Financing your business ideas should be easy, and it should help you achieve your goals quickly and efficiently, but is it doing that currently? The problem is that there are funding options that you might not know of, and consequently you might be missing out on acquiring the funding you need.
To succeed as an entrepreneur you need to always be a step ahead, using the right tools and resources to find the perfect way to sustain your business and expand it. First and foremost, make sure you know exactly what you’re aiming to achieve — this will dictate what type of funding will work best.
Once you’ve got that part down, check out the top online resources for Ontario business funding and carefully select the right financing method to support your business.
Resource #1: Business Guides from Canada Business Ontario
The business guides available on the Canada Business Ontario page are some of the best resources for staring an Ontario business available online. This should be your first step in exploring what types of finance and business loans programs are available to you and your firm.
The guides are specifically aimed at entrepreneurs and small businesses and include valuable information not only regarding funding but also about wage subsidies, taxation, women in business, and even how to operate your new company.
In order to quickly navigate through the different options, you’re given a brief overview of each link so you can decide whether the information will be relevant to you or not. Some of the business guides, which might be of value to you, include the following:
Financing a Business Guide
The Financing a Business Guide provides you with an overview of the financial methods, which are often used by small companies and startups. Furthermore, you will receive guidance for specific tasks you might need to complete in preparation for your financial applications. Such tasks include preparing a business plan or doing market research.
The guide also points out specific programs you might be eligible for, including the following:
- Canada Small Business Financing Program: Provides the sum of $500,000 for you to start, expand, modernize or improve your startup or small business.
- Ontario Community Futures Development Corporations: Оffers eligible startups up to $150,000 to grow your startup in specific areas in Canada.
Grants, Subsidies and Contributions Guides
There are guides to Grants, Subsidies and Contributions for businesses in two areas in particular: Agriculture and Arts and Media. The main reason behind this narrow focus is that both areas have very specific funding needs.
- Agriculture Guide: Within the agricultural industry, the specific funding needs are the following: there’s the need for constant technological upgrade and equipment change, in addition to constantly changing weather patterns that affect the produce.
- Arts and Media Guide: Within the arts and media business environment, because of the wide range of business types that are included — online media, radio, TV, dance, theater, galleries, and others — it’s hard to find and synthesize the different funding available.
If you want to start a business that falls in either of these two categories, check out the relevant guide, which will help by pinpointing the specific financing options available to you.
Technology and Innovation Support Guide
Technology is one of the greatest business sectors in Canada at the moment. Why? Because you would be able to access funding on a great variety of layers — from Government funding to provincial support.
The Technology and Innovation Support Guide will give your business in-depth information about the different options of funding available for projects aiming to improve existing technology or ones designed to discover new and innovative solutions and practices. The different funding programs available could benefit your business from its development through to expansion or even minimize certain cost.
In addition to the program overviews, the guide includes information about tax credits, which will help you figure out if you would be able to save on your taxes! The guide includes a variety of links and support (from external online resources to contact numbers) for the different layers of financing methods available.
Resource #2: Canada Business Network (CBN)
The Canada Business Network is yet another great source of information about valuable financing for small businesses. The network recognizes the struggle entrepreneurs face when starting or growing out their business, and so, they’ve made the effort to simplify the process and help you out. Want to achieve your dreams? With CBN, you’ll be one step closer.
The Canada Business Network’s website is divided into categories based on the different funding types available to Canadian businesses. They include the following:
Accessing equity financing
Equity financing is a great option for those of you who wish to stay out of debt. The Accessing Equity Financing section gives you an overview of the things you should take under consideration when searching for an investor. Furthermore, you will learn how and where to meet such investors and the ways you can negotiate the levels of control they will have over your business.
Crowdfunding has been receiving increasing attention from the media and the general public recently. Within the Crowdfunding section of the CBN you will learn more about the platforms you can use to fund your startup. In addition, the Canada Business Network provides you with specific Ontario crowdfunding platforms and helpful guidance.
Resource #3: Extra Alternative Financing Options for Small Businesses in Canada
The financial guides presented above focus on the two main types of finance your business can benefit from — government financing and alternative financing. Since the latter is gaining momentum and hype we would like to provide you with a couple more options worth exploring.
Why? We believe that alternative finance is extremely suitable for small businesses because of the (likely) better terms and conditions in addition to advantages like speed and convenience.
Asset-Based Loans (Against Personal Possessions)
Zillidy is part of the asset-based loans movement, offering small business loans, which can help you secure the future you’re aiming for. Why is Zillidy perfect for small companies? First and foremost, the small business loans we offer don’t require any credit checks or financial statements, which, as a young company, you might not be able to provide. Secondly, your personal possessions are cared for by professionals, so you’ll receive them back in pristine condition at the end of the loan period. Last but not least, the transaction is simple and straightforward!
Invoice Financing / Factoring
Another method suitable for new businesses of any size is invoice financing. How does it work? You apply for funding that covers your outstanding invoices. You get assessed on the quality of your customers, without having to provide any financial background statements or credit checks. Again, this is a perfect option for startups, which lack extensive financial records or assets.
What kind of business are you interested in starting in Ontario? And what’s your biggest hurdle? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
What’s harder than coming up with an innovative business idea or product? Finding the right type of finance to fuel it, commercializing it, and wasting no time in finding the resources to help you do so!
Maneuvering through all the different finance options available to businesses in Canada is a hard task due to their sheer volume. It’s no wonder that choosing innovation funding, resources, and support programs, suitable for your needs, might end up bringing on the worst headache of your life.
Don’t despair though, because the Concierge Service, a new Government of Canada program, is here to help you out by providing the personalized guidance you need. Learn more below, and see how you can use it to help your business succeed.
The Concierge Service: What You Need to Know
Since small and medium-sized enterprises are among the main drivers of Canada’s economic growth, the government body has realized the need to stimulate them and help them grow in an effective way.
A comprehensive “one-stop shop” for all of the different federal innovation programs was an outstanding task just a few years ago. But many businesses were clearly struggling with understanding and accessing much of the Research and Development funding available to them.
