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small business briefing

Closing the curtains.Andy Wong/The Associated Press

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz.

International trumps local

"When my wife first received the letter she couldn't believe her eyes."

Gabriel Yiu, co-owner of Angela & Gabriel's flower shops in Vancouver told CTV News that after 22 years HSBC informed the couple it's closing their small business account. The bank wouldn't say how many B.C. companies received similar notices, but added it is cutting back on its least profitable business customers to focus on those with "international needs." Clients have 60 days to make alternative arrangements.

Langley, B.C.-based Envision Financial is using the bank's move to attract new customers, including the Yius.

Can Silicon Valley be replicated?

What does a "culture of innovation" look like? That's the question a pair of experts attempted to answer at The Atlantic's Silicon Valley summit this week. Stanford's Leslie Berlin and Marina Gorbis of the Institute for the Future came up with a list of seven qualities companies should try to bring to their workplaces, including speed and an emphasis on technical prowess.

Cape Town company strikes a chord

The impressive list of guitar players includes Peter Gabriel, David Gilmour, Chris Rea, Roger Taylor and Paul Carrack. They're all customers of Cape Town business Township Guitars, which builds its hand-made products out of repurposed oil cans, CNN writes. While they were originally designed as collectors' items, the company is now more focused on making "solid, affordable guitars with a 'local flavour.'" The guitars can be purchased at a retail store or through Township's website.


How to create and use metrics

GROWtalks is a day-long conference in Vancouver on Jan. 25, focused on how to create simple metrics and use them to make better product and marketing decisions. Industry experts will share advice on how to improve design, product strategy, customer development, user acquisition and conversion optimization.

Application process under way

Business venture competition TiEQuest 2014 is accepting applications until Jan. 31. It's open to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in Canada and the United States. The multi-stage competition encourages contestants to challenge their business models and success factors, with more than $150,000 in prizes at stake, and an opportunity to win up to $1-million in investment from sponsoring funds.


How to make a great pitch

The most common problem with pitches startups make to investors is that the presentations are too technical and try to communicate too much, says columnist Chris Griffiths. "I'm a product-centric person, to be sure, but I don't need to know the molecular structure of your technology."


No revenue model? You're done

When it comes to making money, especially in the consumer tech-obsessed era we're currently in, there are literally thousands of different ways to establish a revenue model. They key to finding the right one, or a combination of several, for any startup is agility and adaptability, Cameron Chell wrote in a guest column from January.

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