Entrepreneurship

Ron Lovett, Founder of Source Security (Halifax): Halifax Businessman Wins Olympic Entrepreneurial Gold

olympic

On February 12, when the Olympic Torch was lit and opening ceremonies were on their way, over one hundred Source Security protectors radiated across Surrey’s Holland Park, an Olympic Celebration site housing a 25,000 square foot entertainment tent and an Outdoor Concert Stage. The Halifax security company guaranteed protection to the tens of thousands of visitors, cultural performers, RCMP musical riders and big name musicians for the duration of the International Games.

Source Security and Vancouver Olympics

This was not Source’s first intimate connection with the Vancouver Olympics, as a band of mindful mediators and beefy brawn followed the entire Canadian lag of the Torch Relay, providing safety in caravan style. The success of winning the Surrey Celebration site contract came out of the company’s bid to supply security for the entire Olympic and Paralympic Games, a $122 million contract. Source Security’s proposal was purely strategic. “We always have punched high above the belt,” says Ron Lovett, founder, owner and president of the security company. He is very pleased they won the Surrey venue as their British Columbian offices had only been in the province for one year. “It shows that we have built a brand so quickly [out here],” he says.

Lovett’s Entrepreneurial Beginnings

So who is this man behind the ever-growing company now having offices in all four Atlantic provinces, BC and soon to be Ontario and Quebec? Like Bill Gates, Walt Disney and the gifted Google creators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Ron Lovett started his company in his early twenties. After high school, like most grads, he was initially pressured by society, guidance councillors and public bus advertisements to attend university. He realized true education comes from experience, thus leaving undergrad life and embarking on a world-wide soul-searching voyage. From Thailand to Morocco, Australia to South Africa and travel through various European and South American countries, he had the chance to observe and learn from security companies that outsourced bodyguards to nightclubs and bars. He realized this was an open niche area for him to enter once he got back to his hometown of Halifax.

His entrepreneurial spirit was reawakened. He tapped into the past where he was a newspaper boy for three routes at a time and operated his own haircutting business in his mother’s attic for $5 a cut. At the age of 16, he decided one day he wanted to work for himself. “I had three goals: I wanted to own a business, own real estate and have investments.”

What it Takes to be a Successful Businessperson

His youthful dreams are now a reality; besides Source Security, he owns real estate, IT and construction companies. His curriculum vitae also includes being decorated with several prestigious entrepreneurial awards and he is now a member of the International Young Presidents Organization.

His successes have not come easy, however. He says that risk taking, when starting and operating a business, is not optional. “If you’re not up for risks, you may as well get a regular job,” he adds. It has taken a lot of sacrifice. When he first started, he would often work at a Halifax nightclub until five in the morning, sleep a couple of hours, and then wake up again to perform operational duties.

Source Security’s Growth and Connection to the Community

Now that Source Security has exploded exponentially from three employees to its present day 1,500, and providing security at KISS and Paul McCartney concerts, not to mention personal service to Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods, the company is thriving. But Lovett still remains connected to birthplace Halifax. Source Security has donated funds to several organizations in the community including local hospitals, the Micmac Friendship Centre, local sports teams and the Big Buddy Program. Lovett himself volunteers as a Big Brother to children in Spryfield and is also a foster parent.

When asked where he sees himself in the next five to ten years, Lovett replies: “My goal is for [Source Security] to be the top national security company and to have offices all across the country.” In Lovett’s world, dreams are not made of pipe. It’s just a question of by what month in 2015 will Source Security span the entire nation?

What to Consider Before Starting a Small Business

small business

There are many reasons why people choose to start up their own small businesses. A self-owned business may mean the possibility of doing something enjoyable, of capitalizing on a great opportunity, of making a good income, or having a better work-life balance. But all the excitement and enthusiasm of the most well-intentioned entrepreneur can, and often does, lead to failure.

