October’s ‘Work and Family Month’ reinforces virtual offices for the mompreneur movement

October 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mompreneurs are an amazing phenomenon in our decade. Many moms, after leaving the workforce to start a family, have utilized their managerial, marketing and business skills to start at-home businesses where they can be both ‘mom’ and ‘CEO’ at the same time. Canadian organizations such as Mompreneur Magazine and MomCafe are highlighting the impact moms are having in the business world. On Canadian TV we have role models such as Arlene Dickenson, the ‘dragon’ investor on Dragon’s Den who started as a single mom taking on the corporate world. Tamara Taggart, Vancouver’s CTV weather girl even has her own mommy blog on the CTV site, promoting her dual role as both mom and celebrity TV anchor.

However, the mompreneur movement stems from a long-known concept called the work-life balance. And, believe it or not, October was officially named in the U.S. as National Work & Family Month. The goal of celebrating work-life balance in October is to “raise awareness among employers about the value of work-life effectiveness as a business imperative.” The message is that being flexible in the work place is good for business, and more organizations should take the opportunity to “try telework, condense a workweek, join a wellness program or organize a workplace volunteer activity.” (According to the press release at http://www.awlp.org/awlp/nwfm/nwfm-home.jsp)

The great thing about today’s day and age is that technologies exist for a work life balance with a virtual office. Virtual offices use technologies such as remote phone answering systems, e-mail, and video conferencing to conduct daily corporate activities from anywhere in the world. A mom could be on vacation with her family and still have her virtual receptionist taking her calls and forwarding only the important ones to her overseas number. Not only that, all her voicemails can be sent to her e-mail inbox so that while the kids are fast asleep, she can sit under the moonlight on the beach and keep her business deals moving. Besides being a vacation backup, a virtual office and virtual assistant can do wonders for her while she’s at home too!

A virtual office is not only for the woman who runs a business while running a family, but also a great opportunity for an employer to participate in the work-life movement by allowing mom-employees to work from home and not lose any of the productivity gained from being physically in the office. Many companies with sales reps do this already – they equip their team with smart phones and laptops so they are always connected to head office. When calls come in through the main switchboard, it’s easy for a virtual office provider to transfer the caller to the work-from-home mom at any number. Reports can be done online, and the commonplace use of e-mail allows for the quick transfer of documents. Secure e-courier services are also now available on the market for highly sensitive documents.

According to Deborah Frett, CEO of the U.S.-based Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, “while one person may like her work and life to flow seamlessly through out the day (check email, wash laundry, research grants, grocery shop…) others may prefer a clear division with traditional hours and a proper desk.” So the idea is to let moms juggle their day in the way they are personally most effective. The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation themselves went completely virtual earlier this year and implemented a “Results Only Work Environment”, imitating the Best Buy morale where “Work is no longer where you go, but what you do” (according to Frett, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-frett/ten-tips-to-create-a-flex_b_745611.html).

Today’s generation of educated, smart and business-orientated women are proving there is no need to give up family life for a great career. And businesses are discovering their talent and taking on the philosophies of the mompreneur and work-life balance. Virtual office services are here to do their part, and aid the movement for women in the workforce!

The Difference between Social Bookmarking and Social Networking

October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Networking is an extremely powerful and effective tool when growing any business. According to American Consumer News, “It is having a sales force without paying for a full time staff, launching an advertising campaign without having a marketing budget, and establishing yourself as an expert in your field without having to become a media darling. The basic goal is to provide professionals, resources, and clients to networking members without incurring outrageous costs.”

In this day and age it is vital to use all the Social marketing and communication that we can to get our business noticed. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of social networking versus social bookmarking?

Wikipedia describes Social Networking as an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting our social networks or social relations among people. For example, connecting those who share interests and/or activities. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

On the other hand, in a social bookmarking system, users save links to web pages that they want to remember and/or share. These bookmarks are usually public, and can be saved privately, shared only with specified people or groups, shared only inside certain networks, or another combination of public and private domains. They allow people to view these bookmarks chronologically, by category or tags, or via a search engine.

Social networking is a general term for the ability to communicate with other individuals online. Social networking sites allow users to create a profile, providing photos, website links, biography information, or a host of other personal details. Users can view other profiles, connect in forums, or comment in community chat rooms.

