What to Expect if NAFTA Talks Fail

October 14th, 2017|Comments Off on What to Expect if NAFTA Talks Fail

Most businesses in Canada share a deep seeded defect that is so common as to be part of our DNA yet so malignant it corrupts the very foundation of Canada’s national sovereignty. The flaw is not a fault of planning or ideology. It is not caused by neurosis or insecurity. It is a simple yet subtle mixture of geography and the physics of supply and demand. Most Canadian businesses are entirely dependent on access to the American market, or are reliant on serving businesses that are successful only because they enjoy easy access to the American market. Stretched primarily along a 6400km border with our southern continental neighbour, approximately 35million Canadians live a relatively excellent life by finding ways to collaborate with or feed the enormous appetites of a post-industrial consumer society eleven times bigger than our own. Some are haulers of water and hewers of wood and miners of […]

The Changing Face of Search Results

October 2nd, 2017|Comments Off on The Changing Face of Search Results

Lost amidst the mayhem of last week’s news cycles was a small story that had far larger implications than the amount of attention it received. Google and Apple signed a historic deal that pushes Google results sets onto even more devices than ever before. Google search results will replace search results generated by Bing on versions of the personal assistant Siri found on Apple’s iPhones powered by iOS. Though financial figures behind the agreement were not revealed, a previous agreement between the two companies to provide Google search results on other iOS devices is thought to be worth billions per year. Two important signals stem from this agreement. The first is the rise of the digital personal assistant (PDA). The second is the unmistakable importance of mobile search for both Google and Apple. It is honestly hard to determine which is the more important of the two. Digital personal assistants […]

Armchair Economics – Reality Based Fandom

September 22nd, 2017|Comments Off on Armchair Economics – Reality Based Fandom

I’m an armchair economist. I have little formal training in economics beyond the generalist survey courses most university students select before deciding what they want to major in when they grow up. Nevertheless, I find the machinations of any given economy fascinating. As a spectator sport, economics has the fine detail of baseball mixed with the speed and brutality of hockey, the long-game passion of European football and the regimentation of American football. Armchair economics is reality based fandom. For entrepreneurs, armchair economics is both a form of fantasy sport and an important part of business planning. All entrepreneurs dream about the future. Developing an understanding of how the world works is an essential part of foreseeing the future and the ability to foresee the future is one of those things that separates an entrepreneur from everybody else. It would be no good to develop a business making green widgets […]

Business Planning in the Face of a Trade War

September 15th, 2017|Comments Off on Business Planning in the Face of a Trade War

Canada, and more acutely, the Province of Ontario, is poised to enter a trade-war with the United States over the extent of Buy American policies and the threat of their imposition. At a time when the foundational trade agreement outlining cross border business in North America is being renegotiated, Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have been exchanging threats while assuring all who’ll listen that nobody wants a trade war between Canada and the United States. The stakes are high for Ontario, as they are for many American states. Believe it or not, Ontario runs a trade deficit with the US. We import more from America than we send down. Last year alone, Ontario exported over $166,178,161,000 worth of goods to the United States while we imported goods worth total of $189,068,119,000. That left Ontario with an approximately $22 billion trade deficit. If measured simply dollar […]

What does “Buy American” Mean?

September 1st, 2017|Comments Off on What does “Buy American” Mean?

The phrase, “buy American” has sent Canadian business people into bouts of the night terrors for over a century. With a relatively small population strung out 200km deep along a 4500km long sea to sea strip, Canada is, at the same time, both too big and too small to sustain a domestic consumer market capable of creating and maintaining middle class incomes. Without free and unfettered access to the vastly larger American market, we will wither much faster than we care to contemplate. North of the 49th parallel, the phrase Buy America is oft heard as “Don’t buy from Canada”. After the terrorist attacks on Manhattan and Washington DC in September 2001, and more recently after the election of Donald Trump as President in November 2016, the phrase Buy American was used as a psychic tourniquet, a means of saying something simple that sounded meaningful and important.  The question left […]

