Business Crisis? What Crisis?

No-one likes a crisis. That’s why it’s far too common for even the most successful entrepreneur to overlook crisis planning. The challenge is that once you’re in the middle of a true business crisis, you rarely have the time or the resources to deal with it as well as you would want to.

After all, you could find yourself thrown into a very tense situation — trying desperately to deal with members of the media, angry clients, disenchanted employees, wary investors, intrusive regulators and other critical stakeholders.

It’s an emotional time and all it takes is saying ONE wrong word and your business can suffer. That’s why in BusinessCast episode #123, Robert and I “pick the brains” of one of the Nation’s leaders on crisis communications. Dr. Allan Bonner and his team have advised Canada’s most senior business leaders, political figures and sports figures to successfully avoid a crisis, deal with a crisis and turn around a crisis to their advantage.

Listen to BusinessCast episode #123 and get some practical insights on how you can make sure that you’re prepared when a crisis hits your business.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Networking for Entrepreneurs – Resource Round-up

Robert and I are always being asked by entrepreneurs for tips and tools about networking. It’s not that there aren’t a vast array of worthwhile networking resources available online and offline. But, given hectic schedules, entrepreneurs want to find and tap into those tools that will help achieve a wide range of networking goals quickly and cost-effectively.

So, over the last few months, we’ve reviewed a number of critical networking resources. For example, in BusinessCast #92 we reviewed Liz Lynch’s practical and powerful handbook entitled, Networking for Entrepreneurs. Then in BusinessCast Podcast #105, Liz, Robert and I ran through three of the most common networking scenarios faced by all entrepreneurs.

We also tackled the growing topic of online networking by focusing on LinkedIn. In BusinessCast Podcast #104, Doyle Slayton shared tips on how he uses this online community to forward his networking agenda. While we’ll be building on this topic in future BusinessCast Podcast episodes this interview, along with the associated blog post, is an easy and practical introduction to LinkedIn.

It’s with this imperative on practical tips and speed that we bring in one of Canada’s most prominent and successful “connectors” — Donna Messer. That’s why in BusinessCast Podcast #108, Essential Networking Rules, we have Donna rifle through 15 of the most important networking tips in under 10 minutes!!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to Win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on how a Blackberry Bold will help your business. Send a note to Robert@BusinessCast.ca and you could win this powerful smartphone — provided by Research in Motion.

Your Brand: “Entrepreneur” — A National Perspective

Robert and I speak with international authors, experts and innovators — sharing advice that helps entrepreneurs become more successful. But, what often goes unsaid is that part of every entrepreneur’s success stems from the strength, reach and consistency of the brand “entrepreneur”. If you describe yourself, or more importantly, if others label you as an entrepreneur — you get branded with a series of very specific skills, characteristics and motivations. That’s why we’re always keeping an eye open for how entrepreneurs are branded, individually and collectively.

So, in BusinessCast Podcast #107 we chatted with Maclean’s Magazine’s National Editor, Andrew Coyne.  Maclean’s Magazine is Canada’s only national weekly current affairs magazine and Andrew is one of a few people with a good sense for the pulse of the Nation. So it seemed only fitting to gather his “take” on entrepreneurs, the importance of entrepreneurs to our economy and the challenges facing entrepreneurs today.

Among his reflections, Andrew highlights examples and key sources of innovation — including Tesla Motors – and blogs/podcasts like the BusinessCast!

Listen to BusinessCast Podcast #107 and you’ll get a picture of how you, and all entrepreneurs, come across to the rest of Canada.  To read more from Andrew Coyne, check out his insightful blog.

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. Send your note to Robert@businesscast.ca.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Getting Media Coverage — 5 Key Steps

While many marketers have, over the last few years, advised entrepreneurs to focus on building their social media profile, keep in-mind that getting your name in the ‘traditional media’ (i.e. newspapers, radio, television and print journals) can still be a powerful marketing tool well-worth pursuing.

In fact, the core principles used for establishing and growing profile online are actually built upon on the methods used in infiltrating the traditional media. That’s why in BusinessCast podcast #103 Robert and I sit down with Gerry Nicholls who is recognized as being one of the Nation’s most media-savvy political pundits. But, Gerry is more than a ‘thinker’ — he’s a doer with a rare history of building public profile for people, companies and causes. So, Gerry draws on his strong track record to share five ways that you can start to build and grow relationships with key media people.

