Author: admin

The Village Hive, located in the beautiful Olde School House in Markham Village, is joining the coworking movement in January 2016! It will be a welcoming place for entrepreneurs, freelancers, people with workplace flexibility to come together for networking, collaboration and health & wellness. People work better together. Bring your laptop, work for the day, enjoy free coffee/tea & great company and join one of our many workshops that will be offered. We are so excited to welcome new members! More details on membership options will be coming soon. We believe in work-life flow.

What You Need to Know About Claiming Charitable Donations on your Tax Return!

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member, Niina Felushko.

What You Need to Know About Claiming Charitable Donations on your Tax Return!

Giving to charity can give you that warm feeling knowing that you’ve helped out an organization in need of funds to support their cause, but many still have questions when it comes to claiming their donations on their income tax return. Here’s what you need to know!

a) First step is to determine the eligible amount of your charitable donation & ensure you have an official receipt with name of the organization, date, amount & charitable ID number. Charity lotteries are not eligible donations for tax purposes.

b) In any one year, you may choose to claim donations made by December 31st of the applicable tax year, any unclaimed donations made in the past 5 years and any donations made by a spouse or common law partner in the taxation year or previous 5 years. If you donate a small amount each year, it may be more beneficial to save them up for 5 years and claim at the same time.

c) You can claim eligible amounts of gifts to a limit of 75% of your net income. You may be able to claim up to 100% of net income if it was a gift of certified cultural property or ecologically sensitive land.

d) So how much is the non refundable donation tax credit? You receive 15% on the first $200 and 29% on amounts over $200. This is why many will choose to save up their donation receipts and/or combine with their spouses to receive the maximum tax credit.

e) First time making a donation? Ask your tax professional if you are eligible to claim the Super-Donor Credit which is an additional 25% non refundable credit for those who have not made a claim, nor has a spouse or common-law partner who has made a claim for charitable donations since 2007. It can only be claimed for donations of money, up to $1,000. Either spouse can make the claim, or it can be split. The super donor credit can only be claimed once and will only be available until 2017, so don’t miss out if you’re eligible.

So as we approach the holiday season and year end, think about making a donation to a registered charity of your choice. Whether you are a first time donor or give annually, together, we can make the world a better place.


Still need help? Have questions? Contact me for a consultation.

Niina Felushko
President / Insightful Financial Connections Inc.

Network Marketing- The Stigma and the Solution

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member, Andrea Accinelli

Network Marketing

The Stigma and the Solution

“Well, that sounds like a pyramid scheme.”

“You only make money if you’re at the top – no thanks.”

“It’s a scam. Those businesses never work.”

“When are you going to get a real job?”

If you have ever had a home-based business with a Network Marketing company, at some point you have heard people carry on with these myths when you’ve talked about it. NWM continues to have a stigma attached to it, although fortunately that stigma is fading some as more and more people join. When it persists though, it can be one of the most frustrating conversations that a NWM professional has. It’s difficult not to let your defenses rise, and speaking of it can raise your voice to a level of sheer fury if you let it.

To understand the stigma, it is important to understand why it happened in the first place. Although the Network Marketing industry has no formal history, it is believed that the California Vitamin Company (later named Nutralite), which sold food supplements, started it all. The concept of Network selling seems to have emerged accidently when the Distributors discovered that they were generating more sales for the Company by referring their friends and known people to the business opportunity available with Nutralite. At that point, there was no reward system for the distributors for the referrals that they made that resulted in sales for the company. Finally, it occurred to the company and the Distributors that the system of paying a percentage bonus on the sales that were achieved by the Distributor and the network that he sponsored or built was introduced. And thus, Network Marketing was born.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well of course it does! What could possibly go wrong with a company rewarding people for generating sales? Enter the bad guys.

Circa 1986, someone sent me a “chain letter” telling me to send $1 to the five people ahead of me on a list that was provided, then add my own name to the bottom of the list, and then I would receive a pile of cash in the mail. Yes, of course I did it! Did I receive riches in the mail later? No. Did I receive anything at all in the mail? Of course not! This is a teenage version of what is commonly known as. “The Pyramid Scheme.”

