Looking to feature your business on our website, social media and in DUKE News? Click Be Featured to sign up.

How do I determine whether I am capable of starting a business?

Small business owners come in a variety of personalities and temperaments, however there are a few common traits shared by most successful entrepreneurs.

  • Willingness to sacrifice—If you enjoy working the nine to five, do not go into business for yourself. Entrepreneurship often requires many more hours beyond the forty-hour work week. If you have a passion and are willing to work all hours to nurse your business while she is still learning to walk on her own, then you probably have what it takes.
  • Interpersonal skills—You will be required to interact with a host of people other than customers, such as lawyers, employees, and salespeople. If you do not like talking to people you do not know, it might be better to keep your day job. Sales will be a critical aspect in those early days, and if you are unable to talk to people to make those initial sales, your business may not survive until you are able to hire a full time sales person.
  • Leadership ability—You will be the one everyone turns to for the answers. Are you ready to call the shots? Taking ownership of decisions and accepting the consequences (good or bad), is essential in a business person. This helps us learn an improve both personally and as a business.
  • Optimism and persistence—Being able to hang in there when business gets tough is an important quality in small business owners. There is usually light at the end of the tunnel. Most business owners give up too soon. Most businesses that fail, do so in the first few years of operation. If you are able to pull through those initial, rough few years, the chances of a brighter future look positive.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a successful business person is their ability to continuously learn. Be that from personal mistakes, other successful business people, or from reading as many books as possible, this trait differentiates great business people from good business people.

Starting a business? Avoid these classic entrepreneur pitfalls

January 01, 2020

Written by: Atul Oka, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development, DUKE Heights BIA

Becoming an entrepreneur is a dream to which many of us aspire towards. There are many first-time entrepreneurs as well as experienced pros who sometimes make the same typical mistakes despite their best efforts. When you are finally ready to take the step and dive in, it may be worthwhile to keep an eye out for these common issues which could make or break your dream before it is fully realised.

Not creating a business plan is perhaps one of the most devastating mistakes a business owner can make. While sounding like something only larger businesses, or those looking to rise capital through traditional lenders need to do, a business plan allows you to think holistically about your business and assists in identifying potential issues in your idea.

Before starting any new venture, draft a simple business plan that identifies your proposed product or service, the costs involved, your funding needs, your competitors and potential customers, the market opportunity, and any realistic challenges you envision. If a business plan is just too complex to start with, try the simpler Business Model Canvas to get you started.

If you have not already completed a financial and cashflow forecast as part of the business plan, it may be worthwhile spend some time doing that now. While forecasting is not perfect, it will help you better manage and plan for your businesses funding needs. Some entrepreneurs misjudge costs, and end up spending more than they budgeted for or expected to, while others do the opposite and by trying to be careful and frugal, end up spending too little to give their business a realistic chance.

Another common challenge for any start-up is the selection of business partners. In many cases, you are not able to successfully launch a business venture on your own. You often need to rely partners and investors. Once major risk to any new business is in bringing onboard too many people. This can lead to the dilution of profits and sowing confusion on the business strategy. While key partners bring their own expertise, the old proverb about too many cooks still holds true.

Knowing your market and effectively marketing to that market is critical. Make sure you know who your target market actually is. Is there a specific client profile that needs and wants your products or services? Are you trying to sell your delicious abalone dish to people looking for a quick take away meal on the way home after a hard day’s work?

Know who you need to target your marketing spend towards to minimise wasted spend, but also make sure to target your market in the right way. What format of media does your market utilise and is most exposed to? Is it the “Selfie” generation or is it Mr Wilson from next door who is reluctant to use that Nokia 3310 that his son bought for him over twelve years ago? You know your product or service is useful and has a market. Don’t do your business a disservice by not letting the people who need it the most know.

Entrepreneurship can be the adventure of a lifetime but, like any adventure, it can also be fraught with pitfalls. Try and create the best possible chance of success for your business by avoiding some of these common mistakes.

Preparing for Winter Weather Together


January 01, 2020

The City of Toronto clears major roads, bus routes, school routes and emergency routes. Transportation Services sends out its fleet of salt trucks once the snow begins to stick to the roads in order to begin winter maintenance. Salting continues until a sufficient amount of snow has accumulated to start the next step, which is snow plowing. If your street has not been cleared within the allotted timeframe, please call 311 first and then call my office. My staff and I are here to help you.

When there’s a snowfall, you can also watch an active map online that shows where snowplows and maintenance crews are currently working. Visit PlowTO‘s website at: www.toronto.ca/plowto.

