Restoring Respect in How People Do Business (Part 2)

The Second Blog in a Series of Three: How You Treat Your Customers
Last week we talked about How You Treat Your Staff. But now, what about your customers? Where do they fit on the respect graph?

What does good customer service mean to you? Maybe it’s a friendly and accommodating representative who helps you find what you’re looking for. Or perhaps it’s the fast email response you get from your legal advisor when you have an important question that needs answering. Or maybe it’s the human being who answers the phone to help you instead of the automated computer voice that never seems to direct you to right department.

Good customer service can mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people. Those all-important elements that contribute to good customer service are often specific to each business. Even though every company is different, one thing is for certain: we all have customers – be they corporations, end consumers, groups or individuals. And without these customers, our businesses cannot succeed.

Good customer service is about creating value for your customers.

This should be your primary goal. When you’re evaluating a new product, hiring a new staff member, or considering the implementation of a new service, ask yourself…

“Will this change add value in the eyes of my customers?”

If you’re always thinking about your customers, then you’re instinctively treating them with respect, you’re catering to their needs and you’re constantly finding ways to make them happier. And what can you respect in return? Repeat business, loyalty, direct referrals and long-term growth. If your customers are happy, there’s no reason why they’d ever consider going somewhere else.

Is it a lost art?

With constantly evolving technologies, digital solutions and web based platforms, companies often make the decision to replace people with systems. It saves on costs and makes the business more efficient. Or does it?

Although technology has certainly made our lives easier in more ways than we can count, this isn’talways a good move. If the automated phone system can’t seem to answer people’s questions, or if the customer would really like to have a delivery person come to their door rather than a drone, well then you may just be causing undue frustrations. And frustrated customers tend to look elsewhere to get what they need…

In many ways, we’re losing the human connection when it comes to business. In some cases, this may suit our customers just fine, but in others it may be taking our business in the wrong direction.

Be the refreshing exception, not the aggravating norm.

What other companies lack in customer service, you can make up for in your business. Think of this as the ultimate opportunity to shine in your line of work. And when you make new changes and implementations, always go back to the critical question: Am I creating value for my customers?

If your competitors have poor response times, highly automated services and a shortage of personality in their frontline personnel, do the opposite! Use impressive customer service as your competitive advantage.

Treat your customers with the ultimate respect and see how they respond. It may just be the key to sustainable business in your company.

Keep an eye out for our third and final blog in this series next week: How You Treat Your Advisors, Partners, Associates and Colleagues.

Restoring Respect in How People Do Business (Part 1)

The First Blog in a Series of 3: How You Treat Your Staff

In business, it’s easy to get wrapped up in sales, revenues and profits. Although these are critical components in every successful company, sometimes a predominant focus in these areas causes business owners to lose sight of their behaviour and personal conduct in positions of authority. But maintaining respect is key – particularly among people you work with every day.

Employees and Respect: It’s a Double-Edged Sword

Respect is not a one-way street. In order to establish a healthy working relationship, not only must you show respect to your staff members but they must also show respect to you. And the latter is dependent on the former. As a business owner, it’s up to you to set the stage and create a precedent.

Your Business is Only As Good As the People Who Run It

Department managers, cashiers, sales representative, inventory stockers, receptionists – whatever the position, it’s the person behind the title who makes the role. Employees who feel respected and appreciated will have a greater investment in the companies they work for, leading to an improved attitude and better performance. On the other hand, employees who sense that they are undervalued, tend to feel less empowered and lack the willingness to put in the effort necessary to achieve great results in their roles.

Why a Team is Better Than a Hierarchy

A team approach carries with it a tremendous amount of power because it enables collaboration, free-flowing ideas and conversations and autonomy from all members. Employees who know they’re part of a team, understand that their every move contributes to the final outcome.

In a hierarchical arrangement, every level in the hierarchy is disconnected from every other. Those lower in the hierarchy – even though they may very well be the ones who deal with your customers directly on a daily basis – rarely feel invested in the goals and objectives of the company. Although they may have much to offer, the motivation to give their “all” carries with it no reward, and therefore, no incentive.

Lead from Beside, Not in Front

Do you think of yourself as far superior to your staff members? In your daily business activities, do you make it clear that you’re the “boss” and they’re your “employees”? This style of leadership does not foster a team approach and rather segregates you from the people you’re depending on to achieve specific goals and objectives. Instead, try taking a few steps back. Stand beside your employees. Show them respect, encourage open conversation, let them know that what they do and what they say matters.