A Serious Note on Security from Google

August 19th, 2017|Comments Off on A Serious Note on Security from Google

Earlier this week Google started issuing their final notices about the need to upgrade to the Secure Socket Layer HTTPS protocol, telling webmasters if they don’t secure their websites by the end of September pages in their sites will be prefaced with a security warning in the Chrome browser. The Chrome browser, which is made by Google, is used by 44.47% of Canadian web users. Naturally, most webmasters and site owners want to avoid such a warning given the chilling effect it would have on web traffic. Wanting to avoid a problem and knowing what to do about it are two different things. This post is meant to explain the basics of HTTPS, what it means, why Google is forcing the update, and the steps a website owner can take to comply. If you already understand the process, stick around for the word play. If you don’t, this post should […]

NAFTA Redux – Renegotiating Prosperity

August 10th, 2017|Comments Off on NAFTA Redux – Renegotiating Prosperity

For over a quarter century, a set of trade agreements with the United States and Mexico have underpinned the Canadian economy and become the primary focus of the economies of Ontario and of Toronto. The original Free Trade Agreement between the US and Canada was signed thirty years ago and expanded to include Mexico in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Before an agreement was in place, North American trade was subject to a patchwork of tariffs, quotas, and often arbitrary duties imposed on goods and services that crossed some of the longest borders in the world. Since the agreements were ratified, three of the world’s largest and most dynamic economies have virtually integrated with each other, forming the one of the largest and most prosperous trading blocs on Earth. Starting one week from today NAFTA is being reopened and renegotiated. Though economists suggest the vast majority of North […]

A Big Business Centre – Many Spaces for Different Needs

August 3rd, 2017|Comments Off on A Big Business Centre – Many Spaces for Different Needs

What do a bunch of insurance actuaries, employment consultants, lawyers, employment recruiters, IT start-ups, non-profits, notary publics, immigration consultants, talent agents, modelling companies, photographers, web design firms, and even a couple international airlines have in common? It is something they share with several non-profits, charities, unions, and several professional standards bodies. Each of these businesses shares the same business address. These are some of the types of businesses found when conducting a Google search using “1 Yonge St. Suite 1801” as the keyword query. Established in 1980, Telsec Business Centres provides office space and professional services to hundreds of different businesses in hundreds of different sectors. Working with so many businesses ranging across so many interests and professions has taught us a bit about the other things all businesses have in common. All businesses are built to grow and they all need a stable and positive base to grow in. […]

Networked to Foster Success – Canada Business Network

July 27th, 2017|Comments Off on Networked to Foster Success – Canada Business Network

The technology sector is growing at an unprecedented rate in several Canadian cities. From the emergence of new start-ups to the realization that a few of those start-ups will eventually employ hundreds or thousands of staff, it is a good time to be an entrepreneurial Canadian geek. Moreover, all three levels of government in Canada (federal, provincial, and municipal) are primed to help prime the pump with business advice, immigration assistance, and in some cases, even by helping find and provide financing. Previous articles have covered the grants and other financing schemes for new Canadians. Today, let’s take a quick look at business assistance primarily targeted to Canadian citizens. The types of assistance available are slightly different for naturalized Canadians featuring several lines to direct funding and far deeper mentoring and networking opportunities. Managed economic development is a priority for the federal and provincial governments, especially as Canada’s economy transits […]

The Start-Up Visa Programs – Manufacturing Canada’s Gain

July 20th, 2017|Comments Off on The Start-Up Visa Programs – Manufacturing Canada’s Gain

Shortly after the November 2016 election of US President Donald Trump a realization spread around the globe that things really were going to change. For nearly two and a half centuries the United States had been the land of opportunity for innovators, inventors, academics and entrepreneurs but suddenly everything was going to be different. That realization, as chilling as it was, didn’t stop those who wanted to be innovators or inventors or academics or entrepreneurs from trying to get to get into the States.  The number of visa applications for foreigners trying to make something of themselves and their ideas in the United States rose in 2016, even as the mood of the electorate swayed dangerously away from common sense and reason. It wasn’t until early March, a few short weeks after he was sworn in that the Trump administration tried to introduce its first immigration ban, the one that […]

