You’ve probably read all the articles that tell you employees want more money, more praise, and more opportunity. And these things are true but there are other things they wish they had too. These are things they probably haven’t told you and maybe haven’t even figured them out themselves.

Natural Light

Office buildings can be dingy, and most businesses operate solely under artificial lighting. During the late fall and early winter, employees hardly see the light of day. While depriving people of natural light may be a great idea in Vegas because it keeps people from knowing how much time has passed, it’s not a good idea for employees. Boredom and dissatisfaction will cause a lack of motivation and productivity will plummet. Providing natural lighting will not only make your employees happier but it may just save on your electric bill as well.

Professional Development

It’s likely your employees have talked about this to you. But maybe you don’t have the time or the budget to help them. However, if you don’t give them access to professional development or room to grow within your business, they’ll likely leave for somewhere that will. But how can you meet their needs on a limited budget or in a business where there’s not a lot of room for upward mobility?

Make sure they know you’re a member of the chamber, and as a member, they are welcome to attend chamber networking and professional development events. While you may be concerned that networking means they might leave, if you don’t provide these things for them you know they will.

A Comfortable Workspace and Desk

This desire covers a lot of areas, but employees don’t want to be too cold or too hot. They want to be comfortable in their surroundings like having a chair that doesn’t make their back hurt. They also want to be comfortable from a job safety perspective. They don’t want to worry about injury or personal safety either. Make sure these basic needs are met.

Fairness

Morale will only be as good as your tolerance of the biggest problem in the office. Fairness is a pie-in-the-sky concept because there will always be some form of inequality, but you absolutely cannot allow some employees to get away with bad behavior. This brings everyone down. To the best of your ability, ensure all employees are held to the same standards.

Downtime They Can Use

Thousands of Canadians are not using their vacation time. The number one reason they don’t is that it isn’t worth the amount of work they must put forward to take the time off or the mound of work they will return to. This deluge of work can be incapacitating in the long-term.

It’s essential that employees feel comfortable taking the time allotted to them. Ensure your managers know that time is to be used. Some companies have begun requiring its use by disallowing rollover of time. But that’s not enough. There are still some employees who will lose it instead of using it.

The other thing you can do is allow your employees some flexibility. Maybe a work from home day or a flexible start time within a range of hours. For instance, you could allow employees to select their own official start time between 7:30 and 10:00. They can finish their day based on start time.

Happy employees provide the best customer service. A disengaged employee will never win over your customers. So, the right investment in your employees will always benefit your customers. This list is a good place to start. But the best thing to do is to find out what means the most to your team.

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It has been nearly ten months since Canada became the second country and first large developed economy in the world to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use. This bold economic experiment is generating new jobs and economic opportunity as thousands of Canadians have flocked to work in this burgeoning industry.

Unlike other new industries that often generate localized growth in specific regions or large cities, the cannabis industry is proving far more expansive, providing new opportunities across the entire country including in many smaller and rural communities.

This growth is being fueled by hundreds of entrepreneurial and innovative companies that have been running non-stop to establish a foothold in this new market. At the same time, federal, provincial and municipal governments have undertaken an enormous amount of work to establish legal frameworks for the recreational cannabis industry.

Given how far we have come in so little time, it is not surprising that governments, like many companies participating in this brand new sector, have not gotten every decision correct.

Federal regulators, who by their nature are risk-averse, have been even more so in the development of the rules governing the production, distribution and sale of cannabis. It is understandable why: it is not just Canadians watching, it is the entire world.

While regulators and businesses may disagree about some of these rules, they do share a common goal of making sure Canada gets this right. Getting it right means that we need balanced regulatory frameworks so that we do not lose the competitive advantage that we have.

So where do the rules still need refining? The high federal regulatory, tax and user fee burden on producers is giving the illegal market a competitive price advantage, as was predicted by many before legalization. Federal marketing and packaging rules have also created overly restrictive and confusing rules for Canadian companies to promote themselves and their products.

On top of strict federal rules for edibles, beverages and topicals that will become legal later this year, Quebec is proposing to prohibit a wide range of edible products which means those products would continue to be supplied by the unregulated illegal market in that province.

