Category Archives: Toronto Business Times

The rising cost of rising gas prices

Whether you own a jingle-spouting ice cream truck or a velour-draped women’s clothing boutique, nothing is more important for the success of a small business than location.
“The fundamental thing is,” says Joseph Paradi, a management and entrepreneurship professor at the University of Toronto, “can you get the customers who need your goods?”
He says smart entrepreneurs know their products and who wants to buy them.
“A store that caters to retired people isn’t going to be a good idea in the suburbs. If you’re a Halal meat store and open in Rosedale you’re not going to get much uptake.”

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Keeping your business safe

Whether stuffing videogames under hoodies or diapers in the bottom of baby carraiges, thieves will steal anything that isn’t bolted to the floor.
Theft is inevitable, but the best weapon against it costs less than little Jimmy No-Good’s first stolen lollipop—excellent customer service.
“Saying ‘hi, how are you,’ to every customer is a huge asset,” says Lucas. “Walmart does it not just because they want to say ‘hello’, they want to say ‘we know you’re in our store.’” That way, he adds, “The thief knows someone is there.”
Simple awareness, he says, is the first step. But the second is a bit more expensive—a camera system, which can run anywhere from $1000  for four cameras, a digital video recorder, and a public monitor, to $5000 for more complicated setups. Then, recommends Lucas, retailers need an alarm system (another $1000) to make sure after hour break-ins end quickly, and with police on the scene.
Beyond this, security needs to be specifically tailored to the business.

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Changing spaces

Whether a lease is up, a business has grown, or the lingering smell of the fish monger next door has started seeping into the dreams of employees, there are many reasons for a small business owner to change location.
The key to a fruitful move, says Orest Kelebay, president of Max’s Market, a Bloor-west prepared food store,  is forward thinking.
“Successful companies are looking at the horizon, not down at their feet,” he says. “You go when the opportunities present themselves.”
Kelebay, an entrepreneur who owned a handful of restaurants before opening Max’s in 1999, recently launched a second location on the Queensway near Islington. He bought land there three years ago in the lead up to major development projects in the area. As more stores went up and condos began to fill, he realised the market was ripe to expand his business. But for many entrepreneurs, moving doesn’t come at such opportune times.
Often businesses change location because their lease is running down and they’re unable to negotiate a reasonable deal with their landlord, or, says Katherine Roos, Enterprise Toronto’s small business manager, because “there’s no revenue coming in, there’s no evidence of growth, their correct customers aren’t coming in the door.”
She says moving is a difficult process—it means potentially losing customers and having to re-establish a presence in the community.
“You want to do your homework,” she says, adding that retailers must always keep an eye on the demographics surrounding their business. If the age, income level, ethnicity and family status of nearby residents doesn’t line up with what they’re selling, it may be time to hit the road.
But not every entrepreneur has to worry about customers. For commercial business owners, low rent, ease of access for employees and presenting a professional image to investors takes precedent.

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