Dedication and Loyalty

The more dedicated and loyal your staff:

  • The lower your rate of turnover
  • The higher your productivity
  • The better your company’s overall morale
  • The more pleasant the work environment
  • The lower your costs (related to HR, recruitment, hiring and firing)

You don’t have to be disrespectful to be successful. Value your staff members, take a fresh approach, welcome their ideas and input. And then evaluate the situation over time. Monitor changes and track results. In the long run, you’re bound to see improved working relationships, greater employee engagement and better overall results.

Respect is a powerful thing.

Use it.

Keep an eye out next week for the following blog in this series: How You Treat Your Customers.

Business Insurance…Do I Need It?

This is a question that crosses the mind of just about every business owner at some point in time. Ideally, it’s something you take into consideration at the start of your business, not after an unfortunate incident has already taken place.

There is no definite, one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are several types of business insurance to choose from and depending on the nature of your product or service, you may need one or all of them to make sure you’re appropriately protected throughout your day-to-day operations.

Liability Insurance

There are two types of liability insurance: general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.

General liability insurance provides protection in the event that you, your employees or your products cause (or are alleged to have caused) some form of injury or damage to a third party.Professional liability insurance is designed for professionals who provide a service to their clients such as doctors, lawyers, realtors or consultants. Types of professional liability insurance vary, and depending on your specific needs, can address issues such as malpractice or errors and omissions.

Property Insurance

Do you own the building where your business operates? Do you have personal property associated with your business such as computers, office supplies and equipment, or inventory? This is what property insurance is for. If there is a fire in your place of business, an act of vandalism or a robbery, you know you’re protected.

Commercial Auto Insurance

If you have company vehicles on the road, you need to make sure that those vehicles carrying employees, products and equipment are protected at all times from both damage and collisions. In cases where employees drive their own personal vehicles for business purposes, commercial auto insurance has different options to fit your needs.

Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s compensation provides wage replacements and medical benefits to employees injured on the job. In exchange, these employees cannot sue your organization for the incident that caused their injury. Depending on your business, industry and location, in some cases, Worker’s compensation is not a choice but a legal requirement.

Directors and Officers Insurance

At some point in time, a director or officer of your company may find him or herself in a legal situation as a direct result of their actions on the job. Directors and officers insurance protects your organization from lawsuit costs and damages, which may in turn, have a negative effect on your profitability and daily operations.

Data Breach

Does your company store sensitive or non-public information about employees or clients on computers and other devices? If so, you have a responsibility to protect that confidential information. If you’re without a data breach insurance policy and information is leaked, you’ll be left to handle the costs and losses on your own.

Life Insurance

Business life insurance provides protection to your business partner(s) and your family in the event of your death. It gives everyone peace of mind to know that proper compensation will be received promptly in order to help your company deal with business proceedings and your family to deal with personal proceedings.

To learn more about business life insurance, read our previous article life disability business insurance.

Business Interruption Insurance

Is there a possibility for disaster in your industry or geographic location? Consider business interruption insurance. This not only covers the physical damage to your business in the event of a disaster (which is also what property insurance does), but also the profits that would have been earned during the time that your facility is either closed or undergoing reconstruction.

Personal Umbrella Insurance

In addition to the current insurance policies you have in place, do you think you want supplemental coverage? Personal umbrella insurance acts as an extension to existing policies. Sometimes it can include different types of claims such as homeowner or auto insurance, and can only be used once your liability on other policies is exhausted.

Business insurance forces you to think about your company, products, services, employees, partners, and board of directors. Even more so, you need to think about all of the unlikely but possible situations that can occur. Although it may be uncomfortable to consider such events, it’s important that you are protected. A corporate legal advisor can help you navigate through the options available and ultimately recommend which forms of insurance are necessary in your particular business situation.

Do I Need to Register a Copyright, Trademark or Patent?

In any business, it’s important to maintain and protect your inventions, proprietary information and corporate identity. Copyrights, trademarks and patents help you do that. But how do you know when to consider these options and what does each apply to?


Copyright means “the right to copy”. Essentially, you own the work. A copyright is an intellectual property law that protects original works that fall under literature, drama, music, art or technical (such as computer software or architecture). It’s important to recognize that a copyright does notprotect the facts, systems, ideas or methods within such works, but rather protects the way in which they are expressed.