As a result, the Canadian government designed and put in place a single access point where you can get detailed information and advice to help you navigate government innovation support programs.
It’s called the Concierge Service.
What do you get out of the service? Based on your company’s needs and specialization, you will receive personalized guidance to help you identify and access federal and provincial government programs that support innovation.
Your guide to innovation has been in place since December 2, 2013 and since then it has managed to help a variety of companies excel in what they do. Whether you’re looking for programs that give you access to funding, new global networks, or equipment, all your business innovation queries will be answered in a personal and convenient manner.
Personalized Assistance Made Possible: Get Involved to Boost Your Business
You will receive personalized assistance from the very second you access the Concierge Service. You can get in touch through a variety of channels: the program operates online, phone and in-person services to make sure everybody has access to the guide. Once you’re in, you’ll get paired with an expert adviser, who will guide you through the process and help you select the right programs for your company.
Wondering if your business qualifies for the Concierge Service? If you have less than 500 employees and you’re a Canadian entrepreneur searching for the right way to commercialize and expand your business, the program could be your “golden goose.”
At an age where information is one of the most valuable commodities, the Concierge Service will help you reach your desired innovation objectives quickly.
How can you get started? You can reach your Concierge adviser via the program’s website or by phone at 1-855-534-8433. Furthermore, if you leave your contact information via the service’s online form, they will contact you in a timely manner. In a nutshell, if you need help with identifying and accessing all the different government programs which can help support your innovation business, personalized guidance is just a step away!
Funding Your Own Business in Canada
Is funding a problem for you? If your business is not looking for growth through innovation, the Concierge Service and the government’s Research and Development programs might not be the best fit for your company.
For companies with different aims and goals, there are a variety of alternative ways to finance your endeavors. You can work with companies like Zillidy, which offer asset-based lending for startups and small businesses in Canada. The items you can leverage include personal possessions such as precious metals, watches and jewellery. What’s more, the assessment period is short, so you can receive your funding quickly without the need for long application processes or complicated paperwork.
Have you already tried the Concierge Service offered by the Canadian Government? Let us know how it’s helped, or what you’re still looking for in the comment section below!
Are you looking for ways to manage your money better so your financial results improve quickly? If you don’t have enough time to properly focus on your financial matters or you feel like you lack the expertise, hiring an outside accountant could be the answer to your problem.
There are a number of benefits to hiring an accounts. Most importantly, by using a financial expert, you will be making sure that your business is not losing any money due to preventable issues. In particular, an accountant can help with your tax assessment and returns. Plus, they’ll give you great advice on how to manage your finances better and they’ll connect you to other businesses which can help you reach your goals.
Overall, hiring an accountant has a brilliant return-on-investment (ROI) thanks to the added value you’ll receive from their network connections and financial guidance. With a professional side-kick to take care of your finances, the sky’s the limit for your business strategy.
Without further ado, here are 5 of the top accountants for small businesses in Quebec.
1. Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
Over the past 60 years, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton has become a household name not only in Quebec, but all throughout Canada. With over 2,000 employees the company is one of the largest accountancy firms offering a full array of financial advisory services.
Pierre Lapointe and his team of professionals have been at the center of Quebec’ socio-economic development, providing accounting services to businesses of all sizes. Their “instinct for growth” has been developed over many years, so you can be sure your business will be effectively stimulated to grow. Furthermore, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s promise is to provide practical and customized solutions that will enable your company to confidently pursue future business ventures.
2. Lachance Parent
Known for its excellent customer service and customer-centered approach, Lachance Parent has secured a top place in Quebec’s accounting industry. The firm is extremely committed to your success, measuring theirs by the goals your company reaches under their guidance. The financial assistance you will receive comes from a team of technically experience and continuously trained professionals.
Lachance Parent’s personalized services range from basic accounting such as audits, reviews, compilation and preparation of financial statements to financial planning and tax services, among others. The company’s website is a wonderful source of accounting information, even featuring an online interactive financial calculator.
Оne of Canada’s top 10 largest employers of chartered professional accountants, Mallete‘s size and accreditation are among the main reasons behind the company’s success. The firm’s Quebec office is proudly embracing Mallete’s slogan — “With you when it matters” — and offers accounting services to a variety of clients in different market segments.
The first Quebec branch, then called Boulanger, Fortier, Rondeau & cie, was founded in 1941 and has stayed among the top accountancy firms in the province ever since. The company is known for providing innovative accounting solutions tailored to customers’ present and future needs, as well as for its social and economic contributions, which aim to improve Quebec’s community.
4. Russell Bedford
Russel Bedford is one of the most international and widely-recognized accounting companies on this list. With offices throughout Canada and a worldwide network of associated firms, you’re guaranteed to receive a unique service and an undoubtedly professional opinion. The firm’s excellence is rooted in their understanding the big picture and applying detailed local expertise.
Russell Bedford is located within the heart of Quebec and offers an excellent local financial experience “with a global perspective.” The one-to-one meetings and customer-centered approach guarantee you will build a trusting relationship with your accountant. You’ll be able to reach your goals, just as Russell Bedford’s past customers, which come from many different markets and industries, always have.
Another big player in the accounting industry, PwC, and its Quebec city office won’t disappoint those looking for top-notch accounting services. The team of highly skilled professionals led by Thomas Bouchard provide brilliant guidance and professional accounting services. The company offers everything from financial reporting to tax planning.
PwC’s clients range from huge private corporations to small and even family-owned businesses. This, in turn, guarantees that the professionals at PwC will understand your problems to the smallest detail. If you’re looking for an accounting company with a bulletproof reputation, then PwC is your obvious choice.
Nourish Your Business Through Accounting and More
Since hiring an accountant is a brilliant return on investment, you should consider the ways in which you can finance such business relationships. Small businesses are increasingly using alternative finance methods to fuel ideas and stabilize their overall performance.
In fact, using Canadian business loans from companies like Zillidy is an easy and business-friendly way to finance business strategy improvements, such as hiring an accountant. With us, you can apply for flexible loans against personal possessions quickly and securely.
