New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Hillary Samson

Hillary Samson works with Samson Consulting, helping small to medium-sized business with their business planning and operational efficiency. Hillary works with clients to help them analyze and increase the health of their business through business plan writing, capacity planning, implementing policies and procedures, improving internal processes such as product development and project management, and establishing effective reporting. She has worked with LOCO members Boldt Communications Inc.Mala CollectiveTradeworks, Raised Eyebrow, Talk Science to Me, Lunapads and others. Hilary’s e-commerce experience was honed at her many years at (a division of Amazon). Find out more about Hillary on her LinkedIn profile.

1. What are your areas of expertise?
I offer support for operations to small and medium-sized values-based businesses, not-for-profits and social enterprises including:  tailored process and procedures, systems implementation, capacity planning, project and product management, operational growth planning, and reporting. I work with leaders in all industries, although I have a specialization in e-commerce operations.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?
I work with values-based entrepreneurs and social enterprise leaders who are at some stage of change or growth in their organization, or are experiencing recurring issues in operations. (A sure sign a system is faltering!).

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?
When the organization is going through some sort of change, often growth, and the current way that they run their business isn’t working any more. It isn’t as effective or efficient as it used to be, or as they feel it could be. This could show up as: low margins; communication problems with staff, contractors and customers; a lack of understanding of the current health of the business; and/or lack of clarity on where the business or enterprise is heading and what the best next step is. I help identify systems that are not scalable and guide the leader to know how to gather information so that they can make better decisions moving forward.

4. How do you help?
I help clients with anything systems-based or internal facing (how the business is run). With my regular clients I almost always start with helping them create or refine their projections so that we can have a realistic understanding of how the money is coming in and going out.

I also analyze a business’ capacity, making sure that the team (or solopreneur) is focusing mostly on their high-value tasks, seeing where there is room for growth, or understanding where the capacity needs to change to accommodate growth and/or reduce costs.

I conduct operational audits to evaluate the business’ current processes, procedures, policies and systems, make recommendations for change as needed, and help with creation/implementation of new procedures or systems. Crafting or improving regular reporting is key so that we can continue to understand the health of the business and how any changes are working.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?
The best way I can help is if the business leader has a specific problem about how their business operates – what area of the business isn’t working well, what is causing recurring problems, what is keeping them up at night about how their business is running. I also help with what is the next step of operational growth: should I hire staff or contractors?; do I have the capacity to launch a new product or service?; as the business leader, where should I focus my time and what do I need to know so that the business can grow?

Bringing a recent income statement (P&L) to the session is particularly helpful.

New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Jonathan Vroom

Jonathan Vroom is a lawyer with Paperclip Law. Paperclip Law is a boutique firm for practical business and personal legal advice and solutions. They are a firm that believes in keeping it simple. Dedicated to providing clients with attentive, adaptable and approachable support, whether they need help with business and trademarks, real estate, or estate planning and estate administration. Jonathan’s experience spans business, real estate and estate planning. Paperclip Law works with LOCO members Mills BasicsDehoney Financial Group and others. Find out more about Jonathan here.

1. What are your areas of expertise?

Small business law and real estate including commercial real estate and estate planning. One of the areas of focus for Paperclip Law is food sector businesses.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?

New or existing business owners that require assistance with either starting up a business or in the day to day operations of a business.

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?

Any legal assistance they require for the operation of their business. For example, drafting and reviewing contracts, incorporating, setting up companies, buying and selling companies, financing and investment.

4. How do you help?

I provide in-depth, yet straight forward advice on how to solve their legal issues.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?

The 1 hour business clinic session can be used for us to review their legal challenges and advise them on how to address those issues. We can either advise them on the spot on how to proceed, or refer them to a lawyer who specializes in that area of law.

New LOCO Business Clinic Advisors: Focus on Khalid Amlani

Khalid Amlani is a Chartered Accountant with Akeroyd Leung Amlani (ALA). ALA provides accounting services, tax planning & compliance, and advisory services to help clients make informed decisions on everything from incorporation to financial planning. Khalid has over 10 years of experience helping his clients make sense of their numbers by providing tax, accounting and strategic business advice. Khalid has worked with LOCO members Momentum Venture Partners, Ello and Miller Titerle and others. Find out more about Khalid here.

1. What are your areas of expertise?

Our firm’s focus is on providing tax, accounting, assurance and financial consulting to a wide range of businesses from start-up companies to mid-size companies. We strive to understand the clients short and long term goals and work with them to provide accounting and tax solutions tailored to their needs. Typically, this can include tax compliance, estate planning and financial reporting.

