Evoking emotion and influencing action through clear, clever content

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The Change Leadership Conference: Responding to Change Better & Faster

A diverse group industry leaders recently flocked to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to hear two of this planet’s most in-demand speakers on leadership and innovation—John C. Maxwell and Jeremy Gutsche—as well as some of Canada’s foremost change agents, discuss leading change successfully in today’s business environment.

“Without change, we remain stagnant, expose our organizations to financial losses, and lose our relevance in the marketplace,” explained the event’s host Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta, CEO at OliveBlue Incorporated, which presented The Change Leadership series.

“Change is dynamic and unending, and now it’s happening at such a fast pace.”

Key learnings

Seven speakers and panellists took to the stage to share their experiences and insights on change leadership. Here is a roundup of some of the most impactful thoughts that were presented.

“Your company culture has to demonstrate that you earn leadership because you’re the best, not because you’ve been there the longest; if your culture protects that kind of environment, nothing is going to change.”

~John C. Maxwell, global leadership expert, speaker, author

“Forty-four per cent of Canadian companies said they had courage, but only 11 per cent of companies in Canada actually had courage (statistics cited from Deloitte’s 2016 report The Future Belongs to the Bold)… They need for us to step up as leaders.”

~Paul Alofs, president and CEO, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

“I think diversity is one of the most important issues in terms of innovation and creative thinking. There’s an old saying that, if you and I think alike, then one of us is redundant.”

~Jeremy Gutsche, disruptive innovation expert, speaker, author

“There are things like agile fatigue. Some people thrive on being agile, and others hit the wall. As leaders, we have to be aware of that, and figure out what we have to do to get those employees ready.”

~Gail A. Serverini, divisional vice president, Change Management, Holt Renfrew

“Relevance is not just about having a customer focus but also an employee and community focus…  At RBC, we have a very healthy paranoia about being and staying relevant.”

~Laura Fisher, vice president, Human Resources Shared Services, RBC

Intrapreneurship applies the same tenets of entrepreneurship: ask why, and mobilize people around a vision.”

~Dr. Steven Murphy, dean, Ted Rogers School of Management

“We rally employees behind the vision of us being a tech company that offers banking services.”

~Helen Wang, vice president, IT Lean Program, Scotiabank

Go forth and lead change

Despite the fancy titles of some of the presenters, the most important message conveyed at the event was probably that a person needn’t be a vice president, CEO, or business owner to lead.

“Anyone can learn to lead,” Maxwell told the audience.  My favourite quote is ‘one man with courage is a majority.’”

This post originally appeared in the August 1 Avanti Women blog and e-newsletter. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

~Write-or-die girl

Working your website hacks

Opal Gamble

Are you fascinated by HTML? Would you like to deepen your understanding of website coding?

Me neither. I just want my website to generate some business every now and then, and not crash in the process.

I met Opal Gamble, website whiz and all-around-amazing human being, last year when I started volunteering for Caregiving Matters, an online charity. She developed and maintains the charity’s comprehensive website, and subsequently walked me through the site’s back-end interface so I could contribute to the charity’s internet marketing strategy.

Around that time, I was also building this website and in desperate need of a little guidance. I figured as lady with such a generous heart, Opal wouldn’t mind sharing a little free advice on basic website upkeep and lead optimization—and I pegged her perfectly!  Here’s a handy cheat sheet of the knowledge she dropped on me.

