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June 2019 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • Exciting Announcement from Wendy Ellen Inc.
  • Considering HR For Your Startup
  • Common Challenges Facing Startups
  • Quick Reference: Business Startup Checklist
  • Quick Reference: Do You Have A Well-Articulated Value Proposition?
  • Coach's Corner: A Question & Answer With Wendy Ellen Inc.'s Founder, Wendy Giuffre
June 2019
Volume 6, Number 6

Thanks for Joining Us!

It's June and summer is just about officially here! Sunny days and warm weather energizes everyone and offers a chance to get out of our daily routine. This month we decided to change up our routine in our newsletter and focus on startups, entrepreneurs, and new businesses. 

A quick snapshot of some Canadian statistics tell us that:

As of December 2017, the Canadian economy totaled 1.18 million employer businesses. Of these, 1.15 million (97.9 percent) were small businesses, 21,926 (1.9 percent) were medium-sized businesses and 2,939 (0.2 percent) were large businesses.*

On average, 47.8 percent of SMEs created in the goods-producing sector survived at least 10 years, compared with 42.9 percent in the service-producing sector.*

Between 2010 and 2015, the average number of SMEs created annually was 95,000 and the average number of businesses that disappeared annually was 85,000.*

Looking at the numbers, it's easy to see that startups and small businesses face a lot of challenges This month we offer some information detailing what those challenges are, how to resolve them, and how to consider the most important asset of all - your people. 

Keep reading for more learning!

*Source: Statistics Canada

Considering HR for Your Startup: It's More Than a "Side Project"

How should you think about HR for your startup? Itís about creating plans, policies, and processes that meet short-term needs and budgets while taking into account long-term risks and goals for your ďhuman resourcesĒ. Startups rarely have dedicated HR staff, but there are critical components that require addressing regardless of whether you have two or 200 employees:

Organizational design:  What type of structure will you use, traditional, matrix, flat? Who will report to whom? How will teams and sub-teams be structured?

Investing some time now in creating a design for your organization will provide a strong, clear organizational foundation upon which your business can grow.

Recruitment and onboarding: How are we going to find great new employees? How do we make sure theyíre set up for success?

You may not be hiring a lot of employees at first, but itís important to have an idea about how youíll post open positions, make hiring decisions, and onboard new employees. Even for the first employee you hire, there are critical elements and documents you need to have in place including: offer letter, legislated policy documents that you will want signed off by the employee, employee data for payroll purposes, relevant employment agreements such as confidentiality, non-compete, intellectual property, etc. 

Compensation and benefits: Whatís fair and realistic in terms of compensation? How should you decide what to offer?

The following needs to be in place:
  • General compensation philosophy and outline of your salary structure
  • System for managing and processing compensation and payroll
  • Decisions around paid time off policy for vacation, sick, and other leaves
  • Health, Wellness and maybe retirement benefits, or a plan to make them available at some point in the future

Employee relations: How will you gauge if your employees are happy? Who represents their interests?

With all the excitement of launching your business, you may not be able to imagine a day when an employee comes to you with a concern; unfortunately, it will happen. Make sure that from the first day you have:
  • A employee handbook outlining basic operating policies and practices
  • A method in place for gathering feedback or complaints
  • A plan for how youíll address issues if they arise
Don't forget legislated policies, for example you must have a policy and a process in place for workplace harassment complaints.

Compliance, health, and safety: These sound intimidating, and thatís because theyíre important! How to make sure youíre all safe, legally and physically.

Fair employment practices and a safe, healthy workplace are all critical elements of employee productivity. As an employer, you are subject to federal and provincial regulations related to compliance, health, and safety. Employment policies not only help protect a startup in the event of potential litigation, they also establish a precedent and understanding among your employees about what behavior will and wonít be accepted. 

Training, development, and employee feedback process: As employees progress through their career with you, are they growing and developing at the right pace, for both their personal goals and the goals of the company?

By your first anniversary of being in business, you should have a employee goal setting and feedback method in place so that you can provide employees with a forum to discuss successes and let downs. To facilitate employee growth, and consistent improvement for your business, itís also important to make a commitment to establishing a plan for employee training and development. It doesnít need to be expensive or all that elaborate; but if you wait too long, you risk losing employees who are focused on increasing their skills and developing their careers.

Adapted from

Common Challenges Facing Startups

Product and Its Market
One of the biggest challenges for every business is to find a market fit and create a product that will be demanded on this market. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs create products no one wants.

The first and most common type of challenge is to gather the money to launch a startup and keep it running. Capital is essential for hiring staff, getting an office space, development of a product, and for marketing as well.

Cash Flow Management and Finances
Cash flow is among the topmost reasons why startups wane into oblivion. It is really a daunting challenge to fund your own business as you have to spend money to make money.

Before you approach your potential funders make sure you have a detailed plan and a defining element of assurance of ROI. You need a brilliant pitch, great customer traction, and flawless processes, in order to get funded. Bootstrapping - the practice of self-financing or using your own savings - on the other hand, is a challenge difficult to overcome, but it saves you from over-dependency on investors.

Finding the right talent
As a growing startup, you need people who can wear multiple hats and are willing to work together with synergy and teamwork in a team - and of course, have the right skills and abilities required.

Hiring and Retaining Right People
Hiring right employees that fit in your culture is very important in getting a head start. According to Pew Research, 40% of your employees will likely to change their jobs within a yearís time. So you need to make necessary arrangements to retain them.