With our head start, Canada has the potential to be a world leader in the nascent global cannabis industry as other countries liberalize their medical and recreational markets. However, taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity means we cannot rest on our laurels about being the first. It means we must continue to learn from our experience and adapt.

This opportunity is why the Canadian Chamber, along with Fire & Flower, one of Canada’s leading cannabis retailers, has launched the National Cannabis Working Group. The National Cannabis Working Group is co-chaired by Fire & Flower’s Nathan Mison, vice president of Government and Stakeholder Relations, and includes many of Canada’s largest cannabis companies.

It also includes important ancillary businesses supporting the sector’s growth with the shared goal of advocating for policies that foster a strong, competitive sector while helping governments achieve their health and safety objectives.

As Canada approaches the one-year anniversary of legalized recreational cannabis, it is a good time to take stock of not just where our new cannabis industry has come from, but where we want to go. Charting that path forward will require business and governments to work closely together, overcome our typical Canadian modesty and boldly seize the opportunity in front of us.

We only get one shot at being first.

This article was produced by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the national business organization that includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce in its membership.

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It’s an opportunity to inspire leaders and entrepreneurs.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is launching Spark, a one-day conference—Saturday, November 16, 2019—designed to inspire leaders and entrepreneurs to be their very best.

Through inspirational talks, breakout and workshop sessions, and panels, Spark attendees will learn from experienced leaders and entrepreneurs from across Southwestern Ontario.

Spark speakers have overcome adversity, started businesses from the ground up, facilitated change in their communities, and inspired others to take action.

Topics covered will include: taking your business to the next level, reaching your target audience online, maintaining a work-life balance, increasing sales, and other discussions related to being an entrepreneur in the modern world.

Spark aims to inspire innovation and ideas amongst business owners and leaders across southwestern Ontario.

Tickets will be available soon on sparkconference.ca!

Your ticket will include meals, presentation materials, swag bag, entry to all workshops and presentations, exclusive invitation to a pre-networking party on November 15th in downtown Sarnia, and a professional headshot.

Stay tuned for updates about our speakers and workshops!

 

 

 

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Networking opportunities are everywhere. You no longer must leave your house to be able to network, but studies now show that online networking doesn’t hold the same power as in-person networking. Networking is critical to landing a job, learning about opportunities before they are broadcast, and getting more sales for your business.

You need to do it, even if you hate it, and one of the easiest most effective networking groups is the chamber. But the chamber does more than just introduce you to others. It offers very strong networking tools and opportunities. Here are several things you probably didn’t know about how you can improve your business networking with chamber membership.

According to HubSpot, 85% of people “say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences.” Chambers facilitate this on a weekly basis in some form or fashion, but there are a host of other ways they can help you improve your networking. Here are 5 ways the chamber can make you a better networker that you might not have thought of.

1.  In-Person Events

The Chamber offers a host of in-person events from formal networking events to informal member mixers. There are even opportunities to sponsor events and showcase your business location.

2. Networking Assistance

If you’re like most people, you’re not a natural networker. It’s something you do because you know it’s necessary, but not something you enjoy. The Chamber is rich with experience and advice on how to improve your networking skills. Check to see about networking courses or training. Also, don’t be shy to admit to Chamber staff that you’re struggling with networking. They can easily keep an eye out for you and help introduce you to the people who can make a difference in your business. You don’t get this kind of service from an online group.

3. Leads and Mastermind Groups

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has helped organize groups where business professionals from the community bring leads for one another and help the members grow their businesses. These groups are often more targeted than the open networking events for the entire Chamber membership. Getting to know a select group of business associates in your industry or a complementary one, can help your business take off.

4. Thought leadership opportunities

The Chamber is open to having members share their knowledge in the form of educational sessions. This can position you as a thought leader in your industry and helps with networking after the event. People will naturally want to discuss the materials you presented.

5.  In sight, on the mind

Most people are extremely busy these days, particularly business owners. While social media can be a very effective tool for keeping in touch, it’s too easy to miss people’s posts there. At an in-person event, on the other hand, you come face-to-face with someone and they’re immediately on your mind again.