  • If your website comes equipped with a content management system, perform all the updates –including ones for the program and plug-ins—when prompted. “This might sound pretty obvious, but many people ignore these messages for weeks or longer,” says Opal. “The programmers roll out these security updates constantly because they’ve found vulnerabilities in their programs that they’ve patched. If you don’t do your updates, you’re a sitting duck for security problems.”
  • Make sure each page on your website has at least 300 words. “This is the word count at which Google’s search engines start taking you seriously,” she explains. For vloggers, her suggestion is to transcribe their videos so they achieve the 300-word minimum. “As someone who is not a huge fan of video, I think it’s also a great idea to give your audiences options. Don’t hold us hostage to your videos.”
  • Your website should be constantly changing. “The advantage of a website is that it’s nimble,” Opal points out. “If your website is stagnant, search engines have no reason to come back.” Blogging regularly, updating your portfolio, and adding new services are all great ways to keep your website evolving, she adds.
  • Your website must be mobile friendly. “That’s non-negotiable,” Opal warns. “For most people, more than 50 per cent of their website traffic comes from mobile devices, so you’re just throwing away business if your site is not loading properly on a cell phone or tablet.” The simple housekeeping rule is to check your website on multiple devices periodically, especially after doing the updates mentioned in tip number one, she adds.
  • Target your website content at your top 10 per cent of clients that generate the most business. “This is probably the best website advice I’ve ever heard,” she shares. “If you focus on those people and generating more business like theirs, logically you’ll increase your income and continue to grow your business.”

Opal Gamble is the front-end web developer and project manager at Design & Develop. Connect with her through her website.

~Write-or-Die Girl

The savvy entrepreneur’s step-by-step guide to starting a business in Ontario

Alex Koch

I sure wish I had known Alex Koch, founder and principal at Insight Legal, when I decided to pursue my passion as a full-time profession. Don’t get me wrong: entrepreneurship has its perks. But the legalities involved are pretty prosaic, for a right-brained creative like me. In this week’s Write-or-Die Girl column, Alex breaks down business-starting steps into bite-sized, digestible morsels.

The Province of Ontario presents entrepreneurs with many opportunities to start businesses, firstly as a host to a significant portion of the Canadian population, and secondly as a province offering its residents some of the country’s highest incomes. For this reason, many entrepreneurs are seeking to commence their business ventures in Ontario; however, it is not always abundantly clear where these entrepreneurs should start and how they should proceed.

To help guide these entrepreneurs, I have compiled a list of steps involved in starting a business in Ontario.

STEP 1 – SELECT YOUR BUSINESS STRUCTURE

Prior to starting any sort of business operation, entrepreneurs must choose the appropriate business structure for their business. If entrepreneurs are seeking to start a business on their own, they will consider operating as a sole proprietorship or a corporation. Alternatively, for entrepreneurs seeking to start a business venture with one or more co-founders, they will consider operating as a partnership or corporation. You can click here for a discussion on how to choose the appropriate structure for your business. Each structure will carry with it different registration and legal compliance requirements, making it one of the most important steps in starting a business.

STEP 2 – CHOOSE YOUR BUSINESS NAME

Choosing your business name carries with it two aspects. On the one hand, businesses want to choose a name that suits their business and can attract customers. On the other hand, business names must meet the criteria of certain legal requirements.

Sole Proprietorship/General Partnership

Depending on the name chosen for a sole proprietorship or a partnership, business owners may have to register their business name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. To operate a sole proprietorship or a partnership using only the name(s) of the founder(s), the business name does not need to be registered and the entrepreneurs are free to commence their business operation. For instance, if your name is John Galt, you can operate a sole proprietorship called “John Galt” without registering the business name. Likewise, if two founders are seeking to start a partnership and their names are John Galt and Bunbury Smith, they can operate a business using their names only without registration. If however, business owners are seeking to make additions to their business name, for example “John Galt & Sons,” the business name must be registered.

There are certain prohibitions relating to business name registration, for instance, the words “Limited, Incorporated, Inc., etc.” cannot be used since they imply that the business is incorporated. Likewise, neither a sole proprietorship nor a partnership name may imply an association with a government entity. If companies do not comply with these registration requirements, they may be fined.

Corporation

All corporations in Ontario must have a name. Companies are able to choose between two types of corporate names: (1) a numbered name automatically chosen during the incorporation process; and (2) a chosen name. If an entrepreneur is choosing his/her corporate name, the name must comply with certain standards. Specifically, the name must be distinctive and it must not be misleading or likely to be confused with names used by other organizations and businesses. Further, the name must end with a word indicating that the business is incorporated such as, Inc., Ltd., Incorporated, Limited, etc.

