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April 2009 - Issue 83
The Business Link
 
Issue Sponsor


CGA

Real People, With Real Solutions.  CGA, for the Real World.

Road to Success

Bernal Business Services is Launched

Going through a divorce and having just been laid off from her job, Jacqueline Bernal Andriet found herself in need of a career plan. She needed sufficient income to remain in the family home and to support herself and her two children, aged nine and eleven.

Jackie worked as a nanny for four months then enrolled in a Federal Employment Program to update her computer and office skills. Just before graduating from the 10-month course, she decided that with her training and experience in bookkeeping, she wanted to start her own bookkeeping business.

To prove the demand for her skills, Jackie needed to do market research. The Business Link Library and its staff were able to help her find the data necessary to put her plan in place.

Next, she wanted a web presence. Jackie signed up for web development and other e-business courses offered at The Business Link. With the knowledge she gained, Jackie set up her website at www.paperworkbegone.com.

With her business ready to operate, Jackie just needed to develop her client list. She attended Networking Events at The Business Link and made contacts that resulted in several referrals. Bernal Business Services Inc. was off to a great start.

Now four years later, with a successful business operating from her home, Jackie is ready to take the next step. She wants to train bookkeepers and teach others how to start their own bookkeeping businesses.

As a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and Regional Developer for the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (IPBC), Jacqueline is in an excellent position to move ahead with the next phase of her business and career plan.

Jackie affirms, "Bookkeeping is a good business for anyone wanting to work from home; there is a big demand for this service."

E-Future Bytes

Protecting Your E-Business Innovation

E-Business and the Internet provide a new, wide range of unexplored business opportunities. However, these great opportunities can place your company's valuable Intellectual Property (IP) at risk.

Your domain name is an example of property to which you have exclusive right. Do you have other words or designs that you are using to distinguish your goods or services from those of others in the marketplace? They should be protected too.

Important legal changes have provided for new business method patents. For example, selling items at auction over the Internet was awarded multiple patents that cover many different aspects of the invention. Do you have a specific way of conducting business that could be patentable?

When your company applies for a patent, even before it has been granted, you have declared your innovation to the legal system and the business world. This will provide you with protection should a competitor attempt to claim the invention was first theirs. First applicant has priority in the Canadian system.

Read more about Intellectual Property on our website under "Innovation".

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Resource Feature

The Value of a Good Idea

If you've invented a product, written a book or song, or just designed the trademark for your business, you're the proud new owner of some intellectual property.

That property has real value for you - if you know how to protect it properly and market it effectively.

The best place to find all the facts on what intellectual property is, how it works, what it does for you, and how you secure it, is on the website of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Here, you can read guides that cover all the essential information on Canadian patents, copyrights, trademarks, and more. You can even search the databases which hold the records of existing works registered in all these forms.

After you've taken care of legally protecting your intellectual property rights, the next step is deciding how best to bring your creativity to market. For example, it may be best to negotiate an outright sale to a company which is able to produce and distribute a new product most effectively.

Perhaps, there may be better value in a more flexible marketing strategy, such as leasing the rights of your new work. In some cases, an inventor or artist may simply decide to directly market their intellectual property, using their own resources.

The Business Link Library has a range of useful books about intellectual property, from the first step of protecting patents, copyrights, etc., to the process of actually marketing new products and other works. Here's a few titles to start with:

  • Canadian Inventor's Guidebook
  • The Inventor's Bible: How to Market and License your Brilliant Idea
  • How to License Technology
  • Marketing Your Invention
  • Secrets from an Inventor's Notebook
  • Fair Use, Free Use, and Use by Permission: Using and Licensing Copyrights in all Media
  • 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators: from Idea to Innovation
  • Great Idea to a Great Company: Making Inventions Pay
  • Bringing Your Product to Market
  • How to Create Profitable New Products

For more information on these books and other business innovation materials, contact The Business Link Library at 1 800 272-9675.


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Latest from the Link

Do You Stand Out from your Competitors?

Around the globe, April 26 will be celebrated as World Intellectual Property Day, with the theme of "Green Innovation". With this in mind, several of our articles in this issue deal with various aspects of protecting the innovations that make your company unique.

It's important to identify what really does make your company stand out and then develop strategies for protecting those assets. There are many ways to make use of Intellectual Property knowledge such as licensing your inventions. For more ideas, see Stand Out from Your Competitors on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) website.

With the emphasis being on green innovation this year, you may want to consider green solutions in your industry. For more information on events, visit World Intellectual Property Day.


