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.

Smart Book Smarts — Key Entrepreneur Resources

Every year a slew of business books arrive in stores claiming to help entrepreneurs become more successful. But which books are really going to help you tackle your short- or long-term challenges?

Since Robert and I are always searching online/offline for resources that are truly practical and relevant for entrepreneurs, in BusinessCast episode #122 — Smart Book Smarts – we review three books that effectively address some of the most common and critical entrepreneur challenges.

The books we review in this episode are the following:

1) Selling to the C-Suite. What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top;

2) The Inspiring Leader. Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate; and

3) Upstarts. How Gen Y Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business.

Listen to BusinessCast episode #122 — Smart Book Smarts to get a flavour of these resources and decide for yourself which one(s) are most appropriate for you.

A special thanks to McGraw Hill who graciously provided these leading-edge entrepreneur resources.

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Entrepreneurs — In Action

Robert and I are always looking to identify events that help entrepreneurs succeed. Given that there is such an array of online and offline activities, it’s difficult for any entrepreneur to know which events and forums are truly worth their time.

That’s why we’re so pleased to have been invited to be official media guests for the 7th Annual Business Networking Night. The event has become one of the most worthwhile and fun evenings for up-and-coming business leaders in the City. In BusinessCast #121 – Robert and I captured the energy and enthusiasm from the event — organized by Toronto’s leading business networking facilitator, Jennifer Beale.

While at the event, we spoke to dozens of entrepreneurs and asked them two key questions:

  1. What is their biggest business challenge today; and
  2. How are they overcoming that challenge.

Listen to BusinessCast #121 and tap into the secrets behind how entrepreneurs are successfully tackling today’s most difficult challenges.

BTW, we’ve just added a new title to our ever-growing library of books — available for any of our listeners at no charge. The new book: “Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business.”

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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.

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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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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!

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Building the Future

Robert and I refrain from predicting the future. However, we do go on record to identify the topics that we will be tackling in upcoming episodes of the BusinessCast Podcast. And, that’s what BusinessCast Podcast episode #90 is all about — a summary of upcoming topics.

Of course, we’ll dig deep into relevant issues that face all entrepreneurs across all business areas such as marketing, operations, human resources, sales, technology and finance.

This year, we’ll also delve into some new areas such as industry-specific issues/opportunities and key trends.

And, we’ll also be conducting interviews with high-profile entrepreneurs and authors as well as attending entrepreneur-focused events.

Finally, we know that entrepreneurs have been using the BusinessCast Podcast at “lunch and learns” to encourage discussion and stimulate creativity — with all levels of management and staff. If you want us to lead or attend such sessions, contact Robert at Robert@BennettGold.ca.

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