Have you used accounting services in Quebec before? Let us know your experience and results in the comment section below.
In this third and final part of our interview with Sal Virani, we discuss the Canadian startup scene and the world of alternative financing. Sal goes into detail on how he’s financed businesses and the many land mines awaiting anyone who tries to do the same. He knows them well (he’s stepped on a few), and we hope his experience can help you on your business journey. If you missed the previous parts of the interview, check out Sal’s thoughts on best startup values to adopt here and on what defines success here.
Zillidy: How do you feel about Toronto (or other cities/provinces) as emerging hubs for startups?
Sal: I’m effectively an outsider in Canada now. I left Vancouver because 10 years ago it was trying to act bigger than it was and was very cliquey as a result. When I go home to visit family, my old friends tell me it’s still quite segmented and there’s a lot of posturing. I’ve been advised against doing a Leancamp there because Leancamp requires separate communities coming together, and a local leader who’s willing to do the legwork to draw them together. It seems that those conditions aren’t there in Vancouver yet. Or at least, they’re not obvious when comparing it to London, Nairobi, or Sofia. That said, I see a lot of great stuff happening in Vancouver and Canada as a whole. There are some great social enterprise and accelerator programs. I increasingly see startups that are notably Canadian. Looking back from across the pond, there’s a growing number of companies worth noting. Then, from a pure metrics perspective, it’s great to see Toronto arise as a top contender when Startup Genome did their research on different startup communities.
“I increasingly see startups that are notably Canadian.” Tweet this!
Zillidy: How did growing up and working in Canada shape your thoughts, experience, ideas, etc., about entrepreneurship?
Sal: My dad’s an African-born Indian. That community is, from a Western perspective, “naturally entrepreneurial.” He’s an accountant and a pretty shrewd businessman. I grew up the typical son of an immigrant, working hard, no allowance, with the expectation that I should be successful.
I consider this pretty typical for everyone in Canada actually — the finger-wagging and brow-beating that comes from being an immigrant’s child. Then I left Canada because I found the Vancouver startup scene at the time to be kind of “big fish small pond” for me. I went to London to experience a bigger city with a broader historical connection to the rest of the world. That was around 2003. Of course, since then Toronto has turned into a truly global startup city.
Zillidy: What about if you had grown up in the US instead?
Sal: I don’t think I would have had a similar perspective on Europe and other parts of the world. Those seem more relevant and available from Canada. Now Leancamp has run in New York and San Francisco and I’ve helped American businesses expand into Europe. From that, it seems clear that I wouldn’t have the same perspective of business.
American businesses tend to grow in America and then expand overseas somewhat clumsily, treating it as an extension of America. That’s natural when you have a strong downstream venture capital industry, and a 300-million-person local market that’s largely homogeneous. In Canada, you get an international sensitivity which allows you to better adapt your strategies for different circumstances. From Canada, it’s easier to see that if you want to go global, the end game won’t be played on home turf.
“In Canada you get an international sensitivity which allows you to better adapt your strategies for different circumstances.” Tweet this!
Zillidy: How have you financed your startups in the past?
Sal: I’ve had some very negative investor experiences in Canada, though that was more than a decade ago so I think things have improved a lot. I’m generally someone who’s pro-revenue in terms of funding. I learned that from some great Canadian role models, too. Richard Lau, who started namesdirect.com, and Dejan Mirkovic who brought me into Cityfone and the world of startups are still angels on my shoulder.
There are certainly cases which warrant equity funding and seed investors, but those are overemphasized. Equity funding is often inappropriately selected and people don’t realize the strategic limitations it imposes on their company. It often becomes a big distraction from the actual business. It’s a great thing that there’s all these cheaper and more effective ways to get tech companies off the ground, to get them to profitability and financial independence. Yet, we don’t see those being utilized as much since most people will choose to go to an accelerator. They go because that’s what they’re taught is the only credible thing to do.
When it comes to either equity or debt funding, I think you need to be responsible, by which I mean you need to investigate and talk to people who have gone down that funding path before to understand the risks, and what to watch out for. You need to talk to people about their good and bad experiences with investors or debt before you make your decision. There are a lot of mines to watch out for.
Zillidy: What kind of alternative financing are you hearing about these days?
Sal: There are a bunch of crowd-funding alternatives. I know less about Canada, but in the UK you have Seedrs and Crowdcube which are like Kickstarter but for equity funding. Kickstarter is turning into a powerhouse for startups that follow an open source strategy. Ghost is a great example there. There are also some interesting factoring invoices in the marketplace — they’re P2P platforms that find suitable matches to finance your invoices.
There are cool little funding projects similar to The Awesome Foundation and these are similar to thousand dollar grants you give to small projects. They may seem irrelevant, but these small starts are often where big businesses come from. Many big successful businesses started as side projects. This scenario – when you’re certain you’re going to get specific payments in the near-term but need a bit of cash to get you through to that point – is a good use for Zillidy. There’s a clear financial reason to use collateral-based debt there.
For more established companies, invoice-based lines of credit are also very interesting since factoring invoices can be very expensive and can be all-or-nothing. Factoring is a very coarse instrument; it’s like a sledge hammer. Whereas a line of credit based on something like accounts receivables sounds much more cost effective, because you can apply it in a more controlled way, like a paring knife.
Zillidy: What was the process you went through to determine the right financing source? How did you find financing?
Sal: When my UK startups weren’t working, I burned through my savings accumulated from previous successes. I also had very good credit, so I started to use it for my business. That was a mistake. If I had focused on the fact that the lack of revenue was telling me the business was going to fail, I wouldn’t have gone into debt. That was expensive and irresponsible debt. I was trying to convince myself that my idea was going to work, in spite of the data. In the end, I went into debt to prove to myself I was right. The result: I was wrong and in debt.
“In the end I went into debt to prove to myself I was right.” Tweet this!