Each site is different and focused on a certain area. For example, sites such as MySpace and Facebook encompass a wide variety of functions on both a personal and professional level. Linked In, on the other hand, is focused mainly on business relationships.

Suite101.com states that social networking is a very general term for the ability to communicate with eachother online. People create users, profiles, provide photos and links. It is a connection between other users and allows people to comment in chatrooms galore!

Like social networking, bookmarking sites are meant to engage users and provide interaction, reads Suite101.com, however, bookmarking sites also provide a way to more easily market articles and links. Social bookmarking works best when users also take the time to get to know other members. Many sites rank the popularity of articles by the number of votes they get from their members, so it pays to get to know other users. Unlike a social networking site, however, members are limited in the items they can post.

All types of businesses, large and small, should take advantage of both of these free marketing tools.

Social media and social bookmarkeing are more than just a fad, and for many companies, it is becoming a bigger, more integral part of their overall marketing mix. They presents numerous opportunities for businesses that might otherwise cost a company thousands (if not millions) of dollars in marketing and advertising spent, according to marketwireblog.com. Both of these processes can be extremely useful as a communication tools, a way for writers and bloggers, and the business world to connect with other like-minded individuals!

Offices creating change: going virtual is 94% better for the environment

October 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In our industry, we’ve always been known to reduce costs for businesses. Why pay for your own kitchen, copier, security, receptionist, etc. when you can share it all by pooling in with other businesses in a shared office centre? However, our services are more than just a cost-saver to our clients, they’re also a planet-saver.

Recently, our counterparts at the McLeland Group released a press release stating that virtual offices, when compared to traditional office space, can reduce a person’s carbon footprint by an astonishing 94%. This was found out by using carbonfund.org to calculate the carbon offset ratio between a single office business centre serving 100 clients to the same number of separately operated offices.

Truth be told, we’ve known that for years too. Trouble is, not that many people are aware of just how much our industry is doing, and how beneficial it can be both for our environment, and our businesses. Here are a few reasons to go with a packaged office service or a virtual office when ‘going green’ is weighing on your conscious:

  • Sharing space in a building is the most sustainable thing you can do. You not only will share space, but will also be sharing water, electricity, heat, cleaning, and so on. The garbage man will only have to make one trip to your centre, and so will the recycling man.
  • Your employees don’t necessarily need to be there all the time. Allowing them to work from home is an eco-sustainable choice, avoiding fuel consumption and in many cases, increasing productivity and employee job satisfaction.
  • Office supplies are shared, which means less waste in terms of photocopier usage, paper handling, cabling and so on. Not only that, in the Elite Business Centres, you can often buy paper, discs, labels, envelopes and other supplies right from the front desk, eliminating your need to make frequent stops to the office supply store.
  • Furniture is reused when you decide to leave. That means you won’t be struggling trying to find a new home for your chair or filing cabinet, and the junk removal service won’t be taking them to the junk yard when you’re finished with them. The furniture stays and is reused from client to client.
  • Being connected to your clients with a virtual telephone answering service means you don’t need to check in to an office every day, and your virtual assistant doesn’t even need to print out copies of your documents and snail mail them – they can be electronically attached to an e-mail and reviewed right from your computer screen.

Being eco-friendly doesn’t just stop at the concept of a virtual or shared office centre. The inside practices of our centres are also doing what they can to create a better planet for our future. Recycling is a daily routine, and digital photocopiers are allowing direct scanning from USB sticks and more efficient printing. Some of our buildings have scheduled ‘lights off’ times and use less energy with newer technologies.

Sometimes ‘going green’ comes with a price – more for organic vegetables, a premium for buying local, or longer commute by using public transit. However, with a shared business centre, you actually SAVE money in addition to being kind to the environment. The 94% speaks for itself!

9 Home-Based Business that Could use a Virtual Office in 2010 – Part 2

September 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In Part 1 of this article, we started by giving our twist on the first 4 of Inc Magazine’s list of “9 Businesses You Can Start In Your Pajamas in 2010.” Here come the next 5!