Did You Know?

The moment an original piece of work is created, copyright automatically exists. But, when youregister your copyright you receive a certificate that clearly states you are the owner, which can be used to defend you in court.

Copyright or No Copyright?

Deciding to register a copyright really comes down to one question: how easy do you want it to be for you to prove the fact that your work is, in fact, your work?


A trademark could be a word (or a combination of words), a design, or both and it is used to identify the products or services belonging to a person or organization. In a competitive marketplace, it’s critical that you are unique, original and distinct – that you STAND OUT. Your trademark helps customers distinguish your products and services from others in the industry.

Did You Know?

If you find yourself or your company involved in a trademark dispute, if you have a registeredtrademark, it isn’t up to you to prove it but rather the responsibility of your challenger.

Trademark or No Trademark?

Deciding whether or not to register a trademark means determining how critical it is for you to “make your mark” in your industry. Is it essential that you have a word or design or both that really defines you and sets you apart from everyone else doing what you’re doing?


A patent is used to protect your invention. When you have a patent in Canada, this prevents anyone else from making, using or selling your invention within the country. You can obtain a patent for a new and useful piece of art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of some kind – or, an improvement to any of these things.

Did You Know?

Patenting your invention can take several years! First, your invention is compared to current patent and technical literature. If your invention is not infringing on any other registered patents, then you must assemble a detailed patent application that requires your time, money and sometimes even a professional patent agent. Then you wait.

Patent or No Patent?

Making the decision about whether or not to patent your invention really comes down to a single question: do you want to prevent any and everyone else from having the opportunity to make, use or sell your invention? If the answer is yes, apply for a patent. On the other hand, if you are confident that you can make a great living selling your invention and it won’t matter if someone else sells something similar, then it’s likely a lengthy process you can forego.

If you’re not sure how to navigate the intellectual property legal system, get advice from a legal attorney you can trust.

How to Comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Law and Market Your Business Effectively

As you probably already know, Canada’s new anti-spam law took effect on July 1, 2014. As a business owner operating a company in Canada, it is your responsibility to acknowledge, accept, understand and comply with the new law. Don’t take the ignorant and negligent backseat on this one. The repercussions of your non-compliant actions simply won’t be worth it.

Here’s an overview to get you started on the right foot.

What’s the purpose?

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is now in place. It protects Canadians, but at the same time, ensures that businesses can still compete in the global market place.

What exactly is Canada’s anti-spam law?

CASL dictates that you cannot send a “commercial electronic message” (CEM) if you don’t have at least implied consent from your recipient. A CEM is an email, SMS text message or instant message that encourages recipients to participate in a commercial activity, which could be an offering, advertisement, product promotion, person or service.

What is implied consent and what is expressed consent?

For now, you can send a CEM to all recipients who have implied consent. But, as part of CASL, you must obtain expressed consent from your recipients within the next 36 months.

Implied consent is when you have a relationship with your recipient but he or she has not explicitly asked to receive your emails (i.e. they purchased something from you, they downloaded a free trial of your service online, they gave you a business card at a tradeshow, etc.).

Expressed consent is when your recipient specifically asks to receive your emails or messages (i.e. they filled out a form on your website that clearly states they’ll receive email marketing messages from you, they clicked on a link in a validation email you sent them to confirm their subscription, they checked an unchecked box on the purchase page when they bought a product from you, etc.).

Can I use the list I’ve worked so hard to build over the last few years?

Yes! You can continue to send CEMs to your existing list as long as you have at least implied consent from them. Over the next 36-month transition period, you can continue to send emails and other messages as long as your recipients haven’t told you to stop. But don’t forget, you need to work on getting expressed consent from everyone in the meantime.

Does CASL apply to my blog and social media pages?

No. CASL applies only to emails, text messages, instant messages and other similar messages that are sent directly to electronic addresses.

What if I’m already using email marketing best practices?

Well, then you’re ahead of the game! Continue doing what you’re doing and just make sure you have proper expressed consent measures in place so that in 36 months, you’re still ahead of the game and not trying to play catch up.

Lots of business owners have become defensive and judgmental about the legislation only to realize that they’re already doing a lot of what the legislation asks for. Evaluate and compare current processes versus CASL requirements – you may just be surprised at how little you have to change in order to comply.

How will the new law be enforced?

