Small Businesses are a BIG Deal


This BLOG entry will discuss my own experience of starting a business, plus the entrepreneurial mindset and the importance of the small business to local and national economics.

First, I would like to mention an article I read recently in the Toronto Star. The article looks at the 10 Principles of Business Success. It was written by a gentleman who is a preeminent Canadian Entrepreneur.

A better way to describe him is as an immigrant who came to Canada and built a company through the principles he describes in the article.

Frank Stronach is Austrian born and founder of Magna International.

The reason I draw attention to the article is that I wish I was given this list when I started a business. It gives examples of goals / mindset that a businesses person needs at all stages of their journey.

When faced with problems I had self-doubt, and I would use a mantra to reflect upon principles to guide me through and push ahead. My mantra and principles were centered around the notion “don’t screw-up”. The principles in the article are more polished and Mr. Stronach articulates them in a practical way.

How does that relate to my experiences or the experiences of the vendors on www.FriendLilySHOP.com?

When my partner and I started a licensed apparel company in 1986, we already had many of those mindsets. Call it blind ambition. Our thinking was who dosen’t need BUGS BUNNY SHORTS?

No, we were not the brightest, but we worked hard, and when you lay each principle out in aggregate, we possessed each one and any deficits were helped with being young and filled with energy. Partnerships do help you if the partners are not identical in every regard. As the adage says, “if you and your partner think the exact same way, one of you is not needed”.

Thank goodness we both had enough ideas and opinions to avoid a one-track plan.

An entrepreneur whether alone or in a multi-partner organization needs to have ideals that stay with them. Those are the foundation of how they will act, react, and plan in every situation. Within a company those ideas and lessons must be shared so there is continuity.

In blackjack they call it a strategy. Rules that you never alter because your odds of winning will be reduced.

When I speak to or interview a vendor I hear in their voice the passion, but also the realization that being an entrepreneur is hard. Each entrepreneur is unique, and they have built their results on finding their own principles.

In business lingo having a moat around your business means it will be hard for someone to enter your market. I still feel that hard work, even though you can’t patent or license it, is still the best defense. In a phrase “do what no one else wants to do”, and that alone will create separation from you and your competitors.

Mariella of Miski Organics in this video clip relates very well the experience of running your own business “hard work and perseverance, there are good days and bad days”. Mariella and her staff put the hard work in, and that gives them opportunities.

Developing www.FriendLilySHOP.com is a solo venture. When I was in my early 20’s starting a business, I did encounter comments about my age. Now at almost 60 I have heard a few suggestions that at my age, do I need the stress and work?

My father told me when I asked him about starting a company while still in school, he mentioned “if you have a passion and a purpose, age should be your last concern”.

That brings me to my thinking about searching-out for small businesses to be vendors on www.FriendLilySHOP.com.

Here are some business stats that put the importance of small businesses into perspective. Size matters.


Key Points

Most private employers in Canada are small businesses. This is because most Canadian businesses are small businesses.

A total of 99.8% of all Canadian businesses are small- to medium sized firms with less than 500 employees. (Small businesses are firms with less than 100 paid employees and medium-sized businesses are categorized as firms with 100 to 499 paid employees.) 

  • 9/10 Canadians in the private sector work for a small- to medium-sized business. 
  • Small businesses employ 69.7% of the total private labor force or approximately 8.3 million people.
  • From 2003 to 2017, 85.3% of all new jobs (1.2 million jobs) were created by small- to medium-sized businesses.
  • Small- to medium-sized businesses contribute to approximately 38.4% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

My supply partners are small businesses and as Michelle Mire demonstrates in her article small businesses are so important for our economy.

My father owned pharmacies in Hamilton from the early 60’s to the early 90’s. He always put a lot of emphasis on supporting small local businesses and charities in his community.

In 1980 I was graduating from grade 12 and as a right of passage I went out with a friend to shop for my grade 12 graduation suit. I purchased a nice suit with matching shoes, socks, shirt and tie. I was so proud to model the ensemble for my parents in our Westdale neighbourhood home in Hamilton.

All went very well until my father asked, “which store I bought it from?” Marvin Caplan’s, Bill Newman’s, or South Side Clothiers, he questioned. All great men’s wear retailers in Hamilton.

The answer was I had gone to Oakville Place and purchased from a store there. My father was upset and explained the reason to support local. He was right and my only saving grace was that the maker of the suit was Coppley of Hamilton. Honestly, I was not aware when I purchased said suit, but a lesson was learned.

A strong belief that my father passed along to me was that local businesses and charities are in a symbiotic relationship. If one does well so does the other.

In a phrase that I use “UNITY SHAPES COMMUNITY” carries that message.

As FriendLilySHOP develops I will add charities in other locations, and along that path I will add small businesses in those areas as well. My existing Kawartha based suppliers will still be on the site, but I want to have local content when possible and a diversified range of products and services.

In conclusion I feel entrepreneurs have internal principles naturally, but helpful suggestions from experienced business leaders never hurts. I want to give my vendors continuous opportunities to create sustained businesses.

My next BLOG will cover the details and approach to targeting sales, on-line, bricks & mortar, and custom promotions.

How do I get the attention of consumers?

To find that answer I will need to use Mr. Stronach’s 10 Principles of Business Success.