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Have a business idea? Here is what you need to make it work.



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Have a business idea? Here is what you need to make it work.

It isn’t easy lifting your first venture off the ground. Here is what you need to get it rolling in the right direction. Whether you are pitching your business idea to investors or looking to hire employees, you need to make sure that you are communicating your vision as effectively as possible. If people can understand what you are talking about, then you’re in business. The three aspects of a successful business launch are as follows.

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1. You need to tell a story

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Ultimately, every business comes down to a story. Stories draw people in, allow them to emotionally invest, and guide them to join your cause. They communicate the important details, and set the stage for building out the case for why your business is the one. Every story has 5 questions in it, and if you can answer them you can paint a complete picture that makes your venture worth pursuing.

Why | What is the problem that you are solving? Why are you solving it? Does it need to be solved?

What | In what way are you solving the problem at hand? Are you connecting buyers and sellers? Are you making something easier? Are you exploring new territory that your clients aren’t even aware of?

How | How are you going to do it? If you are connecting buyers and sellers, are you making an app? Are you operating a weekly meeting? What ways are you solving the problem and adding value?

Who | Who is your target market? What do they look like? What interests them? How do they like to spend their time? The more you know about the people you are trying to help, the better. Additional reading – the importance of TAM, SAM and SOM in your business plan (The Importance of tam sam and som in your plan).

When | This is especially important in looking to secure funding. You always need to have a when in mind. When will you make your investment back? When will you start developing the next stage of your product. Everything comes down to a time and place, and the better idea that you have of this, the better off your business will be from the beginning.

Ask yourself – am I telling the complete story? Are the people I’m speaking to going to understand why I am here and why I believe in this business? Communication is key, and effective communication often separates the winners from the losers

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2. You need to back your story up

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You need data, data and more data. Data provides your vision with validation. Anyone can step up and talk about their dream of launching a fashion label, but if the market that you are looking to hit isn’t deep enough it will never go off. Prove that your business has legs of its own.

What kind of data do you need? 

You need to be able to show a couple of things.

  1. The problem that you are solving actually exists. This can be indicated by excess costs, or a consistent lack of supply. If you find the local burger joint in your neighbourhood is constantly packed, there might be a market opportunity for you to step into.
  2. That you can solve this problem well enough to make money. What is the average price of burgers in your area? How many burgers do you need to sell to cover your rent for the month (see: Breakeven analysis)?
  3. That your strategy is strong enough to work into the future. You need to be able to forecast the returns on your business. Investors and credit lenders want to hear about how the future will look for them. They want to see what the returns will look like in 5 years, and how long it will take them to recoup their initial investment.  

If you can demonstrate that you are solving a legitimate problem, that you can solve the problem well enough to attract people willing to pay for your services, and that your solution is sustainable in the long run, then getting your business off the ground is no problem.

With this kind of information you can begin to piece together the basics of a business plan.

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3. You need to communicate your story effectively

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An effective business plan takes in all of these pieces of information and pulls them into a single cohesive document. The parts of a business plan work like a funnel, speaking from the most high level categories and working down.

A standard presentation has the following components:

Executive Summary – An overview of the problems you are solving and how you are solving them. Keep it to the absolute basics. Tell your audience just enough to interest them.

Company Overview – Explain the basis of your company. How it came into fruition and what your vision for the company is.

Products and Services – Explain the products that your company provides, and how it goes about solving problems.

Target Market – Detail who your target market is and what makes them tick. It is important to keep in mind that you need to make your audience understand that these people want to pay for your services.

Marketing and Sales Plan – Explain how you expect to go and bring your products to life. How are you going to get it into peoples hands? What will keep them talking about it?

Milestones and Metrics – Illustrate to your audience what you will use to measure and benchmark your success. This will be beneficial for yourself, and potential investors as it will allow you to outline your successes to date.

Management Team – Detail why your team is fit to do the job.

Financial Plan – Bring out the data, and finish off your pitch with a bang, showing exactly what you expect to earn.

If you incorporate all of these dimensions into your story telling, communicating your vision and finding support for your business becomes easy.