Mark Your Calendar - Events

Don't miss the opportunity to attend FREE Brown Bags and economically-priced seminars this month! From the seminar, Starting Your Business to the Brown Bag, Get Writing! Get Published! this month offers a range of learning opportunities for the aspiring and established entrepreneur.

Attend Promotional Strategies: Create Buzz for Your Business and learn cost-effective strategies for promoting your business.

The third instalment of the Innovation Series presented in collaboration with novaNAIT, Designing Products and Services, will cover the processes involved in product design, prototype development and regulatory approvals.

Thinking of buying an existing business? Don't miss the seminar, How to Buy a Business.
Whether you are starting or expanding a business, check out the complete small business training line-up and plan to attend "Quick-to-learn" "Quick-to-use" small business presentations!

Events at The Business Link
Date Time Topic Cost VC

April 1

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Selling a Business

$35.00 VC Logo
April 2 noon to 1 p.m. Creating Buzz Online FREE VC Logo
April 6 noon to 1 p.m Measure Up! FREE VC Logo
April 7 noon to 1 p.m. Importing Documentation and Procedures FREE

VC Logo

April 8 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. E-Business Considerations $35.00

VC Logo

April 9 noon to 1 p.m Branding for the Small Business Owner FREE VC Logo
April 14 noon to 1 p.m How to Retain and Recruit Older Workers FREE

VC Logo

April 14 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Skills by Design: Employee Development Strategies $35.00

VC Logo

April 15 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Basic Market Research $35.00 VC Logo
April 16 noon to 1 p.m. Cultural Considerations in International Trade FREE VC Logo
April 16 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Starting Your Business

$35.00 VC Logo
April 21 noon to 1 p.m.

Get Writing! Get Published!

FREE VC Logo
April 21 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Networking Event FREE VC Logo
April 22 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Preparing a Business Plan $35.00 VC Logo
April 23 noon to 1 p.m. Keeping the Tax Man Off the Farm FREE VC Logo
April 23 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Promotional Strategies $35.00 VC Logo
April 28 noon to 1 p.m. Designing Products and Services FREE VC Logo
April 29 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. How to Buy a Business $35.00 VC Logo
April 30 noon to 1 p.m.

La Gestion d’une PME en période d’incertitude (French session)

FREE

VC Logo
VC Logo Video-Conferenced Event

To see the entire schedule, click here.

All sessions are held at The Business Link in Edmonton and Calgary unless otherwise noted. However, through the Entrepreneurship Learning Centre (ELC) Network, many of these sessions will be available across Alberta via video conferencing. Visit www.elcnetwork.ca to find a participating site near you.

Pre-registration for seminars is required, and payment must be made in advance in order to secure registration.

If you are interested in attending a session via video conference at a location other than The Business Link in Edmonton or Calgary, please call that location prior to the session to check availability and to register.

 

April Networking Event

The Business Link Monthly Networking Event will be held in Edmonton and Calgary on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Meet prospective clients and trade business cards and information with other entrepreneurs.

To join us for this event, you can drop into either office.

Calgary:
250-639 5 Avenue SW
Edmonton:
100-10237 104 Street NW

For more information about this FREE event, contact Jean-Jacques Mitakaro in Edmonton at jean-jacques.mitakaro@canadabusiness.ab.ca or Alvaro Carvajal in Calgary at alvaro.carvajal@canadabusiness.ab.ca.


Around Alberta


Sustaining Progress in a Transitioning Economy

Alberta's communities and regions are in a period of unprecedented change. This change is leading to both new opportunities and new challenges within the province. Now, more than ever, it is time to work together to sustain Alberta's economic progress.

The 2009 Alberta Regional Economic Development Conference is the foremost economic development symposium in the province. It will bring together economic development practitioners, business and industry leaders, and all those interested in maintaining Alberta's economic viability, for two days of extraordinary collaboration. Learn about and get involved in new and existing initiatives that impact your business and your communities.

Join us in Sherwood Park, Alberta (Coast Edmonton East Convention Centre) on May 12-14, 2009 to:

  • Develop an understanding of the new economic realities facing Alberta and its regions
  • Discover how some key provincial strategies will sustain our economy going forward
  • Hear about successful strategic economic development projects and initiatives being undertaken in Alberta's regions
  • Learn about programs and organizations that support business development and productivity

Keynote speakers include president and CEO of ATB Financial, Dave Mowat, CBC's Rex Murphy and David Beurle of Innovative Leadership Australia. The Hon. Iris Evans, Minister of Alberta Finance and Enterprise, will be a luncheon speaker.

For more information or to register, go to www.AREDConference.com.