There’s a lot of ego in startups. A lot of people advise you to be persistent and not to listen to the naysayers who tell you that you’re wrong. But your business itself, in particular whether your customers are paying you, is a very strong indicator of success. Everyone tells war stories after the fact — and we only hear about the successes after hard-headed tenacity. We don’t hear about the failures. If you’re that wrong, it costs you more than money. It costs relationships, friendships, your real life. That’s the real cost of debt gone wrong, having to work out of it is brutal. So it’s all about being responsible with these financial instruments and putting emphasis on how your business is performing. Financial instruments require financial assessments to drive your decision making. If I had let that company die instead of taking on debt, not only would I have saved all the time I invested into supporting it, but I also wouldn’t have lost another year or two of my life working out of that debt. Ultimately, I would have arrived at my successes sooner. I was a year into the business when it failed, and the debt cost me an extra three years of my life. The experience was valuable, but in retrospect, I made it four times more expensive.
Zillidy: Taking into account those experiences, how do you finance now?
Sal: For the last 10 years, everything has been independently financed. Basically, I’ve grown through bootstrapping or customer revenue. You can check out Parts I and II of our interview with Sal here and here. What do you think about Sal’s insights and experiences? Let us know in the comments.
You need a reliable and trustworthy bridge to cross over a river. The same can be said about getting a mortgage loan.
Mortgage brokers are, in a similar sense, the bridge between you and the perfect personal loan for your specific situation.They make sure you are aware of and understand all the conditions of the loan and that you don’t miss any important detail that can come back and surprise you later. Just like a bridge, your mortgage broker gets you right through to where you would like to be.
We understand the importance of a good mortgage broker who doesn’t only get the job done, but who also makes sure you know exactly what’s happening and makes you and your financial health a priority.
Here at Zillidy, a Canadian company that offers business loans, we’re always there to support your financial and business ventures. We understand how time consuming it is to find the right broker and the ideal financing options, so if you’re not sure which mortgage broker to choose in Montreal, here are 5 of the top Montreal brokers who you can trust to guide you through an otherwise difficult financial process:
Multi-Prêts is one of the best-reviewed mortgage agencies on social media in Montreal. The professionals at the company are dedicated to saving you time and money off your mortgage loan. One of the most important factors that make Multi-Prêts a top broker in Montreal is that they are not affiliated with any lender — thus, the firm truly helps you select the best loan specifically for your situation without bias.
The company works with a wide range of lending institutions, over 15 of the most renowned and trusted financial leaders. Through the company’s high volume of transactions, you are guaranteed to secure an exclusive rate, lower than what traditional financial institutions can offer you.
2. Mortgage Architects
Jason Zucherman, the man behind Mortgage Architect, is a certified Quebec mortgage broker. He is also part of one of the biggest mortgage firms in Canada — Hypotheca Mortgage Brokers. His promise is to always provide you with the highest quality of assistance and guidance. His clients report a high level of satisfaction, which accounts for his wide success and his high place on this list.
Since Jason always receives rate changes and term modifications information in advance, you’re ensured to receive the best interest rate possible. Having spent the past 5 years in the real-estate and financing field, Jason is a professional with well-rounded expertise you can trust. He is always prepared to serve his customers and cater to their needs, meaning that with Mortgage Architects you’re sure to have a great experience while securing your mortgage.
3. Landmark Financial Group
At Landmark Financial Group, you’ re promised to receive detailed and well-explained information regarding the home financial transactions you might have in mind, along with a list of all your possible mortgage options. As one of the most trusted and knowledgeable Montreal mortgage brokers, the team at Landmark Financial Group provides a variety of mortgage services in addition to a mortgage calculator, which you can use on the company’s website.
Moreover, Landmark’s team can help you out with your mortgage application so that you don’t miss any required documents or pieces of information. And that’s in addition to guiding you through the application and post-application process so you feel secure and supported at all times. Thanks to the firm’s one-on-one service, professionalism, expert advice and great availability, the team indeed stays true to their slogan: this company, indeed, “serves you better.”
4. True North Mortgage
True North Mortgage has one of the most interactive approaches to the mortgage broker services. The firm, which has offices all across Canada, offers its services in person, online and over the phone. The company values of “honesty, purpose, loyalty and charity,” have led them to become one of the top mortgage brokers in Montreal.
Located within Montreal’s city center, True North Mortgages allows you to visit their office even without a set appointment. All of the company’s mortgage brokers are paid a set salary, guaranteeing that you will receive an honest and unbiased service catered to your needs. Discovering your best option and offering the lowest possible interest rate is True North Mortgage’s goal. The success of the Montreal team of qualified professionals is evident from the favorable reviews on the Good Mortgage Bad Mortgage platform.
5. North East Mortgages
Terry Kilakos and his team are some of the best known mortgage agents in Montreal. The team’s determination to guarantee the lowest interest rates and best conditions has secured North East Mortgages a huge number of satisfied customers. The firm’s working engagement with over 20 financial institutions is sure to both save you a lot of time and give you a variety of options.
Your mortgage options offered through North East Mortgages may include offers from conventional lenders, alternative financing and private lenders. You will then receive the needed guidance in order to secure the perfect option suiting your particular situation and needs. Terry Kilakos’ team has a great reputation, supported by their proven expertise and their numerous media appearances.
Have you used a mortgage broker in Montreal before? Share your experience and review in the comment section below!
One of the greatest advantages of the modern internet age is the ability to work from anywhere. Today, this is manifesting itself in the Digital Nomad movement.
The stars of this sweeping trend are mostly young technology professionals trying to combine work and travel into a unique lifestyle. They’re on a never-ending quest for the best internet, the most beautiful weather, and the lowest cost of living.
And digital nomad-ing is catching on as general trend, with many blogs and podcasts addressing the ‘how to’ aspect of the lifestyle. When winter comes, the search for a more pleasant climate can certainly resonate with the average Canadian tech worker, just as much as the rest of the world’s citizenry.
So, armed with a small business loan from Canada to cover the initial costs of getting set up, maybe it’s time you took off to experience a new way of living. There’s never been a better (or an easier) time to see the world.