Chris Williamson is a recent UBC Bcomm grad, with a passion for business, technology and entrepreneurship. In addition to Surrey604, he writes another blog focused on financial planning in Vancouver called The Financial Edge. When not writing with Surrey604 or The Financial Edge, he is either operating his own digital marketing consultancy in the lower mainland or camping and surfing up and down the coast.


London Drugs Christmas Tree – Supporting Our Seniors



I came across an amazing post this morning by Natalya Cannon, on Facebook and just wanted to spread the word about this lovely and thoughtful endeavour.

London Drugs has Christmas trees with tags with the names of those living in care homes. You can select a tag and there is a “wish list” of items on there that would be wonderful for the individual to receive during the holiday season.

As we know, the upcoming holiday season will be very different from those we’ve had before – many of us will be separated from family and for seniors living in care homes, it may be even harder this year should there be further lockdown and limitations to visits.

This is a wonderful and socially distanced way to share some love and care for others, during a time where a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

I’ll be heading to my local London Drugs to select a few names and start putting together my parcels. Stay safe everyone!

For more information and details, please visit the London Drugs website.

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10 Marketing Tools and Supplies You Need to Boost Business



As we are fast approaching sci-fi world standards with things like virtual-reality, smart homes, and digital currencies, there are still some constants. For one, offline marketing tools are still necessary. The standard is now a 50/50 share of digital and offline advertising and marketing investment.

That means that your business needs to incorporate a strong offline and online strategy to succeed. Neglect either one and you could get left behind. Startup or established, your business stands to gain a lot from a variety of marketing tools.

You don’t need a lot of money to acquire a strong marketing suite of tools. A lot of what’s out there can be done with free apps or minimal investment. Most of the offline marketing investment will come from pure hustle.

Are you ready to take your marketing strategy to the next level?

Online Marketing Tools

For the first half of our marketing strategy, we’re going to focus on digital marketing. While there are comprehensive online marketing services, you can automate a lot of it. These are just a few examples.

Buffer for Social Media

Social media marketing is a huge time-sink. Even with a dedicated social media manager, you may not be reaching your full potential. That’s because it’s a delicate balance between too much activity and not enough.

You want to be on multiple social media platforms, but you also want to take advantage of each one’s potential. Duplicating content sharing on each platform isn’t inherently bad, but you definitely want to mix it up. This is where Buffer can help.

All your accounts can be connected into one dashboard. There, you can schedule a balanced ‘drip feed’ of content for each account. This lets you be able to queue up a month’s worth of content in one evening and then just focus on engagement.

Buffer is also great for studying which types of posts work and how frequently you should be posting it.

Growth Hacking

If you’ve never heard of the term “growth hacking” before, don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal. This is just a cool phrase to describe the online version of networking up. Normally, making connections online with experts, industry leaders, and B2B deals happens very slowly.

With tools like Sniply, you can start forming strong bonds with other influencers and industry experts. This platform lets you share content to and from influencers, building rapport, feedback, and trust. Sniply is a two-way street, allowing you to tap into bigger audiences while aligning yourself with interests for long-term benefits.

Website SEO

The tried and true formula of gaining more traffic to all of your accounts is strong SEO. Your website should be checking all of the boxes off for organic SEO:

  • Balanced keyword density
  • Strong meta-description
  • Web page speed optimization
  • Daily content updates
  • Responsive webpage design

Your website’s SEO is important for keeping and retaining the attention of your visitors. It should contain a cohesive theme of branding, promotional materials, unique content, and business information. First-impressions are very important for any long-term marketing strategy.

All potential customers and curious minds should find it easy to navigate your website. Draw them in with your story, make it memorable and relatable. This is an opportunity to create value that goes beyond expensive PPC campaigns.

PR Management

“Big data” is a marketing tool that is actually very accessible to the average business. All you need to do is plug in keywords related to your business (name, products, niche, etc.) and you’ll see in real time how successful your marketing is.

With Google Alerts, you can get email updates for every mention of your brand on the internet. This might be useful for sharing bragging rights on your social media or responding to complaints online.

Social Mention is another powerful tool that does alerts, plus things like Sentiment Analysis. This lets you know off the bat whether there’s positive or negative publicity brewing. It won’t completely replace a PR manager, but it will make the growing pains much easier.