CASL is governed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). All legitimate complaints about unsolicited messages will be investigated by the CRTC to determine whether or not they are in violation of CASL. Penalties are not automatic and rather the CRTC judges each case individually according to a number of factors. However, penalties for serious violations can reach up to $1 million for individuals and up to $10 million for businesses.

In other words, it’s not worth it to try and sidestep the system.

I think I need help determining how to comply with CASL in my business.

Then definitely get it! Speak to your lawyer about your current practices, future plans and exactly what needs to be done to make sure you continue to market your business but in a way that complies with CASL.

10 Common Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Should Try to Avoid

You have an excellent product, you’ve mastered the service you offer and you excel at running your business. But when it comes to the legalities behind the scenes, this isn’t exactly your forte. That’s what corporate lawyers and legal advisors are for but unfortunately, not every entrepreneur takes advantage.

Take a look at a few of the most common legal mistakes made by entrepreneurs.

1 – Choosing the Wrong Organizational Structure

Sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation – there are many organizational structures available to entrepreneurs. At their very core, companies differ in their composition and sometimes it can be difficult to determine the best structure for your business. Many entrepreneurs incorporate too early, too late or set up the wrong organizational structure altogether. Such errors can mean tax overpayments, and hefty accounting and legal bills.

2 – Hiring a Lawyer Who Isn’t Experienced with Entrepreneurs

It’s good business practice to surround yourself with the right people. A legal attorney referral from a friend or family member may not always be the best option. Does this lawyer engage in corporate law? Do they work with entrepreneurs like yourself? Are they familiar with the ins and outs of business from a legal perspective? Choosing an inexperienced or unspecialized lawyer can result in poor advice, wasted time and lost money in the long run.

3 – Disclosing Inventions or Proprietary Information Without a Patent or NDA

Just because you’re a trustworthy person, doesn’t mean everyone you come in contact with is too. Always put your own personal protection and that of your business first. No matter what the opportunity or what the circumstance, by no means give up innovative or proprietary information without legal backing first.

4 – Starting a Business Without Confirming Your Eligibility to Do So

Perhaps you’re still employed by a potential competitor within the industry, or maybe you’re bound by a non-compete clause in the employment agreement you signed way back when. Before you launch your company, be sure you aren’t in violation of any legal arrangements which may result in costly lawsuits down the road. If you address these issues prior to any formal business setup, you have options.

5 – Thinking Legal Problems Can Always Be Solved Later

Once you become self-employed, it quickly becomes apparent how little time you have to complete important tasks on a daily basis. This often leads to prioritization and you may find yourself putting certain items on the backburner while you focus on what you believe matters most: sales! While prioritization can work wonders for you and your business in the long term, legal issues are not the items you want to leave off your pressing list as they have a tendency only to grow worse as time passes.

6 – Getting into Business with the Wrong Team

A bad partner or a poorly chosen team can mean the difference between a failed or successful business. Before you rush into agreements and start giving up shares, be absolutely certain that the people you’ve decided to work with are right for you and your company.

7 – Failing to Put Business Deals in Writing

Stay away from “hand-shake deals” with clients, vendors, partners, suppliers – anyone for that matter! Any kind of business arrangement, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, is worthy of a written agreement between yourself and the other party.

8 – Rushing into Agreements

Business can be exciting and exhilarating, particularly when an incredible opportunity comes your way. But as an entrepreneur, you must maintain an impartial mind and think about things in a calculated and objective manner. Act with scrutiny, not naivety. Read the fine print, don’t sign anything you don’t understand and have all legal agreements reviewed by a corporate lawyer.

9 – Expecting too Much Value in Return for Sweat Equity

If you find yourself in a selling position, try to keep a level head about what your business is worth. Just because you put your blood, sweat and tears into your company for the last umpteen years, doesn’t mean potential buyers are going to put a huge dollar figure on your efforts. Know that when it comes down to it, selling a business is about assets, revenues, profits – numbers.

10 – Not Planning for the Unexpected or the Unlikely

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to protect yourself, your partners, your shareholders and your employees. A big part of that means planning for what you don’t expect or for what seems highly unlikely at the time. That might include business liability insurance, partnership and shareholder agreements, the consideration of your death or that of your partner, and so on. Think about the “impossible” and put written agreements into place to address those matters. You’ll thank yourself down the road.
Having a trusted corporate legal attorney you can turn to whenever the need arises is critical to running a successful business.

Who’s in your corner?