5. The online fitness trainer: It sounds kind of funny, but this is a business that allows you to skip your gym membership and get fit by downloading your exercise program on to your iPod. However, the business itself is a Web site where trainers and trainees meet to discuss custom workout plans by phone, e-mail or instant messages. In short, it’s a virtual business (the kind we like!). The tough part is making this service accessible to the generation of lethargic humans who would rather call in to meet their trainer than do it online. Not only that, when trainers are unavailable and a message needs to be left, it would be a great assurance to know that your trainer has a substitute to answer the phone for his clients. Also, mail needs to go somewhere – a central location where all the trainers can pop in to pick up their personal letters and still maintain a professional, one-company image. Let’s not forget that since this company is growing, it will soon need a 1-800 number with a live receptionist. Why pay a full time employee when only a fraction of your clientele will call in anyway?

6. The Italian shopping tour lady: Yes, she makes a living being the kind of tour guide that takes people shopping in Italy. This unique business, which was featured in the Oprah magazine, is run out of a home in New York. While calls can be taken while in the country, this is, after all, a tour guide business, with trips to Italy 4 times a year. Having a virtual assistant taking calls and using a voicemail to e-mail phone system will allow this business woman to keep receiving messages abroad, while her new tourists can still sign-up, pay for, and get information on the Italian outlet shopping guided tour.

7. The government mapping guy: While an impressive resume is on the side of this business owner who has contracted out to clients like the U.S. military and NBC news, it’s no question that when bureaucracy comes calling, every little detail matters. So it helps to have a big-company image even when you’re not. A live receptionist answering a government contracting company shows prestige that matches the job at hand, and will no doubt benefit this business’s clout to skeptic callers who are unaware of the portfolio proving its capabilities.

8. The baby designer mom: Who says a famous person’s kid shouldn’t have their own closet full of designer threads? Certainly not the Gap or Nordstrom, companies who have bought designs from a mompreneur working from home designing baby items for celebrity class mothers. Why does she need a virtual office? For one, meetings with these big players can’t happen around her coffee table, and it just might be that she’ll need to travel to make a deal with a new company. Yes, she can go to their offices, but she will have so much more clout by inviting them in to hers – which can be worldwide. Virtual offices can be rented by the hour or day, and with a well-connected business center, a network of offices and boardrooms can be accessed instantly for business location hoppers.

9. The podcast organizer: Callisto.fm was founded after a need was identified in the podcasting industry. While content had been organized well with other online mediums, nothing existed for podcasts. So Michael Sitarzewski got busy organizing, and caught the attention of many. But he also has another business for web applications. So how does he juggle them both? A virtual office would help! Two ideas come to mind: he could have two separate lines, which would be answered in individual company names, or he could have a single 1-800 number that would ask a user to press 1 for company ‘A’ or press 2 for company ‘B’. Then the call would be immediately transferred to a live receptionist, or even direct to his cell phone where ever he is. In the background, a virtual assistant would be helping with paper work and keeping office duties in check by providing services such as typing, sending out memos, managing databases and keeping accounts in Excel.

And there you have it! 9 pajama startups in 2010 that can boost their success by making use of a virtual office service.

9 Home-Based Business that Could use a Virtual Office in 2010 – Part 1

September 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A visit to Inc Magazine’s site will show you an article titled “9 Businesses You Can Start In Your Pajamas in 2010.” In it, you will find everything from a mompreneur who got her baby clothing line into a store where Nicole Kidman shops to a guy who wears logo t-shirts for money (and to think we do it for free sometimes!). While the business ideas are fascinating and the stories inspiring, we in the office industry can see how each of these pajama-startups could be even more successful with a virtual office to come to their aid when the big knuckles start knocking.

And so, here is our take on the article’s featured businesses:

1. The t-shirt guy: His company is called IWearYourShirt.com and surprisingly has taken off. The way he works is that he charges companies to wear their logos on his t-shirt, with each day of the month costing the amount of the calendar number. So $1 buys your company a September 1st wear, and $30 buys you a September 30th wear. Here’s the catch: he’s expanding. Now there’s someone wearing Your Shirt on the West Coast and no doubt we can soon expect a cornbread eating, t-shirt wearer in the South and an igloo building, shirt model in the North (or we hope). When the process gets complicated and companies can pick locations to have someone wearing their shirts, IWearYourShirt.com will need a headquarters and a centralized phone number that can direct calls to the appropriate person who wears clothes for a living.