The most important link in the automated online marketing chain: automated messaging. Email marketing tools are necessary if you want to build a massive following that isn’t tied to just one platform. Email isn’t going to lose relevancy anytime soon.

In order to get a large, active email list, you need an autoresponder. MailChimp is a good one, of course, but we’re going to go with GetResponse. It does everything MailChimp does, including email marketing tools, advanced analytics, surveys, and segmentation.

Add this onto webinar and landing page management, plus web event tracking. It’s just a much bigger ecosystem with a ton of growth potential. GetResponse is like having a team of virtual assistants at your beck and call.

Offline Marketing Tools

The bread and butter of marketing strategies that work. These traditional forms of getting your name into the mouths of others require dedication. The biggest obstacle to making these methods work is ambition.

Cold Calling

Why would someone want to speak with a stranger about products or services they never asked about? Well, people have conversations about things they never considered buying all the time. Cold calling gets a bad rep, mainly due to transparent marketing strategies.

Cold calls can be highly personalized and tailored to never feel predatory. Besides, you know your brand is honest and authentic, it’s just about conveying it to potential customers. Cold calling is also a great opportunity to make strong industry connections.

Use exploratory questioning, respect the recipient’s time, demonstrate value, and don’t ask for the sale. You want the person on the other line to feel in control and voluntarily commit.

Flyers, Posters, and Ads

Traditional advertising is all about getting your brand in front of the most eyeballs as possible. The volume of printing isn’t necessarily what’s most important. Start with a good printing service like New Era Print Solutions, then figure out where you’ll get the most receptive audience.

You can hire a few kids to distribute flyers in public spaces, put up posters in high-trafficked areas, or on windshields (strategically!). Share your ads with various print publications, don’t waste a good ad. We recommend community papers and college papers for the budget-minded.

You can run ads for much longer on the same budget as a single ad in a major newspaper.

Guerilla Marketing

This is probably one of the more precarious forms of marketing. It’s a bit of a gamble, but the payoff can be life-changing. You’ll need to brainstorm a really solid and cohesive strategy here. A publicity stunt needs to be more than just naked advertising, for example.

Do something thematic, engaging, and please incorporate it into some sort of social media activity. A simple hashtag is fine, just make sure you push to get it trending.

Some safe forms of guerilla marketing include theater and dance, pranks, stunts, political satire, and creative graffiti.

Business Cards

Don’t underestimate the power of a good business card. There is some solid science behind the effectiveness of a business card. Making a good first impression starts with being accessible.

By not opting for your standard black and white card with flimsy card stock, you’re telling that person that you value your longevity. You don’t want your business card being filed away with the other dozen or so cards at a convention, for example.

A sturdy, textural, and eye-catching card will stand out. Men who carry wallets will also likely “make room” for your card in their wallet. Survival of the fittest (or the thickest in the case), as they say! New Era Print Solutions has some great designs with high-quality printing that will feel like a piece of art.

Seminars, Events, and Activism

This last category of marketing tools comes in the form of classic networking. Face-to-face connections with real people is how you succeed in life. No matter how great your business plan may be, if you aren’t meeting the right people, it could fade into obscurity.

Seminars are great for obvious reasons: you get to hear pitches or give your own and see real feedback. Expos, conventions, and other related events are just giant punchbowl situations where you can connect with potential partners and clients.

The last category of face-to-face networking is more of a recent trend. By getting involved politically, you can position yourself as more than a business. You don’t even need to be in the midst of the most controversial topics and risk alienating your base.

Just put your name on a few universally-good initiatives and be a brand that is more than business.

Diversify and Grow

We hope this article inspired you to try out a few new marketing tools and strategies. Nothing is worse than that ‘stuck’ feeling of being unable to invest financially in more marketing, yet seeing that flat line of growth. You can work smarter, not harder, by incorporating an array of marketing tactics.

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5 Easy Giveaways That Help Build Customer Loyalty



Your brand is the foundation of your business. It’s how customers connect to you and it’s what keeps them coming back. At least, that’s what happens when you have a successful brand strategy.

