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Support small business

How Everyone Can Support Small Business Today

How Everyone Can Support Small Business Today

The COVID-19 pandemic is a scary time for all of us. We’re concerned about our health and the health of our loved ones. The economy is taking a hit. And the uncertainty of how long this will last or how much worse it will get is making everyone anxious. While the mass shuttering of businesses for the foreseeable future may be the best thing for the health of Canadians it is no doubt an especially harsh reality for small business owners and employees. Small businesses are a huge part of Canada’s economy so we want them not merely to survive but to thrive. Here are some ways we can continue to support small business and independent workers through these tough times 

Shop Local Online

With physical locations closed, many of us are turning to online shopping both for necessities and luxuries to help get us through this time. Many small businesses have already done a great job of transitioning or expanding to serve their communities online. You can find almost everything you need online, groceries, self-care items, virtual business services, art, your favourite band tee, the list goes on.  Before you click the purchase button consider how much money stays in your local community. When possible try to shop local and arrange contactless delivery or pick up.  

Order for Delivery or Pickup

As places where people gather, restaurants and bars have been especially hard hit. If you’ve overestimated your cooking skills the past few weeks or simply want to try something new, consider ordering from one of the local spots that have remained open for take-out or delivery Some restaurants are even offering meal kits if you want to try recreating a favourite recipe at home. For your virtual cocktail hour, consider ordering from a local brewery, winery or distillery. Many are offering free or discounted delivery rates.  

Purchase a Gift Card

It will support small business owners now with immediate cash flow as they’re dealing with closures or reduced sales and feel great to use later. Many businesses even offer virtual gift cards you can purchase and use online. Buy from a favourite restaurant, café, independent shop or practitioner whose services you love or from somewhere you’ve been meaning to try. It will be something to look forward to or make a great gift.

Like, Comment, Share or Subscribe   

We’ve probably all been spending more time than we care to admit on social media in recent weeks. Why not engage in a positive way? Liking, commenting and sharing helps businesses connect with their customers virtually, build credibility, and reach new audiences.  

Write a Review 

Small businesses often rely on word of mouth and positive reviews to get people in the store, making purchases, or signing up for services. If you’ve had a good experience, let people knowIt will help business owners feel appreciated and help new customers to choose local when searching for a similar experience. 

Share Your Digital Skills or Start a Virtual Project

If you have digital or social media skills, consider offering to help a local business owner improve their online presence. Or, reach out to a freelancer or small business to hire and move forward with a digital project yourself. There are a lot of incredibly talented professionals well-versed in working virtually who can help with everything from traditional digital work such as web design or online content, to health coaching or interior design. 

Stay Home

Above all else, follow the advice of Public Health authorities and stay home. Respect physical distancing guidelines and do everything you can to limit the spread of COVID-19. The better job we do right now, the sooner small businesses can resume operations, get back to business, and continue to strengthen our communities.  

Workplace wellness

4 Workplace Wellness Tips for Small Business

4 Workplace Wellness Tips for Small Business

Running a small business is tough. You’re often taking on the tasks of more than one person, which can mean taking on the extra stress as well. This makes a workplace wellness plan all the more important. Whether it’s just you or you have a team, investing in wellness can lead to increased productivity and positively impact employee satisfaction. Ultimately, healthy people lead to healthier business.   

 So, what exactly is “workplace wellness” anyway? The term workplace wellness usually refers to a number of programs aimed to improve employee physical and mental health. These might include stress management, fitness and nutrition, or smoking cessation programs, and can be educational or activity-oriented.   

 Workplace wellness programs don’t have to be expensive or complicated, two things you definitely don’t need in a small business. Here are 4 tips to implement a workplace wellness initiative that works for you.   

1.   Identify what type of "wellness" you actually want or need

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness and health in life or in the workplace. The first step to planning a wellness initiative is figuring out what issues you and your team are facing. This doesn't need to be complicated or intrusive. Get input from your team about their biggest stressors and health concerns and ideas for how to improve. If it’s just you, think of a wellness challenge you’re facing or what helps you relax or feel physically or mentally energized. Then choose an activity or initiative that fits you and your team. Not everyone wants lunchtime goat yoga, no matter how trendy it might be. Is a running group, meditation break, or healthy snack sharing more your speed? 

2.  It starts with your workspace

Where you work matters. Our workspace is often where we spend the majority of our waking hours, which means it can have a big influence on both our mental and physical health. Good news, small changes can have a big impact. Research has shown that sitting at a desk for too long is incredibly detrimental to our health. Try standing meetings, or use reminders to take a walk break. If poor air quality or low light are an issue, it may be as simple as a lamp, air filter, or diffuser. Check whether your workspace has secure bike storage if you'd like to encourage alternate transportation. Revamp your lounge or break space to encourage your team to take a mental break throughout the day and make connections with one another. Implement a healthy snacks only rule for shared food if you’re trying to encourage healthier eating.  

3.  Communicate & write it down

For any new wellness activity or initiative, small or large, you’ll need to communicate it to your team. Get them involved and engaged in the process. Put up affirmations or reminders in the office of what your goals are. Create a team board, online or in the office, that is your place for all things wellness. Even if it’s just you in your business, writing down your wellness goals will help keep you accountable.   

