants for Toronto based businesses that you could take advantage of right now, organized by industry and sector. If these aren’t suitable for your business in particular, they should spark off some ideas about where to look next.

#1 Digital Media Companies: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport Grants

In this day and age, children are overtaking their grandparents and even parents in their understanding and usage of new technologies. Libraries and board games are being overtaken by e-readers and games consoles. Everything is online. It therefore goes without saying that any small business in the digital sector is set to thrive, given the right ideas and promotion. If you’ve got a new take on interactive games playing or other forms of media for children, adults or the whole family, you might find a suitable grant. If you’re interested in finding more about applying for this grant, check out the guidelines for Ontario based Digital Media applicants.

#2 New Technology Companies: National Research Council Canada Grants

We see new technologies emerging all the time across the globe. If you see a gap in the market you might have the skill and resource to fill it and have the market research to back up demand, but you need to test your invention first. This is where a government grant can fill a lack of funding and help bring your product to market. It’s part of what the SDTC (Sustainable Development Technology Canada) calls the Innovation Chain and without this link an important piece of the process is missing. Find out more about the Innovation Chain and funding to get you started.

#3 Artists: Canada Council for the Arts Grants

Art takes many forms and your small business could be anything from being a dance instructor in Toronto to a theatre production company. Whatever it is, you’ll need to perfect your craft with personal development training. You have travel expenses to cover like any other small business owner. Your creative venture requires materials and oftentimes the employment or assistance of other people to bring it to life. All of these costs can be covered with a government grant if you are eligible.

Take a look at some past recipients of government grants from the Arts Council.

#4 Interns: Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation Grants

No matter how well you know the nature of your own business, when you’re just starting out it’s not possible for you to be able to control every element of it. If you’re an accountant you probably won’t know much about building a website. If you’re a photographer you probably aren’t so hot on human resources. It takes a team of people to build up a small business and one of the most effective ways to find people with the right skills is by hiring a qualified intern. A government grant can help to fund this, but you will need to check first if your industry is eligible.

#5 Youth Employment: The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Grants

Whether you’ve been running your small business for a few months or a few years, every business owner can use an injection of youthful enthusiasm from time to time. A sixteen year old might not have much life experience, but a naive enthusiasm for your product, industry, or just for making money can lead to all manner of ideas that you wouldn’t otherwise think of. Find the right candidate and you could have a future Director on your hands or, in the very least, a future employee.

If you have concerns about hiring inexperienced people as part of your government grant application, here are some tips for managing interns from Mind Tools. They run through the pros and cons of using interns as well as how to train and motivate your staff.

Money for Nothing

It goes without saying that the volume of small businesses in Toronto applying for a government grant is high. This is money for nothing, isn’t it? If you go into your government grant application with this in mind, you’re sure to fall short of the mark. These funds are destined for good things. You’ll need to demonstrate that you and your business is worth giving money to for the good of the city and beyond.

Do you think government grants do enough to support small businesses and is the application process fair?

5 Unique Markers оf а Successful Startup

Are you wishing that you could join the ranks of successful startups in Canada and enjoy the global glamour of being called a successful entrepreneur? You’re not the only one. But while many try, few succeed. Taking a brilliant idea and using it to build a stable and successful company from scratch is no easy task.

Even though startups are the way of the future and are already taking our world by storm — admit it, either you or someone you know is probably working in a startup right now — we also know that they’re incredibly hard to support and nurture. As a matter of fact, 8 out of 10 startups fail within the first 18 months. Even companies that enjoy great success at first don’t often find it easy to keep up. This is one big lesson we all learned from Webvan, which was ranked one of the biggest startup flops in history by CNN.

So what separates the successful startups from the failures? Here are some of the most powerful and unique markers of successful startups, which can hopefully help you launch your new company into the winning ranks.

#1 A Clear Vision

Every entrepreneur starts with a vision, or a dream. A yearning to solve a persistent problem or introduce a new way of doing things which can help people lead better lives. Successful businessmen have stated time and time again that it’s their vision of the future which allowed them to push themselves to achieve things they otherwise couldn’t have.

“Chase the vision not the money, the money will end up following you.”

– Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of Zappos

 

“As we look into the future, leaders will be those who empower others.”

– Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft

Such quotes hint at what drives such people, they have a powerful dream they’re chasing. Great entrepreneurs are also big picture thinkers; not only do they know how their idea will fit into the grand scheme of things, but they have also done their homework and have a good estimate about how good their chances are.

