Investing in Innovation — What You Need to Bring to the Table

Successful entrepreneurs are by their very nature innovators — it’s very nearly a pre-requisite. But, before determining if their business is going to attract customers and attention, every entrepreneur has to answer a key question: Is their business innovative enough to attract funding?

To answer this question, in BusinessCast episode #126 — Investing in Innovation — Robert and I sat down with David Ceolin who spends his time evaluating, and investing in, entrepreneurs and their innovative business ideas.  David shares with us his criteria for innovation and the processes that entrepreneurs should follow — prior to seeking funding.

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Starting and Growing Your Business: Success Now and in the Future

All successful entrepreneurs are forward-looking. So much so that even when entrepreneurs are in the very early stages of starting their business, they are typically actively searching for future ways to improve it, grow it and expand it.

One of the greatest examples of successfully applying this approach is the disciplined and innovative mind behind Verity – Canada’s premiere Women’s networking club.  The club’s founder Mary Aitken began Verity as a stand-alone business where women could meet, network, relax and have fun.

But, Mary, who is a very successful entrepreneur, thoughtfully researched the targeted market and soon found the need to expand Verity to include a world-leading restaurant (George), an enviable spa (Sweetgrass) and most recently, a luxurious hotel (The Ivey).

For BusinessCast #125 — Starting and Growing Your Business, Mary sits down with Robert and me and shares her compelling and exciting story. She also highlights some key lessons relevant for all entrepreneurs. Whether you are starting, honing or expanding your business, Mary provides some practical tips as well as inspires you to keep looking forward — and thereby ensure your success.

Buying Technology To Help Your Business Grow

A few weeks ago in BusinessCast 109 — I.T. Support for Entrepreneurs – Robert and I got the “low down” on the best ways of selecting and working with a competent I.T support professional. After all, all entrepreneurs require technologies to work 24/7.

But, here’s a critical technology question that many entrepreneurs have trouble answering: “Are we evaluating, purchasing and integrating our technologies in ways that ensure it is allowing us to focus on our business — rather than on our business technologies?

So, in BusinessCast #124 — Buying Technology — Robert and I sat down with Marco Nalli from technology innovator and leader Samsung. Marco has an enviable track record as an expert who helps entrepreneurs negotiate the minefield of purchasing technology so that it effectively balances short- and long-term investments, opportunity costs and business goals.

Listen to BusinessCast #124 — Buying Technology — to hone the processes you use to  evaluate, purchase and integrate your technologies. That means you’ll keep your attention where it belongs…growing your business.

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Looking after Your Wealth

We’ve all seen businesses rise and fall. But, why do some businesses implode while others flourish? We’re fascinated to find the different answers to this question which has perplexed entrepreneurs since the onset of commerce. That’s why Robert and I are constantly exploring the critical components and conditions that make entrepreneurs and their businesses succeed.

It turns out that one of the fundamentals to determining success or failure hinges on an often unspoken assumption: entrepreneurs equate business success with their wealth. But, what happens when that isn’t the case? What happens when an entrepreneur’s long-term wealth is hampered by their very own life’s work (i.e. their business)?

In BusinessCast #117 — Family. Business. And, Wealth – Robert and I explore how entrepreneurs can ensure long-term wealth by sitting down with Thomas Deans, author of the widely-acclaimed book: Every Family’s Business. Thomas takes a truly practical — and sometimes controversial — approach to ensure that entrepreneurs can build and sustain the wealth they’ve worked so hard to build…even if that means drastically changing their relationship with the business that’s been in their family for generations. While that might sound sacreligious to many, his disciplined approach and rationale is a wake-up call to every entrepreneur.

Whether you’re managing a family business, selling a family business, investing in a family business or purchasing a family business, you’ll want to listen to Thomas’ insights in this episode of the BusinessCast podcast.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

More Free Business Resources

Robert and I are constantly gathering and sharing useful business resources with BusinessCast podcast listeners. For example, last month, we gave away a Blackberry Bold to an intrepid entrepreneur in our Entrepreneur Be Bold!” contest.

