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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Green Business Trends: Ensuring Business Sustainability

Robert and I have always supported entrepreneurs like you in your quest for success. That invariably means creating a sustainable business  — one that is capable of ensuring wealth for investors,  fulfillment for employees and value for customers/clients and the community.  Over the last few years, sustainable has also come to take on another meaning: being respectful of the environmental impact and resources required to keep a business profitable.

Focusing on this new dimension, environmental sustainability,  for BusinessCast episode #118,  Robert and I sat down with Rob Colman — Senior Editor of Green Business magazine. Rob shares with us what he sees are the latest trends in “greening businesses” and the opportunities that presents for entrepreneurs like you.

At the same time, if you’re wondering if, when and how you should integrate environmentally sustainable practices into your business, also check out BusinessCast #112 — Greening Your Business where Rob Grand, President of Grass Roots Stores shares his practical insights.

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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.

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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

Greening Your Business…For Business

Greenyour business?  Why should you? After all, you’re busy dealing with day-to-day business challenges in the middle of a soft economy. Do you really have time to be thinking “green“? What’s the payback? Will it really matter to your top line or to your bottom line?

Well, “greening” your business means a host of different things to different people. So, in BusinessCast Podcast episode #112 – Greening Your Business — we sat down to get a perspective on greening from an entrepreneur who has a strong track record of successfully implementing green practices. Rob Grand, the President of Grass Roots Store has a relevant perspective for all entrepreneurs. For the better part of 15 years, Rob has worked through the various ways that businesses can become more green. In so doing, he’s weeded through the hype and chosen strategies that have seen his business grow its customer base, its revenues, its brand and achieve operational efficiencies.

If you’ve ever wondered about the value of greening your business, listen to BusinessCast Podcast episode #112.

Here are some additional resources to help you to determine if, when and how you should green your business:

  • A carbon footprint calculator that allows you to play out various scenarios regarding the impact of items such as servers, travel, facilities, etc.

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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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Cost Savings for Entrepreneurs

We know the cost pressures that entrepreneurs are facing today. So, Robert and I sat down to identify practical advice that entrepreneurs can take to save costs now. And, that’s why BusinessCast Podcast #100 – Cost Cutting for Entrepreneurs is very straight-forward.

Of course, keep in-mind, before cutting costs across your company, ask yourself two key questions:

  • Are we acting as efficiently as we can?
  • Are we doing anything that we should not be doing?

Often answering these questions for yourself generates the greatest cost-savings for your business.

Finally, here are two other good resources for cost-savings tips:

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

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Transformative Change: Start with the Digital Mindset

Every successful entrepreneur knows: to be successful means constantly changing. And, therein lies the irony — to be successful you’ve got to change something…and something that has allowed you to be successful up to now. But, where do you start? What needs to change? When should you change? How do you implement change? How do you make the right changes “stick”?

Now, combine that leadership reality with your day-to-day management challenges such as: the entry of new competitors, the rising price of doing business, new technologies, greater business risks, evolving customer expectations and your team’s desire to grow professionally.

So, at the end of the day, who’s got time to plan, implement and measure the kinds of changes that will ensure your continued success? Since this is the reality in which all entrepreneurs work, check out BusinessCast Podcast episode #99 — Grown Up Digital where we talk with Futurist (and pragmatist) Don Tapscott. The internationally renowned author shares insights and principles that you can apply now to ensure your future success.

The core of Don’s insights revolve around the values and behaviours that businesses need to embrace to succeed. And, not surprisingly these are brought to your business (and your competitors’ businesses) by the current generation of workers — those who have, you’ve guessed it , Grown Up Digital. Together, we touch upon issues that span all areas of business such as Human Resources (e.g. recruitment and retention), Marketing, Operations and Finance.

Once you’ve got a handle on the Digital generation and what they expect out of their workplace — as well as the opportunities and costs of adapting to leverage this generation’s strengths, you’ll also want to get a handle on how to manage the mix of generations within your workplace. Three resources that can help you in this regard include the following:

1. A Boomer’s Guide to Communication with Gen X and Gen Y. This Business Week article summarizes how these two generations approach items including: technology, compensation, collaboration, workplace gossip, attire, socializing and corporate loyalty.

2. If your business requires the energies of those who are currently graduating, review the recent Globe and Mail article, The Class of 2012: Mr. Google’s Children.

3. The American Management Association’s “Generations at Work“ has become a seminal piece of business literature that clearly and concisely explains the core values, assumptions and expectations of each of the current/evolving generations. To get you inspired, read Robert and my book review.

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

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Networking for Entrepreneurs: Part 2

In BusinessCast podcast episode #92 – Networking for Entrepreneurs, Robert and I interviewed the inspiring networking guru and author of Smart Networking, Liz Lynch. She shared some of the background and core lessons that can be found in her book. But, do we think that her book is going to become the new networking benchmark? Short answer: yes!

Here’s a rapid book evaluation and review which outlines why this is an important resource for any busy entrepreneur looking for practical tools they can use in the short- and long-term. Specifically, Smart Networking:

1) Identifies and addresses the most common obstacles to effective networking. For the most part, these obstacles are ways that people feel about — and therefore approach — networking. Smart Networking addresses these mental blocks head-on rather than avoiding or ignoring them. This is a refreshing approach that will appeal to anyone who hesitates with the prospect of networking (pgs 11-32).

2) Succinctly outlines a straight forward approach to ensuring networking success: be found, be personable and be credible. This foundation may sound simplistic but, the reality is that everyone can build on at least one  of these principles (pgs 33-44).

3) Provides practical and foundation-setting tools that can be used by every current or budding entrepreneur regardless of industry (pgs 45-62).

4) Identifies actionable strategies that entrepreneurs can implement based on their own skills, willingness, availability and budgets (pgs 63-119).

5) Addresses available online tools and communites as a method to optimize networking efforts and results  (pgs 120-164).

6) Outlines a realistic and measurable networking plan (pgs 165-177).

Bottom Line for Entrepreneurs: Smart Networking is a critical networking tool — ideal for those who want to begin or hone their networking activities. Also, check out Liz’s site which complements the book with tools including an initial (and free) self-assessment.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

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