STEP 3 – CONDUCT A NAME SEARCH

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership

Registering a sole proprietorship or partnership name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services does not guarantee exclusivity of the name, meaning that businesses with identical names can be registered. Using a name that is the same as another business or is confusingly similar to another business name could result in a lawsuit from an existing company using that name. For this reason, it is prudent for business owners to conduct a name search prior to registration to determine whether a chosen name is already in use by another company.

Corporation

Companies that chose a corporate name (and not a numbered name), must obtain a NUANS (New Upgraded Automated Name Search) report that is not older than 90 days on the date of registration. A NUANS report lists names of companies using the same or similar name to the chosen corporate name. Unlike with sole proprietorships or partnerships, corporations are not permitted to register identical names to another business unless a company can provide satisfactory evidence that the two businesses will not be confused by consumers.

STEP 4 – REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS

Once an entrepreneur has selected the business name and conducted a name search, the business is ready for registration.

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership

To register a name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the entrepreneur must provide the Ministry with: (1) the name and address of the business; (2) a description of the business activity; and (3) the entrepreneur’s name and home address. If a partnership is being registered, the names and homes addresses of the partners must also be included. There are many options for registering a business name; the registration process can be completed online, in-person or by mail. Once a name is registered, the business will receive its Master Business License which acts as proof of business name registration and the entrepreneur may commence its business operations.

Corporation

To register a corporation, entrepreneurs can submit their application for incorporation to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The application must include: (1) the company’s Articles of Incorporation which outline the name and nature of the business, the directors of the corporation, the share structure, etc.; (2) a covering letter that outlines the name and contact information for the corporation; and (3) the NUANS report pertaining to the corporate name. Companies that submitted their application for incorporation in Ontario are only provided with name exclusivity in the province meaning that businesses with identical names can incorporate in other provinces. If this poses an issue, the entrepreneur should consider a federal incorporation.

It is possible for corporations to incorporate with one name and to operate their business under another name. If that is the case, the corporation must register its name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services in the same manner as a sole proprietorship or a partnership registers its name.

STEP 5 – APPLY FOR LICENCES AND CERTIFICATIONS

Once a business is registered, the business must now register for whatever other licences, registrations, or certifications required to legally operate a business in a particular industry. Depending on the nature of its business, a company may need a business licence to operate. Likewise, a company may need Workers’ Compensation Insurance or to collect HST. In general, if a company provides taxable goods or services and earns over $30,000 per year, the company must register for an HST number with the Canada Revenue Agency and remit the HST it collects to the government.

STEP 6 – RENEW YOUR BUSINESS REGISTRATION

Once a business is operational, there are various ongoing requirements with respect to registration. For instance, sole proprietorships and partnerships must renew their business name every five years. On the other hand, corporations must make annual filings with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

If you have a business idea but are unsure about how to turn your idea into reality, contact Alex Koch at Insight Legal.

Sizzling Summer Volunteer Opps

Volunteering during tanning season while your girls are sipping cocktails by poolside doesn’t have to feel like a prison sentence.

Why not gain some resume-worthy skills, diversify your professional and social network, and get VIP access to some of the hottest summer events in the city?

Taste of Toronto: Do you have an appetite for exotic eats and entertainment? Taste of Toronto is the perfect festival for a hardcore foodie to indulge in some appetizing volunteer action. If your schedule’s clear from June 15 to 18, check out how you can get a taste of the action here.

Pride Toronto: With promises of wild costumes, funky choreography, and colourful displays of fabulousness, Pride Toronto is one of the largest parades of its kind in North America. But it’s no easy feat to pull off a diversity celebration of this magnitude without a flock of volunteers who are down for the cause. The not-for-profit organization has a variety of volunteer roles that need to be filled before the main event on June 25. Check here for details.

