Universal Health Coverage Will Increase the Entrepreneurial Spirit in the United States

“Universal healthcare would increase the entrepreneurial spirit in the United States.”

I normally don’t agree with Nancy Pelosi, but when she said the above statement I totally agreed with her.

 

Let’s put aside for a minute the fact that medical care should be a basic human right and available to everyone in a wealthy nation like the United States. On a pure economic and job creation level, universal healthcare would be a huge asset.

 

The best way I can explain why I believe this is to give a true life example. Bill is a good friend of mine. A real brilliant guy. The type of guy that you say to yourself once you get to know him “That guy has something special. He’s going somewhere.” For about ten years Bill worked at a large consulting firm and his career blossomed. But as he moved up the corporate ladder he began to get bored with his job. After some soul searching he decided to quit his job and start a new company. It was always his dream to build something from the ground up.

 

Today, just five years after launch, his company is a raging success. Each year sales are double or triple the previous year’s. At this moment his company has about 500 employees. Five hundred good paying, career orientated jobs added to the local community because Bill was not afraid to take a chance, work hard and follow his vision.

 

Six months ago Bill was diagnosed with a chronic health condition. If treated properly it is not life threatening, but the treatments are very expensive. Luckily he has health insurance, so with a weekly doctor visit he is able to continue living his life and building his company.

 

I asked Bill the other day if he would have taken the leap from the corporate world to become an entrepreneur now, knowing his current health condition. He didn’t answer right away but thought about it for a few minutes, in typical Bill style. Finally, he just said “No.” When I asked him why he said that he would not have left his job with a chronic condition without another job waiting for him with good health insurance. He would never be able to get a private policy with his pre-existing condition. Bill said it would have been way too much of a risk, a risk that would have put his health and the well being of his family at jeopardy. Sure, he could have used COBRA to extend his policy from his former employer, but COBRA only lasts eighteen months and for a person with a chronic condition that is not good enough of a safety net.

 

The more you read about this subject the more stories you hear about people who have pre-existing conditions staying with a safe job rather than making the entrepreneurial leap. I can not blame these people at all. But if we have universal health care that does not allow insurance companies to deny people with pre-existing conditions medical coverage then these entrepreneurs would be willing to strike out on their own and create something great like Bill did.

 

If Bill was diagnosed with his condition five years earlier then he would never have started his company, a company that has created 500 jobs and contributed millions of dollars in federal and state taxes. If for no other reason, we need universal health insurance coverage to help keep America’s entrepreneurial spirit alive.

Dust Bunny Cleaners: Entrepreneurs in a Weak Economy

Every once in a while the economy just sucks. People lose their jobs and everyone enters panic mode. There just isn’t enough money to go around. But the dark clouds of a recession have a silver lining. Something wonderful and beautiful always happens in a recession. The old dinosaur companies die off, but the young entrepreneurs tend to take their shot at the brass ring.

In Utah just this exact thing happened. A young man found himself unemployed and didn’t like it so he began to test and try and fight and struggle. Soon he had an idea, for a janitorial service business. He dreamed up Dust Bunny Cleaners. It was going to service mid-sized businesses.

 

The young man began to build up his business. The fees and licenses almost killed him. He didn’t know anything about janitorial work except for a brief 2 months of experience. And worst of all he didn’t know anything about business. That didn’t matter he just kept on going anyway.

 

Terrified that young man went out with a stack of business cards he personally made, and a handful of papers he jokingly called marketing materials. They were little more than brief descriptions of what he intended to do, if hired. He pounded the pavement and went to work promoting the fledgling start up. To his surprise he got one, two, three contracts, and it continued to grow.

 

Soon the company was profitable. The young man was in business and Dust Bunny Cleaners, became more efficient and a better service. Today, it is one of the best Janitorial Companies in West Jordan, Utah. And it continues its steady march to success.

 

Dust Bunny Cleaners continues to serve the West Jordan City area and is expanding its business. Each day that passes more and more companies are deciding to use them as their janitors. The business is growing. It is interesting to know that even in a down economy the American Spirit is still alive and capitalism continues. Dust Bunny Cleaners is still a young business but once upon a time, so was Ford, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola. It is a great business and they do excellent work. With a little bit of luck this business and all those new start-ups will help a slumping economy and create more jobs.

 

Anybody in the area that has any use for an office cleaner, or janitorial services should definitely check out this business. You can get hold of them by calling (801) 433-7834.