And, we’re always adding to our library of practical business books. In fact, recently, we added several new titles including:

  • Business Lessons from the Edge – Learn How Extreme Athletes Use Intelligent Risk Taking to Succeed in Business
  • Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications
  • Financial Statements Demystified
  • Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships
  • Fearless Leadership
  • Winning Sales Letters
  • Every Family’s Business – 12 Common Sense Questions to Protect Your Wealth
  • Turn Small Talk Into Big Deals

To get any of these free resources,  just send a note to robert@BusinessCast.ca.

Later this week, we’ll be posting an interview with Tom Deans, author of Every Family’s Business. Because this book is focused, practical, easy-to-read and truly universal, it’s become  a “BusinessCast Essential” book — that is, a critical resource that we believe all entrepreneurs should spend time with. Tom takes a fascinating, controversial and unique approach to ensure that every entrepreneur — buying or selling a family business — can retain wealth.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Business Trends – Part One

Successful entrepreneurs are always harnessing the latest technologies and processes to ensure that their business is as focused and efficient as possible. This requires entrepreneurs to constantly be on the lookout for broad trends (e.g. political, social, demographic) as well as industry-specific trends (e.g. market receptivity, competitors, access to resources and required skills).

So, in BusinessCast podcast episode 115 — Business Trends — Part One — we take up the discussion of the importance of trends with Sacha Ghai. Sacha is a Partner at McKinsey & Co — which is one of the world’s leaders in helping companies develop/improve their strategies, technology and operations.

In future episodes, Robert and I will also drill down with other experts on the trends that will have the greatest on entrepreneurs and their success.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Business Succession — Making the Most of the Opportunity

All entrepreneurs, at one time or another, must contend with business succession. For example:

  • Are you buying a business from someone?
  • Are you planning to sell your own business?
  • Are you taking a back seat/different role in the business you’ve built?
  • Have you taken over the helm of a business for an aging/exiting family member?

Regardless of the circumstances, you’re going to face succession issues and challenges. And the way, you deal with these issues will have a tremendous impact on you, your friends, your family and your business.

That’s why in BusinessCast Podast #110 Robert and I sat down with succession-management guru John Geddes who recently authored one of Canada’s business top sellers Succession and the Family Business: A Road Full of Potholes or Paved With Gold“. The old school of thought for succession had been “get the legal and accounting issues dealt with and everything would be fine.” But, John’s worked with enough entrepreneurs to know that the interpersonal challenges unique to family businesses must be dealt with properly to ensure a successful and smooth succession. And, that rule applies whether you’re an entrepreneur taking over a family business or an entrepreneur making plans to leave a family business to take on other opportunities.

But, John’s wisdom is universal. His insights about the emotional dynamics that play out in family businesses during succession can help any entrepreneur who serves or sells to family businesses going through difficult transitions.

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All the Money You Ever Needed — Winning The Entrepreneur Lottery

Congratulations, you’ve done it — you found investment funds for your business!  But now, what can you expect from those who have invested in your dream? Is all the hard work really over?

To answer these questions, in BusinessCast Podcast #106, we sat down with John Loewen, CEO of Loewen & Partners, a specialty private equity investment bank, to help provide clarity about what life is like for entrepreneurs after receiving investment funds. It turns out that this can be a great time — if the “fit” is right. John brings a wealth of experience as well as provides some straight-talk and practical insights.

After listening to BusinessCast Podcast #106, you will be much better informed about what you can expect after you receive investment and therefore when it’s truly the right time for you to seek and secure investment.

When you are ready for investment make sure that you listen to BusinessCast Podcast #74 – Money Magnet -- where we review one of the finest and most effective resources to help entrepreneurs secure investment funding.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on why a Blackberry Bold will help your business.