This may seem puzzling at first, but the truth is that the success of a new business usually boils down to having the right information at the right time and then knowing what to do with that information, and obviously the sooner this process starts, the better. For this reason, first-time entrepreneurs should be familiar with the basic steps of small business start-up before they start their ventures. That way, they can establish good habits right from the beginning.

So for anyone who is thinking of going the entrepreneurial route, the following is a brief, step-by-step guide to small business start-up. It covers some of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of starting a new venture:

Step 1: Know What Small Business Start up Resources are Available and How to Get Them

Thanks to the internet, most of the information a would-be entrepreneur will need to start a business is widely available, and best of all, it is usually free. Entrepreneurs can begin their search by checking out the following sites:

  • The Small Business Association- The SBA has a series of comprehensive articles, resources, programs (including several free online courses) posted on their website. Everything is designed to help small businesses start up and run effectively.
  • The National Foundation for Independent Business- The NFIB is an advocacy organization for small and independent businesses. Here entrepreneurs will find advice and resources for running a small business. Members receive discounts on many business products and services.
  • SCORE- This organization offers business advice, mentoring, courses, and other information.
  • SME Toolkit- This organization offers free software, business forms, interactive tools, training, information, and more to help small businesses.

Step 2: Deciding What Business to Start

Entrepreneurs should make sure that the venture they choose is in line with their experience, their available resources and time, their personality, and their income needs. There are several sites that provide assessment forms consisting of a series of questions and points of consideration to help people choose the most suitable business ideas. This site has a list of different assessment forms: breitlinks.com/careers/.

Step 3: Seek Out Professional Guidance or Mentoring

At various points throughout the start-up process, the budding entrepreneur is going to need the advice and assistance of several different professionals. Examples include: an attorney to offer advice on all the legal matters pertaining to the ownership and management of a small business; an accountant to assist in the area of small business finance and tax management; and finally some kind of business consultant to offer advice in areas, such as business management, human resource management, and IT.

Step 4: Choosing the Appropriate Business Structure for a Small Business

Unless one is buying a per-existing business or franchise, one needs to decide what will be the corporate structure of the business. Will it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation? The decision will define several important things: tax status, who has ownership in the business, and what the extent of the owner’s personal liability is should the business go into debt or close down.

Step 5: Time to Create a Business Plan

Writing a good business plan is one of the most important steps in the process of small business start-up. A business plan is basically a written outline of all the aspects of the business including the proposed product or service, the target market, and the economic potential of the venture. Having this information on hand can help entrepreneurs to stay focused on their business goals, and it will make it easier to pinpoint any potential pitfalls in their plan. Finally, this document is often used when approaching banks, commercial lenders, and investors for financing.

Step 6: New Ventures Need Start up Financing

It is obvious that the best ideas will go nowhere without some initial capital investment. This start-up financing (also called seed capital) should cover the preliminary expenses including: market research and product or concept development, legal fees, and any necessary equipment and supplies- anything that is needed to get the business up and running. Aside from standard bank or commercial business loans, seed capital can come from SBA-backed micro loans, governmental grants and assistance programs, peer-to-peer lending, and in some cases, venture capital or angel investment.

Step 7: Make Sure that the Business is Registered and Legal

This step is quite broad and beyond the scope of this article. In short, entrepreneurs should make sure to get a tax ID number for their business and register the organization with their local chamber of commerce. They also need to be educated (or seek advice) about any appropriate zoning laws or licensing fees.

When Entrepreneurs Become Job Seekers

job seekers

We all know how tough the job market really is.

As if the competition from fellow grads and the recently terminated isn’t enough, here comes the competition from another, not so often talked about pool of job seekers – entrepreneurs.

Many small business owners are coming back into the job market and having a hard time connecting. Since the beginning of this year, I have probably talked to at least 10 entrepreneurs, who have had to seek out other employment to either keep their own businesses going, or closed their businesses all together.