Do You Have What it Takes? The Seven Entrepreneur Success Sign

Do You Have What It Takes?:

The Seven Entrepreneur Success Signs

It’s in your blood. It’s your passion, your calling. You’ve had it with your day job, and this is your life, your career. You’re hungry to do your own thing.

 

But wait a minute…

 

Are you ready to make this commitment? What’s key is whether you have the right stuff to make a go of your dream. To tackle the business world on your own demands stamina, ingenuity, guts. Before you to take on the competition and become a titan of industry, I’ll advise you to scrutinize yourself with an objectivity only a few can muster.

 

Let’s see…

 

Can You Bring It?

 

Here are the seven prime elements for a hot self-starter. If your have them, your odyssey, your new life will become a real treat:

 

  1. An Obsession: Is your dream job a 24/7 fixation. I mean, if you had to do it for free, would you still burn with the passion? You must ask yourself if you’d still be as driven if the money, the lifestyle, the passion were missing. If you smile, sigh, and beam with satisfaction whenever you visualize or imagine doing your daily bliss, then you’re on the right track.

 

  1. A Plan: You must see the broad, general strokes clearly. A vision of your market potential is crucial. Do you have the first steps down cold? Do you have the people, capital, and resources to follow through? All of the “what if” scenarios must be addressed, every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. Your business plan should become your bible. Get it right and you’ll be off to a great start.

 

  1. Money: Speaking of capital, you must have ample financing to make it work. A financing strategy must be in place. Again, this is reflected in your business plan. Loans, grants, savings, venture capital, and family/friends are all sources. Explore your options. Don’t look down at anything. Most businesses, especially in the early days, are cash poor-until the receivables start pouring in. Statistics show that close to 84% of the businesses that fail, fail due to a lack of sufficient financing. Consult with bankers, venture capitalists, the Small Business Administration, and other professionals. Those resources are vital. Get the best advice and follow it!

 

  1. People: It goes without saying that you must insert the right people in the right places. You must find them and be able to afford them. A hot entrepreneur must motivate his/her employees. And it’s not always just about money. People need to feel that you can offer growth and a sense of purpose. Everyone wants to contribute and be recognized for their contributions.

 

Before you attempt to put your product/service on the market, ensure that you’ve sold your people on your vision. Otherwise you’ll waste time, effort, and money. Your company will never get off the ground unless your key employees are mentally, spiritually and physically compatible. They must feel your passion, breathe your air.

 

  1. Management: Early on, you should decide whether you’ll manage the daily operations of your enterprise or hire somebody to handle those mundane, yet critical tasks. This is central because your business will crumble without clear lines of responsibility and accountability. There are pros and cons on the issue of hiring management expertise. Most of them revolve around:trust, management style, image. In any case, you must devote yourself to the business of the business via marketing, revenue generation, and financial management. A solid business manager can relieve you of much of the daily grind, so you can handle your company’s growth.

 

  1. Flexibility: An embryonic enterprise should never lock itself into a tight script. Be prepared for change. If you’re managing appropriately, welcome it. Doors and new strategies may open for you. Understand that payments may not arrive on time, and people may arrive late or never show up. Contracts may not close and are often broken. People quit. Have a plan B ready at all times, ready for implementation. Don’t become sentimental. It’s about money-success-fulfillment. Have confidence and enjoy the process.

 

  1. Survival: How will you make until your customers and clients show you the money? That’s what every owner must grapple with. Give your product/service marketing and sales program a long lead time before income is expected. Just to be safe. Again, plan B. Can you pay the bills, feed your family, and run the business until the cash begins to flow. You’ll require employees who can afford to miss a paycheck or two, and are willing to sacrifice. If not, cash must be tucked away for those lean times. Are you a survivor?

 

Here’s hoping that you can get it done and live the dreams you dream.

Entrepreneurship and Dreams

Anyone who is an entrepreneur (current or aspiring) knows that passion and dedication are essential qualities to building a business. So is the ability to self-motivate. Nonetheless, hearing the stories of others can be incredibly inspiring and serve as a gentle reminder to look up from what you’re doing and stay connected to why you’re doing. Hearing Eric Lochtefeld speak at NYU on Tuesday night was one of those moments.

Eric is the founder and CEO of the University of Dreams, a company that provides professional development opportunities to college and high school students through internship placement and experiential learning. In listening to Eric speak, it’s clear that his mission in life is to encourage others to discover and pursue their dreams.