Pyramid schemes are illegal businesses that have, unfortunately, adopted a similar format to a legitimate network marketing company. People get the two confused all the time. Let’s say that Alice is involved in a pyramid scheme, and Lydia is with a network marketing business. Alice is paid for recruiting more people into the scheme, who are charged a large fee for entry. Alice, and everyone above her in the line, gets a percentage of that entry fee. The more people Alice brings in, the more money she and everyone above her makes. There is no product or service involved, just an exchange of money. Lydia sells jewellery. She sells a necklace for $100, and she gets $30 commission for the sale of the necklace. All she has to do is enter the sale on her company’s website, and the company sends the necklace to her customer. Following that, Kimberley, who recruited Lydia, will also get a percentage of the sale of the necklace, and possibly others above her. Perfectly fine anyway you look at it. However, the similarity between the two transactions are there, and are easily confused. That is where we, as Network Marketing Professionals, have to get into action. We have to educate people, and sometimes it is really hard. So how do we do it? Surely the fact that a company like Avon, for example, has been around for decades and has generated billions of dollars in sales and operated in dozens of countries might be a clue. Facts like that don’t seem to be enough when discussing your business at the table with family members at Thanksgiving and they think you’re part of a scam.

Here are some tips to help deal with some of the negativity:

A quote from Eric Worre, an industry expert and one of its most sought after trainers: “Remember, our goal is education and understanding. It’s not to win an argument. Our job is to help blind people see. When someone brings up a negative question or if they offer you an objection, all they are really doing is helping you to identify one of their blind spots.”   To paraphrase Worre, people who object to network marketing always have a reason, and one of those reasons might be a bad experience that they personally had with another company – yes, this can be true. Perhaps they joined a less than desirable company and had piles of unmovable product stacked in their basement. Get their story from them! Have them talk about it and sympathize. Not every network marketing company is a good one. Just like every corporate company is not good. There is good and bad in everything, and hopefully pointing this out in a non-obnoxious way can help. Keep in mind that while their facts may not be accurate, their feelings are legitimate, so you must respect that.

When someone asks if this is a “pyramid scheme”, that one is easy to deal with. Ask them what they mean by pyramid scheme. Most of the time they don’t even know what it really means. Once you’ve cleared up the meaning, you can explain that pyramid schemes are illegal and are shut down.

Imagine you’re at the dinner table at a family gathering and Uncle Howard says, “Are you STILL doing that? When are you going to get a real job?” My friend and colleague Deb Gagnier responds this way, “What’s a real job? Everyone has a different value. Compared to what – how is direct selling not a real job?” Once you start asking them questions, people will engage in a conversation. Don’t lose your cool and just keep asking questions.

My own piece of advice to leave you with: anyone who is repeatedly giving you a hard time about your job, your income, or your life is not paying your bills. Make your vision and desire for success larger than the effect that the haters’ opinions have on you. Keep in mind that Network Marketing is not for everyone and that not every person is meant for your team or company. The best way to change anyone’s mind about this is your own success. Don’t allow anyone else opinion get in your way of making your dreams come true. And when they do come true, the skeptics’ eyes tend to open.

Is it time for a reality check?

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member, Corey McCusker.
Is it time for a reality check?

Do you believe that if you achieve certain things you’ll be happier or if you don’t you’ve failed?

Do you ever assume that you know what others are thinking?

Do you ever automatically judge others or want to change their ways to be more like you?

Do you perceive things a certain way and then find out how different they really are?

When you assume that you know what’s in another person’s head or what is going on with an event you’re making a big mistake. When you think your way is the right way recognize it may not be. Let me explain why.

Each person has their own values and beliefs about the world then judge and make assumptions accordingly. These develop over their lifetime through their experiences and what they have been taught. It’s like an evaluation filter system and encoded in the brain. A person sees the world each day through their eyes, filter the information and create an internal representation of what THEY THINK is going on. That is their reality, what they believe to be true.

Consider your sense of “reality” is determined every single second by how you choose to filter and process the information presented. You narrow your perspective based on your inner make up which consist of memories, values, attitudes and beliefs. This is why your interpretation may be different than that of your partner, your spouse, your parents, your children, your co-workers, your teammates or coaches, etc. as they all have different realities.

You make the choice on what to notice, see, hear, feel, etc. You can choose to focus on solutions, the good or you can focus on the problems, the defective and get stuck.  Recognize that everything outside of you is simply a reflect-i-on of your inner world. So what you project is based on what you are made up of and if the outcomes you are having don’t jive it’s time for a reality check.

You may be wondering, how do you stop projecting? Well, I’ve got some news for you: you never stop. You now may think, so what’s the point? You need to be aware of what you are projecting and be clear on your reality. Reflect on why you have certain attitude and beliefs.  Why is it important to you for things to be a certain way?  Was that your upbringing or did certain things happen that impacted what you belief? Maybe it’s time to let go of what you hold on to or to clean the slate and create a new reality if you are feeling stuck or held back.