Measure Up for Success

This is a must-attend conference for companies looking to improve their productivity. With companies facing the issues they are right now, this is the perfect opportunity to start looking at how to be more productive in order to compete in this challenging marketplace.
From June 1-4, 2009 in Calgary, the conference features:

  • 7 keynote speakers
  • 36 best practice presentations
  • 15 plant tours
  • 15 workshops
  • And much more!

To ensure Alberta companies take advantage of this great conference, the Government of Alberta has developed a voucher that will provide companies a discount on their registration.
There are a limited number of vouchers. The deadline to take advantage of this offer is April 5!

Go to http://www.manufacturinginnovation.ca/measureup/ to get more information on the program and to download the very short application form. For more information on the conference visit the Association of Manufacturing Excellence website (http://www.ameconference.org/?sid=RXI5Z-TL9WW-87JC7)

Or contact:

Allison Byrne, Manager -- Productivity Enhancement
Alberta Finance and Enterprise
Tel: 780 644-3198
E-mail: Allison.Byrne@gov.ab.ca


Youth Entrepreneurship

The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) is a national charity dedicated to growing our nation's economy one young entrepreneur at a time. We look at character not collateral, when providing youth, age 18-34, with pre-launch coaching, business resources, start-up financing and mentoring, to help them launch and sustain a successful entrepreneurial business.


Essential Entrepreneurial Tips for Success: Mentor to Mentee

By Alex Read

 
 

While working to help "1-800-GOT-JUNK?" grow, I learned several important lessons from our CEO, Brian Scudamore. He has been a true entrepreneurial mentor to me. I've been able to synthesize and pass on many of these lessons through my role as a mentor with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF).

One thing I learned during the journey is that success does not come from any one single "reaction", but rather from being consistently pro-active.

The following action tips have had a positive impact on my businesses and those that I have been fortunate enough to mentor with CYBF.

  • Make your company's message something your customers "get" in a few seconds.
  • Provide a "reason why" customers should do business with you.
  • Create the rules for your business. Industry norms shouldn't dictate how you work or who you work with.
  • Focus on the 'critically few' activities that produce exponential results. Don't get caught up in the details.
  • Promote your ideas as soon as possible. The market response will direct your next steps.
  • Measure and track your marketing efforts.
  • Remove buyer's remorse by offering meaningful guarantees.
    Up-sell, cross-sell and re-sell to every customer. It is five times less expensive to sell to happy customers than find new ones.
  • Celebrate victories. It's easy to miss out on the joy of achievement when you fail to acknowledge a 'win'.
  • Make doing business with you FUN!
  • Do the unexpected when something goes wrong so customers feel an urge to 'share your story'.

If you consistently apply these tips, you will be in an excellent position to overcome the myriad of challenges that face entrepreneurs every day.

Alex Read is the Founder and CEO of The Business Growth Hub, home of the "5-Step Profit Maximizer". He can be reached at www.AskAlexRead.com.


Trade Tidbits

Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Foreign Markets

Your product, process, software, or industrial design gives you an edge over your competitors. This can make Intellectual Property (IP) the most important asset of a small business and it deserves protection. Ensuring this protection may become confusing when you plan to leave the safety and security of Canadian borders to venture into another country.

There are numerous issues in the realm of international Intellectual Property rights. Here are just a few you should think about before heading to that next hot-spot with your product:

Application Process - You will need to register your IP in countries where you plan to operate to adequately protect your rights. This may bring extra costs, including application fees, translation fees, and legal fees.

Application Timing - In most countries, there is no grace period from when you publicly disclose the invention to when you must file for Patents. However, in the United States, you have 12 months and in Japan just 6 months.

Ownership Rights - The U.S. is based on the first to invent system, giving priority to the inventor who first thinks of the idea. Most other countries are based on the first-to-file system, where the person who files an application first gets IP priority. This may affect how you first bring your product to market in the new country.

Enforcing/Defending Your IP - To protect your IP, you will need to enforce it. This means acting as a 'policeman' for your IP in an unfamiliar legal system. A strong contract with your business partner specifying rights and responsibilities in regard to the IP can often be the best protection.

While your product may have a huge potential market outside Canada, ensure you are diligent to protect your ideas and Intellectual Property, taking full advantage of your international opportunity.

For more information on doing business internationally, see Export on our website.



Business Feature

Local Markets Create Opportunity for Alberta Producers

The recently released Alternative Agricultural Markets in Alberta 2008 study examined the growth over the past five years and growth potential of four market sectors: farmers' markets; food grown, made or processed in Alberta; direct farm retail; and farm activities. All four sectors experienced impressive growth or exhibit great potential.

