Should You Hire Family For Your Business?

Hiring Family Members for Your Small Business

When you decide to start your own business, chances are you will not have the money to go out and hire employees. However, what do you do when you need some help but don’t have the money. Well, that is where family comes in. Family can be a huge help to your business in the early years of its formation but there are some things you need to keep in mind.

First of all, when you decide to hire a family member, even if they are not being paid, do they have the right attitude and personality for the position. You don’t want to force your kids to take part in the business if they are just going to hate it because that can cost you business, time and money in the end. You want to hire your family members if they are easy going, can accept challenges and don’t worry too much about stress. On that same note, they need to have a can-do attitude and be ready to help make the company a success. If they understand that their hard work makes the company successful, and by extension the family more successful, then they are the right people to be working at your business.

If you are worried about hiring family, then you can give them a trial in the company. Let them work in the company for a month and see how they do. If they don’t do well, then you may want to consider not having them in the company anymore. One person with a bad attitude can cause big problems for your company, even if it is someone you love.

When you hire family, especially siblings, it is very important that you ensure they know you are the boss. If you hire your children, this won’t be a problem, but hiring older brothers or sisters can cause problems with authority, especially if your siblings have always been the ones in charge. Make sure from the very beginning they know that you are the boss and they are the employee. On that same note, it does not mean you are just going to boss them around. Everyone needs to be treated well and with respect and you have to do the same with your family, more so than with other employees.

Another thing to consider is do your family members have the skill set to make the company successful? If you open up a mechanics shop, does your 15-year-old son have the skills to change a transmission? No? Then you may not want to get him doing that if he is not ready.

Hiring family can be difficult, and sometimes it can be hard to let family go if they are not working out, especially if you live with them, but that does not mean you shouldn’t hire family. Hiring family can save you money and it means the entire family has a vested interest in the success of the company.
First Published: Feb 2, 2011 EntrepreneurJourney.com

My 2010 Cuba Trip and Some Perspectives

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Destination Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

First Published: Jan 22, 2011 EntrepreneurJourney.com

Island Beyond Imaginations

Our China-made, super-sized resort bus was cutting through the pitch-black night along the Atlantic Ocean via a 30-mile man-made Causeway. The Causeway is a road in the middle of the ocean, connecting the island Cayo Santa Maria to the mainland. The Causeway was entirely made from rock and earth, without any concrete foundations. Many bridges were included in the Causeway to keep natural ocean water flow uninterrupted - thus keeping the damage to the Cuban archipelago to a minimum. Once you hit the Causeway, you will have the feeling that it is taking you straight into the ocean. I was pulling my hair (in my mind) for not being able to view this heavenly view in the daytime. However, the night time view had its own charm and meaning.

Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria Resort

The Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria Resort is located on a small island called Cayo Santa Maria, which is situated on the north coast of Cuba. Cayo Santa Maria is 90 minutes away from the Santa Clara airport and connected to the mainland by the 30-mile man-made causeway I just described above. Local Cubans do not have access to this Island. Before entering the Causeway, vehicles have to go through a police checkpoint and a tollbooth. The most fun part of our trip was that our bus did not have to pay the toll because the tollbooth was empty. Our guide said the guard probably went to the town to visit a show, leaving the tollbooth unattended.

We reached the resort just little bit before 12 midnight. Barcelo is a 5-star resort and it is fairly visible the moment you enter it. A very friendly person named Smith put us on a golf cart-like vehicle to take us to our ocean view bungalow. He said we would get lost for the first few days while going around inside the resort without assistance. And he was so right. My nephew and I got lost 3 days in a row many times, reaching various sections within the resort. The most striking part of our bungalow was its ocean view balcony. My nephew and I stayed on the balcony whenever we were inside our suite.

There is not much to tell about the resort itself. Inside the resort, you wont feel like you are in Cuba. It’s no different than living in Canada, except the weather. When it was - 10°C and lots of snow in Canada, we enjoyed 24°C in Cuba. For Canadians, having weather like that in December is like living in heaven.