 

On his personal journey to building Dream Careers into the powerhouse it is today, Eric has gone from high to low and then back again. Several times, in fact. At various points in Eric’s career, he has worked with music legends such as Gwen Stefani and the Beastie Boys, slept on a warehouse floor, started multiple companies out of little but his own strong will and the ability to inspire others, experienced significant personal pain, and traveled the globe. He spoke to the students ‘” all interns in the program ‘” about the importance of following your dreams, and that as long as you do what you’re good at and what makes you happy, you’ll be successful.

 

We share Eric’s sentiment, as launching and building Urban Interns was truly our dream. Despite our own highs and lows, not a day goes by when we’re not proud to have chosen the path of the entrepreneur. We also share the view that internships are critical experiences for students and college grads, particularly those who aspire to one day work with or become entrepreneurs. The experience of learning from those who have taken an idea and from there built a business will not only give you a glimmer of what you might have to deal with yourself someday, but it will help you evaluate whether entrepreneurship is really right for you.

 

Another key point Eric touched on last night ‘” finding a mentor and the importance of maintaining personal relationships in our increasingly connected world. We can relate- there are several moments in our history where personal relationships opened doors that were game changers for us.

 

If this doesn’t make you want to run out and intern for an entrepreneur, how about this one? 75-percent of the Dream Career’s team started as participants in the Dream Career Program. Entrepreneurs value good people, and as organizations grow, so do the opportunities.

 

From two entrepreneurs living their dream, a heartfelt thanks Eric, for the inspiring words.

Kiva Connects Philanthropists with Budding Entrepreneurs

A unique Web site is bringing together aspiring philanthropists and budding entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Kiva, meaning “agreement” or “unity” in Swahili, is a non-profit, Web-based charity dedicated to microfinance, allowing private donors to provide small or “micro” loans to struggling entrepreneurs in the Third World. Since its launch in late 2005, Kiva has generated over $5 million in loans to those hoping to open or sustain small businesses in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

With most traditional charities, donors have little opportunity to follow the progress of their beneficiaries. Contributors to Kiva, however, can see how their money is used from the moment they invest, in addition to having the opportunity to reinvest their initial contribution as soon as it is repaid.

Applicants for the small loans are screened by Kiva’s local partners, existing microfinance organizations such as World Relief and Action Now. After approval by the local partner organization, a photo, business plan, estimated repayment time and some biographical information are posted on the Kiva site for each loan applicant. Visitors then browse the applications to select a recipient. Loan requests range from $400 to $1200, and although a donor can choose to fulfill the entire amount of an applicant’s loan request, donors usually invest from $25 to $125. Most individual loan requests are thus fulfilled by a number of donors.

 

Loans are distributed via Pay Pal, which does not charge Kiva for transferring funds; the first non-profit with which Pay Pal has made such an arrangement. Once an applicant’s loan request has been met, Kiva transfers the funds to one of its microfinance partners located in the recipient’s home country, which then disburses the funds, charging borrowers a reasonable rate of interest on their loans. According to Kiva’s FAQ section, the organization carefully screens its partners and does not work with those that charge usurious rates.

 

Microfinance is an expensive proposition for the lending institution, given transaction costs and currency exchange rates. Because there is little profit to be made in funding the poor, most traditional financial institutions do not make loans in the comparatively small amounts requested by Kiva’s applicants. Microfinance institutions, therefore, by lending money at reasonable rates to people with few existing resources, generally make just enough from their small fees to remain in business.

 

After disbursing the funds to borrowers, partner organizations provide Kiva with periodic progress reports that are then posted on the “journals” section of the site, along with comments from the loan recipients. Lenders are also encouraged to comment and to make their own journal entries. As the recipient’s business develops, the partner organization begins collecting payments, sometimes in amounts as low as $4, to return to Kiva. Once an individual loan is fully repaid, the money is redistributed to the original investors, who can then withdraw the money, or use the funds to invest in another small business.

 

Kiva’s entrepreneurs are a diverse group, representing countries from Ghana to Mexico to Azerbaijan. Their business ideas are even more varied, ranging from small food stalls and bicycle repair shops, to investment in a single payphone.

 

Loan requests are filled at varying rates, with some applicants reaching their goals within days of having their requests posted, while others wait for months as investments trickle in. African nations seem most popular with Kiva’s investors, along with Afghanistan and Mexico. Recipients in more obscure countries like Tajikistan and Azerbaijan see the slowest rates of investment.

