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Following Your Heart This Valentine's Day-BMO Offers Tips for Canadians Thinking About Starting a Small Business

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 02/13/13 -- As Canadians celebrate Valentine's Day tomorrow, BMO Bank of Montreal offers tips for budding entrepreneurs who are thinking about following their passion - starting a small business.

A BMO survey found that Canadian retailers have historically experienced an increase in Valentine's Day sales of flowers, candy and jewellery.

"Small businesses are a vital part of the local community and continue to be a great opportunity for Canadians looking for a way to take charge of their financial future, bring their ideas to life and be their own boss," said Joe Collura, Small Business Area Manager, BMO Bank of Montreal. "While being your own boss has its advantages, starting a business is not for the faint of heart, there are many issues to contemplate before jumping in - including developing a strong business plan as a foundation."

BMO offers the following tips for small business owners:


  1.  Play Up Your Strengths and Define Your Concept - If you have          
      particular skills or interests, see if you can parlay these into a    
      business venture. More often than not, doing what you know and love   
      can help increase the likelihood of success. All new businesses should
      feature a concept that will set the business apart, appeal to         
      potential customers and allow it to be successful.                    
                                                                            
  2.  Have a Business Plan - Stress-test your idea and research your        
      marketplace, including what your product or service and price point   
      will be, who your audience is and what your sales targets will need to
      be to cover your costs. Two of the leading causes of business failure 
      are undercapitalization & mismanagement. Having a well-laid-out plan  
      will increase your chances of success.                                
                                                                            
  3.  Build Awareness - How will you market your product or service? It is  
      important to consider a networking strategy that is right for your    
      business, through personal contacts, social media, events or flyers.  
                                                                            
  4.  Think Through Distribution - Your business plan should determine      
      whether your venture will require premises and/or a transportation    
      vehicle. If it is e-commerce based, do you have the resources to      
      create an online business?                                            
                                                                            
  5.  Determine Your Capital Needs - You will need to map out how you will  
      fund your investments in your business. Will it require financing? Are
      there any services, programs or grants available to entrepreneurs that
      you can use?                                                          
                                                                            
  6.  Have Time Management Expectations - Running a business takes a lot of 
      time and energy. You should expect to be spending a large portion of  
      your days dedicated to your business, which won't leave much time for 
      much leisure. Set a schedule which dedicates some time for non-       
      business activities.                                                  
                                                                            
  7.  Consult an Expert - Speak to an accountant and a small business       
      banker. Small business specialists can provide insight into setting up
      your business, market competition, personal and business finances and 
      tax issues, and how these may change over time.                       
                                                                            
  8.  Seek Out Mentors - Having access to advice from seasoned entrepreneurs
      or experts in the field of business, marketing or social media is     
      priceless. Do not hesitate to seek out mentors. They were once in your
      shoes and will likely be pleased to share their experience and wisdom.
                                                                            
  9.  Be Competitive - Find creative ways to get your business off the      
      ground. Incentives and promotions to family and friends or to other   
      local businesses to get the word out about your venture can help      
      expand your customer base more rapidly.                               

BMO offers a number of resources for Canadians thinking about starting their own business.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at October 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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