Escalator Helps Small Business Fill Labour Gap With Ready-For-Hire, Fully Trained Youth

The time for a paradigm shift for Canadian small and medium-sized business leaders and owners has arrived.

By 2012, 1,105,972 SMEs in Canada created, on average, 10,000 jobs annually, and spent $10.5 billion on research and development. Yet because of minimal exporting efforts, contributed 27% to annualized Canadian GDP, a figure unchanged since 2002. (Statistics Canada, Key Small Business Statistics, August, 2013).

Yes, it is and has been a difficult local market for SMEs. And of the 10.2% of small business and 34.4% of medium-sized businesses engaged in exporting, over 80% is shipped to the United States. Business leaders and owners must learn to diversify and tap into the potential purchasing power of a vastly growing emerging markets and beyond.

In Accentures’ recent study, many SME business owners suggested difficulty in developing connections and the local knowledge necessary to break into foreign markets. I would expect the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, with over 100,000 members, to assume a leadership role in helping SMEs better understand each market. How to navigate the connections, operational requirements, financing and selling opportunities to markets abroad.

If not the CFIB, there are local chambers of commerce, regional government offices for business and consultants that specialize in navigating exporting.

But business expansion efforts require resources. Resources many owners complain are at a minimum. In order to expend valuable time learning of and chasing export opportunities, owners would have to delegate some day-to-day duties to others. Others who may not be on current payrolls. Others who cost money business owners cannot spare.

In some instances, expansion requires skill sets the owner or current staff are lacking.

Fortunately, both the federal government and Ontario governments heard the pleas for incentives and programs, in the form of funding to hire much-needed help.

For those SMEs requiring skill sets in science, math, technology and engineering, Ottawa launched a $40 million internship program earlier this year. The national internship program funds 3000 post-secondary students interested in pursuing a career in STEM and skilled trades funds fully paid internships for a six to twelve month period in the hope that business steps forward and hires these students once their paid-for training and learning is complete.

Additionally, the Ontario government created a Youth Ministry and invested a robust $295 million for a Youth Jobs Strategy after the recent election.

Civic Action, in partnering with Premier Wynne’s Liberals, launched a highly practical program that connects youth with the private sector. A private sector that includes SMEs.

Specifically for small business owners with little time or know-how where to seek prospective hires, the Escalator program assists in posting job listings online. It also provides employer/industry-designed training and internships to close the knowledge gap businesses suggest prevents hires. Further, for those business owners who understand the merit and powerful benefits of mentoring, it connects SMEs with social agencies that have actual mentoring programs for youth in their respective communities.

I encourage all business owners to strongly consider the programs listed above. I can tell you from first-hand experience, youth bring vitality, drive, unaffected zeal and potential. They can also offer a fresh set of eyes or knowledge in a specific area, complementing the rest of your team.

In my business career, I mentored and hired many youth for my teams. We typically brought in and paid one or two cooperative placement students per school year. Those placements were mentored and trained from the day they started, and we hired the better ones on a full-time basis in entry-level roles once their studies were completed.

Because we mentored and trained them during their coop time, when they joined us on a full-time basis, they were ready to tackle the expectations of their new roles, much like seasoned staff. Further, they were also expected to take on a role in mentoring the next year’s coop students, strengthening their own leadership skills in the process.

What did I look for in youth, beyond a specialized skill if the specific need warranted it? First and foremost healthy curiosity, both for the new and old. A brightness that cannot be taught, usually exemplified in critical thinking. A strong desire to see things through to the end, demonstrating heart. An expanse of interests. Lastly, thriving on a team in any capacity and community participation.

We’re talking about a culture change in SME ownership thinking. Yes, valuable time will be required to train youth, time that you will insist you do not have. If you’re unhappy with the sales or profit picture of your business, I suggest you cannot afford to continue on a status quo basis.

Investing that time now can net positive contribution to your business on a longer-term basis, rather than short-term costly temporary foreign workers or part-time, contract staff. Most owners don’t capture the net costs, merely the hourly wage differential. Temporary staff are not invested in your business, rarely making the extra effort required in seeing a problem through to its remedy, recognize a business opportunity when they come upon it, or seek efficiencies and reduction in operational costs.

The investments made in full-time employee hires, training and mentoring will pay off in huge dividends. As will a concerted focus on exporting your product or service to global markets teaming with customers currently with unmet and un-serviced demand.

One of the coop students I brought into Sunbeam arrived as a quiet, shy, awkward young man who was whip-smart in numbers and highly driven to assist our new team in our pursuit of turning around a previously poor performing business unit.

Upon graduation, I hired him full-time. Within 8 months, he developed a comprehensive, complex Excel spreadsheet that allowed the entire company to execute the zero-based budgeting model we migrated to.

He noted the inefficient, highly time-consuming current model that took us away from the business, and worked on his own time to develop the new model. We may have taught him the overall business, its challenges, marketing and supply chain aspects, and allowed him the challenges and space to grow, but you cannot teach desire and critical thinking.

The return on this young man, and the many others hired by small businesses I consulted, is measurable by the bottom line, the change in office and business culture, and the time business owners free up to either work on business or personal pursuits.

Lastly, it benefits society by saving the $1 million each unemployed youth costs, be it welfare, healthcare, or lack of buying power. Buying power which SMEs depend upon. Buying power generated from employment. New employment which requires business in an expansionary, investment, market acquisition mode.

In providing accessible mechanisms, the talent pool, training resources, and mentoring avenues, Premier Wynne, and to an extent the federal government, require business, non-profit agencies, and others looking to hire staff to now step forward and engage in Escalator and the federal internship program.

The time for excuses is over. The incentives are on the table. Reach for them and make the difference for your own business.

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Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.

Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!