The next time, you find yourself critical of others, judgmental or stuck and confused take a moment and ask yourself these questions:

  • What triggered inside of me to cause me to perceive this aspect or situation this way?
  • Do these beliefs and attitudes help me or hurt me?
  • Is there a part of me that I need to recognize that is being reflected in what I see in others that affects me?
  • What else is possible?
  • How can I look at this as an observer to see it in a different perspective?
  • What can I learn from this that helps me to move forward and release judgment or negativity? ???????

If you need an adjustment or a reality check you can make a change. Having the right mindset and a clear perspective takes time if it’s been clouded.

When you realize your perception isn’t always the reality you want you can change it. Awareness is the start so when you are triggered that is your sign to reflect. Determine what it is you want to be clear and focus on that. Recognize your values, beliefs and how they were set. When you feel the urge to change other people’s behavior, then it would seem that the most sensible place would be to focus inward and start changing yourself.

If it’s time for a reality check and you need some guidance in making changes contact Corey, Mental Performance Coach for a complimentary mental mastery session.


Looking for additional support or have questions please contact me or call me at 416-508-0018 to discuss how I can help!

Networking Events For Beginners

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Wordsmith, Mirlo Liendo

So you’ve started your own business, or maybe this is an old gig but you’re looking to increase your network. Because increasing that network is the new print marketing, the new way to build your business efficiently and more importantly, personally.


Networking is a great option from a monetary standpoint. They are often inexpensive (or free) but it can be more expensive from a comfort standpoint.


Let me explain.


For extroverts, it’s a perfect way to show off your charisma, meet new people, and leverage your strengths socially in order to generate more business. We all know one of these people, the walk into a room full of strangers and know five (5) new people within the first 20 minutes. The warm, friendly, charismatic person who loves to buzz around the room smiling and talking to everyone.


Then there are the equally as skilled in business, but not in a room full of people they don’t know, kind of people. The people whose anxiety starts to build with the thought of having to introduce themselves, and ultimately their business to people they have never seen before. The ones who begin overthinking before they hit the purchase button on the eventbrite link for tickets, the one pleading with a friend to come as a wingman/wingwoman.


As someone who has attended hundreds of networking events over the years, I have developed a list to help you through the first few, something that will make your experience less painful, less about how you feel, and more about how to connect with others.


Ultimately, how to build your network, remain memorable and generate new leads for your business.


  1. Don’t overthink this with hypothetical situations or interactions, if you get too caught up in your thoughts, your pitch, or what you are wearing, you’ll defeat yourself before you even get there.


A pep talk if you need one is perfect. Remind yourself why you started your business, dig into the passion that keeps you grounded, and know that no one will be able to express this like you can. Just as you have met that one or two people you were excited to have met, those ones so passionate that you couldn’t help but leave knowing one day you’ll want to use their services or purchase their products; be that person to someone else.


  1. You can have a pitch, but please don’t use it. Think about it, when was the last time you were pitched a product and loved that someone pitched you? Can’t think of it? Good, it doesn’t exist. A pitch is a good thing to have in your head, it keeps a clear line in the sand on how to not over explain, but don’t ever use it.

Now that we have the pre-event over with, let’s move on to the actual deed.


Relax. You are not the only one there who is nervous. The calmer you are, the more approachable you will be. Energy doesn’t lie. If you are super nervous, other people will pick up on it and avoid you, which defeats the whole purpose here. There will always be the more intuitive people who will approach you because they can tell you’re nervous and they’ll want to help you warm up, but at that point you’ve made an important first impression faux pas for everyone else.


  1. Make eye contact and smile, which can only be done if you ARE NOT ON YOUR PHONE. Leave your phone in your pocket or purse until you are ready to add someone to your social media, or take down their phone number.


Yes, adding people to your social media is important, and what works even better is to open the page and allow them to enter their own information to avoid misspelling of names, or missing them altogether because their profile picture is a tree, or a sunset and they have a common name (which we will get into another time).


  1. Do NOT talk about yourself until you have taken the time to get to know the person. This should never be a desperate plea to sell your services. Networking is about meeting new people, like we did when we were kids in the playground. Ask someone if this is their first time to this particular event, ask them about what they do, and REMEMBER it.


Relate to them if you can, ask questions about things that they may be able to offer you information on. Then go from there, they will naturally ask you about you. Be honest, and warm, and friendly. You are making a first impression. And when and if you get a point where you talk about what you do, say it with sincerity and enthusiasm.


What do you have to offer? How can you solve a problem for them? And if you can’t, that’s OK!


At the very least you’ve connected with a new person.


