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Small Business Report on Small Business Newsletter: Buck-a-beer is unrealistic, a big new Canadian venture fund and more

Some Ontario beer-makers say that offering “buck-a-beer" is unrealistic without compromising quality

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government is lowering the price floor for beer in time for Labour Day weekend, and will have incentives for brewers that reduce their prices. But some beer-makers say that offering “buck-a-beer" is unrealistic without compromising quality. It was one of Mr. Ford’s signature campaign promises during the spring election, and on Tuesday the Ford government announced it was going ahead with a plan to lower the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer to $1 from the current $1.25. The lower price floor, which is limited to beer with an alcohol volume of less than 5.6 per cent, will take effect on Aug. 27. Brewers are not required to charge the lower rate and few in the province sell at the current minimum. Story

Georgian Partners closes largest independent VC fund in Canadian history

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Georgian Partners has raised the largest independent venture capital fund in Canadian history, closing its fourth fund after reaching its US$550-million target. “This fund has given us added resources to help accelerate great software companies around disruptive trends, such as artificial intelligence, in a really significant way," said Georgian co-founder and managing partner John Berton. The Toronto-based firm, which has backed some of Canada’s hottest startups, including Shopify Inc., Vision Critical Communications Inc. and Ritual Technologies Inc., has distinguished itself in a number of ways since its launch a decade ago. Story (for subscribers)

How a rail line crisis is threatening Churchill, Manitoba

In a normal year when the train is running, the Home Hardware in Churchill ships about 150 crates of building products to communities in the Eastern Arctic. Last year, after a flood washed away parts of the rail line that was the only land route between the Manitoba town and the city of Winnipeg, it shipped seven. And this year will be not much better. Not only are supplies not reaching the community of 900, store owner Dale De Muelles says people in Nunavut assume he has no inventory because the train is out of service, so they have gone elsewhere to buy their construction materials. Mr. De Muelles said he used to employ 10 people during the summer months. “Today, we are operating with me, my wife and her friend and one guy in the yard," he said. "If they don’t give us a train this year, I am close to locking doors.” Story

The problems – and opportunities – of the cannabis edibles market

Smoking cannabis will always be around – at least in the fashion of vinyl, a format reserved for nostalgic, die-hard aficionados, ever ready to tell you why analog is superior. But once it becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17, there will be many new consumers, such as retirement-age baby boomers looking for sleep aids and pain relief, who do not want to inhale smoke. Enter edibles. “Edible sales have outpaced growth in flower,” says Greg Shoenfeld, vice-president of operations for BDS Analytics, using the industry term for dried marijuana buds. Since 2014, when recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado, flower has dropped to 45 per cent from 60 per cent of the $1.5-billion (U.S.) market, according to BDS. It’s still the largest sector, followed by concentrates (derivatives such as oil and vape products) at 30 per cent, edibles at 15 per cent and pre-rolled joints at 6 per cent. We don’t know precisely what federal legislation will look like. And it will be up to each province to decide how edibles will be sold at the retail level. But plenty of Canadians are not waiting; it’s already relatively easy to buy them online. Story

Are Trudeau’s tax policies doing more harm than good to entrepreneurship?

The Trudeau government is on record – it wants to support entrepreneurship in Canada. It even included $2-billion in its last budget to help female entrepreneurs. But so far, the government’s tax policies have worked against – not for – entrepreneurs. The two primary forms of taxation in Canada include income taxation and capital-gains taxation. These forms of taxation can influence the level and quality of entrepreneurship and the level and quality of entrepreneurial finance. In general, lower levels of taxation promote entrepreneurial activity because lower tax rates mean entrepreneurs keep a greater share of their profit. Story

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Recent refugees face unique challenges with business ventures in Canada

Diala Aleid, a Syrian refugee and entrepreneur, recalls working at her family’s restaurant nearly every day for the first several months with just her sister and mother – because the trio could not afford to hire any outside help. But that was far from the biggest financial feat they faced. Their Toronto restaurant, Zezafoun, which is now also staffed by a number of part-time employees, nearly didn’t come to fruition. “It’s almost impossible to start anything,” said Aleid of her family’s frustrating experience applying for a loan from a Canadian bank. She said the bank didn’t give her family a reason for their failed application. Story


Can shortage has brewers feeling tapped out

Tariffs and price hikes could soon make it harder to crack open a cold can of craft beer. Ottawa-area breweries say they are facing an aluminum can shortage, with deliveries delayed and prices rising. Some are blaming the trade war between Canada and the United States. Brewers fear retaliatory tariffs the Canadian government imposed on aluminum imports from the U.S. are tapping out the supply. CBC

Calgary becomes first Canadian city to allow businesses to start online

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Calgary is the first city in Canada to let small business owners start a company completely online. Business owners can now apply for licences and permits in a single online application, the city said in a news release. “Business owners told us they wanted a faster and easier way to start a business in Calgary,” said Kevin Griffiths, director of Calgary Building Services. In the fall, the city will let existing business owners renew or modify their corporations online. Global News

More Than Cutting Costs: Travel Managers Now Consider Employee Comfort

Corporate managers used to focus on one thing when it came to employee travel: saving money. But now, given the nature of travel — crowded planes, tighter seats, security hassles — corporate managers are considering employee comfort as part of the deal. A plane trip that includes layovers might save money, said Andrew Sheivachman, business travel editor at Skift, a travel industry news and research site. “But if that person emerges from the plane too tired to work, or ends up burned out on corporate travel, it’s not worth the trade-off.” New York Times

How entrepreneurs should plan to leave their business behind

What’s your exit strategy? It’s a question entrepreneurs get asked by investors, peers and friends as they grow their companies. For some, the goal may be an acquisition, for others an IPO, and for some it’s building a profitable, independent business they can run indefinitely. But regardless of what that exit strategy is, it’s important to have one, even in the earliest days of your business. Financial Post

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