 

Those interested in Kiva’s nontraditional investment methods should log on to www.kiva.org.

Disclosing the Secrets of Entrepreneurship

We have all experienced the anxiety of applying for employment, interviewing and inevitably proving yourself to be worthy of hire. We were all encouraged by guardians to go to college, get a traditional four year degree and “make something of ourselves.” Most of us worked our way through college dreaming every night about the big job that we are going to land after graduation. So when we finally obtain that degree, we get our first Direct Loan bill and we are employed by our initial jobs, fast food or waiting tables at restaurants. It had to be those horrific moments that helped us to appreciate the Blessing of a dream- seeking career.

Coincidently, we were raised observing our parents struggling everyday to maintain household expenses working for others. Therefore, we are apt to propel the tradition. So, the question remains the same. How long are we actually content with improving and implementing our skills as employees for minimum pay? Although promotions and raises are exciting and appear impressive on resumes, it is very uncommon for us to become CEOs of that cooperation. Incidentally, we are constantly fulfilling the employers’ expectations and goals. However, it is necessary to challenge the “norm” to build our economy and communities.

 

Entrepreneurship is defined as the act of launching or managing a business venture. The inclination of owning a business is often perplex as well as alarming to people who aren’t familiar with the concept. And to others who have contemplated the thought are apprehensive about resigning from full- time employment and job security. Yet, becoming an entrepreneur is inevitably rewarding and submissive to personal empowerment. Subsequently, we must seize opportunities that allow you to fulfill your personal dreams and visions. Fear does not have to rule our decisions we make or do not make. Bottom line, you only have one life to live!

 

Managing a business would be challenging and will require commitment and perseverance. Moreover, research confirms that the lack of a prominent mission statement and extensive preparation for entrepreneurship are the two (2) major determinants for failure. Therefore, it is important that if you elect to explore entrepreneurship, please be sure to establish what appeals to you and do plenty of research. You must have a passion for what you are selling, the business that you are attempting to establish. Don’t go into anything just for money value because there is a great chance that you will not be successful. You must have confidence and enthusiasm about your product and service. Be creative, and be sure that your product and service are in great demand. Considering a business plan will help you have an advantage over your competition. They are often required to assist entrepreneurs to think through their strategies, balance their enthusiasm with facts and recognize limitations. Marketing is certainly an imperative tool for exposure which is a major part of the business plan. It is recommended that you remember to set achievable goals for short-term success which, in my opinion would escort you to long- term inheritance.

 

Entrepreneurship Tips for Everyone

How do people come up with business ideas? There’s no single answer to this question. For some people, business ideas pop up while taking a shower. For others, it’s while walking. For still others, it’s while driving. The list goes on and on. Those types of situations usually generate new ideas. And as you know, great business ideas do not have to be new ideas. You can make a fortune out of just improving existing products. This article is about how to get inspirations by examining existing business ideas.

While the techniques I’ll outline apply to all types of industries, my primary focus is the Internet. A crucial part of online businesses is that you need to find a good niche. Why is this important? Well, let’s take myspace and facebook, for example. They are really 2 big social networking sites. You might be able to come up with a great feature for networking sites that will make you stand out – if you were to create a new networking site. But it’ll be only a matter of time before those major players integrate the feature into their sites. So your run will not be long – if in fact, it’ll even make it. In the light of this consideration, it makes sense to start looking into something that’s a little bit different from what those social networking sites offer. So what’s the effective way of doing that?

 

The first thing to think about is the underlying model or purpose of the existing product. Most business models follow a paradigm that usually has two components: a static framework or foundation and a dynamic target or audience. The static component refers to the “verb” used to talk about the business. That is, what the business does. The dynamic component refers to who finds the business useful. For example, Intel Corporation builds [computer] chips. They target personal computers. So I can have a company that builds chips for other electronic devices such as mp3 players, dvd players, etc. The idea is the same (build chips), but the target/audience varies (computers, mp3 players, dvd players). For social networking sites, it’s connecting people together – primarily to share trivial stuff. So the idea is to connect people using some sort of common ground. Well, what if we could use the idea of connecting people and top that with a very specific “ground”? That’s what LinkedIn.com did. They connect professionals.