Two of these entrepreneurs were in the construction business. One owned a painting company and the other a small general contracting company. Both have had to lay off workers and became job seekers themselves. One owner of an adult day care facility is considering selling his building, at a loss no less, and operating his business from his home, where his 19-year old can help with clients as he seeks on a night job. Another, a property manager, is unable to find renters and need to now himself find a job to augment his investment property mortgage payments. These are a few. There are others and don’t think this phenomenon is limited to sole proprietors either.

There is a lot of support out there for the unemployed who want to start a business, but not much for the entrepreneur who has to become a job seeker.

Here are some of the tips that I have been sharing with the entrepreneur who has to go back to working for someone else:

  1. Sell your skills as a team player. Many successful entrepreneurs are “take-charge”, mavericks who have been used to making all the decisions. Some employers might say they like that in a candidate, but it really is about balance.
  2. Show your willingness to learn new things…quickly. As an entrepreneur, you may have become a master in a specific niche. Now that you are looking, you may find that your niche, although good for your business, doesn’t have wide demand.
  3. Look for opportunity and potential. You may not be able to make the same starting out, as you were when your business was up and running. Instead of looking at just the wages, consider the peace of mind for you and your family as well as benefits like health insurance and retirement accounts.
  4. Talk with your vendors and suppliers. They may be able to help or certainly make recommendations. Network also with others in your professional groups such as your union. You may be able to collaborate on jobs.
  5. Brush up on your job search strategy and skills. Get a resume together and become familiar with searching for jobs online or networking your way into a job. You networked to land clients before, you will now have to do the same to land a job. Only problem is that you may not have a marketing department to do it for you. Look for free job search resources. I actually met three entrepreneurs at a job search workshop I volunteered to do at my local library about 4 months ago. They were preparing for job search because their revenues were in the tank or heading there. One I am happy to say has landed a great opportunity in sales with a vendor. Two are still looking. Use free resume samples from here!
  6. Use headhunters. Entrepreneurs are independent thinkers. No question about that. However, they may have to rely on the expertise of others in this situation.
  7. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Would you hire you? Remember what you looked for in an employee and think about the best way to sell that to potential employers. One of the things you thought about was – “will this employee stay?” Your new potential employer is thinking the same thing. What happens once his/her business picks up? Will I lose them as an employee? This is what the employer is thinking and so you have to prepare an answer.

No question that this is a difficult time to find a job. If you have been used to doing the hiring, but now have to be doing the looking, it could be a real challenge.

Your problem solving skills as an entrepreneur will serve you now better than ever. Stay focused yet flexible!

ICTs Proved Vital for Economic Development: How ICTs are Helping Business Growth Among Women in Africa

ICT

A project in Uganda has shown that ICTs can greatly contribute to the economic empowerment of women though increasing access to relevant information.

Evaluations for the CEEWA-Uganda ICTs Project show that most business women who were trained and helped to utilize ICTs like mobile phones, radio, computers (internet), photocopying, television were able to register marked business growth after starting to utilize these ICTs as tools to improve their businesses.

The project was implemented by CEEWA-Uganda (Council for Economic Empowerment for Women of Africa-Uganda Chapter), an NGO committed to the economic empowerment of women in Africa.

Baseline for ICTs Role in Business

Under its Women and Entrepreneurship Development program, CEEWA-Uganda in 1999 commissioned a survey to find out the information needs of women entrepreneurs in business information and entrepreneurship skills.

The survey revealed that women entrepreneurs at the grassroots (entrepreneurs in small-and medium-size businesses)—lacked information on credit facilities, credit and savings management and ways of improving their products and services. Samuel Sefunka, the Program Offier of CEEWA-Uganda says this was in addition to the businesswoemn not always knowing market prices, costing and pricing.

Speaking in an interview, Senfuka says the baseline study found that the women entrepreneurs also lacked computer and writing skills. “Many of the respondents expressed desire for training in enterprise development. It was from this survey that CEEWA-Uganda developed the ICTs Project,” Senfuka says.