Canada is Open to STEM Growth

July 13th, 2017|Comments Off on Canada is Open to STEM Growth

In the coming years, Canadians are going to hear a lot about attaining STEM educations and fostering STEM businesses. STEM is an acronym standing for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; the fastest growing areas of entrepreneurialism in the world. Due to a number of factors, including the volatile political situation in the United States, Canada is poised on the precipice of the greatest advances in advanced technology development this country has ever seen. Canada has been known as a stable and reliable developer of advanced technologies for much of its 150 year existence. With excellent schools and few religious or ethical barriers to research, Canadians have invented or innovated on some of the greatest tools humans have ever developed. For a relatively small country of only 36million, Canada has some of the best tech infrastructure on the planet including world-leading universities, research and development centres, high-speed Internet access in virtually […]

Interest and Canadian Confidence

June 29th, 2017|Comments Off on Interest and Canadian Confidence

Monetary policy might seem a dull subject heading into a gloriously free Canada Day long weekend but given yesterday’s extraordinary statement by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, it is worth taking a few minutes to peer into a near future hinted at by the Governor and his deputies over the past few weeks. “It does look as though those cuts have done their job,” Mr. Poloz said reflecting on the dramatic interest rate cuts made after the oil crash in 2014. Those cuts were piled on top of previous cuts made after the global economic meltdown of 2008. As of this moment, Canada’s central bank’s benchmark loan rate is a staggeringly low 0.5% leaving very little room for Mr. Poloz to go lower without flirting with the negative rate interest policy he mused about just over a year ago. Are you done yawning yet? Ok, let’s move forward. Both […]

Five Very Short Stories about Very Big Data

June 27th, 2017|Comments Off on Five Very Short Stories about Very Big Data

Big Data and Small Business – Part 1 Big Data sounds like a mighty big buzzword for those who don’t understand what the buzzword means. Simply put, big data is all about our rapidly growing abilities to record, store, and compare increasingly vast amounts of information. Though the concept of big data is over fifty years old, the reality of being able to track and analyse the habits of individuals amongst extremely large groups of people with hyper-accuracy is closer to fifteen. For the last decade and a half we have been able to peer into each other’s lives in ways that have the power to significantly improve the tenor of human experience but have fundamentally changed our ideas and ideals around personal privacy. Globally popular tools such as Google and Facebook have spent a decade or more recording human wants and desires from all parts of the Earth. Each […]

Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Your Business

June 22nd, 2017|Comments Off on Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Your Business

On Halloween 2008, just over a month after global financial crisis began on September 29, a person, or group of persons published a research paper called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The research paper demonstrated how a digital payment system without any form of central control could be mounted on an uncrackable publicly distributed ledger system known as blockchain. Less than three months later, it was released as open source software and Nakamoto’s invention became a reality. Called a “cryptocurrency”, Bitcoin operates without administrators or a central repository of funds. It can be exchanged for goods and services or converted to other forms of money such as a national currency. It functions as real money in both legal and black markets around the world. According to a 2017 study conducted by Cambridge University, upwards of 5.8million people use cryptocurrencies, the vast majority of which […]

The Numbers Game of Networking

June 20th, 2017|Comments Off on The Numbers Game of Networking

Everyone’s world revolves on an axis of networks. In business, government, or academia, those networks scale much larger but in the end, most human endeavour centers around well established networks of trusted friends, colleagues, associates, and contacts. If you need a babysitter, chances are you call one the teenage child of a friend. When deciding on a restaurant to take our families to, we rely on the recommendations of friends and associates. When seeking essential service providers like a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, we tend to ask our contacts about their personal experiences. Beyond recommendation websites like Yelp or local search engines like Google, humans rely on the wisdom, experience, and assistance of others in many facets of our lives. Building one’s networks is often a difficult challenge. Much like high school or university friendships, one’s business networks will serve to define one’s character, access to opportunities, and overall resourcefulness, likely for […]