Ask yourself what problem you wish to solve, is it something that bothers a niche audience, or people in general? Next, what solution are you offering to your audience, and how will it help your audience?

Once your vision is set, you’ll find it easier to not only creating your business, but a lifestyle to help you realize it – this really can’t be emphasized enough!

#2 Well-Defined Goals

Your vision needs to be concrete enough to be turned into reasonable goals. Goal setting is an art itself and is the point where most startups fail. Though the failure itself often doesn’t manifest until much later. Break your vision into smaller, more attainable goals, and decide how long it will take for you to achieve them. Next, decide how many people you need in order to achieve each goal. Your goals should have dedicated people accountable for them and focused towards attaining them.

You should also understand how much it will cost you to attain each goal factoring in timeframe and all expenses involved, including employee pay, office rental, equipment, taxes, assets, etc. It will also help if you benchmarked your expenses against industry standards to see if you are paying more than others. If so, then research how other companies are keeping their costs down and try to incorporate their methods into your own.

Even if you have well-defined goals, it doesn’t mean that they are infallible. Patton once said that plans are useless, planning is crucial. What he meant was that since it’s impossible to predict the future, take your own foresightedness with a grain of salt and always be ready to adapt your goals to changing circumstances.

#3 Getting Proper Financing

A strong vision is good, however, great startups also need to have great financing to support them. Unfortunately, raising money has never been an easy task, at least not since the dot com bubble burst.

Indeed, funding is one of the biggest threats facing all startups, and it’s smart for startups to consider all of their options. There’s government funding, bank loans, credit cards, crowdfunding and more. We’ve written about how these financing options compare, and it’s clear that there’s no fit-all solution — each startup will have its own quirky needs and preferences, so it’s important to really consider what it is you need.

In addition to these well-known options, there are also Angel Investors, or angel investor groups as they are known, who have few qualms about investing in new ideas. These people are rarely ever interested in passive incomes; they are more in it for the change and are looking to take a younger, passionate, and enterprising individual under their wing whom they can mentor. .

If you don’t want to be financially dependent on another person or outside organization, though, keep in mind that you might be able to finance your business venture yourself with an asset-based loan from companies like Zillidy. If you have valuable jewelry or watches, you can send them over for safekeeping while you get cash in return. It’s a safe and fast alternative to other regular loan options, and the best part is that these loans don’t impact your credit score, which means that they can’t negatively affect your business.

#4 Budgeting Properly

Successful startups are extremely well aware of the importance of every penny which has been trusted to them! Remember, if you’re financed by another party, then it’s not your money to spend. Think how you can ration your financial reserves so that you’re focused on bringing in new capital and paying back your investors.

Even if you’re financing your business venture yourself, you’ll have even more of an incentive to spend wisely and work hard towards getting a good and sustainable ROI. There’s a lot that goes into budgeting properly, so make sure to think about all of the components of your business and follow them carefully. When you’re starting out, you’re low on money and every minute counts, so focus on doing more with less.

#5 Networking and Social Skills

The best startups have networking at their heart. If your organization has members who are well connected with powerful and influential people, then you’ll find it easier to get new partners and find more investors, not to mention new opportunities!

Good social skills are then an integral part of being a great entrepreneur. Startups often face uncertain hard times. In such situations, motivating people to make the sacrifices required to get through becomes critical. A successful startup almost always has great leadership with a strong vision which can inspire the people working under them to work hard.

Of course these are only some of the successful startup markers which define most enterprises which manage to make it past the 2 year mark. Each company does it a little differently, but each will master at least these 5 practices. We hope you’re among them!

If you’re planning on starting a new business, what are your biggest fears? And if you’re already operating one, what have been the strongest parts of your company that help pull you through the bad times? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Google Analytics’ Market Insights: Business, Meet Customers

Running an online retail business in Canada is about much more than finding customers, it’s ultimately about knowing your customers. This seemingly simple difference is a critical element in the success or failure of your business. So it’s crucial that you discover who your customers are, and integrate that information into your marketing strategy as well as the core philosophy of your business.

Of course, for traditional brick-and-mortar stores, it’s easy to ask a customer what brought them into the store. But for online companies, it’s not so simple. Online businesses spent almost $40 billion on market research in 2013 alone! That may seem like a lot, but it’s not so much when you consider how many businesses fail because they don’t have a proper understanding of their customers.