TD Toronto Jazz Festival:  With soulful performances by artists like Aretha Franklin and Joss Stone, we’d bet jazz aficionados would be willing to pay some pretty good coin to attend the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, from June 23 to July 2.  Keep your cash in your wallets, and fulfill your do-gooder duties, while grooving to the rhythmic vibes of the 31st-annual Toronto Jazz Festival. Just fill out the volunteer application to be considered.

Toronto Fringe Festival: “All the world is a stage,” wrote Shakespeare, empowering any and every one to unleash her or his inner artist. The Fringe Festival features more than 155 indie shows in every genre of theatre. If you believe in the relentless pursuit of self-expression, find out how to get involved here.

Fan Expo Canada: Volunteering at Fan Expo Canada—the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event in Canada—might just be the equivalent of fangirl heaven. Running from August 31 to September 3, the event has featured celebs like The Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood, comic book legend Stan Lee, and several cast members (including the well-renowned heartthrobs) of The Walking Dead. Fantasy seekers should look no further than here to get involved.

Of course, Avanti Women is always on the lookout new volunteers with a variety of skills and interests—and a passion for fun (that’s essential!)—all year round. Let us know if you want to spend your summer joining us in our mission to empower women to move forward.

This post originally appeared on the June 1 Avanti Women blog and e-newsletter. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

~Write-or-die girl

Write-or-die girl

Since embarking on this teeter-totter ride of full-time business ownership last year, I find myself evolving into a keener observer and more confident risk taker. My personality hasn’t changed much—a bevy of quirks complemented by a bizarre 35-year raw-tomato addiction—and I’m physically healthier, now that I plan my work schedule around my gym schedule.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this post is about me: Write-or-die girl. I figured it was time I introduce myself.

So as I was saying, 95 per cent of my business comes from my super-duper spectacular repeat clients, and kind colleagues who refer me to their peers. I’ve been very fortunate in my career, thus far, to come across people who have looked past my demure demeanor, recognized my passion and chutzpa, and given me a chance to prove my worth.

When I’m not writing—for business or pleasure—or volunteering, I practice yoga, lift weights, and attend spinning classes, usually five days a week. I also delight in Chinese buffets and AYCE sushi, ergo the hyperactive workout schedule.

Now I’ll get to the part I’m sure you’re (at least a teensy weensy bit) curious about.

I chose Write-or-die girl as my blogger pseudonym for two reasons. The obvious reason is that writing is my raison d’être. I love what I do and that I can help people by doing it—it is my gift to give.

Secondly, it’s a play on words. In urban culture, a “ride or die” is basically someone who’s dependable and loyal for the long haul. I am dedicated to my art and committed to exceeding the expectations of my customers in a timely fashion with artistic finesse.

Write-or-die girl just seems fitting.

Heightening creativity at home with geomancy

Melonie Arscott

Last Tuesday, I was forced to work from home because maintenance men were entering my suite (I always assume their fingers get stickier when no one is watching).

With a bad case of brain paralysis, I reached out to Melonie Arscott,  geomancer, feng shui specialist, and intuitive life coach, at Melo Spaces, to get some tips on pimping my home office to heighten my creative mojo.

“The physical elements of our environments and how we subconsciously process them can strongly influence our states of mind, including our productivity and creativity,” she told me. “If you make tiny adjustments to your office, you’ll set yourself up for fluid inspiration generation.”

Ummm…yes, please. I’ll have some of that!

I took detailed notes, as she spoke.

