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Small Business Briefing

Are non-tech startups a big waste of time? Add to ...

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

You're sitting on a great idea, but something is preventing you from taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. It's not because you fear your concept won't fly, or that you're afraid to leave your well-paid corporate job and go it alone. No, the real thing that's holding you back is the fact that your idea is not tech-related.

It may sound strange, but the sentiment is a common one among budding entrepreneurs not tied to the tech space, writes Patrick FitzGerald, MBA lecturer on entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of the University Of Pennsylvania, in this article for the Huffington Post.

“With the overabundance of venture news surrounding the seemingly endless tech boom, it's no wonder that potential entrepreneurs fear that non technology-related startups are a waste of time,” he writes.

So should all non-techies throw in the towel? After all, the ability to scale quickly (a big draw for venture funds) is much more difficult for physical asset-based businesses. No, argues Mr. FitzGerald. With the right product and right individual at the helm, “the market has shown that good products, tech or not, attract good people and good capital.”

In order for a non technology-related idea to attract consumers and investors, it must possess one of the three “baselines,” which include:

  1. Uniqueness: quick, easy and unique.
  2. Painkiller: a universally understood solution to a massive annoyance/problem.
  3. Simplicity: nothing more, nothing less.

Why dropping out of school might be the best decision you've ever made

Applying to a so-called startup incubator may be a far better option than business school, according to this persuasive post from Forbes. Why? Here are a few reasons: You can't teach entrepreneurship, eating ramen earns respect, spending $100,000 isn't cool, investors like incubators, you could start a company with the amount of tuition you'd pay, and perhaps most importantly, the networking opportunities are off the charts.

Small-business owners not saving enough for retirement

As the Feb. 29 RRSP deadline approaches, many small-business owners will face difficult decisions regarding their finances and retirement. A BMO Financial Group study found that nearly half (49 per cent) of small-business owners feel they have to choose between contributing to their RRSP or investing in their business. Furthermore, fewer self-employed Canadians (74 per cent) reported they were financially prepared for retirement compared with those that are paid employees (85 per cent), according to Statistics Canada.

“Although it’s tempting to concentrate on investing in your business, it’s critical for entrepreneurs to have personal retirement savings as well, since they can’t rely solely on the future value of their business to provide for their retirement," Cathy Pin, vice-president of commercial banking at BMO, said in a press release.

BMO lists three reasons why small businesses should consider putting money into their RRSPs:

  • Investments grow faster in an RRSP because of tax-deferred compound growth. Moreover, RRSPs with conservative holdings are effective during times of instability, offsetting the volatility of business returns.
  • For entrepreneurs, having a retirement nest egg is also important if unexpected circumstances arise, such as health problems for the business owner or a need to sell the business sooner than anticipated. If market conditions are not optimal for the selling of the business, RRSP savings can act as a safety net.
  • Small-business owners will also experience tax benefits when they make RRSP contributions. For unincorporated small enterprises, money made in the business is considered personal income; RRSP contributions will reduce the business owner’s taxable income for the year of the contribution.


Leadership essentials for women in technology

On Jan. 25 in Vancouver, attend a breakfast session that focuses on how women can gain prominence and visibility at work. Insights will be shared based on a book co-authored by the speaker, Dianne Cyr, entitled, Scaling the Ivory Tower: Stories from Women in Business School Faculties.

OWN THE ROOM: My network is my net worth!

On Jan. 26 from 12 pm – 1:30 pm the OCRI Entrepreneurship is hosting a networking event. This seminar is dedicated to sharing key points on how to utilize a variety of networking techniques, identify networking opportunities and how, through collaborations, to excel your business.


Venture capital chief reveals secret to securing financing

In this episode of Talking to Entrepreneurs, our monthly video series, John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, offers advice to startups looking to secure financing.


Keep it real, dream in Technicolor

To attract a buyer, you need to communicate what your business can achieve.

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

Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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