Now it’s time to move on to the next person, with time being limited, you shouldn’t spend more than 5 minutes with one person. Less if they identify a need that someone else you have just met can solve that for them, yes, refer them to that someone else! Make an introduction.


You see, networking for your business should be painless. Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be tricky, but that’s where all the magic happens, and if you want to be a successful business owner, you’ll need this sort of magic.


People do business with people they are comfortable with, people who are confident, or at the very least, competent. There will be events and opportunities that don’t end up the way you would have liked, these too are learning experiences.


You’ll learn more about yourself, about demographics that work best in relation to your products or services, you’ll learn about how you can reach out to other business owners for support or direction, and how sometimes you can’t.


But most of all, you’ll be building that foundation of familiarity, ultimately you want to be as common as a household name. Your goal is to be remembered, so much so, that they are comfortable making a referral to you.


The end result – networking can be the opportunity to showcase what you offer while meeting a need, offering a solution or filling that void, for a customer.

Entrepreneurs and Crabs in a Bucket

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Liz Scott of Affinity Coach Consulting


Let’s face it, being an Entrepreneur can be tough enough as it is, but have you ever noticed that there is always someone around to tell you why you shouldn’t run your own business in the first place? We all want to be successful… at our careers, in our families, in our relationships… and often, we try everything to achieve that success.

Sometimes it is those who are closest to us who are actively trying to squash our dream. It could be a spouse, a parent, your children, your best friend or all of the above. Really, it sometimes seems the nay-saying never stops. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself WHY these folks are trying to bring you down? Why they are not supporting your brilliant business idea or vision? Well let me tell you the story of the “crabs in a bucket.”

Here’s how the story goes. Once there was a young man on a beach, watching people catch crabs. A young man put a crab in a bucket, with a tiny bit of water on the bottom. The crab promptly scurried out of the bucket and jumped back into the ocean.

He caught another crab and put that crab in a bucket… and the same thing happened. It escaped and happily returned to the ocean. A wise old fisherman came up to the boy and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

A wide smile crossed his weathered, bearded face and he said, “Son, you have to put two crabs in a bucket… that way… when one tries to get out… the other will pull him back in. Then, you won’t have to worry. They’ll keep each other in that bucket. They’ll be trapped, without you having to do anything else.”

The boy thought that was crazy. Then he did it. He caught one crab and then another and then another. He put the first crab in a bucket, and then quickly put in the second and third and fourth crab. He was amazed: when the first crab tried to get out, all the other crabs pulled him back in. And when the second crab tried to get out… the first one pulled him back in.

Why is it that so many people want to pull us down when we start our businesses? Perhaps it is because we are living our vision and by doing so we make others look afraid. Is it because we are trying to make a difference in the world and not just go along with the status quo? Perhaps they don’t want us to be happy or successful or get further ahead than they are. Or maybe they are genuinely concerned that we will be an epic failure. But honestly, isn’t it better to try and fail than to not try at all?  Maybe I say this because I, like you, am an entrepreneur. No one knows for sure why people respond this way when we talk about our dream business, but trust me, the crab in the bucket evidence is alive and well in the entrepreneurial world.

So stay focused on your vision and stay OUT of the bucket. Surround yourself with people who believe and support you and your business ideas, and let them lift you up to the level of success you know that you can achieve!

Getting Past “It’s Not Me; It’s You”

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Maricke Emanoidilis

“It’s not me; it’s you.”

I admit, I think this a lot. Hopefully less than I used to, but I still think it. For example, when the lady in the grocery store check-out line decides it’s a good time to chat with the cashier about all things mundane as I tap my foot impatiently, throwing death stares and desperately texting friends hoping to catch someone who can let my kids know I am on my way and haven’t forgotten about them.

At these moments, it seems like all the ding-dings out there in the world are set loose only to irritate and frustrate me to no end.

My rational brain knows that 3:15pm probably isn’t the best time to nip into Longo’s for bananas and almond milk, and that mostly what is irritating to me is that twenty years into adulthood I still plan my time poorly, get defensive when my intelligence is questioned (like most people, I pride myself on almost always being right), and—here’s the doozy—blame others.  You’d think as a life coach I would have this all figured out by now…

Maybe knowing this about me will cause you to hire another life coach. Be my guest. But if they tell you they’ve perfected the art of expressing only appropriate human emotions, I’d suggest they may be the ones in need of coaching (as some famous and certainly wise person once said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”). I could be wrong (even though I’m pretty sure I’m not—see point made above).