Let me describe the ocean a bit. The ocean and the beach are very different in Cayo Santa Maria than anything else I have seen before. Crystal blue sparkling ocean waters and immaculate pristine white sandy beaches make Cayo Santa Maria a place beyond imagination. The sands are white, very fine and smooth. When you walk on the beach, it feels very smooth. This area was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Deep Inside Cuba

Our Jeep Safari excursion into a Cuban village gave me an opportunity to experience the real Cuba I was waiting for. During this day trip, I tried to talk to as many people as possible to get a feeling of what it’s like to live in Cuba. The whole system upon which Cuban society and economy are based on seemed to be complicated to me. I was unable to understand many simple things, such as how the system works, even why it works, how the government keeps track of everything considering there is no modern technology available. Once you read the following insights, you will realise what I mean.

My Insights and Some FAQs On Cuba

Here are some points based on my trip, talking to both Cubans and non-Cubans, and doing some research. I may not be right on every point - I am just presenting whatever I have perceived so far. This is my feeling: to get a good grasp of how things are done in Cuba, someone will have to stay and live there with local Cubans for at least one year.

  • Cuba was the first country in the Caribbean with which Canada established a diplomatic mission.
  • Following the Cuban 1959 revolution, Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the hemisphere that did not break relations with Cuba.
  • Canada is Cuba's largest source of tourists.
  • When the Soviet Bloc was diminished, Cuba faced a severe economic crisis and financial hardship. Canada came forward to help Cuba at that time on a massive scale (unparalleled by any other countries) both economically and technologically.
  • Cuba has two currencies: CUC (The Cuban Convertible Peso) and CUP (The Cuban Peso). CUC is the currency for foreigners and CUP is for Cubans. While I was in Cuba, 1 Canadian $ bought 0.80 CUC and 1 CUB was around 24 CUP.
  • In Cuba, the government owns everything. Let’s say you have a cow - this cow is the government’s property, not yours. The milk you get from the cow will have to go to government - you can’t consume it or keep it.
  • Every Cuban is supplied with a ration card and basic necessities are provided by the government.
  • A doctor, general labourer, or a chemist would earn almost the same in Cuba. It is a common practise for many professionals to give up their jobs and drive taxis or sell products in the market.
  • Cubans are not allowed to talk to foreigners or ride in the same vehicle (non-public transit). However, foreigners can use public transit.
  • Cubans are prohibited from using the Internet, foreign TV channels, books, magazines, etc. I did not see any newspapers or magazines anywhere; in towns, in the resort, or even at the airport.
  • Health care and education are free in Cuba and Cubans have equal access to them.
  • Crime rate is very low in Cuba and the lowest among other South American countries. I noticed people leaving doors open in towns/villages and girls were walking on the street at midnight. This is not a common scene in other 3rd world countries.

What’s The Best Part of Cuban Society?

Health care, education, and basic necessities are taken care by the government for everyone. Unlike many 3rd world countries, at least people are not dying out of poverty. The low crime rate is also worth mentioning.

What’s The Worst Part of Cuban Society?

All others, except the above. Cubans cannot start a business and make money like anywhere else on Earth. Cubans are not allowed to leave the country and they are not even allowed to leave their own province. There is no freedom whatsoever.

Changes On The Horizon?

Just recently, Raul Castro has relaxed some regulations to encourage privatization on a limited scale. For example, farmers now can obtain tools and lands to produce crops, the general population can have cell phones and open small private operations like barber shops and taxi services, etc.