Here are a few top destinations for today’s digital nomads:
Be a Digital Nomad in Chiang Mai, Thailand
How exactly does a city come to be praised as a top digital nomad destination? For Chiang Mai, it’s by combining its status as the culture capital of northern Thailand with great weather, unbeatable prices, and excellent food. With an estimated monthly living cost of just 800 Canadian dollars, it’s not hard to see why 281 digital nomads have registered living there on the authoritative Nomad List blog.
Although, while the tropical climate may attract you, perhaps you’re worried about being in a place so unfamiliar? No worries, we’ve got you covered…
Be a Digital Nomad in Honolulu, Hawaii
Bringing together the convenience of living in the USA with the climate which Hawaii is justifiably famous for, Honolulu is becoming the USA’s most popular digital nomad destination. It may be pricey compared to Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe, but the lightning fast internet (30mbps) and stunning location more than make up for it. There’s even a budding co-working movement you can jump onto. Plus, you can’t really beat the satisfaction of telling everyone back home that you’re living and working in Hawaii.
Be a Digital Nomad in Sofia Bulgaria
With a low cost of living, internet speeds topping 32mbps, a burgeoning startup scene, good venture capital, and easy access to the rest of Europe, Sofia is quickly making a name for itself as a digital nomad destination. If hiking a 7,520 foot peak in the morning before getting down to business in a hip and a modern co-working space sounds perfect to you, Sofia should be a real contender for your next digital nomad destination.
Be a Digital Nomad in Kigali, Rwanda
You could be forgiven for not giving Rwanda’s bustling capital much of a thought when considering locations for your next home base. But, after recovering from a genocide in the 1990s, Kigali seems to be under a spell of new initiatives and innovations. With its low cost of living and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, the city is fast becoming a model for the rest of Africa. There’s even a new tech innovation hub ready to bring you together with the country’s best and brightest. Check out one digital nomad’s blog Living in Kigali for insider tips and inspiration.
Be a Digital Nomad in Prague, Czech Republic
With its blend of the historic and the modern, Prague is an excellent choice for any nomad looking for old world European charm without breaking the bank. Monthly living costs can be under 1,200 Canadian dollars, while internet speeds often top a blisteringly fast 40mbps. But if you want to take it slow, or give yourself some time to come up with your next great startup idea, the winding cobblestone streets of the old city are always just a step away. Once you’re ready to put your idea into action, there are great co-working spaces and accelerators ready for you to jump into.
Be a Digital Nomad in Penang, Malaysia
If you’re looking for affordable prices in combination with old-world European flair, Penang and its historic Georgetown quarter (a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2008) may be the perfect Southeast Asian digital nomad destination for you. Full of great places to work and relax, Penang offers a more hip and stress-free alternative to the hustle and bustle of Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lampur. Just be sure to prepare for hot weather and slower-than-average internet speeds.
Be a Digital Nomad in A Coruña, Spain
Unexpectedly affordable by Western European standards, this city perched on the Northwestern coast of Spain is earning its status as a digital nomad hub. A Coruña is a little-known city boasting great surfing, top-notch seafood, and good internet speeds. It’s not surprising that travelers have found it easy to fall in love with. And if you’re in need of some inspiration for your next big idea, a visit to Spain’s National Museum of Science and Technology might just do the trick.
How to Get Started on Your Adventure
While being a digital nomad may not be right for everyone — maybe you’ll discover you rather like being grounded — it’s undoubtedly a fantastic way to see the world, learn more about yourself, and make a living in the process. We’re living in an age of increasing travel and technology use, so why not take advantage? In the meantime, check out some tips for inspiration and let your imagination start running.
If you’re a digital nomad, or perhaps are considering it but have some reservations, let us know about it in the comments.
In Part 2 of our interview with Sal Virani, we discuss the 5+ companies he’s founded, how to define success, and how to avoid getting bogged down in startup dogma and recipes, plus much more.
If you missed it, check out the first part of our interview here to learn more about this Canadian-born startup mentor, how he got started, and why he calls himself an “entreprenerd…”
Zillidy: What was your first startup?
Sal: Depends what you call “first.” When I was a teenager I ran BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems), a precursor of the internet, and I had a computer store with 6 employees. But my first real business was Hotelicom, in Canada. It provided guest based IT services to the hotel industry, and it’s still going strong today. That was actually more than 10 years ago. I’ve also done online scuba gear e-commerce, an e-mail service provider right before gmail, then a bunch of failed hotel related businesses in Europe.
Zillidy: You’ve built 5 startups. How did they do and what did you learn?
Sal: With Hotelicom, in the early days between me and my cofounder, I was seen as the smart one and he was seen as the sales guy. One lesson there was that I did everything by the book, I followed best practices to the letter. He, on the other hand, was willing to jump on an opportunity, which didn’t fit the strategy. But the actual direction of the company ended up being one of the strategies he took up. I was too focused on being “right” according to startup hype and business best practices at the time.
I was too focused on being “right” according to startup hype and business best practices… Tweet this!
With Divetank, my scuba e-commerce play, there were two big lessons. One was being really sensitive to the feelings of the buyer. That led to so many opportunities to maximize conversion rates. There were all these techniques we developed to give us a stratospheric rise in terms of sales. People worried about the wetsuit fitting or getting a deal, these mindsets ended up being critical. But we didn’t end up focusing enough on inventory and that killed us in spite of our outstanding sales. In that case it was a myopia in terms of what we were good at instead of stepping back and looking at the business as a whole.
With Geekmail the biggest lesson was to choose your co-founders very wisely. Do your due diligence. Even if you think you know them, ask. Talk to people who’ve worked with them before and you’ll learn things, which may dissuade you, and rightfully so. It’s one of the biggest decisions in a business. It’s one of the most permanent decisions you can make. Tread lightly.
Choose your co-founders very wisely… It’s one of the most permanent decisions you can make. Tweet this!
I tried to launch Hotelicom in London with Corneroffice, but the biggest lesson there is that most market research and competitive analysis doesn’t prove real demand. So, in that case, after doing research on the hotel industry in the UK, it seemed that in terms of business centers and wifi option the UK was tracking almost exactly 3 years behind Canada.
