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Nadia Shuaib is co-founder of Budget Electronics, a Toronto-based cellphone accessory vendor.

Budget Electronics

How I turned a hobby business into a multimillion dollar company in two years

I guess you could call me an accidental entrepreneur. Growing up in Scotland, I always wanted to be a lawyer, so when I enrolled as a solicitor in 2011, sometimes appearing in 16 procedural hearings in one day, I loved it. During that time, I met a Canadian guy. One thing led to another, and by 2015 I was married and living in my new home – Canada. As with most professions, I had to requalify to practice law here. While this was a time-consuming endeavour, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Staying at home and studying gave me ample time to pursue other interests. My husband had a hobby business selling cellphone accessories from home, so I decided to help him out and list a few products on eBay in my spare time. Well, the products started selling – and fast. Suddenly, that steadfast goal of continuing my career in Canadian courtrooms was wavering as excitement of the idea of building my own business completely took over. To my surprise, it didn't take long for me to decide to put my law requalification on hold to concentrate on becoming a Canadian entrepreneur.

Our first customers were all local retailers. We sold headphones and cellphone cases. As the market for cellphone accessories grew, so did our competition. We needed to diversify our sales channels, so we set up our own website and seller account on eBay. Full story

This is the weekly Report on Small Business newsletter compiled by small business editor Sarah Efron. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you, you can sign up for Report on Small Business and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

How businesses can handle the hikes in minimum wage

Following Alberta's lead, the Ontario government has committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2019 and, in addition, is upgrading the mandatory minimum vacation allowance for employees. Business owners now need to make a plan for how they will absorb these costs and determine what the impact will be on their business. Full story

Toronto real estate prices entrepreneurs out of the market

Given the choice between living in a tiny Toronto shoebox in the sky or a sprawling space in a small riverside town, Natasa and Cory de Villiers chose the option that made the most sense. They moved into a 3,000-square-foot commercial building in Hespeler, a Southwestern Ontario town that is part of Cambridge. Full story

More restaurants offering benefits packages to kitchen staff

The idea of benefits for kitchen staff used to be unheard of, laughable. Health insurance benefits were beyond the expectation of most cooks, just as much as other nice-to-have employment perks, such as Christmas bonuses, overtime pay or liveable wages. Full story

Radical transparency: These private companies reveal salaries, revenues, even bank balances

Transparency is of the latest business buzzwords, but few companies take it as far as Buffer, a San Francisco-based social media software company that makes its salaries public. All of its 70-plus employees – from the CEO to the so-called "happiness hero" customer service representatives – have their annual incomes published online. The company also publishes revenue in real time, and last year it openly discussed the reasons behind its decision to lay off 10 employees. Full story

Toronto startup seeks to boost electric-vehicle charging options

Urban drivers who want an electric vehicle, but have no place to install a charger, are about to have a new option for juicing up their cars. SWTCH, a Toronto-based startup, has developed a web-based platform that will allow homeowners with electric-vehicle chargers to rent plug-in time to other EV drivers. Similar to the lodging rental app Airbnb, SWTCH allows users to manage profiles, bookings and transactions through its interface. Full story

More small business news from around the web

Garage Capital staking bigger claim in region's startup sector

A trio of young entrepreneurs wants to buy an old, city-owned building in the downtown core to house a venture capital firm called Garage Capital that has already invested in about 60 local startups. Full story

Startup wants to transform travel enthusiasts into online agents

The Dutch entrepreneur who helped Apple Inc. get into the news business is back with a new startup — and a goal of shaking up the online travel industry. TRVL was started by Jochem Wijnands, who built the Prss digital magazine design platform and sold it to Apple in 2014. Prss was the backbone Apple used to build its news aggregation app, Apple News. Full story

Toronto Longo's store working with food waste reduction startup Flashfood

While Canadians might think that they're food waste-savvy, the numbers tell a different story.  Canadians throw away approximately $31 billion CAD worth of food every year. What's even more problematic is that much of the food that gets thrown out includes fruits, vegetables, and other perishable goods that are often still fresh. Full story

DMZ launches fintech accelerator with BMO

Toronto's DMZ announced that it is partnering with BMO to launch a FinTech accelerator. The DMZ-BMO FinTech accelerator is an extension of the organizations' Next Big Idea in FinTech competition launched a year ago. During that competition, startups worked for four months out of the DMZ, which culminated in a $25,000 competition. Full story

All work and no pay: creative industries freelancers are exploited

When I was starting out as a freelance filmmaker and photographer I committed one of the biggest crimes in the freelance world: I offered to work for commercial companies for free in exchange for exposure and experience. Full story

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