All posts by Steve Zelle

Small business barometer sees uptick

While worries over the financial health of the U.S. government and several European administrations have world stock investors in a tizzy, that turbulence doesn’t seem to be spilling over to Canada’s small-business sector.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s monthly “business barometer,” which assesses the confidence of small-and mediumsized business owners, was up two points to 68.3 in July.

That followed two months of decline.

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Businesses find they can’t grow without branding

Not long ago, as Honest Tea was preparing to dramatically expand the distribution of its organic beverages from its natural foods base onto shelves in the general market, company officials determined it was time for a branding overhaul.

So last year the Bethesda-based company, which made news recently when it was fully purchased by Coca-Cola, dropped a tag line designed to be a short and sweet nod to consumers who’ve stuck with the product long enough to get the subtle humor.

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Live Long and Market: Small Business Branding

Marketing is the process of communicating your value to your public. Whether it’s a product or service, if what you offer has value and solves a problem, then you need to market it in a way that lets your target audience know just how important it is to their lives.

If marketing is communication, then your brand is a part of the message. According to the American Marketing Association a brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” And everyone can afford to be distinctive (at least on some level) — distinctively simple, distinctively effective, etc.

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Easy targets: top firms now in play. Why Ottawa is losing control of its high-tech destiny

You could feel his frustration building. In a quiet corner of his company’s cafeteria last week, Zarlink Semiconductor chairman Adam Chowaniec was reflecting on the extraordinary developments of the previous few days.

The British-trained entrepreneur and engineer, who began his career here at Bell Northern Research in 1976, had just finished presiding over Zarlink’s annual shareholders meeting. What should have been a straightforward presentation of the company’s long-heralded turnaround, had instead been overshadowed by a hostile takeover proposal by a little-known California firm, Microsemi.

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6 Branding Tips For Small Business Owners

No matter how innovative your small business service or product is, you need to make potential clients aware of it before you can turn it into a success. Marketing is the method that most small business owners use to get word out about their company, but marketing isn’t just about putting a sales message on a postcard and mailing it out to potential clients; marketing is about branding your company so that potential clients have an idea of what to expect when working with you, understand what sets you apart from competitors and can identify your company out of a crowd of others in the industry.

Branding is one of the most important tasks a small business can do, since it could be the tipping point between gaining and losing sales. If you aren’t sure where to even begin in branding your business, here are a few tips to help you get started.

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What Colors Mean Across 10 Cultures

Colors are probably the most obvious way that design varies across cultures (a theme that came up in our interview with Frog Design about designing for China). But the funny thing is that for most designers and companies, those color sensibilities often don’t rise past “Red is lucky in China; blue is soothing in the West.” That’s naive, as this superb infographic by David McCandless and Always With Honor shows.

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Ottawa entrepreneur creates Todofeed, a new way to share small ideas with friends

24-year-old Maliko Vincent is the creator of Todofeed, a startup that offers a new way to share small ideas with friends.

The Ottawa University computer science grad is a self-described web technology enthusiast who dabbled in projects throughout his education.

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Ottawa firm’s technology to guide future space station resupply missions

A small Ottawa-based firm will continue to provide technology that plays a key role in restocking the International Space Station (ISS) after signing a contract with a private spacecraft maker that will be ferrying supplies to the orbital outpost starting next year.

Ottawa-based Neptec Design Group will provide its TriDAR rendezvous and docking sensors to Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Space Science Corp.’s Cygnus spacecraft, the firm revealed July 21. The deal comes after Neptec’s sensor, which acts an auto-pilot for spacecraft when they need to meet up with and dock to another vessel, completed its third successful test on NASA’s final space shuttle mission, STS-135, aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis.

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Canadian universities join global race to spark innovation

Anand Agarawala was dozing off in a computer science class at the University of Calgary when he had his big idea. Seven years later, after selling his technology startup to Google, he is living his dream.

The Silicon Valley search giant reportedly paid about $30-million for Mr. Agarawala’s business, BumpTop, which aimed to change the way people navigate their digital desktops, and then hired him. But the 29-year-old credits a $20,000 university fellowship with giving him the momentum to move past daydreaming.

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Fight for Ottawa semiconductor firm goes public

A bidding war is likely to break out for a small Ottawa semiconductor design company whose products are used by leading wireless network equipment makers.

After the board of Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. rejected another quiet takeover offer from Microsemi Corp. of Irvine, Calif., the U.S company made a public appeal Wednesday to the Canadian’s board of directors with an offer of $3.35 cents a share totalling US$445 million – a 40 per cent premium over the share price the day before — and a challenge to put the offer before shareholders at its annual meeting meeting July 27.

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