With support from International Development Research Centre- IDRC, (1999-2001), CEEWA-Uganda was able to mobilize economically active rural and peri urban women entrepreneurs and pilot test the Project in three districts of Mpigi, Wakiso and Kampala in central Uganda.

Business Information and Skills Website

Under the ICTs project, CEEWA-Uganda designed a database driven website with information on best practices in agriculture, business skills, market prices, trade related issues, finance support institutions and women network groups. CEEWA-Uganda also developed training manuals on ICTs use in furthering of businesses.

“The Humanistic Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos) came in to support CEEWA – Uganda to continue implementing the ICT project, now in six project sites/districts extending to eastern Uganda in Budondo Sub-County, Jinja district and Bulamagi sub county Iganga district as well as Mukono district,” Senfuka says.

ICTs Benefits to Business Women

According to the review of the CEEWA-Uganda ICTs project, beneficiaries realized a lot of achievements, especially being able to order for and sell goods on phone; getting market prices from sms, radio and internet; being able to pay or contribute to school fees for their children, increased power to negotiate and better business relations.

Teo Kamya of Sango parish, in Mpigi district, central Uganda is one of the beneficiaries of the project. “I also learned to use a mobile phone to send text messages to look for markets and new products,” Sango says in an interview.

“I had been selling milk but couldn’t tell how I was spending the money until CEEWA-Uganda trained us in book keeping and best practices in animal rearing. I have bought an incubator that breeds 120 chicken at ago which I sell at sh700 each. In addition, I have got a heifer cow that produces 15 liters of milk a day,” Sango adds.

Challenges of Women Entrepreneurs

Despite the good achievement, the evaluation of the ICTs project did raise a number of challenges women entrepreneurs are facing, which challenges must be addressed if entrepreneurs are to enjoy full benefits that ICTs bring to businesses.

Edith Mwanje, the Chairperson of CEEWA-Uganda says that their evaluation of the project noted that apart from the multiple gender roles of women beneficiaries that constrains their time, women are not able to maximize the benefits of ICTs use because of limited access to ICTs, which is mainly due to infrastructure problems such as unavailability of connectivity, power supply, long distance to centers, high cost of ICTs and maintenance of the ICTs.

“High illiteracy levels among the beneficiaries also hinder maximum use of the ICTs. Stakeholders also need to address the high levels of poverty and relevancy of ICTs to small size of Small Micro Enterprises,” Mwanje says.

Increasing ICTs Role in Women’s Empowerment

Senfuka and Mwanje believe that these challenges are better addressed in the framework of improving the Uganda National ICT Policy. The Government of Uganda in 2002 put in place an ICT policy to guide the government’s role of supporting the access of relevant ICTs in all parts of the country.

“The ICT Policy needs to be gender sensitive by ensuring most women at the grassroots can access ICT services. It is not enough to have an ICT center in the town when most women do not have transport to go there. The access of ICTS needs to also be supported by reliability of ICTs so that women really save time,” Mwanje says.

 

The government of Uganda has been laying a fiber optic cable in different parts of the country. Uganda together with her East Africa Community partners (Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) are also working together to connect to the Under Sea Fiber Optic Cable that is expected to greatly reduce internet connection and related costs, and thus improve access to most ICTs and reliability of ICTs for most Ugandans.

Successful Entrepreneur Characteristics

The following article is by guest writer Pat Mackaronis, CEO and Founder of Brabble, Inc, a social network based in New York City. Visit Pat on Twitter at @patty__mack.

The definition of success is often subjective and differs from person to person. However, when determining the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, there seem to be several fundamental traits in place. The aim of this article is to figure out what has worked for others and how to implement those concepts into the business plans of up and coming entrepreneurs.

Creativity

More often than not, creativity and a knack for thinking outside the box is a major aspect of building successful businesses. Many entrepreneurs have the ability to either come up with original, unique ideas or improve an existing one.