2. The entertainment franchisers: Two corporate fellas started Games2U, a mobile entertainment van that can be rented out at birthday parties and events. Each fully equipped vehicle is sold as a franchise and now a big shot at Dell has decided to help the expansion. Wouldn’t it be great if each city had a local office where meetings could be held with the area’s franchisee owners every now and then? No need to rent full time offices, a booking by the hour will do just fine for these entertainment moguls, who likely spend most of their time on the road anyway.

3. The e-mail advice lady: She gives financial advice in an e-mail newsletter to 9,000 subscribers. Pretty impressive! But that’s her second business. She runs another one at home while being a mother of two. It would be safe to believe that this accomplished woman would need a telephone answering service to take care of her advertising calls, take messages from financially incompetent people and look professional to her high-end writers. That way she can spend more time doing what she does best – marketing advice.

4. The virtual insurance agent: This man works from home with his baby daughter in lap giving sales pitches and insurance advice to clients over the Internet. His success is based on the fact that he’s a work-from-home kinda guy, which is being seen as more trustworthy than the mysterious insurance ‘men in black’. Since he does virtual insurance, it would be most fitting for his office and phone communications to be virtual too! His meetings can still be over voice chat, but truth be told, no one wants to take work with them on their vacations. This man’s virtual office can be complementary to his existing virtual communication with clients. The beauty of virtual plans is they come without contracts and minimum terms, which makes them flexible for a business owner and reliable to a client base when they need a human to talk to right away.

Stay tuned for our next article, giving the remaining 5 reasons why these home-based businesses could use a virtual office!

Finding the Right Fit when Hiring

September 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In this day and age, it is next to impossible to know whether or not you are hiring the right “fit” for your business. Business managers are very apprehensive because in these difficult economic times it is a fact that people will say anything it takes to get the job. This of course becomes evident only when the person has already been hired. It is easy to make excuses for these “trainees” and we let many of their mistakes slide, as patience is needed when someone is learning the ins and out of a new company. Often, as their probation period passes, it’s not just company knowledge they lack, but a less than eager willingness to learn and a lack of initiative.

Unfortunately, this is when issues arise. Managers ask themselves: “Do we really want to go through the whole process of screening, hiring, and training ALL over again?” The fact is, if we leave these people in place, with their less than optimal work ethic, we are truly not getting what we pay for, nor are our customers.

People who are hiring assume they are ready when they follow the usual process: The posting, the interview, references, and of course, the training. But do we really stop and ask ourselves exactly what KEY characteristics, skills, and behaviours are we intending on hiring for the long term? Are there “deal breaker” points that would make the decision for you, or are we expecting the educated and seemingly professional people to be right for any position?

Hiring the right mix of skill, professionalism, education, and presentation is extremely important. This is essential from the very beginning process, and according to LeaderShip.com, here’s how to start:

Determining your need to hire a new employee. – Are you properly utilizing the skills and talents of your current employees? Do you know what needs to be done? Can your business growth support a new employee? Are the key characteristics and skills matched to the job responsibilities?

Conducting a thorough job analysis. – What are the job’s essential functions and key performance criteria?

Writing a job description. – Detailing the job specification for the position based on the job analysis and outcomes desired.

These first steps are crucial when starting the hiring process, and naturally if these steps are executed properly, it makes for a much easier transition for you and your new team member!

Using color to brand your office space

September 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It is well known that colour can influence our psyche. In society, colour also possesses meaning. For example, baby girls are always wrapped in pink, baby boys in blue. Interior decorators know what shades of colour to select to create certain moods and atmosphere. In business marketing, the effects of colours on buyers are also examined.

The way you use colours to stage your office in front of your clientele can also affect the message that you are trying to send them. The mood and atmosphere of your office can convey certain meanings, which is a great branding opportunity.

Here are some guidelines on how to use certain colours to achieve the effect you want:

Cool blue – blue is a colour that can be calming, but too much of it can also be depressing. However, used correctly, this colour can also show sophistication and intelligence. If you are an upscale high tech or science-based company then blue is your colour. While you don’t want everything in your office to be blue, you can use this colour for things like your presentation folders, your computer accessories, a filing cabinet, and anything associated with information.