However, if you don’t have a huge budget, what should you do? Don’t get discouraged! Your customers are already telling you more than you might expect, you just need to learn how to listen. So, here’s how to use the free tool Google Analytics to gain better market insights by knowing your buyers. Of course, if you want to combine this with online marketing, or some other capital intensive project, consider a Zillidy business loan.

Google Analytics: Talking the Talk

Google Analytics is the most used website statistic service in the world, and for good reason. It’s a powerful, free service which compiles detailed data about your website’s traffic and where it’s coming from.

But the flip side to all this functionality is that it can be overwhelming at first, so let’s start by defining some terms:

  • Bounce Rate – The percentage of times when a unique user came to your site and left without interacting with anything. This essential means “you got ‘em, then you lost ‘em.”
  • Conversions – This is how often a user comes to your site and completes a goal you’ve set. This could be commenting, purchasing, signing up, etc.
  • Session – A single visit to your site by a user. You can look at things like average length to see how long users are staying on your site.

What you need to do in the most basic sense is focus on creating goals, and achieving them with conversions. Now that we’re up to speed on some of the jargon let’s get into tips on using Google Analytics for your business.

How to Set Up Google Analytics for Your Website

The first thing you have to do to use Google Analytics is to insert a bit of code into your site’s HTML to allow Google to track it. You can either use the basic one provided by Google or you can customize it to track additional information like purchases. Once you’ve completed this first step, you’ll have to wait about 24 hours before you can check to see if the code is working. Use the instructions provided by Google to see if everything’s in working order.

Now, you just need to verify your site ownership with Google Webmaster tools. At this point, if everything is working correctly then you’re ready to get started setting up your account (I promise, it’s worth it). Log into Google Analytics and start checking out what data has been collected so far.

The Basics: A Quick Peek Into Your Site Visitor Behavior

Now you’ll be glad you brushed up on what bounce rates, conversions, and session come into play. You’ll see all of them listed on the basic entry page once you log in. If you only just got set up you probably don’t have a ton of data yet, but by using the real-time feature, you’ll have immediate access to a variety of data as it happens, ranging from the location of a current site visitor to how long they’re spending on your site.

Once you’ve gotten acquainted with how to see the data and interpret its meaning, you can start manipulating it further to gain a deeper understanding of the patterns. Here are the most useful ways to get started:

  • Analyze a Particular Time Frame — Once you’ve had things up and running for a while, it’s time to start adjusting the time period covered by the analytics. You can be as general or as specific as you want. Just use the date range selector to select a time frame and choose what kind of data you’d like to see for that period, and you’re good to go. This will help you to understand all kinds of patterns and trends over time.
  • Keep Up With Sudden Developments –  The last thing you definitely need to do early on is set up Intelligence Events. These are custom alerts you can create for any number of data changes, whether good or bad. That way you’ll know right away if you’ve hit an important milestone (like, say, getting that bounce rate below 40%), or if something is terribly wrong (perhaps if the bounce rate gets above 70% again). This will help you keep track of out-of-the-ordinary visitor behavior which you can boost if good, and fix if bad.

Taking Things to the Next Level

Once you’ve got a good handle on the basics, you can start to really think about using your new understanding of your customers to develop some categories and labels to better understand who’s visiting your sites. Here’s where things really get interesting. Google Analytics also has the capability of tracking users based not to just on basic demographic data like age and gender but on their interests.

But what does that mean? To put it simply, it means you can more precisely understand and target your buyer personas. For example, if your company has created three specific buyer personas which it would like to target, Google Analytics can tell you both how well you’re doing at reaching them and whether your personas are the right ones, at all.

Perhaps your company believes one of your buyer personas is a young professional living in a city. You may discover that there isn’t a lot of market potential from this persona and that you should refocus your efforts towards another target group. Alternatively you may be able to see that there’s a lot of potential here but you need to target this group better.

On top of this, you can use all your data points to see which of these buyer personas are, say, buying the highest margin items or staying on your site the longest. This kind of detail can allow you to market to very specific customer segments based on their value, which is the cost in gaining the customer relative to how much they spend.

How to Win at Google Analytics as a Small Business

All-in-all, the biggest tip here is to be creative. With such a wide variety of data available, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. But if you’re focused and thinking about how to use this new knowledge in unique ways, then you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve. Also, be mindful that Google frequently updates its analytics tools, so always keep an eye out for the latest changes so you can stay on top of things.

There’s really no reason not to get started now. The tools are free, powerful, and available. Then, once you’ve gotten the hang of Google Analytics, consider expanding your customer knowledge even further with Twitter analytics and Facebook’s Graph Search.