2. What type of clients do you typically work with?

We have years of working with businesses of all different sizes and industries. We have established our selves as a “go-to” firm for start-up and owner-managed companies that want to make sure that they are well positioned for growth. We also have a focus on professional practices in the medical field including doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners. Each client is different, and we provide custom tax and accounting advice that our clients require.

3. What are the business challenges you most often help  your clients solve/address?

We help our clients with any business challenge that may have a financial impact. Most often we are dealing with growing companies. As they grow, taxes become an important issue, so we work to manage all their tax filings and provide tax planning strategies to minimize their tax burden. Another challenge that faces growing companies is although revenue and net income may be increasing, cash flow never seems to keep up. We provide clarity surrounding the working capital life cycle and recommend solutions to increase cash flow.

4. How do you help?

Business owners have a lot of things to worry about – we try to make taxes and accounting NOT one of those things.  We handle their annual tax compliance needs and help them plan for the future.

5. How can you help a business in a 1-hour business clinic session?

The 1 hour business clinic session can be used for us to gain an understanding of you and your business and provide some recommendations on tax/accounting issues that need urgent attention and others that you should keep in your mind as you grow.



LOCO Online Shopping Research – Business Survey

LOCO Launches New Research on the Impact of Online Shopping on Canadian Retailers

LOCO has just begun a new research project into the impact of online shopping on local business.

Online shopping represents a large and increasing part of the Canadian economy. However, many of the dollars spent leak out of our economy to US Corporations.A 2013 report produced for Vancity reported that two out of every three dollars spent online by Canadians go to US retail websites.

Canada Post and Tenzing recently reported that:

  • The average Canadian currently spends $1210 online annually.
  • In 2014, the value of online shopping in Canada was $22 billion dollars.
  • Online shopping is expected to double between 2014 and 2019, increasing to a value of more than $40 billion dollars.

Please help us complete our research to assess the impact of these trends on local business.

If you own a retail business, please take our business survey. The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes. Survey closes October 31st, 2015.

If you’re a consumer (and we all are), please take our consumer survey. The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes. Survey closes October 31st, 2015.

Also, please help spread the word – send the url for this page to friends and business owners. Contact us for more info.

Saul Good Gift Co.




Fill in either of our surveys for a chance to win a gourmet local food gift box from Saul Good Gift Co. worth $300!


LOCO Online Shopping Research – Consumer Survey

Equity Crowd Funding Summary

On June 25, 2015, Spring Activator hosted an information event on Canada’s new equity crowd funding rules. Bonnie Foley-Wong, Co-Founder of Spring Activator and Founder, Pique Venture Investments, moderated the event. The panel consisted of:

  • Praveen Varshney, Director, Varshney Capital Corp.
  • Peter Paul van Hoeken, Founder & CEO, FrontFundr
  • Lindsay Clark, Associate Lawyer, Larbarge Weinstein
  • John Keserich, Partner, BDO Canada Accounting

Event-sponsor Vancity introduced the evening, highlighting how Vancity is interested in helping their members find options for equity financing since they do mostly do debt financing.

Crowd funding in Canada has hit $35M in investment, outstripping angel investment. It is expected to outstrip Venture Capital investment in 2016.

What Are They Rules Around Raising Equity Through Crowd Funding?

Lindsay commented that:

  • New equity crowd funding exemption allows companies to raise money from residents of B.C. providing individuals invest no more than $1500 per offering, the company uses an online funding portal, and the maximum raised is $250K per offering with a maximum of twice per year (max $500K/year).
  • The exemption is available to any size and stage of privately owned company even though it’s called the start-up exemption. You can’t be a public company, and you can’t have raised money in the past under a prospectus.
  • The company must be incorporated.
  • Once your business reaches 50 shareholders, it has more obligations to its investors, and it loses the option to raise capital the second time within the year.
  • Unless you get a waiver from each investor saying they don’t want audited financial statements, you’ll need to produce them.

John listed the info required by the new Start-up Crowdfunding Exemption offering document:

  • Risk of Investment
  • Business Overview
  • List of Management and Directors
  • Date Securities are Acquired and the Value of the Security
  • Track record of fraud, bankruptcies
  • Activity in startup crowd funding
  • Terms and conditions of the securities
  • Financial statements
  • Use of funds w/i the company
  • Compensation given to the funding portal
  • Risk factors in the business
  • Resale restrictions

Are There Any Concerns Businesses Should Worry About?