The Blame Game

Kids are the best and purest example of the blame game. My son Owen, at just seven, has gotten into this Parkour phenomenon. (Google Parkour. It’s pretty cool. Even better, google Parkour gone wrong.) The other day as he’s Parkouring through our forest, leaping from tree to tree, scrawny limbs flying, tumbling down muddy hills, he, of course, gets hurt. A big scratch across his stomach from a protruding tree branch (because they tend to protrude). Recently inducted into the Earth Rangers and a vigilant protector of all things earthly he denounces his association and declares “I Hate Nature!” So you see, I come full circle. My irritation at the woman jib jabbing to the cashier at Longo’s.  Owen blaming nature for his own recklessness (but seriously if you watch those videos you’ll see he actually got off pretty easy: I shudder to think how he will react when he sustains a more serious injury).

The best part is that I bet you’re reading this and thinking of this one person you know who does this all the time and how it drives you crazy and that you might even forward them this blog post so they can finally see the error of their ways, ‘cause god knows you’ve been trying to tell them this for years.

That is what is so interesting about this topic: we think only other people behave this way. I’ve actually heard people say “You don’t get it! X is really an ass/doesn’t have a clue/makes my life difficult/wears pink and red at the same time!”

So maybe you’re ready to concede that maybe, just that once, you blamed someone. I know, it sucks to admit that you’re human. But like I suggested in the opening, we all do it. Even me, and I’m a life coach. So I wish it was as easy as Bob Newhart’s advice in the Saturday Night Live skit (spoiler alert) “Stop It.” But it’s not.

So you know that consciousness thing that everyone is on about? I mean embracing…? It is so hot I was even told to change my coaching practice to focus on Conscious Leadership because “that’s all the rage right now.” Anyways, the practice of becoming more conscious and aware is just that. It’s a practice. Meaning we practice it every day and sometimes several times a day, like brushing your teeth or meditating. You can practice consciousness as it relates to anything that is or isn’t working in your life. Like blame (which I would suggest isn’t working for you). Blame is laden with judgement. Judgement usually about what someone is or isn’t doing and as it relates to how you would or wouldn’t do something. Usually, as is the case of the tree’s vicious attack on my son, the tree did it on purpose when Owen was just trying to have fun and not bothering the tree in the least.

So why do we behave this way? We blame others in order to avoid suffering unintended consequences largely brought on by ourselves. We tell ourselves it’s not me; it’s you.

A furiously angry and frustrated woman driving grimaces, leaning out of the wndow an d pointing in a bout of road rage!

Stopping the Blame Game

So, how do we stop?

  1. Create Awareness. First step is admitting you have a problem (yes, it’s not just for AA).  Where blame is concerned this is really hard to do because we’re so good at calling it anything other than blame. In the moment, we feel so justified and self-righteous in our finger pointing.  We blame because it lets us off the hook and allows us to justify our actions. We get to avoid the pain and discomfort that comes when we own up to our less than stellar behaviour and choices. The best suggestion I have is just accept that you do it, probably a lot, and when you find yourself feeling triggered (i.e., frustrated, annoyed, angry and pointing fingers), notice it. Ask yourself “what is really going on here?” If your husband didn’t buy you flowers for your anniversary and never has, and your instinct is to blame him for a loveless marriage, ask yourself, how does blaming him let you off the hook? What are you avoiding by blaming someone else?


  1. Take Responsibility. Stop letting yourself off the hook. Before you write your husband off as clueless, consider what else could be getting in the way of him expressing his love. Maybe he’s stressed at work/doesn’t think you like him much/doesn’t know what you want/is really clueless but is happy to get some guidance. Don’t be so quick to interpret and judge others’ behaviour. Especially if a particular interpretation makes you feel shitty. Choose the one that makes you feel good! I.e., your husband shows his love by getting the oil changed and lifting his legs up so you can maneuver the vacuum underneath the table.


  1. Use Your Words. We hammer this into our kids from the moment they utter their first word but fail at following this simple mantra so profoundly as adults. Using your words doesn’t mean unleashing and spewing your brand of “honesty” every chance you get. It doesn’t mean pointing fingers (more blaming), manipulating, interrogating or intimidating. It means being open and vulnerable to really sharing how you feel and how you are being triggered, and being honest about where you are laying the blame (even though you know by now that blame is really a form of collusion employed by egos everywhere). When blame runs deep, as it often does within our family of origin and between spouses, this is vital to reconciliation.


  1. Be Willing to Be Wrong. This is hard. At least for me. When you feel like you are holding on to blame and just can’t let it go, ask yourself this: what am I holding onto and why? What would I lose if I allowed myself to see what I don’t want to see? And more importantly, what would I gain? Keep in mind that blame is a judgement and judgements are based on our own assumptions and interpretations, and not based in reality for anyone else but you.