 

Google set out to be the search engine for everything. Well, that certainly works. But what if we take the idea of “search engine” and apply it to some specific areas. Indeed.com did exactly that for jobs. They are a search engine for jobs. How time consuming can searching for jobs on various sites be? You go to all these job sites, fill out the same type of forms and clicking to go through the results! The founders of Indeed.com understood the paradigm we describe above and used it well.

 

So from now on, when looking at existing business ideas, you should ask yourself two essential questions:

1) what’s the foundation/framework of the business or what does it do?

2) who/what’s the target/audience?

 

Once you have clear answers to those two questions, you’ll be in a great position to determine how – if applicable – you can extend the business idea.

 

The second point I’d like to make deals with connecting multiple business ideas. You would agree with me that a car dealership is directly related to an auto insurance company. That is, I’ll certainly need auto insurance if I own a car. Thus, some business ideas just go together or converge to a common (well defined) point. If you are able to find that convergence point, then you can create a business out of it. And what makes it even better is that your business can be very viable/sustainable because business usually specialize in specific areas. In other words, the car dealership focuses primarily on selling cars – they are not into auto insurance. Likewise, the auto insurance company deals with insurance matters – no car selling. Let’s take another example. If I buy a new house, I’ll probably need some housing related services like tv, internet, cable, moving, etc. So it makes perfect sense for someone to create a connection point between a real estate agent and housing service providers. So right in there lies a viable business!

 

To sum it up, you can find business ideas using the following two methods: 1) use the static component and vary the dynamic target of an existing business and 2) create a connection point between directly related businesses. I hope you find these tips useful. If you are interested in the various web 2.0 projects, a good place to check out is feedmyapp.com. They have long lists of the different web 2.0 sites – new  amp; old. Look into the business ideas and try applying the techniques outlined in this article.

 

Good luck in your entrepreneurship endeavors.

employee

Reference Letter Policies: Giving A Reference For Former Employees

When checking references, its important to try and get as much information about the potential employee as possible. But when giving references for a former employee many entrepreneurs aren’t as eager to provide the same information. Here’s some information about why it is important to give a reference no matter what the former staff member’s history with the company was, as well as some procedures for every small business to follow to avoid legal ramifications.

How To Protect The Company When Writing A Letter Of Reference

When offering letters of reference or giving references over the phone, sharing a former employee’s negative experience can have serious legal and financial consequences. Yet keeping mum isn’t the answer either, as entrepreneurs have been taken to court for staying quiet on this very subject. Why? Because the former company didn’t disclose important information to the potential employer. Therefore, keep the following information in mind when writing a letter of reference:

  • Offer information in a letter of reference that only covers factual information that can be backed up.
  • Ensure the information provided is limited and offered only by someone who is trained in providing letters of reference, preferably a human resources specialist.

Suggested Company Procedures For Letters Of Reference

Avoiding legal issues before they start is something all entrepreneurs strive for, no matter how large the business is. Providing references is one of those activities that can be highly litigious, so keeping in mind some policies and procedures before offering up a recommendation is sound advice. To establish a legal defense, an employer would have to prove one of the following points. Keep these in mind when creating a company-wide policy for giving references.

 

  1. The alleged statement was not made. To avoid this type of legal debate, make it a company policy to only provide a letter of reference with no exceptions.
  2. What was shared regarding the former employee in the reference letter is true. If this is the case, it will need to be backed up with lots of documentation, such as employee evaluation forms and performance reports.
  3. Occasionally a former employee will feel that a reference was defamatory. To avoid this situation, use a sample reference template that only offers information that was clearly documented, and that covers the former employee’s job skills, not character.
  4. To prove that the former employee gave consent to the letter of reference, entrepreneurs must get the employee to sign a letter of consent to release any job related performance information to potential future employers. Another way around this situation is to draft a letter of reference before the employee leaves the company and have the staff member review it before they leave the company, as well as making exit interviews with all members of the organization mandatory.
  5. Sometimes the wrong person will provide a letter of reference to another employer, which can open up a huge can of legal worms for small businesses. To dispute this allegation, ensure that company policy is to have only one person write the letters of reference, and never deviate from this practice.

Please note that this article does not construe legal advice, and does not replace the work of a qualified lawyer. Contact a lawyer regarding the laws in your jurisdiction regarding letters of reference should there be any concerns.

Plan

Write a Business Plan: What to Include

Business plans need only be as big as what is required to run the business. Not all business plans are required to be a complete formal document suitable for submission to a financial institution or potential investors. Only develop and write a business plan which is suitable for the size of the company. A plan may be altered at any time, if or when circumstances change. Plans can start fairly simple and then be reconstructed as the new business grows and develops.