Have you started using Google Analytics or a similar service? What’s been your experience? Let us know in the comments section!

The Digital Media Zone (DMZ) Phenomenon

Digital Media Zone

Ryerson DMZ/ Flickr /Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Startups are emerging everywhere, and they’ve been more than valuable when it comes to progress and improving the way our world works. They’re a hotbed for great ideas, which revolutionize the way we look at industries, products, and interaction. Now, imagine a place where all those startups and the inspiring teams behind them can interact, share ideas, and change the face of reality. You don’t need much imagination, because this place has been a reality since 2010 — it’s called the Digital Media Zone (DMZ).

The Digital Media Zone is one of the most popular business incubators and startup accelerators around the world. DMZ is ranked the #1 University Business Incubator in Canada by the University Business Incubator and within the top 5 worldwide, proving its impact and success. DMZ is located in Toronto, Canada and is the digital media innovations hub of one of Canada’s top schools — Ryerson University.

Digital Media Zone

Sandra Pupatello/ Flickr /Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

#BriefHistory and #Principles

The Digital Media Zone project was initially launched to support Ryerson University’s drive for innovation, as well as Toronto’s building agenda, and to boost Toronto’s motivation to grow its startup sector, in response to the lack of job openings following the 2008 financial crisis. Since 2010, the demand for DMZ’s services have grown so rapidly that the hub has been expanded and now occupies over 5 floors at Ryerson University where students and entrepreneurs get the support and inspiration they need.

The DMZ operates on a four-prong model (EIAI). Being closely associated with the University, the DMZ:

  • Educates by teaching young entrepreneurs digital skills in the areas of business and social innovation
  • Ideates and Inspires by helping entrepreneurs out with business ideas and development of startup ideas
  • Accelerates and Incubates by helping validate new businesses’ startup models, R&D, and also offering the Acceleration Program, a three-phase program ranging from 6 to 18 months with equity funding available.

In case the Acceleration Program does not provide enough funding, there are alternative methods offered to startup owners. Asset based loans provided by companies like Zillidy give startups the freedom to finance all their ventures against personals possessions including precious metals, jewelry, and more.

#SuccessStories

The Digital Media Zone is not short of success stories. Over the past years, hundreds of entrepreneurs have begun and expanded their startups thanks to DMZ and the support it offers. Furthermore, it has created over 1100 new job openings. An amazing accomplishment in a difficult financial climate. Here are just a few of DMZ’s successful alumni, that began their businesses within the Digital Media Zone and inspire the current and future startup teams:

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500px is one of the most successful startups to operate within the DMZ. It’s an inspiring business venture by Oleg Gutsol and Ian Sobolev. The idea behind five hundred pixels is to encourage aspiring and professional photographers to upload their most stunning visuals and join the premium photography community. The social networking platform currently has over 10 million monthly active users and offers successful apps for all mobile platforms.

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SoapBox is one of today’s most inspiring sources for feminism. Founded in 2002 by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Soapbox is one of DMZ’s most versatile startups. SoapBox’s services include hosting Feminism camps in addition to producing a range of media materials including movies and books. Their latest accomplishment is Feminists Working Week, created for women who are excited to find a job and bring feminism into their business life.

#PromisingStartups

DMZ’s list of current startups involves a wide range of businesses which are part of Canada’s largest community of innovative startups. Check out two of the most promising ones:

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Unhaggle is an online platform which allows its users to choose the best car by discovering the dealer’s costs, latest incentives for free. In addition, the platform also helps customers find the best price by negotiating smarter! Buying a car from their network of certified dealers is extremely safe and efficient.

In 2011, Unhaggle became the #1 online platform for New Car Buying in Canada, placing the startup among DMZ’s success stories. With over 250,000 satisfied users, Unhaggle is a platform that helps transform the car buying industry by making the purchase process easier, faster and more transparent.

digital media zone

Follwoing the trend of # tags, here’s DMZ’s #paid, a startup founded by Brayn Gold and Adam Rivietz. Its main goal is to help promote products through social influencers who are famous online. #paid helps brands gain customers through organic online celebrity recommendations — influencers get #paid to share content with their dedicated audience of followers.

What makes #paid a promising startup is the fact that they are looking at advertising and marketing through the social media glasses of the 21st century. The startup is currently working with over 100 of the most influential and versatile celebrity personas such as Victoria’s Secret models which assures the campaigns and the startup’s success in the future. #paid has proven the power and value of social media, by showing that it can benefit the community by integrating the right products in an organic way.