4.  Learn what resources are available to you

While you may not have the budget to hire an outside company to curate an entire wellness program just for you or administer additional health and fitness benefits, you can utilize resources already available to you to help inspire a new wellness idea, or provide educational tools.  If you already have health benefits, look into what wellness resources are included. Many health plans, including Health Plus, include wellness tools to help their members kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Other online resources, such as those from Canada's Healthy Workplaces Month, give great ideas for wellness activities for a variety of goals.   

Wellness isn't a one-and-done activity but a lifelong process. However, getting started can be a lot easier than you might think. And, if you find the right activity for you, it can end up being a lot of fun with huge rewards, both personally and professionally. 


personal insurance, health insurance

Personal Insurance 101

Personal Insurance 101 ... what to know and where to start 

Let's face it, learning about insurance is no one's idea of light weekend reading. But it is important to understand what you have, what you need, and what's out there to consider. There are a myriad of different types of insurance, covering everything from natural disasters to Great Aunt Mable's pearls. For now, let’s stick to the basics of health and life. Here's a breakdown of five types of personal insurance you should consider as part of a smart financial plan.

health insurance

Health insurance

First up, health insurance, which covers some or all of your medical bills if you're injured or ill. Think of how important your health is to your work, your personal life, your family. Think of how pricey even routine health expenses can be, let alone nasty surprises.

In Canada, health insurance is split between the province and private insurers. Most of you know that in Ontario, residents are covered by OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan), but OHIP’s limitations often come as a surprise. While it’s great news for families that the government recently expanded OHIP to cover some prescription drugs for children, for most adults coverage is limited to visits to the doctor, some diagnostic tests, and in-hospital stays. You’re on the hook for everything else.

For this reason 24 million Canadians have opted to buy additional health insurance through private insurers. These plans cover basics like dental and vision care and routine prescription drugs. They also protect you in case of more serious accident or injury that can involve big, unmanageable bills.

Group vs. Individual Health Plans

The holy grail of health insurance is a good group benefits plan through an employer. Count yourself lucky if you have one of these. Good benefits are a huge draw to employees because the employer is required to pay at least part of the cost and all full-time employees are eligible, regardless of pre-existing health conditions.

However, if your company doesn't offer benefits, you still have options. Individual health plans such as Health Plus are available. Just make sure you look past the ads. While you obviously want a good price,  make sure you also consider the coverage maximums and limits for the services that are important to you. Some plans look good on the surface but coverage is actually quite inadequate and their rates keep going up. Look for a plan that balances good coverage and stable, reasonable rates.

Marketing of Health Spending Accounts is also on the rise. These are usually pitched as an alternative to group insurance for small business because they provide reimbursement for a wide variety of health expenses to a predetermined amount (e.g $1000-$2500). Employees/employers pay into an account to cover the claims. The flexibility of HSAs for routine expenses can be appealing but the biggest pitfall? They aren't insurance. If you're faced with a serious medical issue, they don't measure up. 

life insurance

Life insurance pays a tax-free lump sum of money to family or other beneficiaries named in your policy. It can protect your loved ones in the event of your death by providing money to pay funeral costs, debts, or simply to continue paying everyday expenses. Policies are available as term life insurance, which covers you for a specific time period, or permanent life insurance, which as the name suggests, covers you as long as the premiums are paid. Permanent life insurance may also accumulate cash value you can use, should you live to a ripe old age or want the money sooner.

disability insurance

If you become sick or injured and unable to work, disability insurance provides a monthly tax-free payment to replace some of your lost income. Not only can health bills take a toll but so can everyday expenses. Disability insurance helps you maintain your standard of living, even if you’re ability to work has changed.

critical illness insurance

Different than disability insurance, critical illness insurance provides a tax-free lump sum payment if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, heart attack, or stroke. The money is yours to use as you see fit, whether that’s on additional medical treatment or supplies, living expenses, household help, or even a vacation.

long term care insurance

Long term care insurance pays cash to help cover the costs of care in your home or a healthcare facility. Anyone who has helped care for an aging or disabled relative will know good care can be expensive and sometimes too hard to find. Canada's aging population, with seniors making up 15% and projected to rise to 25% within the next 20 years, makes having a plan in place all the more important. With this strain on the system, insurance gives you more control and choice in where and how you live.  

Travel insurance

Although it's not exactly in the same category of benefits, travel insurance gets an honourable mention as sixth on our list because it can be confusing to sort out. It’s also part of smart planning. When looking it's especially important to be clear on what you need and what a plan covers. Out-of- Canada emergency health coverage, a very good idea to protect yourself in case of illness or injury while you’re away, is included in some but not all health insurance plans. And some plans limit the activities covered. Additional travel insurance is also available to cover risks such as trip cancellation, delay, or lost baggage. All of these mishaps can put a serious damper on an otherwise great trip so why not plan ahead. 

So that’s the list of personal insurance to help protect your cash now and for the long run. And that’s not just our view. In a recent Globe and Mail article "Forget falling stock markets. These are the things in life you really should be worried about" Rob Carrick includes insurance as part of sound money management.