Winter Weather Tips:

  • Arrange a check-in system to check with elderly neighbours and others who might need assistance.
  • Please shovel snow onto your property and away from the public road and sidewalk.
  • When piling snow onto your property, please avoid blocking sightlines from driveways for everyone’s safety.
  • Please try to keep parked cars off the road during and shortly after a snowstorm, this provides space for snowplows to get the job done faster.
  • Call my office if you have any questions about the City of Toronto and winter maintenance.

Seniors Assistance Home Maintenance Program (SAHM)

This program provides a snow removal service for seniors and those with a disability or an hourly rate. If the program is not offered on your street, please call the City Councillor’s office. Contact: (416) 531-8447 Ext. 501, salma@tigp.org.

Happy New Year!


City Councillor Anthony Perruzza
Ward 7 – Humber River-Black Creek

Another Successful Year with Duke Heights BIA


January 01, 2020

Dear neighbours,
It has been 18 months since my re-election and it continues to be my privilege to serve the Duke Heights BIA community. We continue to invest in our local communities and support the DUKE Heights BIA.

The Mayor has declared 2021 the year of public art and we are fully committed to public art installations in DUKE HEIGHTS at Dufferin and Finch and at the new Finch LRT terminus station (next to the Finch West Subway station).

We are working hard to create a park on the green space on the east side of Chesswood Drive which is now on the lands of the solid waste transfer station.

The city is setting planning guidelines through a Keele-Finch Plus study. We are also working on improving the traffic flow in the DUKE Heights area through the Finch West Goods Movement Plan. We are working closely with Duke Heights BIA to ensure vital freight travels into and out of the BIA in a more safe and efficient manner.

We are beautifying the east side of Dufferin Street with investments in public realm projects, art works, seating, vegetation, and more! We are also working with city staff to re-align the eastern boundaries of the BIA so as to include the publicly owned right-of-way on the east side of Dufferin.

Great things happen when the public and private sector work together. Please do not hesitate to contact me at: 416-392-1371, or councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca. Community updates are available at: www.jamespasternak.ca.


City Councillor James Pasternak
Ward 6 – York Centre

Simplifying Cybersecurity for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

January 01, 2020

Based in DUKE Heights and with over 25 years of experience in IT security, Akouto provides managed cybersecurity solutions specifically designed for small and medium size business. Many small businesses simply don’t have the resources for enterprise-grade solutions even though they share many of the same risks. Akouto’s business objective is to provide enterprise grade cybersecurity features at affordable prices.

Cybersecurity is often poorly understood and many businesses are unaware of the legal responsibilities of protecting client data and financial costs of unplanned downtime caused by a data breach. Phishing emails, ransomware and malware have made it more difficult and complex for businesses to stay ahead of the daily online threats.

Akouto works with their clients to simplify the process and provide a cybersecurity solution that fits the clients’ business needs. Their solution is actively monitored by cybersecurity experts who regularly identify threats and work to quickly contain and resolve issues so that their clients can focus on the task of running their business.

To learn more about how to protect your data and to take advantage of Akouto’s exclusive promotion for the Duke Heights BIA community, contact (416) 828-5968 or email Akouto at info@akouto.com.


3 ways to drive profitability

Written by: Atul Oka, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Development, DUKE Heights BIA
Dec 01, 2019

While most business owners want to increase profits, most do not have a plan to do so. Some say they will increase profits by boosting sales. But how will you boost sales? Will you hire more salespeople? Can you afford more salespeople? Will you leverage additional sales channels through which you can sell your products or services?

Will you try and help any customer that comes to you? Can you afford to do everything for every customer? Do you know which products or services are worth your time to produce or deliver? Do you know which products or services are actually profitable once you take input costs, overheads, salaries (Yes this includes your salary as well), delivery and other costs into account?

Will you perhaps expand to another location or add additional products and services? What will this entail?

It seems that no matter what the initial idea, some thought and planning may be required to make this a reality. This “plan” is often called a business strategy. It could be either a strategy for a specific functional area such as marketing or sales, or alternatively, it could be a complete and comprehensive business strategy. Developing a business strategy can be difficult but it is often the difference between success and failure. If your business does not have business strategy, speak to someone who can help you create one.

Creating a niche for your business is important in making your business different from your competitors and does not force you to compete with large companies with scale, that can offer the same products or services at a cheaper price. Every business should think like their target audience or customers. Know their exact needs, motivators, wants, dreams, goals, and interests. Find out what is valuable to your customers and what they are willing to pay a little extra for. Ever wonder why Starbucks (a normal coffee shop) was able to differentiate enough to grow much faster than their competitors?