With an impressive list of successful startup ‘graduates’ and current inhabitants, the best is yet to come from the Digital Media Zone.

Would you start your business in an incubator? Share why in the comment section below.

5 Steps You Need to Take to Get Your Startup Going

startup business list

Daniel Kulinski/ Flickr /Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Do you have a great business idea but don’t know where to start? The first step is always the hardest to do, especially if it’s your first time. Starting a new business is possibly one of the most nerve wrecking experiences a person can have because there are so many things you need to do and most of them are new.

A great idea is never enough because you need the determination and motivation to turn it into reality. For a new business this involves doing market research, but also preparing every little task by yourself. To make this process easier for you, here’s a startup business list of all the things you need to do to begin a business venture and turn those great ideas into reality.

1. Before you start

startup business list

Otago MBA/ Flickr /Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“Before you start” should be on your checklist for a variety of reasons. You need to make sure you are motivated enough to finish what you’re about to begin. It’s okay to fail but it’s not good to give up. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I interested in what I’m going to be doing?
  • Am I starting a business for more than just money?
  • Do I think anyone will buy the product and why?
  • Do I have enough support and inspiration to get me through hard times?
  • Am I ready to alter and modify your idea?

If you answered yes to all of the above then you are on the right track. In order to make an idea work you need to live it, breathe it, and most importantly believe in it. If your idea inspires you, and you’re not starting a business just for the money, then you’ve got the right mindset. Also, it’s extremely important to not be stubborn and to modify your ideas if you have to. Your product may change dramatically from concept to production.

2. Get to know the field

 startup business list

Michael Buist/ Flickr /Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Once you’ve established the reasons behind your project, it’s time to get down to business. You need to make sure you know the market you will operate in so you don’t face anything unexpected. Research similar products and companies both locally and internationally. LinkedIn is the perfect place to not only find out more about your field but get inspired and get to know other people who impact your market.

Finding and following blogs which publish regular information and trends is another place where you can get to know your field and learn about what’s new, and what’s on the horizon. Take what you’ve learned and modify your idea to make it suitable and trendy.

3. Prepare a business plan

 startup business list

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Creating a business plan is another step which will keep you motivated and focused, as well as add credibility to your business. You will also need it to convince banks or sponsors that your business is well thought through. A business plan should include information about:

  • Your products / services
  • Your short and long-term goals
  • Cash-flow forecast (looking at least 1 year ahead)
  • Your research and findings about the industry you will operate in and how your business relates and how relevant it is

Make sure you change it regularly, reflecting all your progress and decisions. Completing your business plan will stimulate you to think in detail and find the flaws it might have.

4. Sort out your funding and register your business

 startup business list

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You need to register your business with the appropriate institutions, note that some provinces allow most of the registration to be done online. For example, check out our handy guide to registering a business online in Ontario. After the process it’s time to secure enough capital to keep your business going. In case you don’t have enough capital to start your business venture by yourself, you are going to have to think about alternative methods.

Possible funding could be done through government grants; NGO funding; crowd-funding, banks, and business loans against personal possessions. The latter is the easiest and quickest option for funding your startup. Small business loans from companies like Zillidy are a great option because the application can be done online in addition to not requiring any credit score checks or income prediction. The loans are given against personal assets which include jewelry, precious metals, and more.

5. Create a marketing plan and utilize social media

 startup business list

Kristina B/ Flickr /Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

You need to establish your brand, connect with possible clients and promote your products. First on your sub-list should be buying a domain and creating a branded website and social media accounts. Making sure you invest in both will secure your online presence which will result in customer approval and trust.

In-personal networking such as creating an elevation pitch is just one of many methods which will help you market your business and products. It’s extremely important to outline a marketing plan that is consistent with your business plan and goals.

How are you going to to finance your startup? Share how in the comment section below.

Own Your Dream Vehicle Using These Top Car Loans

Car Loans

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Is your car no longer safe? Do you just want to upgrade your vehicle for a more luxurious, spacious and comfortable one? Whether it’s for repairs or for pleasure, a car loan is big and pricey decision that gets people thinking of all the different financing options available. Just like with mobile phones, the demand for new cars is huge and like you might expect, there are a number of ways to purchase a vehicle even if you don’t have the money right now.