  • Nix EMFs: “First and foremost, cut down on high levels of EMFs; they make you tired and your brain foggy,” she advised. The easiest way to do this is by introducing plants—which reduce air pollution and noise— and flowers—which bring about chi—into a space.
  • Auditory arousal: “There is nothing more soothing than the sound of flowing water,” she said and suggested placing a mini water fountain in my office. She also recommended fast-paced classical music—Baroque period, for example—as it stimulates brainwave activity.
  • Colour psychology: “Colour ignites the mind and revives the spirit,” according to Melonie. Yellow and orange work the best to get the creative juices flowing. Small hints of colour, like on a mouse pad or vase, are sufficient to trigger fresh ideas.
  • Guiding light: “Expose your office to as much natural light as possible. The sun is nature’s antidepressant,” she joked. But if natural light isn’t available, she recommends opting for full-spectrum lighting.
  • Crystal light: “Hanging a spherical multifaceted crystal by a window so it can reflect sunlight light will bring more yang (active energy) into a dark room and promote motivation,” she added. Even if you don’t have a window, you can hang it somewhere where your room lighting will bounce off of it.
  • Scent stories:Essential oils can also awaken your inner innovator,” she concluded. “Peppermint oil is great for headaches when dabbed on the temples, and simply breathing it in relieves fatigue, but keep it away from your eyes.” Additionally, orange oil decreases anxiety and elevates mood levels, while cinnamon oil reduces frustration. These particular oils should not be applied to the body, though—best to invest in an aromatherapy diffuser.

For best results, Melonie recommends having a customized consultation and environmental report prepared. She is currently rebalancing the energy on her website (that is, it is under construction) but feel free to reach out to her for more info at info@melospaces.com.

Items listed in this post, like crystals, essential oils, and aromatherapy diffusers, can be found at crystal, new age, and health food stores.

~Write-or-die girl

Blogging for Google juice

Bob James

While millions of fierce business competitors are salivating for just a sip of sweet, rich Google juice to quench their SEO thirsts, one small business owner has managed to keep his cup overflowing.

“You can bolt to the top of Google’s search rankings by consistently publishing fresh, authoritative content that other people want to read and link back to,” shared one of my favourite bloggers Bob James, president and chief storyteller of Bob & David James, who coined my favourite new marcom term: Google juice!

The secret, he advised, is to not fill your posts with industry keywords that are too competitive. Instead, hone in on keywords that are niche-specific to grow a targeted fan base.

Blog Cents

With more than 10,000 loyal blog readers, Bob should know. For the past 10 years, he has blogged everyday, minus a vacation day or two, to enhance his small business profiles. In fact, several of his long-term customers started out as fans of his blog, or friends of fans.

“If you’re looking for an audience of prospective customers searching the web, blogging is one of the best, if not the best, ways to do it,” he said.

“They may never do business with you, but they will know who you are, and influence other people.”

Credibility at no cost

There maybe 1000s of bloggers in your industry, but probably very few with the same niche, which gives you a tremendous competitive advantage, according to Bob.

“Your only real investment is time,” he explained, “and your payoff is the opportunity to differentiate yourself as an expert, and establish credibility in your area of specialty.”

Know your niche

It helps to determine in a word or two what your blog is about, Bob advised, but it isn’t easy.

“I blogged for five years before realizing my blog is about persuasion, as in the phrase, ‘the art of persuasion’,” he admitted.

Knowing what your blog is about helps you stay “on course,” he added, and makes it easy to explain the value of your blog to others.

If you’re wondering how Bob finds fresh story ideas to share with blog followers 365 days a year, he shares his inspiration on LinkedIn.

For an informative, bold, and witty perspective on persuasion in marketing, communications, and events, check out Bob’s current blogs: The Mighty Copywriter and Explorer’s Journal.

Cheers,

~Write-or-die girl   

Networking naturally through volunteerism

Tourism Toronto President & CEO Johanne Bélanger

Introverts, exhale…

Schmoozing at networking events isn’t the only means to building meaningful relationships that can advance your career.

Case in point:Tourism Toronto President & CEO Johanne Bélanger has more than 2000 global LinkedIn contacts, each whom she has been personally acquainted with on some level. Of course, it helps that she is self-assured and effortlessly extroverted, but she credits her ever-growing network of diverse professional contacts—and much of her career success—to volunteering.