Find The Right Investors

Praveen cautions that when businesses raise money, they should still be trying to hand select investors. It’s not easy money – when businesses take money from someone else, they might hear that their fiduciary duty to treat is as well as their own money. He suggests that businesses should go beyond treating the money like it’s their own, they should treat it better than your own. Essentially you’re starting to operate like a small public company. The up side is that your investors will start to promote you and want you to succeed, the down side is that they’ll start to look for dividends and involvement in how the company operates.

When he’s fundraising, he’s often looking for a lead investor. If there’s a well known person that invests, many other investors will follow and trust that it’s a good investment because they’ll know that the lead investor has done their homework on the company so they don’t need to do so much due diligence. This also helps set a share price since something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. If you can find a lead investor, you’ll find out what they are willing to pay and then you have a valuation and some momentum before you do your offer.

On FrontFundr, investors can see who other investors are if they opt in to have their name displayed. If there is already an accredited lead investor who invests outside the $1500 maximum – like for $50K or $100K, then it’s easier to trust that someone has done the due diligence and take a good look at that company.

Since the new crowdfunding rules are different in each province, businesses need to make sure their investors are in the right province. As a business, you need to make sure all your investors fall under the crowdfunding exemptions (Ontario has no exemption yet), so it’s easiest to attract investment from B.C. unless the business wants to understand the difference in each province’s rules.

Attracting investment through crowdfunding can have its drawbacks. Having many small investors has the potential to scare off larger investors. There are several ways to limit the rights of those smaller investors that calm larger investors – for instance, issuing preferred shares with a redemption right, or issuing non-voting shares. However these make the offer less attractive to potential investors.

Investor Involvement

One issue businesses don’t anticipate is investor involvement. Lindsay encourages businesses to think about the structure for involving investors before any investment offering, as well as costs to maintain that structure. Think about how to structure governance to include investor input efficiently.


On the old crowdfunding platforms, John encourages businesses to pay attention tax issues. If companies trad perks and product/services for money on a crowdfunding platform, they often don’t budget paying the tax in the province where it is shipped. When a $1K cheque comes in, the business often thinks the full amount is theirs. If the product gets shipped to BC, the business needs to submit $12 to the province. If the product gets shipped to the US, it’s more complicated, as state tax, county tax and others may apply.

How Do Businesses Prepare for Equity Crowd Funding?


John commented on the need for having corporate governance in place. Entrepreneurs struggle when they bring in outside investors and then continue to run the company as they used to. He encourages businesses to figure out in advance how they want to structure governance and investor involvement.


Businesses will need to use an online platform for an equity offer. FrontFundr has some of the first offers. But a business can’t just post an offer without preparation. It doesn’t look good to be on a platform and not have any activity. A business should make sure that there will be activity once they have an offer, so they should be working on advertising the offer and building potential investment before their offer is listed. FrontFundr also has a sector lounge, where they suggest businesses put potential offers before they go live to assess interest, potentially help set the price, and allow FrontFundr to complete the due diligence on the project.


  1. Platforms costs

The FrontFundr platform cost is two-pronged:

  • 2% fee for getting a business ready, and helping them get their documentation together.
  • 4% fee on all new investment. Fees are not charged when the business brings the investors to the platform themselves. (For reference, fees in the US, UK, and the Netherlands are approximately 5-7.5%.).
  1. Filing requirements, accounting and legal work. A rough ballpark estimate is $5-10K depending on the type of investment. Costs depend on how much input the business needs from advisors. The more the business does themselves, the more costs can be reduced. All documents should be reviewed by a lawyer but Lindsay encourages businesses to get a law firm involved from the beginning as its better (and cheaper) to set it up properly than to try to fix something that’s not set up properly.


  • Summary of the Canadian regulations by province from FrontFundr.
  • Tool to identify sources of equity and non-dilutive financing: ca
  • BC Securities Commission information on private placements – raising capital in private markets, reporting requirements and forms, and methods/deadlines for filing and info on fees.
  • Watch the video of the event below.

Small Businesses Create Good Jobs

A new study shows that Very Small Businesses in the U.S. (defined as <20 employees) created all of the net new jobs in the US from 1989 to 2012. Net New U.S. Jobs 1989-2012












A recent California study echoes small business’ powerful ability to create jobs. In California alone, micro businesses created 5.5 million jobs from 2004 to 2010.

Micro firms:
-created jobs every year;
-created a net of 7 million jobs in the U.S.;
-created a net of 920,000 jobs in California;
-mostly created more jobs than any other firm size;
-were the only firm size that created jobs during the downturn years of 2009 and 2010.