When you’re an established acquaintance and people know, like, and trust you, they are more likely to buy from you and refer you to others. Plus when they know you (from having met you in person), your social media posts will be more meaningful to them.

A final word about how the Chamber can make you a better networker

Networking is painful for most of us but having an organization that specializes in it can help you get the training and assistance you need to get more customers and grow your tribe. Chamber membership is a pretty small price to pay for that.

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The Mike Weir Foundation, the philanthropic organization created by the Masters champion’s family, has announced a partnership that will help fund a mental health initiative geared to help young people in the most vulnerable age group—11 to 25 years old.

Representatives of the Foundation have outlined plans for an ACCESS Open Minds site for the Sarnia-Lambton community.

The initiative, which is being endorsed by Bluewater Health, will mirror an existing facility in Chatham-Kent, according to Paula Reaume-Zimmer, integrated vice-president, Mental Health & Addictions at Bluewater Health and Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent.

The Mike Weir Foundation will be organizing a Par 3 Challenge for Mental Health, scheduled for September 19 at Huron Oaks Golf Club, as a way to spark the fundraising effort.

Weir will be attending the inaugural event, which will be limited to 108 golfers playing in threesomes.

The Foundation will be matching donations raised up to $200,000, which means the total could reach $400,000 including matched funds.

The ACCESS Open Minds site is intended to address a critical gap in mental health services.

Information on sponsorships is available by contacting Wendy Bennett of the Mike Weir Foundation.

Pictured at a recent event announcing the initiative are, from left, Kathy Alexander, executive director of Bluewater Health Foundation; Alan Stevenson, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Kent branch; Sue Barnes, executive director, St. Clair Child & Youth Services; and Paula Reaume-Zimmer of Bluewater Health and the CMHA.

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Lambton College is hosting an exciting competition and very popular demonstration of the skills and professionalism of firefighters at September’s Western Ontario FireFit Championship, taking place Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8.

The event will feature Sarnia’s own Ian VanReenen of Sarnia Fire– the reigning Canadian and World Men’s champions and record holders.

Of particular interest to members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be Friday night’s Corporate Challenge.

You can find the sign-up form for the Corporate Challenge by clicking this link: 2019 Corporate Challenge Sign Up Sheet.

Lambton College Fire students have competed in FireFit for the past 20 years and in that time have brought back Canadian as well as World championships.

The Scott FireFit Championships is a competition based on firefighting tasks commonly performed in emergency situations.

August 1994 saw the first Canadian National FireFit Competition held at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. During the 15 days of the P.N.E. approximately 50,000 spectators enjoyed the event.

With the success of the P.N.E. Event, seven FireFit events were scheduled and held from coast to coast in 1995 with over 715 competitors from more than 105 Fire Departments participating.

The popularity of the FireFit Competition has grown over the past 27 years and visits every province in Canada. With the popularity of two one-hour Championship Finals show, aired on TSN. FireFit has become known not only in Canada but worldwide.

 

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Content marketing provides the kind of quality content your audience is looking for. Marketers in today’s business climate must yield to the interests of their customers to be successful in the same way that party planners who want people on the dance floor must select music the vast majority of people in attendance will find appealing.

Content marketing has to start somewhere and the best place to do that is with a couple of evergreen pieces. These are strong heavy-hitting, attention-getting pieces of content you know your audience will respond to. Before you begin creating the content suggested here, make sure you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is (from demographic and preferences standpoints), what they are looking for, and how you can help them. Knowing this vital information is essential to creating the content they care about.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, it’s easier to create content personalized for them. If you serve multiple types of customers, either narrow it down to your ideal customer and market only to them or create several buyer personas and produce content that will appeal to each segmented group.

Your Business Story

This is not your About page. This is the story you tell through interactions with your customers. Your business story should follow a traditional story arc/plotline of:

  1. hero wants something
  2. hero faces obstacle in trying to get what he/she wants
  3. hero is helped by mentor-type and ultimately succeeds in getting the desired object, status, or outcome

Before you run off and start penning the obstacles you faced in opening your own business, remember this is not about you. To craft an appealing business story to your audience, you are not the hero. Your business is the kindly mentor – the Obi-Wan character – who helps the hero, your customer. This is a much more evocative approach from an engagement aspect than telling everyone you are the hero and got exactly what you wanted at the end of the day.