Branding involves much more than a logo and a set of values. It applies to everything you do, from the way you communicate to users to the products and services you provide. All of these can build – or diminish – the level of customer loyalty your brand has.

If you’re looking to build customer loyalty, try offering special giveaways. Here are five simple, low-cost freebies you can give customers to boost their sense of loyalty to your brand.

1. A Discount Offer

Nothing gets people’s attention like a flash sale. This is a simple way to generate a buzz in your market and get more people to interact with your brand.

To turn these interactions into loyal customers, though, it’s best to personalize the discount you’re offering. There are a few ways you can go about this.

One method is to send an email blast to users who have not visited your site or purchased something in a while. Addressing each person by name and giving them a discount shows that you care about their business. It tells them you’ve noticed they’ve lost interest and you want to show them you can still provide plenty of value.

Another way to personalize a discount is to share it with users who are already somewhat loyal. These may be people who buy from you every once in a while. Send them a discount to keep them coming back for more.

Make your offer time-sensitive. This will create a sense of urgency and lead to higher conversion rates.

2. A Free Product or Service

The thing about offering a discount code is that you have to make sure everyone understands the terms.

People may not realize there’s a time stamp on their discount if you don’t say it explicitly. They may also try to use their discount on something it doesn’t apply to.

Because of these possible complications, sometimes it’s better to just give an item away for free. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, though.

Think about the things you’re already offering customers and how you can provide a little more without spending a lot on your end. If you’re a restaurant owner, maybe you can spare a free dessert or a glass of wine. If you run a software service, perhaps a free audit or system report is reasonable.

Whatever kind of business you run, though, make your freebie mean something. You have to find the balance between wooing your customers with something special and offering so many free things that you barely break even.

A simple way to keep the balance is to offer a free product or service as an add-on to another purchase. So, if a client buys “x” amount of a product at a certain value, they get a special, surprise bonus that makes sense for their investment.

3. Exclusive Meet-and-Greets

Sometimes, the best thing you can offer your audience is time. If you have access to well-known influencers or celebrities, leverage this. Turn your connections into valuable giveaways by running a contest with users to have an exclusive meet-and-greet.

You can do this with musicians and actors, well-known fitness gurus, authors, or the top thought leaders in your industry. If you have any kind of connection like this, share it with your audience. Invite this person (or group of people) to spend a day at your office or attend a trade show with you.

This provides customers with the special facetime of someone they look up to, all thanks to you. When done right, a meet-and-greet is something users won’t soon forget. They’ll feel a stronger sense of brand loyalty to you because of the awesome experience you’ve created for them.

4. T-shirts

Here’s a loyalty-building strategy you may not have thought of: t-shirts! Everyone loves free t-shirts, especially when they’re eye-catching and interesting. T-shirt marketing ideas are some of the best branding tools out there.

All you have to do is find the best way to connect cool t-shirts to your brand. Obviously, this means putting your logo/company name somewhere on the t-shirt, but think beyond that.

Where can you hand out the t-shirts that will create the most excitement? Should you include them as a freebie like the loyalty tip mentioned above, or create a separate t-shirt giveaway?

The more you go over these things, the better the results will be. Don’t rely on the t-shirts to do all the branding work for you. You have to find the best form of placing them and distributing them to make this strategy create powerful results.

5. Unexpected Treats

The final way to build customer loyalty is to send a thank-you gift or a special treat just because. This could be anything. You might want to send flowers, chocolates, or exclusive new product releases – whatever comes to mind.

If you’re having trouble thinking of something. Consider these options:

  • a gift card for coffee or food
  • sweet treats (donuts, cookies, a cake) for the customer and their team
  • a pass to skip the line (if applicable to your business)
  • an invite to a high-profile event
  • a hand-written card

No matter how big or small you go, it’s the thought that counts. Your customers will be blown away by this gesture and their loyalty is sure to skyrocket.

Additional Ways to Build Customer Loyalty

While it’s good to use giveaways and exclusive offers to build customer loyalty, these aren’t the only tools available to help you get the results you’re looking for.

A big part of branding success comes down to how relatable you are to users. They should be able to feel like you’re a trustworthy, passionate business owner, not just someone who’s looking to make a sale.

