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3 ways mentorship will change your business

I attended the most recent Microsoft Accelerate Your Business Conference in Toronto and had the privilege of meeting a variety of amazing women entrepreneurs at the event. And no wonder. A report from the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) shows that women have steadily increased their ownership of small businesses. In fact, the number of women-owned firms has grown 68 percent since 2007, compared with 47 percent for all businesses.

So, what holds women back?

A study conducted by the Ryerson University Brookfield Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship indicated that women in Ontario (my home province) feel a stronger fear of failure than their peers elsewhere in the world.

The study found 52.4 percent of female respondents in Ontario said fear of failure would prevent them from starting their own business. That’s well above the 40.7 percent of male respondents in the province and 47 percent of female in the rest of Canada.

The elephant in the room

At the conference, my fellow women and I talked about uncertainty and dealing with change. We shared our fears and feelings around what it REALLY means to own a business—which means living with uncertainty. Experience has taught me to not to fight uncertainty and change. Instead, we need to embrace it. As I talked to fellow business owners at this event we all expressed one critical way to get ahead.

Get out of your office and connect with other business owners on an emotional level, where honesty and vulnerability unite us.

One entrepreneur I met told me about how she was opening a new coworking space. Exhausted from working 12 hour days she decided that she had to put her work aside to connect with others, even if that meant going out when she felt tired. She didn’t even have time to dress up in her “polished corporate clothing.”

We judge less than you think

I shared with her that, in my opinion, we get caught up in a world of our own—certainly too busy to judge others as much as one would think. Another business owner shared her fears over the changing market. As a freelance writer, she worried about dwindling budgets for writers. We talked about ensuring that we kept the jobs coming in without devaluing our services. None of us judged each other for what the other was dealing with.

Women unite! #BeBoldForChange

Today, March 8, 2017 is International Women’s Day (IWD). We still have a long way to go and much work to do. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until the year 2186. 169 more years! That’s just too long! Around the world, IWD can act as an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender parity.

What you can do for women

Consider getting involved in a mentorship program! Whether you mentor or get mentored, you can connect and learn from women like you. The organization I founded—Women in Biz Network—introduced our own mentorship program which we see has had a transformative impact on women entrepreneurs.

How does mentorship help?

  • Improve your survival rate. “70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years, double the rate for non-mentored small businesses over that same period. There are few things in the business world that can double your chance of success, but having someone knowledgeable you can turn to for advice is one of them.” – INC magazine
  • Get and/or give great advice. Mentorship means your business is still yours. A mentor will provide strategic and tactical guidance, but you keep ownership. Unlike the advice and guidance you might get from a board or investors, a mentor is just there to help guide you along the right path, no strings attached!
  • Expand your network. Make new contacts to help you find investors, clients, co-founders, or contractors who provide valuable services. You’ll meet new people who can help spark ideas to help your business grow and prosper.


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#WIBN Member Offer: Buy Office 365 + Get $250 Bing Ad Credits


Office 365 is built for your business.
WIBN Members: 
Buy Office 365, get $250 Bing Ad Credits

It’s the Office you know, plus tools to help you work better together, so you can get more done — anytime, virtually anywhere.


Buy Office 365 + get $250 of free Bing Ads credits!





As a WIBN member, you know that advertising helps your small business grow. Subscribe to Office 365 today and reach your best customers with $250 in Bing Ads credits. This offer is available to new customers of Bing Ads only.

What is Bing Ads?

Start advertising your business today and reach new customers searching on Bing.

Bing Ads helps you reach customers with search engine marketing (SEM), also known as pay-per-click advertising (PPC). Here’s how it works:

  1. People search online for a product or service. They enter search terms (called keywords) into search engines like Bing.
  2. They find your ad.  If the keywords in your ad match a search, your ad appears next to or above search results on Bing.
  3. Customers reach out to you. You can configure your ad so people can call you, visit your website, or go right to your door.


Choose your Office 365 business plan below

Click on one of the “Buy now” links below to make your qualifying purchase or learn about more features. To qualify for this offer, you must use the specially-coded links on this page before you make the purchase.

Redeem your Bing Ads credits in just two steps

  1. Upon making your qualifying purchase, you will receive a 13-digit Order ID with your subscription
  2. Visit and enter your 13-digit Order ID to obtain your voucher

Terms & Conditions

Offer expires June 30, 2017. WIBN members are eligible to receive $250 CAD in Bing Ads credits when making a qualifying purchase of Office 365 by clicking on the “Buy now” links in the WBIN’s offer page. This offer is available to WIBN members only. Proof of membership may be required. This offer is available to new Bing Ads customers only. A new Bing Ads customer is one that has not advertised on Bing Ads before. This offer may not be combined with any other Office 365 or Bing Ads offer, promotional code coupon or discount, separated, redeemed for cash, transferred, sold, or bartered. This offer is valid only to residents of Canada. A Canadian billing address is required. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Limit one (1) promotion code per new Bing Ads customer. This offer is subject to the terms and conditions of Office 365 and Bing Ads. Other terms and conditions may apply



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Office 365 is the Office you know, when and where you need it via @msft_businessCA

Whether you’re working in your office or on the go, you get a familiar, top-of-the-line set of productivity tools. Office applications —always the latest versions—let you create, edit, and share from your PC/Mac or your iOS, Android™, or Windows device with anyone in real time.