A Brief Pause on The Airport Tarmac - The Final Word

On my day of return, after passing the Cuban immigration and on my way to the plane, I got out of the line and paused for a brief moment and stood on the airport tarmac - looking at the Santa Maria Airport on my left and my plane on my right. I am privileged to go anywhere on Earth. For Cubans, going to a different country is like a dream that will never come true. All those moments that gave me new perspectives on life were passing quickly through my brain; like the genuine happiness I saw after giving toothpaste to someone in the resort (I literally had tears in my eyes), the immaculate gratefulness I observed when I gave my maid the equivalent of one week’s salary as a tip, how utterly surprised the help-desk person was after finding out that my watch was worth more than his one-year salary … I came back to reality all of a sudden. Airport personnel were calling me to board the plane - it was about to leave.

Aeroplan Points for Amazon Shopping

Amazon and Aeroplan Team Up

If you shop on Amazon and feel frustrated for not getting any rewards, there is good news on the horizon. Amazon customers will soon be able to collect Aeroplan miles for spending money on Amazon. However, there are a few conditions that apply and I will go through those in this post.

Here is what you need to know to collect Aeroplan shopping on Amazon:

-          Starting April 24, 2018, Aeroplan members will be able to earn miles for shopping with Amazon Canada. This is only applicable to those shopping from Canada on Amazon Canada.

-          Aeroplan members will be able to earn at least one mile per dollar. Elite members will earn more; Black and Silver members earn at least 2 miles per dollar and Diamond members earn at least 3 miles per dollar spent on Amazon.

-          You must visit the Aeroplan website first to earn miles. Shopping directly from Amazon or their app will not earn you any Aeroplan miles.

Once you go to the Aeroplan eStore at aeroplan.com/estore, look or search for Amazon.ca. Then click and enter your Aeroplan number and last name, and hit shop now. This will take you to Amazon’s website and then continue shopping on Amazon as you would normally do to receive Aeroplan miles.

This is a good opportunity to earn lots of miles for those who shop on Amazon a lot. It’s even possible to earn miles 3 separate times on the same transaction. I am not talking about earning 3 miles but earning on 3 separate instances. I will do another post on how to do that after April 24.

Keep an eye on my YouTube Channel and on this website for more to come. I will see you shortly.

Mountain Springs Resorts - An Inside Look (Cottage Country)

Cottage Country Canada Travel

This is a video from my Blue Mountain trip. This is a video showing inside Mountain Springs Resort. Mountain Springs Resort is located in The Town of The Blue Mountains in Collingwood, The Blue Mountains and Area. I setup a temporary ADJ Blue Mountain Station to post video clips and short posts. Mountain Springs Resort provided free high speed wireless internet on its property. I used the nightstand as my table, as you will see in this video. I stayed in a one bedroom suite loft. It had all the amenities except in-suite laundry. To do laundry, you just need to go outside - which is about 1 minute walk. Amenities include one bedroom (6 people can stay), full kitchen, living room, fireplace, Jacuzzi, private deck, queen bed, sofa bed, dishwasher, microwave, telephone, air conditioning. You will feel like you are living in your own home away from your home. These suits are time share units. Some people live there for the full summer and time share the rest of the year. Mountain Springs Resort offers a full range of services in summer and winter alike. If you like outdoor activities, you would love this place. Some of the activities are: hiking, biking, skiing, tennis, basketball, swimming, fishing, boating, water sports, visiting Wasaga beach, visiting the Scenic Caves etc. How much was the price tag? It cost us $450 Canadian for the weekend. Visit Mountain Springs Resort website at http://www.mountainspringslodge.com for more info. If you would like to see all Blue Mountain related posts - here is the link.
First Published: Sep 5, 2008 ADawnJournal.com

Rogers Platinum MasterCard and Fido MasterCard Devalue

Higher Returns Are Moving to Rogers World Elite MasterCard

Rogers Bank is devaluing its Rogers Platinum MasterCard and Fido MasterCard starting May 23, 2018. The higher rate of returns these cards were offering will be transferred over to a new Rogers World Elite MasterCard.

