When Top Performers Leave

In a few weeks, Robert and I are going to address a topic that dozens of people have asked us to address (in one way or another): “What should an entrepreneur do when a top performering employee leaves the business to pursue other opportunities?”

The way an entrepreneur deals with this challenge sends a very strong message to several key stakeholders such as employees and customers. So, tune in later in September for the BusinessCast episde “What to Do When Top Performers Leave“.

Also, tune in next week for BusinessCast episode #73 – Hockey Lessons for Business (Part 2). We pick up where we left off with former President and CEO of the Calgary Flames, Ron Bremner . Ron weaves compelling stories from his days when he served as the force behind the Flames — working to get the team out of a deep crisis.

Finally, make sure you check out the BusinessCast Podcast ‘Blog Review’ Episode where we outline how you can get some practical business books for free!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Crisis Communications – A True Measure of Leadership

There’s been alot of discussion in the Toronto press recently about business communications. That’s because two local organizations, who have been faced with very public catastrophes, have been dealing with their own crisis in such drastically different ways.

One company — a food manufacturer and distributor — has taken a decisive stance and made every effort to reach out to the press. They are re-assuring the public that they are ‘taking charge’ of the situation. While people’s lives have been lossed as a result of a breakdown in their work processes, the company isn’t shying away from taking responsibility. On the other hand — a petroleum wholesaler/distributor — has limited its conversation to the public through its lawyers. Their silence has caused outrage in some residential communities and they’ve been villified in the court of public opinion.

On two recent BusinessCast Podcast “Blurbs” (available only through iTunes), Robert and I review a handful of key messages that you — as a business leader — should provide to the press when you are faced with a public crisis.

In such situations, you should also act in the following ways:

1) Be Clear — Have a concise and jargon-free message. Repeat it. Be confident and honest. And, remember that any misleading or ambiguous statement that you provide will come back to haunt you.

2) Be Fast — Reach out to all relevant stakeholders as soon as possible. This typically includes clients, prospects, investors/shareholders, suppliers and the media. And remember the most often neglected set of stakeholders during a public crisis: your employees.

3) Be Strong — Your ability to run your business — hence your business’ longevity — will be associated with the confidence with which you deal with your public crisis. This provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate your decisiveness, courage, ability to empathize (if the crisis harms people) and determination to set things right.

*NOTE: We’ve just started the “BusinessCast Business Resource Give-Away”. Listen to the BusinessCast Podcast posted on August 31 for details how you can get some of the latest business books absolutely free!!*

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Business Resource Give Away Starts Soon!

Robert and I have been in discussion with the good folks at McGraw-Hill. We asked them for a number of exceptional business books that we could pass along to you – our loyal BusinessCast Podcast listeners and BusinessCast Blog readers.

We were able to secure copies of some first-rate, practical and leading-edge business resources. Topics of books we secured include various aspects of: marketing, finance, human resources, operations, people/project management and leadership.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll identify the books — either in this blog or in the BusinessCast Podcast – and let you know how you can get them from us for free!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Tell Me Another…The Power of Story-Telling

Every entrepreneur instinctively understands the power of good stories.

In fact, chances are you’ve been inspired by a compelling story. Furthermore, the fact that you’re succeeding as an entrepreneur demonstrates that you, or one of your team, have some ability to tell stories.

The truth is that a good story can inspire your staff or capture the imaginations of prospects and customers. Well-told stories shape how people think about you and your brand. And, stories — when originating from the right source — told at the right time and to the right audience, can spur dramatic action.

Here are a few resources to help you hone your story-telling skills:

1. Podcast Episode: How to tell the story about you — one-on-one — to prospects and other likely audiences

2. Podcast Episode: How to tell stories regardless of the venue or number of audience members

3. PDF: Examples of Strong business stories

4. Book: The Leader’s Guide to Story Telling

In a few weeks, Robert and I will devote a special BusinessCast podcast episode on ways to help you become a more effective story teller.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Social Media/Networking Event: Sept. 29, 2008

Over the years, The Society of Internet Professionals (S.I.P.) in Toronto, Canada has built a reputation for hosting practical ‘how to’ events that help small business entrepreneurs, leaders and managers leverage the power of the Internet — for purposes of promotion, business development, increasing operational efficiencies, etc.

Next month, S.I.P. will be hosting The Business Face of Social Networking - which elaborates on one of the most popular topics explored on the BusinesCast Podcast blog over the last few weeks: Social Media/Networking.

More information on The Society of Internet Professionals.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Transition Smoothly Or Incur the Wrath of Customers

Last week, I received a call from a CEO who had been mishandled by a prominent professional services firm. It turns out that because one of the senior professionals was moving on to other accounts, the CEO was ‘transitioned’ to an other professional – who would be handling her account.

Sounds simple enough. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? You’ve probably introduced less potentially disruptive changes to how you work with customers/clients yourself.

But, the unfortunate truth was that this firm — in the interests of efficiency, profitability and some inaccurate assessment of customer service — kept the CEO completely in the dark of the transition.

All of a sudden someone else was handling the account — no warning, no communication, no rationale…just a new person.

The lesson here, can be summed up by way of a key question: “How do you prepare your customers/clients for any kind of transition?”

Keep in-mind that a transition may come in many forms, for example — a transition from one primary contact to another primary contact. Or, it might be from one contract to another. Or, it may involve upgrading products, new processes for ordering, new technologies or new pricing.