But the business failed in spite of that market gap. The main reason was that in the UK hotels have so many different issues to deal with, which have nothing to do with IT. Older buildings, higher turnover, language issues, etc. Therefore, the managers are usually much busier.
Most market research is supply-based, rather than demand-based. A gap in supply is not the same as unmet demand, which is what really matters. You have to understand what everyday life is like for your customer, and assess whether what you’re offering is so great that they’ll actually make time for it. The thing to look for is that they’re making time already — in some way — to find themselves a better alternative. Without that, even if you offer something they say they want and which is superior, it might not get you anywhere. That cost me most of my money.
Market research and competitive analysis doesn’t prove real demand
Aroundthecorner failed because it was far too complex. The advantage of simple businesses is that there are only so many factors to get right to make the business work. The more factors you have, the more chances there are that one aspect can kill the business. In that case it was a 3 sided model.
In a simple business you sell something and get paid. You can make a two sided model with customers and sellers. In this case it was a 3 way advertising play with hotels giving me space to sell to advertisers and the guests being advertised to. I needed to get all of those right at the same time.
In retrospect it was too complex. It was great on paper, I was winning prizes for startup pitches, but the business was too complex. I equate this to when you let a 3-year-old make a sandwich. They have lots of great ideas, and put everything on it. And that makes a disgusting sandwich that even they don’t like. Entrepreneurs are the same. We often turn a lot of good ideas into a bad idea.
Zillidy: What did those experiences teach you about how startups should (and shouldn’t) use debt?
Since I’m talking with you guys at Zillidy, I want to emphasize a big life lesson for me here. At this stage, using debt to finance my business was a huge mistake. I thought that my experience and the fact that I could find credit was a good enough reason to double-down on Corner Office and Around The Corner. In retrospect, that was a bad combination of overconfidence, arrogance, and optimism, which prevented me from seeing what the evidence was saying: “you gave it a shot, and nobody cares.”
I used debt to buy myself time to get the business right. That was a bad move, because it truly cost me time, too. That money was used to spend more time on a bad business idea, and then, I had to spend more time after that to pay the debt off.
My rule of thumb now is that debt isn’t for early-stage risk, it’s a financial instrument for specific issues for established businesses. I’ll only use debt when I have reliable, paying customers, and where there’s a temporary cashflow issue to cross to get to a healthy, debt-free position again.
In retrospect it was too complex. It was great on paper, I was winning prizes for startup pitches, but the business was too complex.
For example, with Founder Centric, we’re growing quickly, but some of our bigger government projects pay months later. We might choose debt to grow our team to deliver, knowing we’ll be paid this year, and knowing that at the end of the year, we won’t need debt to sustain or grow anymore.
The big lesson learned from that experience was “go be helpful.” There’s a lot to be said for being helpful, doing the right thing, and seeing how you can get paid later. This can tell you where your business is because you’ll get people reacting to you and you can see where the interest lies. This is how Leancamp developed.
There’s a lot to be said for being helpful, doing the right thing, and seeing how you can get paid later.
I was eager to get Leancamp done to get back to Aroundthecorner but everyone was really interested in another Leancamp and nobody was interested in Aroundthecorner. Leancamp just started because I felt obligated to make it happen because I realized I was in a unique position to draw communities together. If I didn’t do it who would?
Then Foundercentric is still going and is finally a financial success. To some degree it only exists because I did the right thing with Leancamp, which I never actually profited from. But with Foundercentric, one of the things, which slowed us down, is that we keep treating it like it’s a startup, but it’s a service business. In a sense we like startups more, so we treat our service business that way. It’s like a lady dressing her dog up like a child, it’s kind of fun but sad when you see it from the outside. Thus, that’s how we see Foundercentric, we want to see it as a startup but it’s a service business.
Zillidy: How do you define success for a startup?
Sal: Depends on the founders, I define success for the founder first. It all comes out of that. I’m particularly adverse to people adopting other people’s recipes for success. The startup world is full of hype developed from investor’s definitions of success and not founder’s definitions. This leads to focus on things like acquisitions.
There’s an interesting phenomenon where the terms ‘acquisition’ and ‘exit’ have been conflated, almost unnoticeably. Exit used to refer to the point, at which the person who initially invested the capital gets it back. But now it’s starting to refer to an acquisition. That completely distracts from one of the best cases for a startup, because when it gets acquired usually most of the work or product of the startup is shut down.
I define success for the founder first.
Then what happens is the startups, which develop into business in their own right, so even in Canada there are a bunch of Hungarian startups, Prezi, log-me-in, etc. But all of those have effectively grown through private equity to be totally independent. Then, you have the whole world of bootstrap startups, which grow to tens of millions in profit but remain private. And all of these are definitions of success, which are ignored by focusing on acquisitions.
Zillidy: What’s your recipe for startup success?
Sal: I don’t believe in recipes. There are no recipes. Being somebody who was a very early champion of the leanstartup movement, I’m quite opposed to people who use that term to articulate some checklist or four step process. There are a lot of four step processes where the fourth is profit. Even after all this time few startups can claim those recipes as the source of their success.
I don’t believe in recipes [for startup success]. There are no recipes. Tweet this!
Leanstarup is great, but only as a set of principles. Inexperienced founders look for recipes, they want to protect their idea because they’re at a stage where they don’t have a lot of ideas. However, they gain confidence from someone who gives them a recipe. But if you look at people with experience, nobody puts value on ideas. The expression is that startups don’t starve, they drown.
You have too many ideas. Startups don’t get confidence from a recipe, but from evidence. Thus, I’d reframe the question “what skills are necessary for a founder to be successful.” What I’ve seen from teaching leanstartup to thousands of startups and working accelerators and university programs is that as much information as you can collect and be experimental, everyone slows down when it comes to decision making. Experienced founders are more comfortable making decisions in uncertain conditions. In fact, I’ve been collecting an e-book of what I call “decision hacks,” or prompts to dislodge you from inaction.
In a sense we like startups more so we treat our service business that way. It’s like a lady dressing her dog up like a child, it’s kind of fun but sad when you see it from the outside.