During the same period, large businesses (those >500 employees) lost 750,000 jobs nationwide and in California, big businesses lost about 200,000 jobs. In California, micro businesses generated many more jobs than large businesses. Check out the summary report and graphs.

LOCO Businesses are hiring

Work for a LOCO Business

Potluck Café Society seeks Executive Director. 
We are seeking a driven, innovative and highly entrepreneurial Executive Director to provide strong leadership to our team of 30 staff and 20 volunteers to take our organization to the next level. As Executive Director, together with an effective management team, you will manage a $1.3M annual operating budget to sustain and lead Potluck Café Society’s innovative community programs and oversee Potluck Café and Catering Inc.’s business operations. Find out more here.

Live for Tomorrow (LFT) seeks Business Development & Marketing Intern
LFT is seeking an enthusiastic, articulate, and highly motivated university graduate to fill the role of Business Development and Marketing Coordinator (the “Coordinator”). The Coordinator will be a proactive, team-oriented, go-getter with a passion for people, the environment and an entrepreneurial spirit. S/he will be responsible for implementation of marketing and communication initiatives and driving sales through account development and customer service to help grow the business. As a team player the ideal candidate is prepared to roll up their sleeves and work on any aspect of the business. This role consists of travel and some work on weekends. Find out more here.

PaySavvy is hiring Sales and Support personnel
PaySavvy prides itself on being a desirable place to work. We offer a progressive, team-spirited culture that rewards hard work and initiative, a collective approach to building a leading company, and freedom to contribute in meaningful ways to our growth and success. We’re currently seeking a Sales Development Representative, a Client Success Representative, and a Manager, Client Success. Find out more here.

The Cleaning Solution seeks Program Manager of Employment Support
The Cleaning Solution is a growing Vancouver-based, contract cleaning social enterprise that employs work ready people living with mental illness. Focusing on post-employment support, this new position is responsible for the wellness of our workforce. As a fun-loving, goal oriented professional, you’ll bring care, compassion and resourcefulness to this position. You understand people and how work contributes to wellness and want to work in an organization where job accommodation is more than just a duty; but the key ingredient to success.  Find out more here.

The Tyee is hiring a new Director of Community Development
The director of community development will stay engaged with our current Builders, and oversee strategies to grow the community.The director of community development will also plan events including our Master Classes, which contribute resources that help sustain our operations and pay our talented writers. Applications close August 5th. Find out more here.

Remarkable Clean looking for new Team Members
Are you an environmental steward who also love to clean? We’re looking for new team members at Remarkable Clean. Apply if you love the environment, serving people, have a great eye for detail and love working with amazing people. Send CV and cover letter to


Vote for LOCO Members in Best of Vancouver

Vote for LOCO members in the Georgia Straight’s Best of Vancouver. Here are some members to vote for in the different categories. Find the entry form here.

City Life

Dehoney Financial Group
PacBlue Printing
Mills Basics
Saul Good Gift Co.
8.5 Restaurant
Salt Spring Coffee Co.
Olla Flowers
Recycling Alternative


Ocean Village
University Golf Club
Cycle City Tours

Mind, Body & Soul

Mental Fitness
Mental Fitness
Mental Fitness


Olla Flowers
Gamla Studio
Gamla Studio
LaLa’s on the Drive
Saul Good Gift Co.
Womyn’s Wear
Conscious PR
Toy Jungle
Rob Beckwermert
Stephanie Orr
Blair Smith
Vaune Kolber
Kearney’s Funeral Services
Sweet Pea & Me


Nicole Bridger
Hazel & Jools 
Nicole Bridger
John Fluevog Shoes
Dayton Boots
John Fluevog Shoes
sh Design Works
Hip Baby
Monny’s Envision Optical
Granville Eyeland

Food & Drink

8.5 Restaurant
Rocky Mountain Flatbread
The Three Brits Public House
The New Oxford
The Blackbird Public House & Oyster Bar
Library Square Public House
Granville Room Cocktail Tavern
Tavern at The New Oxford Public House
The Bimini Public House
The Butcher & Bullock
A Bread Affair

Cookies of Course
Cartem’s Donuterie
Living Lotus Food & Nutrition







Earnest Ice Cream

Rocky Mountain Flatbread

Salt Spring Coffee

Salt Spring Coffee

Clos Du Soleil

Donnelly Group (any)

Donnelly Group (any)

G&T Fridays Long Table Distillery
Odd Spirits Tasting