Buying a new car is one of the top reasons why people take out loans. From personal loans to bank loans and handy online applications to help you compare and figure out if you can afford them, here are the top 3 car loan options in Canada:

1. Collateral Lending

Car Loans

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Collateral lending is perfect for anyone who has some money already saved up, but needs some help to cover the full price. If you happen to have personal assets of high value, you can use them as collateral and get the funding you need.

As one of the most popular and acclaimed providers of loans against personal possessions, Zillidy offers great conditions for personal loans. What assets can you use to secure the loan? Zillidy offers loans against the following items:

  • Jewelry
  • Precious metals
  • Watches
  • And more

Collateral lending is a great option for those in a hurry, as the process is quick and can be done online. Furthermore, your personal assets are kept safe and you get them back once you’ve returned your loan in the exact same shape in which you sent them out.

2. CIBC Personal Car Loans

CIBC

 

CIBC is one of the leading financial institutions based in Canada. CIBC offers a wide arrange of loans including the Personal Car Loan. Worried about slow approval time? You can apply online to assure faster approval. The CIBC personal car loan provides really good flexibility with repayment — you get up to 8 years to repay the loan. You have the option to lower your monthly payments, so they fit the term of up to 96 months.

You can borrow a minimum of $5000, which you have the option to pay through weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly payments to coincide with your pay periods. Furthermore, you can even skip up to two payments yearly, which lets you breathe easy, and not fear small financial bumps along the way. With CIBC, you can also pay all or part of your Personal Car Loan at any time, without having to endure penalties.

When it comes down to taking out a loan, are you sure you can really afford it? In case you are wondering how taking out a loan can fit your lifestyle, CIBC offers this great tool called the CIBS Car Loan Calculator:

#The Car Loan Calculator by CIBC

A huge part you need to consider when taking out a loan of any kind is if your lifestyle will allow you to repay it without having to struggle for money at any particular time during the repayment process.If you want to know how much you will be repaying monthly, the loan calculator application on the CIBC’s website is a wonderful and easy-to-use tool to help you figure out the bits and bolts of the loans they offer.

The information you are required to input in order to get the calculations is extremely basic, it asks for:

  • Age of the vehicle you want to purchase (so it works for both new and used cars)
  • Province/territory of purchase
  • Cost of the vehicle — you are required to input the total cost of the vehicle quoted by the dealer or manufacturer, make sure you don’t include the taxes.
  • Down payment — make sure it allows over $ 5 000 margin between the cost and the down payment as there’s a minimum for CIBC’s Car Loan ($ 5 000)

Also, you are going to have to complete the section called Loan Information, where you will be asked about the interest rate on the loan, the term in which you would like to pay off your loan (starting from 12 months) and the Cash and Dealer Incentives — a Cash Incentive being the variety of deals offered directly to the customers by the dealers, and the Dealer Incentives being the dealer’s cost to obtain the vehicle after all the different price reductions they may be offered.

Voila! The results are in: you get to see your monthly payments and budget according to the number you got, this way you can see if you can afford taking out the loan. The additional information makes you aware of the total interest on your loan, depending on the repayment period you’ve chosen — you can take up to 8 years and borrow 100% of the funds required to obtain the vehicle.

Want to make the final information even more precise? There’s an optional trade in field you can complete, where you can input the Vehicle Value and the Amount Owing (in case you are also using personal funds to contribute to the purchase). Furthermore, even though the loan calculator is designed to work with CIBC’s Car Loan only, you still get the chance to compare it to other financing options — again you need to input the loan information you have in mind in the Compare Other Financing section, the graph on the side will reflect that information and compare CIBC’s Car Loan to the other financing option you have chosen to help you make a final decision as to whether and what loan you can take.

3. Auto Loan from TD Canada Trust

 

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TD Bank Group is ranked one of the safest banks in 2013 by to Global Finance. TD Canada Trust provides banking, insurance and loaning services. One of their most popular loans is the Auto Loan that help you “get the vehicle that’s right for you.”

The great thing about TD Canada Trust’s Auto Loan is that you get to choose the type of interest rate on the money you take — fixed or variable. The Fixed Interest Rate protects you from changes and provides structured and set payments, while the Variable Interest Rate allows you to benefit whenever the rate is lower, which in turn helps you pay off your loan quicker.

The Auto Loan also allows you to choose from a variety of repayment options that fit your budget for extra comfort. Furthermore, with the Auto Payment you can defer up to 2 payments a year in case you are experiencing financial difficulties.

Which loan would you use to buy a car? Let us know why in the comment section below.