Content marketing can help you with this. It allows you to create an ongoing conversation with users for them to really get to know the story behind your business.

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London Drugs Guildford Centre Celebrates Completed Renovations With Grand Re-Opening



After several months of careful renovations at the Guildford Centre London Drugs, the renewed London Drugs at Guildford is open. Customers and patients will find a new, refreshing open concept design at 18,074 sq. ft. including a new cosmetics department.

“The new layout of the Guildford London Drugs will create an enhanced shopping environment for our customers and pharmacy patients,” said Elly Kurucz, London Drugs store manager. “The community at Guildford has been incredible to work with and we are excited to share this new open concept layout with of course all health and safety protocols in place.

All services customers have come to expect from London Drugs are offered at this location from pharmacy, to photolab to technical advice, our staff are available to assist everyone’s needs.”

The enhanced pharmacy area will feature a consultation room where patients will be able to have a private consultation with a pharmacist or receiving vaccines from a London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacist.


Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs has 81 stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba including its online store London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions.

Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 7,500 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business. Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring company and continues to position itself for future growth and development.

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7 Dropshipping Tips That Will Boost Your Sales



Dropshipping is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to do business. It requires little capital to start, you don’t need your own store or inventory, and the suppliers do all the hard work for you!

That’s not to say dropshipping is a walk in the park. While it’s relatively simple and low risk, it still requires regular maintenance to make it a success.

So, in this guide, you’ll discover 7 of the most useful dropshipping tips that’ll set you apart from the competition. And if you’re just getting started, they could also save you a lot of time and effort for nailing it first time round.

Dropshipping Tips

Dropshipping is simply using an online storefront to market a supplier’s products. Customers view your listings, make a purchase, then the supplier dispatches it, and you get paid!

It’s a great business model anyone can get started in. Once you’re all set up, things can pretty much run autonomously. But, being so attractive to entrepreneurs, everyone wants in. So now let’s look at those tips that’ll set you apart from the competition.

1. Give Them What They Want

Just because you like a product, doesn’t mean your customers will. Unique products may stand out, but there also needs to be a healthy market for it.

Do your research beforehand to identify what’s currently selling well, what’s on-trend, what are people searching for, and how can you bring it to them easily.

2. Master Your Marketing

Your online store may be brimming with products and getting all that Shopify traffic, but it doesn’t mean you’re getting guaranteed sales. But the automated side does give you more time for marketing.

You want to drive traffic from all sources to your storefront because more traffic means more sales. This involves having a website, blog, and a social media presence, all optimized for SEO. Ranking higher in search engines means if someone needs something, you’ll be at the top of the list.

3. An Offer They Can’t Refuse

With great marketing comes great deals. This is something that can help set you apart from other stores, particularly if you’re new to the game. This could be something like a seasonal sale or a bundle deal. If there’s something worth buying, they’re likely to buy more of it, especially if it comes at a discount!

4. Give Them a Taste

When you’ve decided on some products for your store, ask your supplier for some free samples. Not only does this help get a better feel for the product, it’ll help you create better images and descriptions that your competitors may not have. What’s more, you can reward loyal customers with freebies when they purchase another product.

5. Bolster Your Brand

People won’t just buy from anyone. They want to see you’re trustworthy and have a reputable presence online. Raise your brand awareness by having a website with high-quality content and make your business known on various platforms. Include customer reviews and testimonials to strengthen your brand and increase social proof.

6. High-Quality Service

There’s nowhere to hide these days. If you don’t supply a good product or service, your customers will let the world know about it. This can effectively squash your sales and destroy your business.

By going above and beyond for your customers, they’ll not only come back for more, but they’ll give you better reviews and even recommend you to their friends. That’s free marketing!

7. The Big Picture

While there is some automation, you’re still running a business. And with that, you need to be fully invested in it. It helps to devise a good plan that breaks down your targets, so you know what to do and when. That way you can gradually build a business that is geared towards success.

How to Start a Dropshipping Business

These dropshipping tips should give you a good idea of how to sell products online more effectively. While many people are itching to get a store on Shopify, there’s many who struggle to make it a success.

Now you have a better idea of how to start a dropshipping business properly, you’ll get that edge over your competitors and nail the sale every time!

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