Work Ethic

You rarely hear about success stories from people who sit back and have their business empires grow by themselves. Getting ahead and growing a business on any scale usually requires determination and at least some initial hard work. It seems like this is the area where many new entrepreneurs fail. They simply don’t see the results they desire right away and quit. People who “make it” typically build their businesses from the ground up, putting forth lots of effort and persevere over the inevitable obstacles in their paths.

Confidence

This is another extremely important trait of most success stories. The world is often filled with negativity and envious haters who like to suck the life out of those who dare attempt to make it on their own. The ability to understand your strengths and qualities and implement them into your business strategy is an integral part of an entrepreneur’s growth. Almost every successful person has faced setbacks and adversity at some point. It’s those that can shake it off and keep going that end up on top.

Flexibility

The world is constantly in flux with trends coming and going like the seasons. The ability to be flexible and improvise on the fly is so often a common winner’s trait. Those who resist change and are unable to adapt find themselves permanently lagging behind and find their lives stagnant. This is why adaptability is often a necessary aspect of taking a business to the next level and keeping customers happy.

Passion

This seems to be an often overlooked aspect of successful business owners. It’s hard to consistently work on a project and give it your all if you’re completely uninterested. You may be excited with a full head of steam initially, but over time your enthusiasm wanes if you’re not dealing with something you truly enjoy. This is why it’s vital to ask yourself if you’re truly passionate about a business idea you have in mind. However, if your business idea gets you super excited and you can see yourself doing it long term, you might just have a winning idea.

So if you’re a budding entrepreneur just getting into the game, try to develop these characteristics and you will have a great shot at success and obtaining your goals.

Becoming an Auto-Entrepreneur in France

entrepreneurship france

What is an Auto-Entrepreneur?

The scheme was introduced by minister Hervé Novelli under the 2008 law to modernise the economy, and came into force in 2009. It aims to encourage small-scale start-ups and entrepreneurship in France. Auto-entrepreneurs are not required to register with the Registre du Commerce et des Sociétés (Chamber of Commerce and Businesses) or the Repértoire des Métiers (Trade Directory). Registration can be done online, at a Centre de Formalités des Entreprises, at chambres de commerce, chambres des métiers, or URSAFF centres.

Auto-entrepreneurs pay tax and social contributions at a flat percentage rate of turnover (previously, many would-be entrepreneurs were deterred from setting up their own businesses because of high charges and legal obligations in France). Charges are only due where there is income: if turnover is zero, nothing is owed. Most auto-entrepreneurs are also exempt from VAT, as long as their income remains below a certain threshold.

Who Can Register as an Auto-Entrepreneur?

Anyone aged 18 or over who is not already trading as a business can register as an auto-entrepreneur, including students, retired people and employees looking to supplement their income, as long as they belong to an accepted category.

Micro-Entreprise Tax Regime

The tax advantages of the auto-entrepreneur system are available to those who do not charge (or claim) VAT; and who do not exceed the threshold for turnover for their category of business. These thresholds are as follows:

  • €80,000 for businesses selling goods, articles, supplies, food (to take away or eat on the premises) and accommodation services.
  • €32,000 for other activities.
  • €32,000 for services that are taxable under BNC (bénéfices non commerciaux; this mainly applies to professions libérales.

Taxes and charges are calculated as percentages of turnover:

  • Businesses selling goods, articles, supplies, food (to take away or eat on the premises) and accommodation services: 13% (12% in charges + 1% income tax)
  • Other activities: 23% (21.3% in charges + 1.7% income tax)
  • Services that are taxable under BNC: 20.5% (18.3% in charges + 2.2% income tax).

ACCRE: Financial Help for Auto-Entrepreneurs

ACCRE stands for aide aux demandeurs d’emploi créant ou reprenant une entreprise. Would-be auto-entrepreneurs who are unemployed or under 25, for example, may be eligible for a reduction in social charges during the early years of their micro-entreprise. Information can be obtained from the APCE agency.