Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, November 7, 2016

"What I learned from running my own business"/ "Make online job screening programs work for you"

Oct. 6, 2016 "What I learned from running my own business": Yesterday I found this article by Jeff Cates in the Globe and Mail:

Your business’s success or failure comes down to so much more than a great idea. Honing your financial literacy skills is one of the most important first steps when starting out, and I have the first-hand experience to prove it.

Two of my friends and I started a marketing consulting firm while in university with lofty ambitions and a solid business plan, but without a strong grasp on our day-to-day financial fundamentals, which is all-too-common among young entrepreneurs. After struggling with accounting and Excel spreadsheets, I learned the hard way about the importance of proper financial management to understanding where your business stands and achieving long-term success.

My own entrepreneurial experience is what drives my passion for improving financial literacy among Canadian entrepreneurs, and it’s why I’m proud to lead an organization that helps small businesses manage their finances, so they can thrive.

It’s said that learning by doing is best, so here are key lessons I learned while running my own business:

Get the proper tools

Don’t rely on unsophisticated software like basic spreadsheets to help you manage your business. One study found that 94 per cent of spreadsheets contain errors, and there are numerous examples of these errors costing companies millions of dollars – including these top blunders.

Errors aside, spreadsheets provide limited insight into the health of your business. Having a clear picture of your finances is crucial to identifying how you’re going to scale your business and where the greatest opportunities for growth lie.

Cloud-based financial management software automates your bookkeeping by tracking every dollar that goes into and out of your company in real time. It can also enable remote collaboration with accounting professionals who can provide you with the strategic insights you need to plan for growth, secure funding and identify and fix financial problems before they become crises.

Lean into the startup ecosystem

We were lucky to have worked with a great accelerator in Hamilton, but the national ecosystem has grown tremendously since those days. Today’s startup accelerators, incubators, and organizations such as Communitech, The DMZ at Ryerson, Futurpreneur, and Startup Canada, have many robust resources available to entrepreneurs to provide education, mentorship and guidance for growth.

Industry collaboration with the entrepreneurship community has further bolstered these resources – in fact, Intuit recently partnered with The DMZ at Ryerson University, Canada’s top university business incubator, to help set businesses up for financial success from the very beginning by creating the Intuit Finance Lab.

Connect with coworkers, clients, and vendors in real time

Communication is key to startup success. While I may have faced different communication roadblocks during my time as a small business owner, there are always new challenges to overcome.

In a world of inbox overload and unchecked voice-mail, customer service, vendor requests, and team collaboration can fall through the cracks if not addressed in a timely manner – and response time can often be the difference between landing and losing new business opportunities.

As a business leader, it’s difficult to find time to sort through and respond to everything that comes your way, but there are a number of solutions that can help you, your team and even customers communicate easily while you’re on-the-go. Try integrating cloud-based communication tools to take your communications to the next level such as Skype for Business, which is incredibly convenient for holding online meetings – and connecting with remote employees.

With the right tools, small business owners can make business decisions in real time and manage all aspects of their businesses right from the start. Financial management software is especially helpful for understanding the inner workings of a business. It can also provide deep insights that help entrepreneurs assess the state of their company, and identify opportunities for future growth.

"Make online job screening programs work for you": Yesterday I found this article by Eileen Dooley  in the Globe and Mail:


Most larger companies these days are using applicant tracking systems to electronically screen job candidates’ résumés. I have been trying to figure out how they work, and, more importantly, how to crack the code. It’s frustrating because I know that I’m qualified for the jobs I’m applying to, but I don’t know how to make the ATS see that.

I know that you’re supposed to use certain key words, but how do I even know what key words to use? Most popular advice I’ve seen suggests that applicants circumvent the whole thing and go directly to the hiring manager. When I tried that, it was not well received. She let me know that hiring managers do not appreciate being inundated with unsolicited résumés, regardless of how qualified a person is.
Any insight you can give is much appreciated.


The online job application process is the nemesis of many job seekers.

Nothing is more disappointing than finding the perfect advertised job, only to discover the online application system is not only mandatory, but that it will not allow you to attach your bang-on résumé with a brilliant cover letter you spent three hours developing.

This is the world of customized job-application processes and it is up to the job seeker to make these systems work for them.

You are on the right track – key words are essential, as the software is looking for certain words or phrases that will flag the résumé of a potential candidate to consider. The best way to uncover these “code words,” as you describe them, is to use the precise language from the posting in your application – even if you think a better word will do.

Chances are the system is looking for people who can match the requirements of the role, and the easiest way to do that is to search for exact words that the posting has highlighted. For example, the job ad may be seeking someone with “excellent writing skills.” So, in your résumé, say you have “excellent writing skills,” and take out the line that says “strong oral and written communication skills.” Match what they have. Their words are the code words.

My opinion: I know that.

It never hurts to flag a job application – to the right person in the right way. A cold call, meaning you have no connection to that person, is risky. Before you pick up the phone, consider doing the following:

Phone someone you know at the company. Ask that person to put in a good word for you. You can also ask your contact whether they know who the hiring manager is and see whether you can get an introduction. Believe it or not, most people – even if they know someone at the company – never do this.

If you do not think you know someone at the company, look it up on LinkedIn and see whether you actually do, but were unaware of that connection. Call that person and ask them to put in a good word for you.

If you do not know anyone at the company, see who in your network might know someone there (also traceable through LinkedIn). Give them a call and ask whether you can get an introduction to their contact.

If you happen to get the hiring manager on the phone, simply say that your contact suggested you call. Say how you know that person and then simply tell that hiring manager that you have applied for the role, wanted to reach out and say that you would welcome an opportunity to be interviewed. That’s it. Do not go for the hard sell and, whatever you do, refrain from saying this is the perfect job for you.

To get noticed for an online application, go through your network first. This is yet another reason networking is invaluable and the No. 1 job search tool anybody can have.

My opinion: The networking part is important.  I guess I assume I don't know anyone at the company I'm applying for, but I should make sure by going on LinkedIn.


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