Growing green – green symbolizes growth and environment, no wonder. It is a very warm and welcoming colour. Although it seems cliché, companies vying for attention from eco-friendly consumers will find this colour essential. You can add green to your office with plants and art decorations with vibrant shades of green. Keeping with the ‘growth’ theme, use hard wood desks and furniture to accent the green.

Pretty in pink and… – pink, lavender, baby blue, turquoise and other feminine colours appeal to women only, so use them if your clientele is mainly that. These colours are seen as soft, gentle, elegant and romantic. While home decorating accessories are easy to find in these colours, you may need to be more creative for your office. For example, using an artful mug as a pencil holder instead of a plastic black one, or making a chair cover out of colourful fabric to cover up the leather – are a few ideas to get you started. Fresh flowers are always a nice addition of these colours!

Mystery black – perhaps the most popular colour used in office furniture is black. It creates an atmosphere of mystery and thus, intimidation. Big ‘movers and shakers’ will like this colour for showing assertion during a deal-making process in a darkly furnished boardroom. Black is also a neutral colour, which means it can be a backdrop for other colour effects you want to achieve.

Exciting red, orange, yellow – these colours create feelings of happiness and stir up emotion and alertness. Their brightness makes them great for companies dealing with children, and for those wanting to show their product or service is going to make life easier. On the negative side, these are the colours used in hazard signs. They are usually the first thing people notice, especially yellow (think of traffic signs). Use them well in areas you want to draw attention to, but avoid them for things like confidential filing cabinets you want to keep unnoticed.

While all these colours can be used effectively, they shouldn’t be over done in your office decorating. Keep in mind that neutral colours like beige, gray and black can all be a backdrop to your colour coordination so that your symbolism remains subtle.

Elite Centres Creating Stepping Stones for Businesses

August 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In this ever-changing economy, companies find themselves in a position where they may need off-site satellite offices, flexibility, or perhaps graduated rentals or shorter leases. Business centres are the ideal solution, whether your company is expanding or just starting out. A business can come into a fully staffed, fully furnished centre complete with the capital expenditures of photocopiers and a switchboard already in place for a fraction of the cost of traditional office space.

Elite Business Centres are at the forefront of providing such opportunities for businesses in the Metro Vancouver area. For example, one company was expanding quickly into Canada from New York. They hired a Sales Manager to head up the Western region of their ever-growing business. An entire office staffed with administrators and receptionists was not necessary for this particular satellite office. The new Sales Manager travels frequently, but has to maintain a professional office environment when meeting clients locally.

Image is, of course, of huge importance to the expansion and success of any type of business. The front desk area and the friendly reception provided with his business centre has been extremely helpful. His company calls are answered from Monday to Friday, and can be easily transferred to his mobile or put through to a voice mail box to hear at his convenience.

From a different perspective, an enthusiastic Simon Fraser University graduate had an innovative idea for a start-up company. After the initial meeting with one of the Elite Business Centre owners, the young entrepreneur had not only a mailbox, but a professional meeting place where he could show clients his products and services.

Eventually, by marketing his services effectively, and allowing Elite Business Centres to provide meeting space, mail handling, and telephone answering, our young entrepreneur was ready to lease his own shared office space without needing to relocate. He can still meet clients all over the Lower Mainland using the Elite boardrooms, but now he has his own furnished office space, 24 / 7 access, kitchen and coffee room, plus admin services when he needs them.

The many options and business solutions each of these companies found in the shared office industry were key components to building and maintaining a business. As a stepping stone for any company, Elite Business Centres can customize services to clients’ current needs. From virtual services to leasing a permanent office, people can rely on them to help guide business owners towards success!

Should You Buy Or Lease Office Space in Vancouver

June 24, 2010 by · 6 Comments 

Vancouver Office Space in the Burrard Businss District

The Reflection of the Marine Building in Vancouver's Burrard Business District.

Vancouver Office Space: Buy or Lease?

Vancouver is a city that is booming with real estate. When you’re in the market for office space for your business there are a few things that you should think about before making this investment.

