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Despite an increasing awareness of the importance of having a succession plan, 58 per cent still don't have one in place
Despite an increasing awareness of the importance of having a succession plan, 58 per cent still don't have one in place

Small business briefing

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Future proofing
More than a third of Canadian small business owners currently have a succession plan in place, according to a study released Thursday by BMO Financial Group. This represents a significant increase from the 15 per cent who reported having a plan in 2010.

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However, despite an increasing awareness of the importance of having a succession plan, 58 per cent still don't have one in place. The study found the top reason preventing Canadian small business owners from establishing a succession plan was the belief that it was too early to begin thinking about it – cited by 36 per cent of the 500 business owners polled by Leger Marketing.

Half of businesses with 10 or more employees have a succession plan, compared with less than a third of smaller businesses. The study found 36 per cent of small business owners want to keep the business in the family and 26 per cent said they plan to select an outside buyer.

"It is never too early to start thinking about implementing a succession plan," said Cathy Pin, Vice President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "When you consider that many Canadian business owners are set to retire in the next decade, planning for succession should be a priority for every business. You've worked hard to make your business a success, so it makes sense to have your legacy continue in the way you envision it."

The problem with plastic
Big news in the U.S. this week, as Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and  banks that issue credit cards agreed to a $7.25-billion U.S. settlement with retailers over unfair transaction fees.

For example, premium cards often come with higher processing fees than regular plastic, which retailers are forced to pay themselves. The settlement means that businesses in the U.S. can pass the cost of credit card swipes to consumers – something that credit card companies did not previously allow. However, it's still unknown as to whether Canadian banks and credit card companies will voluntarily follow the American precedent.

Over at The Huffington Post, Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has a good explanation of how credit card transaction fees affect small businesses, and how the Canadian situation compares to that of the U.S.

Small-business owners working smarter with smartphones
Smartphones and tablets have proven invaluable amongst businesses of all sizes, but a new survey claims that mobile devices are helping small business owners work more than ever before.

Manta, one of the largest databases of small business listings, surveyed 1,200 American small business owners and found nearly half of those polled say they won't have time to take a vacation this summer and almost 60 percent say they're working more this year than they did last year. But of those that are planning to get away, many say they'll still technically be working, thanks to their mobile device.

"Seven in 10 small business owners will be checking email/work documents from their mobile device while on vacation," according to the study. But there is a silver lining: "60 percent say they can enjoy their vacation more because of their mobile device and business applications."

The survey is part of Manta's quarterly small and medium-sized business wellness index. You can read the full release here.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Tax and cash flow: Ensure your business is profitable
How can you keep your business in the black? This seminar at the Toronto Business Development Centre may be able to help. Topics include HST tax saving expense deductions for small business,  record-keeping techniques and tips on effectively forecasting and managing cash flow. The event takes place next Tuesday, July 24. Registration costs $50.

A clean-tech talk
For those in Vancouver, there will be a free talk next Thursday at Simon Fraser University for those interested in employment in B.C.'s clean energy, building and transportation industries. Speakers include Paul Shorthouse, who has been working with GLOBE Advisors on a number of green projects across Canada, and Stephen Wu, an associate for research and planning at GLOBE Advisors.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

When PR failures go viral: Lessons to be learned
Public relations and marketing professionals dream of having their ad campaigns go viral. When a story spreads beyond traditional media to Twitter, Facebook and the online community at large, there is no greater success. Except, that is, when a brand makes a mistake that can turn into a real failure – one that goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Past due: what to do when customers don't pay
Collecting overdue accounts can be a major hassle for any small business. So how do you deal? Doug Furchner, collections manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers Revenue Management Group, has a number of useful strategies.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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