Previously, Rogers Platinum MasterCard had a 4% unlimited cash back rewards on foreign currency purchases and a 1.75% return on everything else in Canadian dollars. Fido MasterCard had 4% unlimited cash back rewards on foreign currency purchases and a 1.50% return on everything else. The new cash back rate for both of these two cards will be 3% unlimited cash back rewards on foreign currency purchase, 2% on Rogers products and services, and a 1.25% return on everything else.

The $20 Annual Fee will be eliminated from the Rogers card. Fido card has no Annual Fee.

The new Rogers World Elite MasterCard will have a 4% return on foreign transactions (which offsets 2.5% foreign currency fees), a 2% return on Rogers products, and 1.75% returns on everything else. So it looks like Rogers is shifting these returns from its regular credit cards to the new higher-end World Elite Series card that still will have no annual fee, but a higher income requirement to qualify for ($80K personal and $150K household).

Rogers is throwing in some insurance benefits such trip cancellation, trip interruption, and travel medical as well. The only other free World Elite Card available for Canadians is the PC World Elite MasterCard, but it does not provide trip cancellation and trip interruption insurances.

The Canadian credit card market is heating up with several other premium travel credit cards such as the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite and the Brim World Elite MasterCard. There will definitely be more cards coming on the horizon to compete and that’s good news for consumers.

Outsource Your Life Now – Here Is How

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Outsource Your Life Now – Here Is How

If you are reading this page via RSS reader, you can visit the main page here - Canada's Personal Finance Blog

Outsourcing daily tasks is not a new idea. However, Tim Ferriss, author of "The Four-Hour Workweek," has made this popular by mentioning it in his book. Ferriss uses "a small army of virtual assistants" for everything he can think of - as he mentions in his book.What can you outsource these days? Let me answer this little differently by asking what you can't outsource these days? The following list should give you an idea of what people are trying to outsource (NB – Don't laugh. This is a real list from DoMyStuff.com )

  • Help me armwrestle
  • Repair my broadband connection
  • Design my website
  • Personal shopper
  • Pull weeds in landscaped beds
  • Choose my cell phone plane based on the phone
  • Reform my life
  • Pick me up a t-shirt from College Corner
  • Research my house history
  • Unlock iPhone or Blackberry to work on Helio

These should be good enough to give you an idea. If you are thinking only celebrities, professionals and rich people can afford outsourcing, think again! The Internet growth has created lots of outsourcing sites, and they are becoming affordable enough to indulge you in the luxury of not to do anything.

Today, I am going to review some of these outsourcing sites for you. There are too many sites out there, and I am going to mention only those which I have found easier to navigate with a clean layout. If you are interested in finding more, search on Google for these: outsource, virtual assistant, freelance etc.

GetFriday

A Bangalore-based (India) company. Currently this site is the busiest outsourcing site. GetFriday offers three pricing options: Pay As You Go, Monthly Plans, and Task Based Plans. Pay As You Go Costs $15 per hour with a monthly admin fee of $10. Basic monthly plans start at $120 a month for 10 hours.

https://getfriday.com

 

The Canadian Virtual Assistant Network

This is the only Canadian site I have come across. You can submit profile, interview, and hire a VA through this site. Site does not mention fees and charges. There is a Directory of VA by province which you can browse.

http://canadianva.net

DoMyStuff.com

DoMyStuff is an online marketplace where you can hire freelancers to work for you. Freelancers can pick up projects and independent contracting jobs.You need to post your tasks and freelancers will start bidding on your tasks. You can limit or pick bidders based on location, fees, ratings and so on. Payment system is very safe. You never pay (or freelancers never receive payments) directly. Once you choose the best bidder, you will have to forward payment into an online escrow account. No one will have access to this money while your work is being done. Once completed and you are satisfied, you will release the funds to the freelancer. DoMyStuff has a clean interface and easy to navigate. This site is all free; free for both employers and assistants. There are no monthly or transaction fees.

http://www.domystuff.com

Guru

The world's largest online marketplace. Employers can use this site for free but freelancers pay quarterly fees. There is a minimum bid set at $25 per project. Guru's open auction system works the same way as DoMyStuff.

http://www.guru.com

Elance

Elance is famous for small to mid size business. I find Elance a little bit expensive. However, their service quality is very good.

http://www.elance.com

Two other sites worth mentioning: FreelancerNow.com and RentACoder.com.