Lack of planning and visualizing
It is surprising how lightly people take planning and forget to cover important things like budget, resources, and potential risks as a part of their business plan. As a result, they falter and fail.

Time management
Even 24 hours in a day arenít always enough when you are working or leading a startup as there are always clients to be called, meetings to be arranged, and decisions to be taken.

Protecting Business Data
Employing data protection and security measures is a significant challenge you have to overcome. Damages due to cybercrimes are increasing significantly, while more than a third of attacks globally are aimed at small businesses and the number of hackers is growing daily.

As a growing entrepreneur, you need to deal with your competitors both head-on and logically otherwise you'll just remain behind. For that, you need to have a fair idea where your competitors are, where they are going, and how fast they are going to get there. 

Winning the trust of customers
For any business, the ultimate challenge is to strike a chord with its target audience and win their trust. If you wish to cement your position in the marketplace, it is absolutely essential to have a highly satisfied and loyal customer base.

Quick Reference: Business Startup Checklist

You've decided to take the plunge and launch your own startup. You know youíre going to have to work hard, and you're willing to commit to working on it at all hours of the day. But without a solid plan and a thorough understanding of all the moving elements involved, all the commitment in the world won't help you succeed. Can you confidently answer YES to the following questions?

1. Do you have a good business idea?
A good business idea isnít just one that turns a profit. Itís one thatís a good fit for you personally, for your target market, and for your location. Youíre going to be in business for the long haul, so you really should pick something you can live and breathe.

2. Have you tested your business idea and done your market research?
The adage goes, ďideas are a dime a dozenĒóbut what about good ideas? How do you really know youíve hit upon something thatís going to work on all levels?

3. Are you going to be seeking funding? And if so, have you created a formal business plan?
While you donít need a 40-page business plan in order to get your business up and running, if youíre seeking funding, institutions like banks may ask for one.

4. Have you created a strong brand for your business?
A strong brand is the key to customer recognition, loyalty and higher sales. If you think itís just for big business, think again; a brand is critical for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

5. Have you complied with all the legal requirements?
Before you can open shop and comfortably start doing business, youíve got to make sure youíve checked all the necessary boxes. Have you registered your business name? Applied for local and provincial licenses? Acquired a GST number? Opened a business bank account? 

6. Have you confirmed financing if you need it?
While not every startup needs outside funding, most businesses do require some help, at least at the beginning. If youíve worked through your business plan and have a sound handle on your financials, pitching for funding should be a breeze, whether itís to a banker, an investor, or your family.

7. Do you understand that "setting up shop" is more than a storefront?
Once youíve found your business location, going at it online, or set up an office, there are a series of critical elements to complete: setting the hiring motions in process, defining staffing needs, interviewing and hiring staff, determining compensation and benefits, purchasing insurance, and setting up technology.

8. Do you know how you will market and launch your business?
Itís time to start getting people hyped up about your opening day. This is your opportunity to get things going with a bang! Social media is the go to marketing tool.  Have you got your social media strategy and calendar in place, posts ready to go? Spread the word and if your brand and story are good others will too.
Source: Candice Landau,

Quick Reference: Do You Have A Well-Articulated Value Proposition?

Understanding and clearly articulating a value proposition sets the stage for success. Your value proposition should sum up your companyís differentiators and reinforce the spirit of your brand. A compelling value proposition serves to direct your organizationís marketing, branding and strategy-building efforts in ways that distinguish the business and justify the premiums it desires. It should address and answer the following:
  • What are specific benefits customers can expect from your products/services?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How do your products/services solve problems/improve situations?
  • Why should customers do business with you over your competitors?
Click on the image below to see a larger version

Coach's Corner:
A Question & Answer Session With
Wendy Giuffre

This month, we're presenting a Question & Answer session with our founder, Wendy Giuffre, to gain insight into her journey as a successful entreprenuer.

Q: Why did you decide to launch Wendy Ellen Inc?
A: I launched Wendy Ellen Inc. in 2005 because I realized the need for HR expertise in the small to mid-size business market.

Q: Considering all the challenges that face startups and entrepreneurs, what would you consider your greatest challenges?
A: Growth.  I realized that I couldn't do it alone and once I started adding great consultants I had the time and capacity to focus on growth.

Q: How has your company grown in terms of the products/services it offers? In other words, how has Wendy Ellen Inc. "scaled up" in volume?
A: WEI started mainly working on group benefits, policy and employee relations.  Since adding very competent consultants and focused learning we have expanded to become a full circle HR firm.

Q: When did you realize you actually had to hire more people? How did your company grow from one person - you - all these additional people?
A: When I realized I was running on a hamster wheel and in order to grow I had to get off and start bringing in good people to  work with and expand our service capabilities. We are now at 11 consultants with individual expertise.

Q: We always hear about the value of mentors. Did you have a mentor when you started? Do you provide mentorship to others?
A: I didn't really which is unfortunate. I have many now thanks to great client relationships and key colleagues.  One of my favourite things to do when working with clients is to mentor their junior HR person to the point where I'm rarely needed.  That is success.

Q: How do you think social media has influenced or affected your business model?
A: I've always been active on LinkedIn which is a great tool and we've just launched  Wendy Ellen Inc.'s  Instagram  @wendyelleninc so I hope to bring a new awareness to our company and reach a diverse audience through both platforms.

Q: What are your top three pieces of advice for entrepreneurs who want to start a new business?
A: Plan well, hire well and love what you do
Successfully launching a startup requires numerous, critical steps.

Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for assistance today!
About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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