“Although people may come from different backgrounds and walks of lives, when they volunteer or sit on a board, they are there to fulfill the organization’s mission which provides them with a source of commonality from which to start having discussions and networking,”she explained.

No stranger to working pro bono, Johanne has donated her time and energy to numerous charity and industry boards throughout her career. Most notably, she served on the Board of Directors for Tourism Toronto for six years beginning in 2009, before eventually being hired to run the entire association in 2015…

Read the rest of this article on the Avanti Women website.

~Write-or-die girl   

Coffee Shop Etiquette

Most reasonable professionals are aware that there are certain behaviours that are inappropriate in an office setting. For example, whistling while you work is likely to irk your neighbours, and poor hygiene is just plain icky!

Alas, there don’t seem to be a set of etiquette rules for independent workers at my headquarters where the average office space costs a cup of Joe an hour. Fortunately, I have created a top ten list of coffee shop etiquette rules for the mindful, modern-day worker.

10. Order something. We all know Starbucks has an open-door policy, but don’t take advantage of the chain’s kindness, or you might ruin it for the rest of us. If you’re going to park there for three hours with your laptop, at least order a coffee. Really, it is the classy thing to do.

9. Remove your garbage from the table when you leave. No one should have to clean up after you when they arrive.

8. One table/seat per worker. Please don’t make someone have to ask you to remove your backpack from the chair or table beside you. Be considerate, and only use the space you require.

7. Share the outlets. If you are fortunate to be sitting beside a power outlet, use one socket, and leave the other for your neighbour.

6. Wash your hands. According to many research studies, office work spaces carry an extraordinary amount of germs. When you work where you—and others—eat, washing your hands on washroom trips just makes sense.

5. Use your indoor voice. No one wants to hear you barking orders at the top of your lungs into your cell phone. You can chit chat; just tone it down a bit please.

4. Be tolerant. Believe it or not, coffee shops do not cater to starving writers and college students exclusively. Expect some noise and commotion from families with children and bad-mannered boneheads (they usually don’t stay for very long, anyway).

3. Avoid conversations with people wearing headphones. Generally, when people have their headphones on while they’re working in a coffee shop, it means they are trying to block out noise and focus, you know? They might even be in the (sacred) zone.

2. Eyes on your own laptop screen. It might be tempting to peek at your neighbour’s screen and check out what (s)he is working on, but it’s also rude. If you’re really curious, and (s)he is not wearing headphones, simply inquire (in a non-creepy way). You might just make a friend or meet a future business associate.

1. Proper hygiene still applies. Do I really need to explain this rule? Icky, remember?

Do you care to add to this list of politeness policies, or dispute a rule in this new set of civility bylaws? Please submit your cases for review below. 😉

~Write-or-die girl   

How to select the appropriate structure for your business

Alex Koch

In business, as in life, ignorance of the law is not a legitimate defence for violating it. Thank goodness Alex Koch, founder and principal at Insight Legal, is committed to simplifying the legal aspects of entrepreneurship for small business owners. I’m thrilled to have her share her legal expertise on business structures, in this week’s Write-or-Die Girl column.

With every new venture, there are new challenges. Not all, but some challenges can be avoided with better planning. One of the most common steps overlooked by new businesses is choosing the appropriate business vehicle. Selecting a business structure may not seem as important when you are trying to turn an idea into a business venture; however, it is one of the most important pillars on which your business is going to stand, meaning that it is something that must be given thought to at the outset.

Most businesses use one of the following five structures:

  • Sole proprietorship;
  • Partnership;
  • Joint venture;
  • Corporation; and
  • Co-operative.

Each of the above business structures has unique features and the choice of a business vehicle will depend on the individual needs of your business. We will briefly discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of each business structure below.

Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the most commonly used form of organization by new businesses and startups while their costs of operation and income are low. In a sole proprietorship, one individual owns and controls the business. This type of business structure does not require cumbersome reporting to regulatory authorities and thus is easy to establish and maintain. Nonetheless, there are some registration requirements applicable to sole proprietors. For instance, if a sole proprietor carries on business under a name other than his/her legal name, he/she must register such trade name. It is prudent for a sole proprietor to conduct a name search prior to registering a business name to ensure that the chosen business name is not the same as, or similar to, the name of an existing business.

As with other business vehicles, there are some disadvantages of operating a business as a sole proprietorship. For instance, a sole proprietorship is not considered to be a separate person under the law meaning that taxes and liabilities of the business are borne by the sole proprietor, making sole proprietorships one of the riskiest business vehicles since (1) the sole proprietor may pay more taxes as he/she will not be able to take advantage of the lower corporate tax rate; and (2) the sole proprietor may be held personally liable for acts or omissions of the sole proprietorship.  Further, it is difficult for a sole proprietorship to obtain financing for the business as it may only draw from personal finances or loans and its ability to obtain a loan will depend on the personal credit of the proprietor. Lastly, a sole proprietorship ends upon the death of the sole proprietor.

Partnership

A partnership is used as a business vehicle when two or more individuals decide to engage in a business venture and wish to share the profits and liabilities of the business. Discussed below are three types of partnerships. While each type of partnership has its unique features and registration requirements, there are certain features that are shared by all types of partnerships. For instance, all of the types of partnerships are similar to sole proprietorships with respect to liability and tax repercussions discussed above, with each partner reporting losses and income on his/her personal returns.

General Partnership

A general partnership is a relation between two or more individuals (or companies) carrying on a common business.  Similar to sole proprietorships, general partnerships must register their name if they plan to use any name other than the first and/or last names of the partners. While it is possible for a general partnership to operate without a partnership agreement as the Partnerships Act guides the conduct of a partnership in Ontario, most prudent partners execute a Partnership Agreement to define their business and their relationship to one another.

Limited Partnership

A limited partnership consists of at least one general partner and at least one limited partner. The general partner has all the rights, liabilities and responsibilities that a partner may have in a general partnership.  On the other hand, the limited partner contributes to the business in form of capital and/or assets and is prevented from becoming involved in the day-to-day management of the partnership. Given their status as limited partners and their inability to participate in the management of the partnership, limited partners enjoy reduced liability. A limited partner’s liability is limited to the value of money and other property the limited partner contributed or agreed to contribute to the limited partnership. If a limited partner becomes more involved in the day-to-day management of the partnership, he/she risks losing his/her limited status and exposes him/herself to the same liabilities as a general partner. For this reason, it is important for partners to have a well drafted Limited Partnership Agreement that clearly defines the responsibilities of each partner. Unlike general partnerships, limited partnerships must register their business (and not simply their name) with governmental authorities.

Limited Liability Partnership (“LLP”)

An LLP may only be used as a business vehicle by members of professional associations such as lawyers, certified accountants and doctors. This structure allows the partners to limit their liability to the extent of their own wrongdoing thus protecting themselves from liability with respect to acts or omissions of the other partners. Unlike with other forms of partnerships, LLPs are burdened with more cumbersome obligations such as (1) a requirement to have a signed Limited Partnership Agreement; (2) a requirement to include the letters “LLP” in the name of the partnership; (3) registration with the Ministry of Government Services; and (4) a requirement to maintain a minimum amount of liability insurance.

Joint Venture

A joint venture (“JV”) is used when two or more individuals or businesses wish to bring their resources together to achieve a common business goal. There is an effort made by the parties in a JV to work together on a common project for a limited period of time. There can be many different reasons for forming a joint venture including business expansion, selling of products through the distribution network of a bigger company, moving into new markets, sharing resources, sharing expertise, new product development, etc. Unlike with partnerships, there is no legislative document that governs the relationship of two venturers, making it very important for the venturers to capture their intentions and relationship in a legal document. A Joint Venture Agreement will include various detailed provisions including those dealing with capital invested by each party, how profits will be shared, responsibilities of each venturer, the extent of each venturer’s liability, ownership of intellectual property and process of dissolution of the joint venture. A well drafted Joint Venture Agreement can help each party avoid lengthy and costly litigation to resolve matters that may arise.