Zillidy: What are the most ridiculous and common reasons for business’ failure you’ve experienced or witnessed?
Sal: The biggest one is founders disagreeing. From what I’ve seen, in accelerators you’re in a pressurized environment where you have to increase your valuation 2 or 3 times in a few months and I’ve seen teams explode under the pressure. But that’s not the worst. The worst is actually death by paper cut. It’s the tacit disagreements where the founders think they’re agreeing but they’re not and it only comes to light later.
Something I learned from Luxor in San Francisco is the handshake rule. If one person makes the decisions, nobody needs to agree. If two people need to agree, you need two handshakes, for four people – six, and on and on. The number of handshakes you need, increases exponentially. So, the more people involved, the more chances there are for tacit disagreement, and the slower you make decisions.
If one person makes the decisions, nobody needs to agree. If two people need to agree, you need two handshakes, for four people – six, and more and more. The number of handshakes you need increases exponentially.
Remember to check the third and final part of ” Zillidy’s Interview with Sal Virani: Financing Your Business, in which Sal discusses the Canadian startup scene and the fast-changing world of alternative financing. Also, don’t forget to check out Part 1 of ” Zillidy’s Interview with Sal Virani: Canadian Born Startup Mentor“.
In the meantime, let us know in the comments — what do you think about Sal’s views on startup success and one-fits-all formulas?
For many business owners, now’s one of the best times of the year — the end of the fiscal year!
Who are we kidding? All of the tasks you need to complete in order to submit the report on time and the huge avalanche of numbers might drive even the most prepared business owners crazy. Before you “close your financial books” for this 12-month season, you need to be prepared for all the challenges which might get thrown your way.
So without further ado, here are 4 tips on how to avoid going mad at the end of the fiscal year and produce a financial statement you will be proud of:
Tip #1. Worried you don’t know what you’re doing? Ask an accountant!
The end of the fiscal year can be an extremely stressful time, especially for those who have never faced it before or haven’t found a way to manage their workflow. Due to the fact that the fiscal year financial statement is extremely detail-driven you are in a position where you’re obliged to produce something by law, but you might have no idea where to start or what to do exactly.
Even though researching online might provide pinpoints and guidance, you’re better off receiving advice from a professional. If you can’t afford to hire an accountant to do the work for you, you could set up a meeting and receive the needed guidance to complete the financial report by yourself. If you have any specific questions or problems that you need to solve, start building a business relationship with an accountant and you are sure to receive accurate and straightforward advice and guidance.
Tip #2. Numbers don’t add up? Check out loan options for small businesses.
You’ve made all the calculations over and over again, but the numbers still don’t add up? It might as well be that an invoice went missing and you can’t substitute it. It’s extremely important to not panic and to consider all of your options closely. Even though it might be tempting to change the numbers and lie, we would advise otherwise. Such problems can easily be overcome by substituting the missing amount of money.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution, companies which offer small business loans against collateral are a perfect option because of the accessibility and the terms they offer to small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups. Zillidy, for example, offers business loans in Canada against personal possessions which include watches and precious metals. You get the capital you need quickly, without having to deal with the tedious process of long application forms or slow evaluation periods, which are characteristic of bank loans.
Tip #3. Left things until the very last possible moment? Schedule your time by the minute!
Most businesses set the end of their fiscal year during the first three months of the new year, i.e., the dreaded after-holiday period. Since procrastination is a flaw even famous entrepreneurs might be battling to overcome, it’s unsurprising if some businesses leave their financial calculations until the last minute. If you’re guilty, you’re likely to be experiencing stress and anxiety knowing there’s not much time left, but lots to do. Of course, there’s always something to be done and in this case our advice is to act now!
Beware of anything that might stop you from finishing your tasks on time. Create a daily, if not hourly, schedule for yourself and stick to it! Make sure you design your routine minding unexpected meetings or business opportunities, and aim to finish earlier rather than on time. Scheduling and listing your tasks can help you focus and limits the risk of you accidentally missing some important detail. Furthermore, the best entrepreneurs keep a daily routine to get as much of their goals done as possible. It’s important to also reward yourself for a job well done once you’ve completed your financial statement on time!
Tip #4. Do you lack the will to deal with the fiscal year end? Motivate yourself to push through!
We understand that it’s difficult to deal with tasks that might not be part of your expertise. As de-motivating as it might be, you need to pull through no matter what the difficulties. Owning a startup or a small business comes with a variety of issues and dealing with your own finances and statements is possibly one of the major difficulties. Until you’re able to spare the resources to hire an accountant, you have to do your best and motivate yourself to do it well.
Whether it’s the motivation to get the report out of the way or the feeling of achievement once you do, focus on the positive and clear your head to find the solutions to your difficulties. Find suitable music and snacks that nourish and stimulate you, and you will surely be done in no time. Asking your colleagues for help and discussing matters with them is another great way to motivate yourself to continue the work and bounce off positive vibes!
What are your most trusted strategies when it comes to dealing with the fiscal year end? Share your tips with us in the comment section below!
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most romantic of them all? Well, it could be you! St. Valentine’s Day is around the corner and you have the chance to surprise your loved one with the most romantic of experiences and a gift they won’t be able to resist. We associate this loving time of year with a nice bottle of wine, a fancy restaurant dinner, and a diamond or two (or at least that’s what the rom-com movies have set us to hope for).
For all who can’t help but follow this romantic rule, who might pop the special question or who just want to appreciate their loved one, a piece of jewellery is the ideal gift for St. Valentine’s! Check out five of the top jewellery stores in Montreal, where you’re guaranteed to find an amazing, sparkling gift:
1. GrisGris Factory
The man behind GrisGris Factory jewellery stores in Montreal is designer Barry Richards, made famous by his handmade precious metal “charms.” He takes his creations to the next level by bringing his inspirations — nature and architecture — to life in the form of golden, silver and platinum jewellery for both men and women. These unique valuables are the perfect gift for St. Valentine’s Day because of the meaning naturally instilled in each piece, which brings a modern twist to good-luck charms made from a variety of organic materials and beautiful precious stones.