It is generally advisable to write a business plan before starting a new business. The planning process helps to get a clear understanding of the business, legal establishment and ways it may be developed. It is a way to help understand the purpose of the new business, marketing strategies and how to make potential profits. It is generally best to write a business plan in stages.

Sections to Include in Business Plans

A new business plan will generally have sections to cover different areas of the business. These generally include:

  • Executive Summary – An overview of the business plan to highlight key areas.
  • Company/Business Description – Describes the business, including legal establishment, history, purpose of the business and direction for the business.
  • Products / Services – Describes what the business will be selling or what services it will be providing.
  • Market and Industry Analysis – Provides analysis of current market and industry trends to establish the viability of a new business and projects the market share which the business may acquire.
  • Business Marketing Strategy and Implementation- Identifies the markets and methods to execute the marketing strategies. Includes projected sales budgets.
  • Operations and Management – Identifies how staff will be utilized, what systems will be in place, software which will be used and products or service development. Describes the management team and their responsibilities.
  • Financial Analysis – Includes any past available financial reports, projected profit and loss statements, cash flow tables and budgets.

It is also advisable to include a section for contingency plans. This section should identify potential risks to projected sales and marketing. Include strategies which may be implemented if these potential risks where to occur.

Business Planning – Where to Start

Preparing a business plan need not be developed in the above order, but started with Market and Industry Analysis. By identifying current market trends, customers’ needs, how to approach them, along with a general industry analysis may help determine how and when to start a new business. There needs to be a demand for a product or service before any profit can be made. This process helps to highlight opportunities, or lack of, that might otherwise not be obvious. Business marketing is a vital section to include in the plan.

Business plans need to be simple, specific, realistic and complete. A good plan will also require someone to follow up and check on it, to ensure all areas are being implemented. Developing a business plan helps to highlight the areas of strength and areas which will require the most attention. A business plan also helps determine if a new business is going to have a successful and profitable longer term outcome.

Vancouver Travel Tips and Tricks

Every city’s different, but with these handy travel tips about Vancouver, you’ll feel just like a local in no time. From dog owners to weather worriers, and on to those that just want to get the lay of the land before they arrive, this section tips will help get you ready for your very own adventure.

FAST FACTS

Population

Based on the 2011 Canadian Census, the population of the City of Vancouver is estimated to be 603,502. The Vancouver metropolitan region is home to an estimated total population of 2.3 million people, representing 52.3% of B.C.’s population of 4.4 million.

Languages

Federal government departments provide service in English and French, but most of the population speaks English as either a first or second language.

The City of Vancouver is quite cosmopolitan and is a mix of many multicultural groups. Because the city is multicultural, it’s also multilingual on an unofficial level. Its people speak many different languages and many follow the traditions of their native lands, sometimes moderating them with Canadian culture.

After English and Chinese, the most common mother tongue languages spoken are Punjabi, German, Italian, French, Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish. More than half of Vancouver’s school-age children have been raised speaking a language other than English.

Currency

We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency (the Canadian Dollar – CAD) when travelling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.

The Canadian Dollar is made up of 100 Canadian cents. Coins are in denominations of 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), $1 (loonie), and $2 (toonie).  Notes are in denominations $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1,000.

Note that Canada phased out use of the 1 cent (penny) coin in 2013. If you are paying cash, the total amount of your purchases will be rounded either up or down to the closest 5 cents. Credit card and debit card payments are not rounded. For more information, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website.

Taxation

Most purchases in British Columbia are subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as well as a federal 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with a few exceptions including liquor (10% PST) and accommodation (8% PST plus up to 3% hotel tax). Some goods such as food and restaurant meals, books and magazines, and children’s clothing are GST and/or PST exempt. For more information, visit the Province of British Columbia’s website.

Time Zone

Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. You can see Vancouver’s time in relation to most cities around the globe by visiting www.thetimenow.com, which is also home to a Canadian calendar with important dates.

Workdays

Vancouver, like all major cities, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In general, the standard work week is Monday to Friday, from roughly 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, but hours vary for each organization or business. Retailers are usually open seven days a week, and most stores are open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm each day, except on Thursday and Friday, when many stores are open until 9:00 pm. Some retail stores (e.g. some drug stores and grocery outlets), nearly every hotel and motel, and some restaurants, remain open around the clock.