Some advantages of forming a joint venture include:

  • Market access – a company/individual entering a new market may join forces with a company already in such market to take advantage of the established company’s distribution and supply network.
  • Broad resource base – when two parties come together to achieve a common goal they bring together two teams forming a larger resource base.
  • Access to capital and expertise – a relatively smaller business or a startup can gain access to capital and expertise through the other, usually more established, joint venturer.

Few disadvantages of using a joint venture as a business vehicle are:

  • Complicated relationship management – when two individuals or companies get together they may have very different ideas about operation of the business due to factors such as experience in the field, technical know-how, market know-how, etc.
  • Managing two businesses – individuals or businesses that enter into a JV also have other business and/or a routine job which also will need their time and attention. Thus, one needs to find the right balance to manage both during the course of the JV.
  • Finding the right balance in terms of goals – it is difficult but very important to define goals to help each venture understand and plan for better performance during the course of JV.

Corporation

A corporation is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. Corporations enjoy most of the rights and responsibilities that a natural person possesses; that is, a corporation has the right to enter into contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets and pay taxes. A corporation is also the most regulated form of business structure. Further, it is more expensive to set up, maintain and dissolve. When incorporating a business, it is very important to determine whether the company should be incorporated under federal or provincial jurisdiction. The decision to incorporate either federally or provincially can be based on a number of factors such as, price, the geographic area of operation or proposed operation of the business and the need to protect the business name across the country. Choosing a jurisdiction can have important ramifications for a business for instance, for a business interested in expanding nationally or in securing a business name nation-wide, a federal incorporation may be preferable. On the other hand, provincial registration may be preferable when the operation of a business is limited to one or few provinces only.

When a business is incorporated federally it must register in every province where it conducts business and make annual filings federally and provincially.  On the other hand, a provincially incorporated business must only register and make yearly filings in the province of its incorporation.

Regardless of whether a business is federally or provincially registered, as discussed above, one of the key benefits to using a corporation as a vehicle for a business is that a corporation is considered a person under the law. As such, corporations get to take advantage of:

  • Continuity in case of death or severance of any shareholder as the company does not dissolve when a shareholder departs or dies;
  • A lower corporate income tax rate;
  • Reduced liability for the company’s shareholders and directors of the company;
  • The ability of the company’s shareholders to transfer shares;
  • The ability to grant stock options to its employees; and
  • Greater access to financing.

Some disadvantages of using a corporation as a vehicle for a business are:

  • The cost, time and requirement of expert advice to register, maintain and dissolve a corporation; and
  • The requirement to file separate tax returns for the company and for each individual shareholder.

Co-operative

A co-operative is an organization where its members join together with a common goal of sharing their resources in a democratic way. Unlike with corporations where the voting power of each shareholder depends on the amount and class of shares held, co-operatives normally have a one person one vote policy allowing each member to contribute to the decision-making process of the company. Co-operatives can be structured as a not-for-profit or for-profit organization and just like corporations, co-operatives can be incorporated provincially or federally.  What makes most co-operatives different from corporations however, is the fact that members of co-operatives normally make policies and by-laws for their decisions. While co-operatives allow businesses to operate in a democratic fashion, this structure may prevent progress in a business as it may take significantly longer for co-operatives to reach a decision – especially if there is a high number of members.

Planning ahead can help you avoid complex and lengthy dispute resolution. Choosing the right structure for your business and complying with the applicable legal requirements will help you ensure the sustainability and continuity of your business. The ideal structure can help you protect yourself from complicated disputes and will help define the role, responsibilities, profits and liabilities of each person involved.

Each business venture is unique and requires special consideration. Please contact Insight Legal at info@insightlawyers.com and we will help you select a business structure that meets your business needs.

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