Finally, it is important to create internal targets and goals. This helps to determine how well you are doing. One way to measure progress toward achieving your business goals is to use key performance indicators (KPI’s). Another is to use customer satisfaction as a benchmark for external performance and success.

KPIs provide us with an immediate snapshot of the overall performance of our businesses. To be used effectively, we need to measure and track the key performance indicators crucial to the success of our business such as profit margins per product category, and total sales. They also play a key role by providing vital decision-making information. (Do we sell more of product A or Product B? Which one is actually more profitable?)

Customer satisfaction can be measured using the Net Promotor Score (NPS) which we discussed in our last article. Have you done this for your business yet? How high is your Net Promoter Score?

“Profitability is coming from productivity, efficiency, management, austerity, and the way to manage the business” – Carlos Slim


Am I better off buying a Franchise or starting a new company?

Dec 01, 2019

Deciding on this depends on your personality type as well as the amount of capital that you have available. If money is no object and you’re looking to begin a business in a market where there is an established franchise, then purchasing a license to open a franchised company can be a very reasonable path. Franchising can help lower risk of failure but also offers lower returns because your margins and costs (including royalties) are all out of your control. If you however don’t have a lot of capital, it may be better to start small and work out all the kinks and problems before resigning from your day job. This will allow you to build more capital while at the same time reducing the risk of failure.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact the DUKE Law team.

In partnership with Osgoode Law School we provide free legal information to the DUKE Heights BIA community and beyond. Whether you are a start-up, a small business owner or an entrepreneur, DUKE Law can be your first-hand resource in finding answers and clarifications to the legal aspects of any business query.

Disclaimer: DUKE Law service is available to be accessed only for free legal information and it cannot be substituted for legal advice from a trained legal professional.

Edge out Your Competition by Becoming a ‘Certified Social Enterprise’

Dec 01, 2019

Buy Social Canada offers a third-party certification for social enterprises. A social enterprise is a business that seeks to achieve a defined social, cultural or environmental goal and reinvests the majority of net profits back into that goal. Buy Social Canada certification recognizes your organization as a verified social enterprise and demonstrates your commitment to social and sustainable business.


By proudly displaying Buy Social Canada certification you:

  • Signal to customers the impact of their purchases
  • Promote awareness of the social enterprise industry
  • Invite the attention of social procurers

As part of your Buy Social Canada certification you:

  • Will be featured in our social enterprise directory
  • Have access to 2 hours of free consulting from the Buy Social Canada team
  • Receive discounted access to webinars and learning resources

It’s easy to apply for certification, all you need to do is:

  • Complete a short, online application
  • Speak with a Buy Social Canada team member to talk about your social enterprise
  • Submit your Articles of Incorporation and Audited Financial Statements
  • Find out more at www.buysocialcanada.com and don’t miss our free social procurement tools and resources.

If you have any questions please content Brent Brodie at brent@buysocialcanada.com

Exciting Winter Break Camp at Active Kids Zone from Dec 23, 2019


Dec 01, 2019

When school’s out, Active Kids Zone is the place to be! Conveniently located near Steeles Ave and Alness St, we take the worry out of what your children are going to do for FUN with their time off school. Especially when you are stuck at work! Offered for ages 5 to 12 years old, Active Kids Zone’s Winter Break Camp is action-packed with sports and organized games, crafts and ceramics, cooking, karaoke, fun zone and much more! Pre-registration is required.


Camp runs from Monday, December 23, 2019 to Friday, January 03, 2020 (Closed December 25 and January 01).

Weekly Cost is $400 for all 8 days, or daily registration is available for $60. Register by Friday, December 20 and get their pre-camp registration price of $55 per day.

Visit www.activekidszone.com or call 416-650-5060 for more information and registration.

Don’t be stuck out in the cold, register your child for Active Kids Zone’s Winter Break Camp today!

Distill Laser Clinic is now open!



Dec 01, 2019

Distill Laser Clinic is a cosmetic clinic offering only Health Canada and FDA approved technology in laser hair removal and skin treatments. The team at Distill Laser Clinic has 20 years of combined experience.

The new state-of-the-art Laser Clinic facility offers hair loss, photo rejuvenation, skin tightening, scar removal, wrinkle treatments including injectables, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal and much more.

Distill Laser Clinic is located at 1275 Finch Avenue West, suite 407 in North York. The facility has convenient underground parking perfect for patient privacy.

To book an appointment for a free consultation, please contact Distill Laser Clinic at 416-398-4000 or email them at info@distilllaserclinic.com.