Blame is about you and nobody else. Look at where you tend to lay blame and patterns will more than likely emerge. Personally, I tend to blame people who I feel expect too much from me: they’re the ones who think I’d even have the time to do one more thing, so when I don’t get it done, it’s their fault, not mine.

I’d like to throw down the gauntlet and issue a friendly challenge. Think about someone you are blaming. Work through each of the above steps and move towards reconciliation. I promise, you will like yourself and even the offender a little bit more by the end. Because it wasn’t really about them after all. Was it?

About Maricke

I get kids in chairs and food down gullets. I correct behaviour, redirect energy, and orchestrate life. I am a mother.

I’m more than just a mother though, and I know you are too.  I work with mothers who are so busy juggling everyone else’s needs that they struggle with knowing who they are and what they want their own life to be like.  I help them discover a path to a life that supports who they truly are and allows them to experience joy, peace and the personal, familial and career satisfaction they crave.

Somewhere in between having four beautiful children (two sets of twins), I became a coach after time spend working in HR. I studied and received a diploma, but found the hardest part was living the life I had been trained to help others have. It’s a journey I’m still on.  The vow I took was simple: To step up and take responsibility for myself and the impact I have on this world.

This thinking and these words created a sizeable shift for me. In what I believe, how I feel, and the actions I take.

To find out more, visit


I am a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) and was professionally trained at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). iPEC has been recognized by the International Coach Federation *ICF) as one of the foremost coach training programs. I am also an active member of the ICF.




A Thousand Words About Pictures

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Rebecca Ratcliffe


It almost goes without saying that we live in a visual culture. More and more, images and even video are not just expected for all business types, but actually so commonplace we need to find the BEST images to stand out. That means high quality and properly dimensioned, but also unique, visually striking, and fitting with our business or brand. For small businesses, with limited marketing budgets, finding these images, legally, can be a challenge.

Stealing = Bad

Many people don’t equate using an image without permission with stealing, but anytime you reuse it without an image with explicit permission/licensing for your intended purpose, it’s very likely a copyright violation. Even if you think you’re doing the right thing, licensing terms can be tricky. It’s important to understand, for example, that royalty-free does not mean free to use; it means you don’t pay a royalty for each individual use. Improperly using an image could cost you time, money and embarrassment down the road. And, of course, stealing is bad…

So how can you find photos legally? There are many different options, at different price points. The key is to know and be honest about how you’ll be using the images: commercially (any business use is considered commercial use; if you intend to use the image on items for resale, for example, you may need an additional license), once or multiple times, in print or online.

Creative commons

“Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools” (from Major sources for images licensed using creative commons include WikipediaFlickr, and Google Image Search. The copyright licenses allow the creator to choose what terms to apply, including commercial use if applicable, so be sure to specify that in your search, and to follow the requirements for crediting the source.

Public domain

Images, and other media, in the public domain are those that have been released for public use because the intellectual property rights have expired or are otherwise not applicable. Often these are archival-type images that are not suitable for all projects but may be perfect for some. Sources for public domain images include Flickr Commons and Again, always check for any commercial usage restrictions.

Paid stock photography

Stock photography sites allow users to download images based on a per-image fee or a monthly subscription. These images are usually royalty-free, meaning once you’ve paid for them once, you can use them multiple times without paying additional fees. Popular stock photography sites include Shutterstock, iStock and Getty Images. For most small businesses, it may not be practical to pay for stock photography for all projects, but can be worthwhile for high profile uses, such as a new website.

Free stock photography

There are numerous sites, such as FreeImages, that provide free stock photography. Often these are limited to personal use, and may serve as advertising for more premier services offered by the same company, but some sites do allow for commercial use. The quality also varies greatly, so you may have to search around for something worth using.

Custom photography

Sometimes the best solution is a custom solution: when you want to show your actual space, your work, your passion, hiring a photographer to document this is your best bet. Beyond headshots, you may consider hiring a photographer to create images of your business location or your products, documentary-style images of you doing what you love, or even unique, personalized stock-type images. Pricing for commercial photography can vary greatly depending on the quality and experience of the photographer, as well as the type of licensing you require, so be sure to choose a photographer who will discuss your needs ahead of time and give you a clear price quote.


(Images courtesy of Unstyled Life Photography)

DIY photography

Unless you are a skilled photographer yourself, it’s really not a good idea to take your own shots for your website or printed material; however, there can be a place for DIY images on social media and blog posts. The best use of these images would be to show your own life, letting your clients relate to you as a person. These photos may show events you’ve attended, projects you’re working on, or moments of your day that reflect both you and your business. For best results, think about the intent before your shoot and eliminate distracting or unnecessary elements; use natural window light indoors, or even shade outdoors; hold your camera steady; and resize for web use before posting.


