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Hostess Brands' Twinkies on display in a supermarket in Kansas City in this Nov. 16, 2012, file photo. (DAVE KAUP/REUTERS)
Hostess Brands' Twinkies on display in a supermarket in Kansas City in this Nov. 16, 2012, file photo. (DAVE KAUP/REUTERS)

SMALL BUSINESS BRIEFING

Strong brands, such as Twinkies, can outlast companies Add to ...

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Three lessons as  the snack cake's maker folds down south

News that Twinkies maker Hostess Brands Inc. was going under sent collective gasps of horror through the United States (and collective sighs of relief through Canada, where the Twinkie is safe in the arms of manufacturer Saputo Inc.)

The reaction to the demise of the manufacturer of the spongy cake and cream-filled snack just shows what good brand-building can produce, suggests this piece in Fast Company, which also notes the branding storms the venerable treat has weathered (remember the Twinkie defence?)

The Fast Company piece offers three Twinkies takeaway lessons, borrowed from the Disney Institute, for brand-building, including creating an emotional connection, using employees as ambassadors, and building repeat business.

And even when the company goes down, a strong brand can keep going: Thanks to its strong recognition, and no shortage of sales, there are likely buyers in the wings, as this story details.

OMERS Ventures invests $500,000 in Halifax startup

Halifax-based LeadSift has received $500,000 from OMERS Ventures, the venture-capital arm of pension fund OMERS, the startup announced.

Leadsift, which offers a tool aimed at helping companies mine social media data to generate sales leads, will use the money for product development, sales marketing and hiring, it said.

Older workers valued but not on hiring radar: survey

At least one-tenth of the workforce at 17 per cent of small businesses is aged 65 or older, finds a new survey from Investors Group.

And small businesses appear to attach few stigmas to age: 96 per cent believe that senior workers offer more valuable experince and expertise than younger ones; 85 per cent believe they are just as productive; 79 per cent say that they have the required energy and ambition for their jobs; and 69 per cent do not believe they’re more expensive to employ, finds the survey of more than 740 respondents at small-to mid-sized businesses.

Still, 51 per cent concede health issues are more likely to affect attendance and job performance in senior workers, and 55 per cent think they’re not as technologically adept as younger colleagues.

And while nearly a third of respondents said they have employment opportunities, 79 per cent don’t believe someone older than 65 is likely to fill them.

But they are willing to look at accommodations for more senior staff, with 65 per cent saying they offer or are agreeable to offering part-time employment; 43 per cent for specific project work; 35 per cent for contract work or consulting; 25 per cent for a work-at-home arrangement and 23 per cent for sharing a job.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Evening with innovators

The Innovators Alliance will host an evening with innovators on Nov. 28 in Mississauga, Ont. The event includes a keynote spech from Skid Row CEO Joe Roberts and a chat with Peter Hall, vice-president and chief economist for Export Development Canada. For more information, click here.

Getting to your end game

TEC Canada hosts an interactive discussion with speaker Bill Hawfield, author of Game-Changing Advisory Boards, Leveraging Outside Wisdom to Deliver Sustainable Value, aiming to help owners figure out an “end game” for their businesses, whether by sale or passing on to the next generation. There will also be networking afterwards. It takes place Nov. 28 in Vancouver. For further details, click here.

Canadian Startup Awards nominations open

The second annual Canadian Startup Awards have opened for nominations. Presented by KPMG, there are six categories of awards: best overall Canadian startup of 2012; best new startup; Canadian venture capitalist who made the most significant impact; Canadian angel investor who made the most significant impact; Canadian entrepreneur of 2012; and most significant Canadian acquisition. For more information, click here.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Meditation finds an ohmmm in the office

Not long ago, a CEO who openly practised meditation in the office might be considered weird, and a manager who urged employees to train their minds to be more self-aware on the job would be suspect. But that’s changed. Managers are promoting mental-awareness techniques to help employees cut stress and improve communication., while executives are finding meditation helps them stay cool under fire, writes Wallace Immen.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

More pro athletes play franchisees in sports afterlife

Franchising is becoming a more popular way for sports stars to transition into life after their careers end on the field, on the court or in the arena, as this story in March recounted.

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