According to the study, 90 per cent of Alberta households purchased local food in the past 12 months and nearly one-third of Alberta households intend to buy more food grown or made in Alberta in the next year. More than 1,000 randomly selected Alberta households were surveyed in the study.

With the increasing trend towards healthy eating, the rising popularity of local diets and the increasing awareness of transportation concerns, farmers' markets are now more popular than ever. The study also showed encouraging growth potential for farm activity and direct-farm retail markets.

Since 2004 the average spending per visit to a farmers' market has increased from $35 to $45, a 30 percent increase that is well above the rate of inflation. Annual spending at farmers' markets rose from $317 to $449 per household. Farmers' markets in Alberta now have an estimated $380 million in annual sales, up 63 percent from $233 million in 2004.
Direct farm retail purchases and involvement in farm activities both soared in the last five years. Participation in farm activities grew 40 percent, while per trip spending increased from $124 to $174. Revenue from farm activities is estimated at $62 million, up 21 percent from 2004.

Consumer spending at direct farm retail is on the rise, up from $109 to $116 - a 7 percent increase since 2004. The direct farm retail sector is currently valued at $181 million.
Food grown or produced in local-markets dominated customer purchases. Approximately $4 out of every $5 dollars spent at farmers' markets and farm retail was spent on food grown or made in Alberta. The top three benefits of buying local food were taste, support for the local economy and support for the local farmer.

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development's Local Market Expansion Initiative explores new market opportunities for producers, improves market access and enhances profitability at the farm gate. For more information call a New Venture Specialist at the Ag Info Centre, toll free at 310-FARM (3276) or visit www.agriculture.alberta.ca/localmarkets.

Be sure to check out The Business Link’s Agriculture Info Series Brown Bag presentations; this series and this article are brought to you by the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF). This month features "Keeping the Tax Man Off the Farm" on April 23.

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Business Feature

Legal Issues and Your Unique Business

Intellectual property (IP) is a legal issue that encompasses more than just patenting your businesses invention. It includes everything from protecting a company's name and logo, client listing, trade secret, tag-line, business process, and product line. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, IP provides a valuable asset for your venture. It is important to understand the various types and how they can be leveraged within your organization.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) defines intellectual property as "creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names, pictures, designs and models used in business." Patents, trade-marks, copyrights, industrial designs, integrated circuit topographies and plant breeders' rights are all examples of various classifications of IP rights.

Intellectual property can benefit your business in the following ways:

  • Provide your business with the exclusive rights to an innovation or technology
  • Strengthen your image and presence in the marketplace
  • Give you a competitive edge in a particular industry
  • Generate revenue by being sold, licensed, or traded
  • Distinguish your wares from competitors
  • Provide consistency in brand recognition

While it is important to recognize and protect your business's own intellectual property, it is equally important not to infringe on the rights of others. Be aware and take precautions to not copy the IP rights of those around you.

If you would like to learn more about intellectual property and how it can add value to your business, see Learn about IP on the CIPO website.

In conjunction with novaNAIT, The Business Link is offering a small business special series which you can learn about on our website.




A Look into the Future or an Educated Guess?

For this month's "Future Watch", we have selected predictions for "…2009 and beyond" from the editors of Futurist magazine in their Top 10 Predictions for the Next 20 Years. We have chosen those ideas with best business potential for the innovative entrepreneur.

  • Access to electricity will increase by 83% by 2030. Living standards will grow as will the access to the world's products and services.
  • The automobile will change dramatically--we are already seeing this change. Government policies will restrict how many vehicles a household can have, communication technology will make most travel unnecessary and robotic methods (delivery drones) will be developed for the delivery of goods.
  • Knowledge in the professions will be outdated by the time it is acquired. Continuous education and retraining demands will pressure a major portion of the labour force to be in some kind of training at any given time.
  • There will be growth of specialized education such as strategic intelligence, sustainable business, and nanotechnology.
  • World law may be networked so that "opportunities for peace and international understanding" are possible. Global Legal Information Network already has 50 countries and is expected to grow by another 50 by the end of 2010.
  • People will continue moving to cities so by 2030, 60% of the world's population will be in urban centres. Epidemics with global warming may grow due to crowded conditions and increasing levels of carbon dioxide output.
  • As biological technology becomes more available, new uses will develop, both for construction and destructive purposes.
  • Security issues will continue to grow in importance so that nanotechnology products for surveillance will become a very large market.

The Futurist editors make us think about the changes occurring in the world and the trends that may affect Alberta.

As an innovative entrepreneur, what services or products could you provide to local or international clients in response to these anticipated changes?

For more ideas on trends and innovation, call The Business Link at 1 800 272-9675 and talk to a Business Officer or ask for the Library for more information on this and related articles.


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