Rebecca Ratcliffe is a lifestyle + documentary photographer for families and businesses at Unstyled Life Photography, and a Jack of all trades at The Village Hive.

Becoming Successful

Private event
This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Marylou Heenan

“Success: It’s not how much money you’ve made: it’s who you are becoming.”

I recently attended a seminar where a very wise facilitator made the foregoing statement. She was referring to sales people who judge themselves by their visible success, such as sales and/or commissions, money in the bank, or points earned toward a reward trip offered by the company. As she wisely pointed out, exterior validations are not the only valid metric of success.

When we only look at the end of the journey (achievement of the goal) as we are working towards meeting the goal, it is easy to feel that we’ve fallen short. We should also look at the person we are becoming as we move towards achievement of our goals.

Awareness (1)
Image credit: Google Images

Defining Success: Self-awareness and persistence

Self-awareness and persistence are two critical success strategies (and they are at the top of my personal list). Self-awareness is hugely important when you run the show and don’t have a boss or HR department telling you how you are doing. You have to be honest with yourself – and avoid the temptation to believe your own press releases.

Some honest questions you may want to ask yourself – are you …

  • doing everything you put on your To Do List?
  • looking ahead with a critical eye and asking yourself how you/your company is positioned for changes in the market place?
  • the best person to run the business or could you use a professional manager?
  • treating your employees fairly?

Persistence is just as important because it takes time to build a business.  There are bad days, months, quarters and even years. It takes persistence to move the business along and grow it so that you survive the bumps along the way and thrive when times are good. The small business cemetery is full of great ideas whose creators lacked the determination to see them through to the end.

Embracing Risk

And, last but far from least, are you becoming comfortable with risk? As entrepreneurs, we have to take risks to succeed and it is so much easier when we can clearly distinguish between fear and risk. A fear immobilizes us and prevents us from taking action. Risks, on the other hand, are scary, but we learn to take them anyway because the rewards are greater than the risks.

Take, for example, the need to make cold calls to generate sales. When we fear making them, the phone is so heavy that we cannot pick it up. Our fear tells us that the person on the other hand may reject us and our psyche is afraid of that. When we know that some people will say no, but we make the calls anyway, we overcome the fear. We know that rejection by some prospects does not kill us or make us a failure. I honestly believe that we are well on our way to success when we can say to ourselves “I am about to take a risks and I’m uncomfortable, but I am not afraid. Not taking this chance will put me further from reaching my goal than taking it will.”

What other positive personal changes are you making along your road to entrepreneurial success? How have they made you stronger than you were before?


As a Financial Advisor and a Certified Cash Flow Specialist (CCS™) Marylou provides clients in the GTA with a written plan and strategies to manage their cash flow to create wealth at all stages of their lives.


For a free no-obligation 15-minute phone consultation, connect with her on her website at

Bridge the Gap with Critical Illness Insurance

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Catherine Nikkel

Could you maintain your present standard of living should you fall ill and require time to recover?

Our health is our most important asset. Would you agree? Why is it, then, that we focus on insuring our cars, our homes, our property, but we forget about ourselves along the way?

A lot of the time, we live in this realm of “it won’t happen to me”?—?or, I work with a lot of business owners personally, whose response is often “I can work from anywhere”. Yes, you can, unless of course you’re in the hospital, hanging on, so to speak.

healthcare_medicine_cost_finance_dollar_iStock_000019024391MediumRemember, having money is equivalent to having more choices.

Choices such as taking time off work if needed and spending it on yourself or with family so that you can get better and recover. Serious illness can last for months or years and financial backing is critical to protect yourself, your family, and your money. Protecting yourself as a self-employed person, is in turn protecting your business. It affords you the ability to pay for additional help, or at the very least cover bills while you take the time you need.


What does a Critical Illness policy cover?

The number of conditions covered in a critical illness policy can vary from company to company: it’s important to look at how many conditions. Some companies may cover only three conditions, where others cover up to 18 conditions (excluding cancer) and 21 conditions (including cancer). You want to be clear on any pre-existing conditions that a policy may or may not approve—as a smart shopper you want to be mindful of any exemptions included in the policy, and most importantly what type of waiting time or survival period the company requires. These can also range dramatically from 14 – 90 days. Every day unable to work and/or unpaid is crucial to the self-employed person.


Aren’t I already covered in the event of a major illness?