The Internet has revolutionized the way we do everything. We are online a lot these days and it makes sense to hire people via net to free up our time. These freelance sites have opened up endless opportunities to find work for qualified professionals beyond locall boundaries. The ability to work from anywhere in the world is a reality now

First Published: Sep 1, 2008 ADawnJournal.com

Rogers World Elite MasterCard Coming Soon

Rogers World Elite MasterCard & How It Compares with PC World Elite MasterCard

Rogers recently notified its Rogers Platinum MasterCard customers to upgrade to a new Rogers World Elite MasterCard before May 14, 2018. Rogers is devaluing its Rogers Platinum MasterCard and Fido Mastercard and moving some of the benefits to the new Rogers World Elite MasterCard.

For example, the 4% return on foreign transactions (which offsets 2.5% foreign currency fees), 2% return on Rogers products, and 1.75% (or 1.50 on Fido) returns on everything else are no longer available on Rogers Platinum MasterCard and Fido Mastercard. Rather, these high returns will be shifting to the Rogers World Elite MasterCard.

Also, Rogers World Elite MasterCard will be offering some insurance benefits that are rare for a no annual fee credit card. These benefits include Emergency Travel Medical, Trip Interruption, and Trip Cancellation insurance.

Another free World Elite series MasterCard available is the PC World Elite MasterCard, which offers some of the same insurances like Rogers WE but does not offer Trip Interruption & Trip Cancellation insurance + foreign transaction fee offsetting return. Even a premium credit card that charges a $150 annual fee like American Express Gold Rewards Credit card does not offer these benefits.

With all these value-added features for free, the Rogers World Elite MasterCard will definitely step-up competition on the Canadian credit card market and consumers are the ones who will benefit from it. I have been providing video updates on my channel about credit cards and rewards, so please subscribe to stay updated.

Toronto's Red Hot Real Estate Market

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Toronto’s Red Hot Real Estate Market

First Published: Oct 2, 2008

Well, finally it looks like Canada’s largest housing market is cooling off. Recent numbers show declines in real estate transactions, however, it may not take a deep dive like in the U.S.

Toronto Real Estate Board reports that for the first half of September, transactions decline 23 percent from the first half of September 2007 and a 11 percent decline from the first half of September 2006. But if you compare 2006 and 2007, in 2007 there was a 16 percent increase in the first half of September than 2006.

Do all these mean that prices are declining as well? Not necessarily. According to Toronto Real Estate Board, average home price in Toronto is $386,524 (as of mid September 2007), up from mid September 2006($384,796), and 12 percent higher than mid September 2006 ($330,005).

As you can see, although real estate transactions are declining, we have not seen any price decreases. One thing I noticed that home owners, who are in the market to sell, finding it hard to do a quick sell like they did it in 2007. One of my relatives is in the market to sell their condo for three weeks – but so far they have not received any genuine responses. If it was last year, “the sell” would have been done by now.

Are you planning to buy a condo or a house? Do you think these real estate stats and recent market volatility will make buyers alter their plans? One of my friends is actively looking for a place to buy and nothing is going to deter him from buying his place. Things like volatile markets, sluggish economy, global financial meltdown, mortgage rates are no problem for him. I have another friend who was looking for a condo. However, since the beginning of recent financial crisis, he gave up his search. He thinks it is not a good time to make a major purchase. He wants to wait until everything is over.

Now, let’s look at a comparison of condo prices I have done.