Canadian Dollar Bouncing Higher

June 15th, 2017|Comments Off on Canadian Dollar Bouncing Higher

Caught between a rocking economy and continued global uncertainty over oil prices, the Canadian dollar has been fluctuating madly for the last several months. Hovering between $0.70 and $0.75 US, the disparities in the value of the dollar are starting to cause headaches and worry for Canada’s already beleaguered exporters. This is especially true in Ontario where a slowly rebuilding manufacturing sector was just starting to catch its footing. For Canadian exporters, a lower loonie is good for business as it makes the cost of Canadian goods less expensive than those produced south of the borders. At the same time, a high Canadian dollar is seen as beneficial to the oil sector which relies on importing equipment using Canadian dollars but sells its product on a market dictated by costs in American dollars. This dichotomy has been in place since the middle years of the last decade when the Stephen […]

Advertising in the Context of Change

June 13th, 2017|Comments Off on Advertising in the Context of Change

Advertising, as we know it, is about to change so radically it will be practically unrecognizable. If you have a favourite TV spot you might want to record it. Similarly, if there is an ad out there that annoys you to distraction you’ll be happy to know you’ll likely not have to see such awfulness again, at least not in the near future. Tomorrow’s ad delivery is already happening today but the scale is about to get so much bigger. We live in a midst of a digital revolution. At no other time in human history have so many ideas and institutions been altered, challenged, changed, created, and destroyed. As discomforting as it is, revolutionary change is a natural by-product of technological advancement. A decade and a half after its inception the innovation that made Google one of the wealthiest companies on Earth is going to eliminate commercial advertising and […]

How to Become a Non-Resident Importer

June 6th, 2017|Comments Off on How to Become a Non-Resident Importer

A Non-Resident Importer is a US or foreign based company that imports into Canada under their own name and business number without a permanent presence in Canada. A fact that is often overlooked by non-resident businesses providing goods and services into Canada is that they are subject to GST/HST taxes on sales into Canada. GST/HST management is responsible for longer delays at border crossings. Another bigger issue is that if GST/HST is not managed before entry into Canada the customer must pay the value added tax. GST/HST can be managed by becoming a Non-Resident Importer. A Non-Resident Importer could see the following benefits: Sell within Canada using a domestic pricing plan Manage landed costs without involvement of a Canadian intermediary Make border crossings seamless Increase market share in Canada The following are some challenges that a foreign based company should consider before choosing this business format: Must first obtain a […]

Working from home has its challenges, but looking professional does not have to

June 1st, 2017|Comments Off on Working from home has its challenges, but looking professional does not have to

As the writer of this blog, I primarily work from home and only go into the office a few times a week. Today was a great weather day (well until it got cloudy) and I took my laptop outside and did some work in front of my apartment building. While I was out there, one of my neighbors (who also works from home) came out to get some fresh air and take a break from his work. My neighbor Blake is a hair stylist who works on films, creates wigs for movies and live theatre as well as takes on cutting hair for private clients in his apartment (yes, he has a professional hair studio set up in his apartment).  Today Blake was stressed out, but by work.  His stress came from a friend who could not understand that because he was home, that he was still working and could […]

Why Move from the Burbs to Downtown Toronto Office Space?

May 30th, 2017|Comments Off on Why Move from the Burbs to Downtown Toronto Office Space?

Many companies are choosing to move their offices downtown and away from the suburbs. Lets discuss why this is happening and what are the advantages of the downtown location for customers, colleagues and employees. In the past several years, a handful of North America’s largest corporations like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and even McDonalds have joined the exodus from their suburban headquarters and campuses to new office space that is located downtown, and millennial’s seem to be the driving force. Yes, many companies chose to accept the usually higher cost of downtown space opposed to what they are paying in the suburbs, because they help attract younger workers. These workers want the chance to walk to nearby amenities and areas with a sense of place, rather than a generic business park campus or driving to a nearby shopping mall. This is also because these same workers want to be close to […]