Cast your customer in the role of the hero and you’ll have potential customers looking at that role and thinking they, too, could be a hero. All it takes is determination (and your help).

An Answer to Your Most Asked Question

Another component of effective content marketing is producing content in the medium your audience responds to. You can figure this out by dedicating some R&D time on social media. Share video, audio, and written pieces on the same topic. Which format consistently gets the most shares? Create more content in that format.

After you know what content your audience prefers, take to that medium to answer the most common question asked of your business. Here are examples of popular question types (insert the critical information that applies to your business):

What’s the difference between __________ and ___________?

How do I know I need a new _____________?

How much do ____________s cost?

How do I know if I’m dealing with a reputable ______________?

How do I select the perfect ____________ for me?

When creating the content, use the question as the title. People often search by entering questions not keywords. For instance, if I want to know if I need a new air conditioner, I am more apt to search something like:

How do I know if I need a new AC?

than

air conditioners

Creating content-based on customer questions is more likely to place you higher in search results than merely optimizing for keywords.

A Gallery

If you sell products or services that are visually appealing, create a portfolio to showcase what you sell. If you are an accountant, placing 1099s on your site probably won’t yield any conversions and could lead to breach of privacy lawsuits; create a gallery of testimonials instead.

This can be done formally by asking clients for them and creating case studies, or compiling them from other places and housing them on your website. Some people even use Favorites on Twitter to capture positive things people have said about them. Then when someone asks for testimonials, the business refers them to their Twitter profile’s Favorites section. The one problem with this is that you don’t own Twitter and they could remove this feature overnight without warning.

In addition to these three types of content you need to be committed to consistent content creation and posting.  Select a schedule you know you can adhere to and provide helpful information from others to fill in the gaps. Your customers may even be a source for that content.

Whatever your schedule or your content source, the most important thing to remember is that content marketing is like hosting a party. If all the food, drink, and entertainment are your favorites and not that of your guests (or customers in this case), you can be assured they won’t stay very long.

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An upcoming event organized by the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership, Sarnia-Lambton Local Immigration Partnership, and Lambton College (with support from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce) is designed to help employers with their hiring challenges.

On Friday, September 27, a FREE TO ATTEND innovative and engaging employer breakfast will provide an overview of how local employers can learn about the benefits of harnessing today’s global workforce talent.

Taking place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Lambton College Event Centre, Harnessing Today’s Global Talent will educate employers on the value of hiring and retaining international employees, the community impact of having global talent in the local workforce, and resources for employers interested in creating a diverse workforce.

To register for this FREE session, click HERE.

 

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Tuesday evening’s Sunset Cruise on the St. Clair River was a remarkable return to an annual tradition that the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce hopes will be an annual salute to summer.

President and CEO Shirley de Silva, who was on the Duc D’Orleans II along with members and guests, including members of the Bluewater Area Chamber, said the weather was perfect for the two-hour event.

With Fabien Jagoo serving as DJ and plenty of food and a cash bar, this year’s event was “just what we hoped it would be,” said de Silva.

“We look forward to this being among our signature Chamber events, one that combines friendships, great conversation and enjoying the vista that people living here have come to appreciate!”

Pictured; Dante Cateni of Terrapure Environmental, Chamber board member Karen Fischer, and Rudy Fischer.

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With the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce signature event—the 30th anniversary 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night—coming up on Friday, October 18, now’s the time to secure your tickets!

Often a ‘sold out” event on the Chamber calendar, this year’s OBAA will feature not only a “new look” but some exciting additions that are sure to have us all on the edge of our seats!

“We’re taking a new approach to this year’s OBAA while retaining the core elements, which of course, feature the very best companies and individuals in 15 categories of achievement,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber.

“We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been able to put together for this year’s OBAA—our 30th-anniversary event.”

Thanks to the lead sponsorship of Libro Credit Union, the Friday, October 18 event at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia is shaping up to be another “Outstanding” event.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased HERE.

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