With ever-changing office vacancy rates in the city of Vancouver and stock markets globally, it is uncertain what the future may bring. You need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of leasing or buying office space.

Here are some pros and cons of leasing vs. buying in Vancouver.

Pros of Buying Office Space

  • Tax Deductions – the associated costs of owning and running a commercial space can provide expense deductions.
  • Fixed costs – locking in your commercial mortgage can give your business clear, fixed costs.
  • Additional income – owning your office can add the advantage of renting out extra office space and adding more income.
  • A Retirement Fund – the prospect of owning commercial space allows the owner to sell out and fund their retirement.

Cons of Buying Office Space

  • Upfront Costs – buying space usually costs more money upfront which is not practical for new businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Lack of Flexibility – a new or growing business may experience unexpected needs in the future.

Pros of Office Space Leasing

  • Free-up Working Capital – with your money not tied up, your business can respond to opportunities in the market.
  • More Time – allows more time to focus solely on running your business.
  • Prime Property – leasing allows opportunity to be in a great location with a high image.

Cons of Office Space Leasing

  • Variable Costs – when you lease you may be subject to annual rent increases and higher costs at the time when your lease expires.

  • No Equity – When you lease you are funding someone else’s retirement with your lease payments.

There are pros and cons to both buying and leasing. Making a decision will come down to finances, tax, and personal issues.

Investing In Vancouver Office Space

Here are some simple tips and things to think about before investing in Vancouver office space.

  • Decide How Much to Invest

When considering how much money you should invest in your office space you should think about your present needs, how much you can afford, and whether you wish to use this space as an investment vehicle.

  • Think About Timing

When is the right time to buy or lease an office space in Vancouver? Factors to consider are your personal situations, and “market timing.” Market timing is your judgment of whether the market will be going up or down.

Spring and fall usually have greater market activity, and a wider choice of reasonably priced properties for sale, than summer and winter. However, looking back over many years it is clear that no season is predictably the least expensive time to buy in this area. Sometimes the best time to buy is when nobody else is looking. A little-known secret is that there is usually a noticeable drop in prices at the end of December, creating an opportunity of which very few buyers take advantage.

When looking for an office space in Vancouver the most important thing is that you consider the long run and the needs of your business.

Vancouver Business Networking Where You Work

June 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Robson Square lit up at night during the 2010 Olympics.

Getting involved in your local Business Improvement Association is a bit like joining a board of trade on the street where you work. You get to know the local banker, barista and nail bar owner on a first-name basis. They provide a great opportunity for Vancouver business networking.

Based on a long and successful history in the United States, the Business Improvement Association represents all businesses within a neighbourhood bringing together local merchants, entrepreneurs and professionals.

In Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, there are 35 individual Business Improvement Associations. Downtown Vancouver itself has seven BIAs including Robson Street, Gastown, the West End, Yaletown, Chinatown and Strathcona.

Unlike other business organizations and associations which charge a fee at the door for everyone who attends, participating in BIA events, meetings and committees are free. All business owners within the zone contribute financially through an annual levy against property taxes.

Whether you own a business or work for one, attending meetings and joining committees provides an inroad to developing local clientele as well as networking among those who run businesses or work near you. It also provides free access to marketing surveys, neighbourhood profiles, special studies and reports for the area.

Most Business Improvement Associations are run by a volunteer board of property owners and business community members. Apart from regular meetings, the BIA holds special events, business networking events and forms committees to promote community awareness, marketing and street beautification /image enhancement as well as safety. Marketing committees get involved in everything from developing advertising and media campaigns to orchestrating street festivals and community events.

If you are a professional, getting involved in your BIA will bring you in touch with neighbourhood lawyers, accountants, insurance brokers, and medical and dental practitioners. The opportunities for business networking and making new contacts with other Vancouver professionals and business owners are excellent.

If you are a newcomer, the first step is to get to know your BIA’s executive director or president. This individual is your personal welcome wagon host to the local business community – in many cases, on a first name basis with business owners and bankers alike.

Vancouver Business Networking at the Local B.I.A.:

To find out more about the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, go to http://www.downtownvancouver.net

For more details on business associations within Vancouver, visit http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/cityplans/bia/index.htm