Tools for the professional

Brand your business-class email address with your company name to build name recognition, and market your business with customized marketing materials that are easy to create. Connect better with customers and colleagues with a range of communication tools, from email to IM to video conferencing.

Tools for teamwork

With 1 TB of storage per user, you’ll have plenty of space for all your files. Plus, because your files are stored online, you can share with people in or outside your company, from wherever you’re working, whenever you need to.

Easy setup and management

With step-by-step guidance, you can set up users easily and start using the services fast. Best of all, Office 365 takes care of IT for you, so your services are always up and running and up to date.

For WIBN Members: Buy Office 365, get $250 of advertising from Bing Ads + 

As a WIBN member, you know that advertising helps your small business grow. Subscribe to Office 365 (Business Essentials, Business, or Business Premium) today and enjoy $250 of free Bing Ads credits with $250 in vouchers! WIBN members, click here for details.

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Marketing on a shoe string budget? Try these ideas with @msft_businessCA

If you’re struggling with the costs and complexity of marketing your business, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Forrester in 2013 suggested that over half of Canadian small businesses still have no website. That’s a shocker, given that an online presence is a modern business “must-have.” If you have the budget to do so, you can simply hire an ad agency to develop a plan and manage all of your marketing. But let’s assume that you’re doing-it-yourself, on a shoestring budget. What can be done? Here are some cheap and cheerful solutions to get your marketing going.

WIBN Member offer: Buy Office 365, get $100 of advertising from Bing Ads! 


Website work-around
If you’re not in a position to build or commission your own website, a popular work-around is to use social networks instead. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter cost nothing to use and allow your business to have an online profile, complete with contact information. You can also use these same platforms to connect with your customers and prospects. If you’re stumped on how to set up landing pages or network online, ask a savvy friend for help or search online for tutorials.

Cost-effective creative tools
Did you know that you can get full, up-to-date versions of Microsoft Office applications—such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher and OneNote—for under $20 per month? An Office 365 subscription will set you up with the latest creative and communication tools. Use PowerPoint for polished presentations and Publisher to design materials like flyers, postcards and business cards. Plus, Office 365 offers thousands of free templates online that you can customize easily.

Business-class email
Counting on consumer webmail for your business is risky. It’s “free,” but also often unreliable and unsecure. With an Office 365 Business or Business Premium subscription, Microsoft will host your email in the cloud securely and ensure 99.9% uptime. No fuss, no muss. Plus, you and your staff can share email, calendars, contacts and folders from any device, anywhere. Tip: When you do get your email set-up properly, add a nice email signature, complete with all your business contact details.

Connecting with customers
Do you have a hard time following up with or reaching out to people? Do you spend too much time on the phone or in email handling routine service requests? A customer relationship marketing (CRM) platform like Microsoft Dynamics CRM may be a smart investment. It’s a great way to automate your marketing, sales and customer care, providing your customers with a polished, professional communication experience and allowing you to focus on getting your work done.

Search advertising
Dollar-for-dollar, running your own text ads on search engines is probably the cheapest and best way to drive inquiries to your business. A platform like Bing Ads makes search advertising simple. You can write and manage your own ads. Ads are geo-targeted, so you only pay to reach audiences in the area you designate. There’s no start-up or minimum purchase required. And you only pay for clicks, which means you’ll see exactly where your ad dollars are going.

Remember: marketing really works! In fact, advertising is often why one competitor outpaces another, even when their products, services and prices are very similar. So just getting your name out there is going to help.

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@msft_businessca is on #Instagram – Are you? 5 Ways to Use Instagram for Business

MSFT Instagram Channel“No matter what your vision for the future is, we want to help you get there.” Instagram for Microsoft in Business Canada shows us our future is always changing – we need to be adaptable. We need to be nimble. Social media evolves and so do we. I love Instagram because it allows us a sneak-peak into the human side of the brands we love. Playing in the office, experiencing technology and capturing our lives through images is a powerful thing.

How can your brand use Instagram?

  1. Feature your events and your staff playfully
  2. Announce a special giveaway just for your Instagram followers
  3. Use a hashtag to tell a story through images
  4. Record short videos to personalize your brand
  5. Post stories about your customers through images

Follow their Instagram page for empowering, motivating and inspiring photos to help you achieve more in Business. Celebrate the beauty of productivity, collaboration, innovation and mobility with us!



How do you experience Instagram? We would love to know and will be sure to follow you! While you are at it, follow Microsoft in Business Canada and see how they are harnessing the power of Instagram.