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Financial Intelligence…It Doesn’t Have to Be Painful!

How many of you look forward to talking about numbers (really)?

The truth is that most entrepreneurs only have a very rudimentary understanding of finance. The problem is that having little or no skill in gathering, organizing or interpreting your company’s finances can lead to less-than-perfect, and sometime disastrous, decision making.

That’s why Robert — a longtime believer in helping entrepreneurs gain financial intelligence — and I are constantly looking for tools and resources that breathe life into the “numbers side” of your business.

And, that’s why we’re so happy to have identified “Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs“. In BusinessCast #98, Financial Intelligence, we interview co-author Joe Knight. He shares some nuggets but, perhaps more importantly he demonstrates his commitment to developing a truly practical resource.

What impressed me — and, I’m not a “numbers person” — is how well this book is written. It’s clear, concise and really, well…very human! Meaning, it doesn’t feel anything like a finance or accounting text book that speaks down to you. Nor is it so dry that you’re just aching to get to the end of the next paragraph.

The authors quite successfully convey fundamental and complex ideas in a way that you’d wish your CFO could! If you’re running a business and you’re the least bit uncomfortable with business numbers, read this book….and read it, now.

BTW, we have several free copies of Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs so, read an excerpt and then send Robert an email (robert@businesscast.ca) and we’ll send you a free copy. You’ll be glad you did!

Other resources to help you tackle your finances include:

BusinessCast Podcast #69 – Business Success By the Numbers – to help you get straight-forward answers to these common numbers-focused questions:

  1. Should you buy or lease your car?
  2. Should you invest available cash in your mortgage or an RRSP (IRA)?
  3. Who should you sell your business to?

Also, find below some focused resources to help you work through these questions and get you more comfortable dealing with financial issues critical to your business -

A Lease or Buy Your Car Calculator

A Contribute to Your Mortgage or RRSP Calculator

A Video on Finances for Business Leaders (Note: The video providers will prompt you to register before you will be able to view this video.)

BTW, if you have a ‘numbers’ question, let us know. We’ll address it in an upcoming show.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Franchise Comes Alive

At the BusinessCast podcast, we bring practical, real-life business lessons from entrepreneurs to other entrepreneurs — so that everyone can be more successful.

And, its because of this commitment to the entrepreneur community that Robert and I were invited to be official members of the Media  for the Canadian Franchise Association’s Franchise Show.

It was truly evident by the tremendous turnout and enthusiasm at the show that entrepreneurs of all ages and experiences do indeed recognize that the franchise business model is a viable and highly desirable option in this soft economy. Why? Because: the franchise model saves time and expense that every entrepreneur spends on creating and honing a system that is profitable.

In BusinessCast podcast episode 97 – Franchising for Entrepreneurs – Live! among the most compelling franchisors we spoke to were:

Aarons Rents – This relatively unknown brand of rent-to-own furnishings and equipment in Canada is poised for explosive growth. In fact, it’s one of those businesses that will flourish in soft economies. They’ve had some Canadian franchisees reaching break-even points in record time! Doug Warren, Director of Franchising, tells us of some inspiring successes!

Fast Signs — A business-to-business franchise, this franchise is a salesperson’s dream. If you’re a natural people-person and enjoy networking, selling and building a strong presence in a community (c’mon let’s face it there are a lot of you out there), then listen carefully to our discussions with Brian Wieters, Director of Franchising.

Cobs Bread – A new and fast-growing franchise, this business is perfect for you if you want to build and/or apply your skills in managing people as well as rolling-up your sleeves! John Gilson, Director of Franchising gives us a peek.

We spoke to franchisors, franchisees as well as those looking to get a better understanding of how this model could work for them. The CFA had some great resources — including free seminars and ‘Ask the Expert’ sessions. Even if you’re not sure how franchising may fit into your professional career, check other CFA events! You’ll learn some useful business nuggets just by chatting with other successful entrepreneurs just like you!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

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