Disability insurance (via the government, providing you qualify of course), in most cases, covers 60% of your income, with a whole list of exemptions and exclusions?—?including returning to work “too soon.” Do yourself a favour, bridge the gap. Let’s consider what happens to that missing 40% (providing of course as entrepreneurs we’re even covered).

We often don’t want to think about what may or may not happen. What we encourage small business owners and entrepreneurs, such as ourselves, to consider instead is prevention, being prepared in the event of an illness that would change the way, even temporarily, that you do business.

Meet Brian [name changed to protect privacy]:

Anyone who is self-employed or may leave their government job or could be let go, should consider getting this…as our health care crumbles it is nice to have cash when you need it…which of course later in life.


Look into Best Doctors

I highly recommend that any insurance policy one looks into includes this feature. Picture this, having access to the best doctor in the field that you require a diagnosis or opinion on. Imagine you had access to them at your fingertips.

“Best Doctors has reviewed tens of thousands of cases and has changed a diagnosis 22% of the time, modified 61% of treatment plans and reduced invasive procedures 67% of the time.”

You may also call Best Doctors if you need help navigating the healthcare system or have questions about your health care. Best Doctors 360° service provides access to resources, ongoing one-on-one support, customized health coaching and a wide range of health related information, whether you have a serious illness or not.


Know the Stats

Some quick Ontario, Canada health care stats for you …

More than 30,000 Ontarians are waiting for a hospital bed, long-term care placement and/or home care.

  • 24,000 Ontarians are on wait lists for long-term care placement.
  • 10,000 Ontarians are on wait lists for home care.
  • At any given time, 592 Ontarians are waiting in emergency departments for hospital beds.

This isn’t a new trend. This isn’t to scare anyone. This is our reality.

A critical illness policy is wonderful as stand-alone coverage, or to complement any existing accident, sickness or life insurance policy.

Be prepared.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

5 Reasons Why Tribe is Important

This is a guest post from Village Hive Member Casandra Bryant of


Image Credit: Andres Levin

“Find your tribe.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this bantered around a lot lately. I use this phrase all the time. But what does it really mean and what can it do for you?

As human beings, we have a need for tribe. Our three pillars of existence—love, safety and belonging—are what make us who we are. If one or more of these are missing, life just doesn’t feel quite right. Among other things such as family and friends, belonging is also about finding your tribe.

“Belonging means acceptance as a member or part. Such a simple word for a huge concept. A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter.” – ye olde great wide web


A tribe can be described as a group of people who are your kind of people. Who get you, who have a common interest or goal, who work towards doing what they love and therefore what you love.

I’ve been blessed to see my tribe coming together. It will continue to grow but it feels so dang good to know there are others out there that are like-minded and working toward common goals. My own personal interests have led to some incredible collaborations that have positively impacted my business and vice versa. I am experiencing growth, expansion, and increased happiness in all areas of my life.  My tribe has much to do with that.


5 Reasons Why Tribe is Important

  1. Your tribe is people like you—and the “you” you want to become. It means people who share similar values, desires, and (if like me) have that crazy drive to do more in this precious life we have.
  2. Your tribe energizes you. When you are with someone from your tribe you leave feeling jazzed and excited. You feel understood and most likely have collaborated on something amazing with shared energy.
  3. Your tribe understands what you want: because they have similar values and interests, they are seeking the same thing. Whether it’s to see your business succeed, honour the desire for a healthy work/life flow, or even understand your need for personal growth.
  4. Your tribe can help you more, especially in your business. They get what you really need because they have already been there or are on the same path as you.
  5. Your tribe is good for your health. Let’s face it, as an entrepreneur you’ve made the courageous decision to do what you love. I call this passion work. Doing what you love each day even though there are a billion and one challenges to be had at any moment. Surrounding yourself with supportive people who are doing the same thing lessens the “overwhelm” and shores you up in your endeavours.


Finding Your Tribe

Keep in mind that finding your tribe doesn’t happen overnight. It also isn’t about overwhelming your time with a multitude of interest-based classes, MeetUps or networking events. You have to be intentional and focused. Take time to map out what you want, what your interests are and what values you hold. If business-focused, do something simple like block-scheduling time for weekly networking experiences and go with three questions you’d like to ask.


Life is too short not to be surrounded by your tribe. We all want our work to be purposeful and have an impact.  When it is couched within a group of like-minded people, it makes it all the more powerful.


About Casandra Bryant

Casandra Bryant is a Transformation Coach working with women who want to step into their passion work.  She has worked with a number of small business entrepreneurs who are empowered to build a heart-centred and successful business.