The reality is that how you make the transition is often more important than the new product, process, person, etc. that you’ve introduced to your customer — regardless of the benefit that it brings them (or you).

So, keep in-mind that no matter how small you think the transition is for the customer/client, you’ve got to think about it in terms of the their day-to-day activities. Best rule of thumb: give them a heads-up. Let them know the nature of the transition so that they can plan for any potential impact on their business. And, use that opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them.

Robert and I will delve more deeply into this subject in an upcoming BusinessCast Podcast later this Autumn.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Have You Planned for Your Next Business Crisis?

Every business gets rocked by crises – at least once. And, truth be told, usually more often than that!

Sometimes the crisis comes in the form of a key person leaving. It can take the form of a strong competitor blanketing and sustaining a heavy promotional ‘push’ or dramatically underpricing your offerings. Alternatively, crises may come in the form of a very public error in judgement or processes.

The consequences of your next business crisis can be minimal or potentially disasterous. For example:

  • Losing short- and/or long-term sales
  • Lengthening the sales cycle
  • Employees leaving
  • Investors cashing-out
  • Law suits

The rule of the thumb is to devote time, energy, and resources to crisis planning directly proportional to the potential seriousness of the consequences you would face.

Robert and I have found that most entrepreneurs are very aware of potential crises and often, they have even identified likely time frames when crises could hit them! However, entrepreneurs — who tend to be very enthusiastic — are equally as unlikely to plan for crises to avert or minimize their consequences.

This ability for entrepreneurs to foresee crises and yet not prepare for them strikes us as highly problematic. So, let us know about your state of crisis planning. And, we’ll share the results in an upcoming BusinessCast podcast.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Heads-Up!

These are the final days of the Summer and yet, Robert and I are still getting hundreds of requests for us to tackle many of the pressing/common challenges faced by entrepreneurs.

So, we’ve identified some of the most popular requests. And, by way of giving you a heads-up, here is a partial list of the topics that we’ll be tackling in the BusinessCast podcast and (on this blog) over the next few/several weeks:

Marketing

  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing
  • Referral Marketing
  • Tag Lines
  • Fine Print Marketing
  • Luxury Marketing
  • How to Leverage Marketing Demographics (Boom, Bust, Echo…Belch)
  • Popular Marketing Tools (i.e. Newsletters, RFPs, Email, Presentations, Events)
  • How to Acquire New/Right Clients

Human Resources

  • How to recruit staff that really works
  • Effective and Cost-Efficient training

Finance

  • Alternate Sources of Funding

Leadership

  • Knowing How/When to Delegate
  • Succession Planning

Operations

  • Logistics

Finally, we’re also be interviewing a handful of business entrepreneurs and business book authors.

So, keep tuned. Keep listening to episodes of the BusinessCast podcastAnd, keep your comments coming. We’ll be here to help you get the most out of your business.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Hockey Is a Business: Now’s the Time to Score Big!

Have you ever wondered if the issues you face on a daily basis as an entrepreneur apply to other types of organizations? Well, the fact is they do!

And, nowhere is that more evident in the compelling stories told by our entertaining guest, Ron Bremner – former President & CEO of the NHL’s Calgary Flames hockey team and the Saddledome.

Listen to the BusinessCast Podcast episode #71 – Hockey Lessons for Business - and you’ll get some down-to-earth advice from Ron, Robert and myself on addressing some of your most critical issues. Many of the lessons Ron surfaces are items that we’ve explored in some of our previous podcast episodes, including:

BusinessCast Podcast # 55 – Feedback – Or Is It Just Noise? with Gold ‘n’ Brown - where Robert and I provide an overview of how/when to collect customer insights that can increase your success; and

BusinessCast Podcast #46 – Wow Client Service’ with Gold ‘n’ Brown - where Robert and I discuss how to “Wow” you client with customer service that really has an impact!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Success: NextGen Player Wins the Battle!

In BusinessCast podcast episode #64 – Blogging For Business, we met intrepid entrepreneurs Paul Hunter and Matthew Vernhout of NextGen Player (www.NextGenPlayer.com). In fact, they were so enthusiastic about blogging that they inspired Robert and me to begin the BusinessCast blog!

Well, I am very excited to report that NextGen Player is now an undisputable and truly exceptional success story. In just over three months, their online business — blogging about the Canadian gaming industry – has skyrocketed beyond all original expectations.

“What kind of success have they achieve in just a few short months?”, you ask. Well, here are just a handful of their accomplishments to-date that prove their efforts to build a strong and loyal following within a very niche market have been a resounding success. Specifically, they have been:

These committed and astute gaming enthusiasts have achieved such unprecedented success for several key reasons. But, as Matthew and Paul see it, the key reasons include:

  • Staying focused on one topic only (i.e. the Canadian gaming industry) rather than being lured into biting off more topics (e.g. U.S. gaming industry).
  • Leveraging sites that speak to a very specific audience. For most entrepeneurs, the equivalent is networking with those who have established credibility with target audiences.
  • Generating “buzz”. Choose a topic that gets people talking – and, remember that it’s okay to be controversial – as long as you do it responsibly (i.e. being as even-handed as possible).
  • Bringing a passion for the business - in the case of Matt and Paul, they truly love gaming and are committed to contributing their unique value to the industry!

Listen to episode #64 – Blogging For Business to hear Paul and Matthew’s (now proven) approach to business and to blogging. Their’s are lessons applicable to every entrepreneur.

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