2. Kaufmann de Suisse
The designers at Kaufmann de Suisse promise that they will make the love of your life feel “the way only an individually handcrafted piece can…and that’s special.” Designing pieces of jewellery influenced by the art nouveau tradition, the company is one of the most reputable firms in Montreal. Furthermore, since 1954, founder Emil Kaufmann has won five of the most prestigious jewellery awards, the Diamonds International Awards for excellence in craftsmanship and artistry! His tradition is now followed by a second generation of Kaufmanns who set new standards while following their predecessor’s excellent example. The company’s services include not only creating original masterpieces, but also remodeling existing ones. That makes them the perfect jeweller for those who might want to upgrade their family antiques before giving them to their special someone.
3. Château D’Ivoire
Located in the heart of Montreal on De La Montagne Street, Château D’Ivoire started producing its famous jewellery and timepieces back in 1978. The store, which was expanded and renovated 10 years ago, offers its own jewellery collection in addition to pieces from internationally popular brands and watches from some of the most reputable watchmakers. The latter is one of the reasons behind Château D’Ivoire’s popularity, drawing watch aficionados from all over the province of Quebec. Ready to pop the big question on St. Valentine’s Day? The experts at this store will help you select the perfect ring as the ultimate symbol of your unconditional love.
4. Lou Goldberg Jeweller
This family-owned jewellery store offers anything you might be looking for — rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. Lou Goldberg Jeweller’s key to success is the assiduity with which they design their pieces; always providing jewellery at the highest quality for the best price possible. What’s more, this strategy seems to be working brilliantly, since the business has been operating successfully for over 60 years. If you’d like to get your Valentine’s Day gift from a jeweller you know you can trust, follow in the footsteps of generations of Montrealers and head out to Lou Goldberg.
5. Argent Tonic
The bright and blinding flair of Argent Tonic’s design pieces is what draws many fans and dedicated shoppers into Aaron Maya’s store. This designer’s praised for finding the perfect metal for the perfect stone; he brings his creations to life with his unique spin on traditional processes and technologies of jellewery creation! Not only will the designs captivate the man or woman of your dreams, but the store’s atmosphere and sophistication will put a spell over your own senses. Maya is continuously trying to surpass industry standards and develop new processes, so you’re sure to find a unique jewellery piece that will surprise your loved onе and help you win their heart.
A piece of jewellery is not only a promise and a symbol of appreciation, but also a long-term investment with special value. Companies such as Zillidy use jewellery as collateral for asset-based lending. You can use those valuables to qualify for a loan to expand your company and afford more breathtaking and bigger jewellery for your loved ones as your capital grows!
Have you ever bought jewellery in Montreal? Recommend it or share your experience in the comment section below!
An entrepreneur is almighty, or so most entrepreneurs think about themselves. It’s mostly true due to the fact that starting a company and growing it from nothing takes talent, determination and a wide set of skills. However, you can’t do it alone. Operating startups and small businesses not only requires amazing teamwork from your close-knit crew, but also working with freelancers and external companies. It’s vital to manage your money wisely, so hiring a knowledgeable accountant or accounting company and working closely with them is an important action to consider. Managing your money in the best way possible at the onset of your venture, will help you save money in the long run!
You might be thinking, “But how will I save money if I don’t have enough capital right now to hire an accountant?” If you’re looking for extra funds, you’d like to invest in an accountant, Zillidy offers the perfect solution. The Canadian business loans company offers loans against personal possessions and can help you out in affording the best financial support.
Once you’ve figured out the financing, it’s time to choose your future accountant. Check out 5 of the top accountants in Calgary who will assure you get the most out of your money and business:
1. Swift Accounting and Business Solutions Ltd.
Swift Accounting and Business Solutions Ltd has a dedicated team of accountants ready to support your business and help you make the right financial decisions. The company specializes in offering accounting services to small businesses in industries ranging from automotive dealerships to real-estate and many others. The friendly and timely approach to business at Swift Accounting and Business Solutions Ltd. is evident from their customers’ feedback, making this firm one of the top performers in Calgary.
2.Small Business Tax Solutions Canada Inc.
Just like their name suggests, Small Business Tax Solutions Canada Inc consists of a qualified team of experts who provide fast and accurate accounting solutions for small businesses in Calgary. Their motto — “Never Pay Tax Unnecessarily” — is a suggestion to the in-depth consulting the company is well known for. Small Business Tax Solutions Canada Inc.’s specialty lies in the tax accounting and reporting field. Their approach to small businesses finances pays off and their customers are happy to brag about the money they managed to save.
3.John Gillani, Certified Management Accountant & Tax Consultant
Following the three rules John Gillani and his team have set for themselves — professionalism, responsiveness, and quality — has helped the firm become one of the top accounting companies in Calgary. The services this qualified team offers range from Small Business Accounting and Cash Flow Management to Strategic Business Planning and Tax Services, among others. The company’s aim to “advise clients on the best course of action and not just provide options,” is one of the main reasons behind their success.
4. Elliott & Company, CMAs (Shajani LLP Professional Accountants)
Elliott & Company,CMAs part of Shajani LLP Professional Accountants is well known for the holistic approach to accounting they take. The company serves a large number of businesses around Canada, but has made a lasting reputation in Calgary. The firm caters to the interests of both individuals and business clients of any size and provides financial guidance for starting a business, utilizing it and getting as much out of taxes as possible, among other great services. This self-motivated team’s professionalism, confidence, and personal humility have guaranteed them a place within the top accountancy firms in Calgary.
5. A1 Accounting and Business Solutions Inc.
The accountants at A1 Accounting and Business Solutions Inc. realize that “your financial stability is your future, so it is best to secure it the best way you can.” That’s why they seek to offer a wide range of services including small business accounting, Canadian tax preparation, business accounting, and others. The company is among the top Calgary accounting agencies, and their commitment to great service is clearly seen from the positive testimonials their clients continuously leave.
Have you ever used an accounting company in Calgary before? Share your experience in the comment section below.