Once you’ve listened to BusinessCast Podcast #103 you’ll be much better equipped to build a plan of action for getting the media coverage you want and deserve.

Here are a few additional points to consider for your media-building plan:

Define your targets precisely – Among the various types of targets, you should include at least one of the following: number of “mentions” in specific media; number of “positive” mentions in specific media; number of times you’re called by editors or journalists as a source of expertise; ‘unassisted name recognition’ as measured in your market research or ‘improved positive name association’ as measured in your market research.

Plan for ‘bad publicity’ — When you’re taking efforts to build your public profile, keep in-mind that there will be occasions when the media will miss a critical point or misunderstand something. The resulting increased buzz may not be the buzz you want. So, play out worst-case scenarios and identify what you will do to correct any inaccuracies or misconceptions about your company. It is particularly important to use the right combination of online tools in order to keep bad press from spreading through search engines.

Establish a precise process – Let everyone in your organization know who will act as your company’s spokesperson(s). Provide them with the training to deal effectively with the media and establish a straight-forward process for responding quickly to media inquiries.

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

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Kijiji – An Entrepreneur Story Within eBay

We know that entrepreneurship is an unquenchable thirst that provides focus, energy and purpose. But, can it really be sustained inside a company that has grown to be wildly successful?

You bet! In BusinessCast #102, we spoke to Senior Marketing Manager, Eric Pierni at Kijiji, an eBay company. He shares with us just how the spirit and discipline of entrepreneurship thrives within Kijiji — one of Canada’s outstanding online success stories.

It turns out that the entrepreneurial approach that gave rise to Kijiji is also the secret to its continued and future success. Eric’s passion and approach is inspirational. You can find out more about how you can apply Kijiji.ca ‘s formula for success when Eric presents at the upcoming eMetrics Summit.

A special thanks to Wendy Vincent at c2e.ca for connecting us with Eric.

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

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Social Media – Keeping Your Ear to the Groundswell

Every single entrepreneur that Robert and I have spoken to is grappling with ‘social media’.  Entrepreneurs just like you — across all industries — are asking the fundamental questions, such as:

  • Should I use social media tools?
  • What social media tools should I use?
  • How should I use social media to get the most out of them?
  • When should I be using these tools?
  • How much time/money/effort should I invest in social media tools?
  • How will I know that I’m using social media tools effectively?

Don’t be put off if you don’t have the answers. Because, in fact, many entrepreneurs just like you are still asking: “What are social media tools anyway?” Over the next few months, Robert and I are taking this fascinating and fast-moving topic head-on.

1) To get underway, in BusinessCast #101, we’ve just interviewed Charlene Li. Charlene is the engaging co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies — considered to be one of the landmark books on social media. And, no wonder. The resource accomplishes something that few other social media books, articles or websites do: it provides practical and actionable advice, clearly and concisely. The ‘heart’ of the book is a way to view your current/targeted markets based on how they actually use technology.  And, then once you’ve got a handle on how your audience interacts with technology, Groundswell provides guidelines for how to reach them. Equally as practical is the overall Groundswell approach which recommends that you should focus on the type of relationship you want with your markets — rather than focusing on the social media tools (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Digg, YouTube, Flickr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, etc. etc.) themselves.

2) We’re also attending a fascinating and highly-recommended series of social media webinars made available through Marketwire – which is one of the World leaders for press release distribution, public relations and investor relations. We will be bringing you updates on each of the monthly webinars. However, we recommend that if you want to remain on the leading-edge of this topic, sign-up for them now so that you can get a jump on your competitors by building a social media roadmap.

3) Whenever we see a resource that is particularly useful for entrepreneurs, we cherry-pick some of the most relevant social media news and insights. So, here are two BusinessCast blogposts that can help you quickly get up-and-running on social media:

4) You’re probably asking yourself how popular is social media? Here’s a resource that provides some social media usage stats.

5) Finally, when you’ve had a chance to review the above resources, check out Charlene Li’s blog where she tackles the future of social media.

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

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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