300 Front Street West in Downtown Toronto (between the CN Tower and Rogers Centre) Square Footage: 1144 Approx
Starting Price:  $697,750 Approx
Tentative Occupancy 2012Top Floor: 50th

1 Bloor Street East Condo (Yonge and Bloor intersection) Square Footage: 1150 Approx Starting Price: $1 Million Approx
Tentative Occupancy 2011Top Floor: 80th

A New Condo in Scarborough or North York Square Footage: 1150
Price: Approx From $400,000 to $500,00

A Ten/Fifteen Years Old Condo in Scarborough or North York Square Footage: 1150
Price: Approx Around $200,000

If you are actively looking for a condo or a house, don't dive into any conclusions before doing your research and analyzing all pros and cons.

Real Estate Stats Source: Real Estate Board

Why Your Business Needs A Website?

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Do You Need A Website?

First Published: Dec 21, 2010 EntrepreneurJourney.com

As an entrepreneur, one of the most common things you will be asked is whether or not you have a website. This is a common question because people want to know so they can get information on your company, yourself and more. While many business owners will set up a business right away, especially if they work from home, there are some who do not see the need for it. This is a problem because in today’s world, you need to have a website that you can use to reach your customers and that you can have your customers reach you at.

Here are just a few reasons why a website is so important within your business:

  1. It allows customers to talk directly to you and to learn about your company. There are many, mostly younger than 30, who feel that if you do not have a website, then you are not a legitimate company. You do not want to fall in this category. Even if your business has nothing to do with computers, merchandise or anything connected with the internet, then you want to have a website just to show that you are legitimate to the people who care about websites.
  2. It allows you to see who your customers are. When you have a website, it usually comes with software that gives you the ability to learn where your customers are coming from, how they are finding you and what they are looking at on your website. That is important because that type of marketing information can go a long way in helping ensure that you are successful with your business.
  3. Having a website will raise your productivity because your customers won’t have to call you and ask where you are, or find out what you sell. They can just go to your website and learn what they need to know. That frees you up to do business, rather than dealing with phone calls of a minor nature.
  4. Your customer base can literally increase from hundreds to millions. Right now, there are roughly 1.5 billion people on the Internet. That means that you have the potential to reach all of those individuals. That is an immense opportunity for you and it is something that you need to take advantage of. If you do not, you are not doing your business any favors.

The Internet is not a fad; it is not something that is going to fade away. It is a world changing technology that has changed the world more in 15 years than most technologies do in 100 years. Even if your business does nothing on the Internet, doesn’t use computers and has no need for them, you need a website. A website is like an employee who works for you and helps to ensure that your company stays viable and profitable for many years to come. It is an essential technology these days, so do not do without it.

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Credit Card

Scotia’s New Travel Credit Card Miles Ahead of Competitors

Previously, if you were on the lookout for travel credit cards issued by major Canadian banks that do not charge foreign currency transaction fees and offer free lounge access, you were out of luck. You could find cards that offer free lounge access, such as the BMO World Elite MasterCard, but getting one with both free lounge access and zero foreign currency fees was out of the question.

However, it all changed when Scotia Bank launched its Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Credit Card offering both free lounge access and zero foreign currency fees. Better yet, this card even has a lower annual fee ($140) than BMO World Elite MC ($150) and giving more free lounge entrances (6 vs BMO’s 4) via the Priority Pass program.

Scotiabank placed itself as a leader and miles ahead of other major banks by offering a zero foreign currency conversion fee with no conversion mark-up and 6 free lounge visits. Canadians have long been waiting for this type of card. Since Chase Bank pulled out its 2 zero foreign currency credit cards from Canada, the vacuum in this segment of the credit card market grew and Scotia realized faster than other banks that there was a great opportunity there.

Of course, the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Credit Card is not a perfect travel credit card and it has its flaws. For example, it does not offer accelerated points for travel spending and all the travel insurances this card offers are not usable because the 3rd party provider makes it difficult to fulfill claims based on countless Internet reviews, ratings, and complaints.

But still, Scotia took a step in the right direction by offering the first no foreign currency fees credit card issued by one of the major Canadian banks and by lighting the path for other big Canadian banks.