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

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.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

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.

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

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

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

Email Marketing Bootcamp – Part 2

Email Marketing…the Right Way!

In BusinessCast podcast episode #93 Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 our guest Matthew Vernhout, email guru and voice behind the authority EmailKarma.net spelled out how entrepreneurs — of all sizes and across industries — can develop email marketing campaigns that truly work. In Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 Matthew addressed:

  • The key players involved in email marketing campaigns
  • How to establish relevant and measurable goals
  • How to build and grow your database of email subscribers

Now in Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 2, Matthew addresses the final stages of any profitable and effective email marketing campaign:

  • Ensuring that email actually arrives after you send it
  • Getting your emails opened
  • Ensuring your email is acted upon
  • Measuring success and improving follow up campaigns

This bootcamp series is an absolute must for any entrepreneur wondering when/how to leap into or optimize their email marketing.

BTW, have you listened to BusinessCast episode #94 — Franchising for Entrepreneurs? Robert and I chatted with Lorraine McLachlan, President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (www.cfa.ca). Lorraine shares an insight into this effective and potentially recession-proof business model.

Be sure to join us at the CFA’s Canadian Franchise Show on February 21 and 22. We’ll be at the show gathering compelling stories, lessons and insights for you from franchisors and franchisees.

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

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Connecting for Business Success

Today, it’s hard to find real business “truths” because everything that impacts your business changes so quickly — for example: the new technologies you need for your operations, dramatic swings in customer demand, new competitors entering your market, the rising cost of production and sales, the challenges in securing investment resources, evolving employee expectations etc.

But, one truth is constant: your business will only succeed if you are connected to the right people at the right time.

Finding, nurturing and leveraging the right business connections is exactly what Donna Messer, President, ConnectUs Communications Canada – guest for BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success – does day-in and day-out.  Just like every entrepreneur, she has a network of suppliers, customers, advisors, colleagues, media… and the list goes on and on. But, unlike most entrepreneurs, Donna has honed a process for efficiently connecting them with each other so that participants find value in the connection and in the initiator of that connection, Donna. The result: Donna has become an important influencer in dozens of different industries.

Listen to BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success and you’ll find some practical nuggets of wisdom that will help build your connecting skills/opportunities — and therefore ensure your business’ succeess.

If you want to read about how entrepreneurs just like you tackled some of the other most common business problems, check out Your Business Success Stories.

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

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Email Marketing Bootcamp Part 1

Email is part of every entrepreneur’s life. But, email marketing remains a mystery for most. Why? Because to do it cost-effectively and to achieve the right business objectives has become increasingly complex. That’s where our guest comes in…

In BusinessCast podcast episode #93 Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 our guest Matthew Vernhout, email guru and voice behind the authority EmailKarma.net spells out how entrepreneurs — of all sizes and across industries — can develop email marketing campaigns that truly work. In Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 Matthew addresses:

  • The key players involved in any successful email marketing campaign
  • How to establish relevant and measurable goals
  • How to build and grow your database of email subscribers

In a few weeks, Matthew will be back to address the final stages of any profitable and effective email marketing campaign. So, in Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 2, Matthew discusses how entrepreneurs can optimize their campaigns by:

  • Ensuring that email actually arrives after you send it
  • Getting your emails opened
  • Ensuring your email is acted upon
  • Measuring success and improving follow up campaigns

You’ll enjoy this, our first ‘bootcamp’ series because it mixes some high-level approaches and some practical to-do’s — all of which will help your email marketing campaigns work better for you. Chances are you’ll also be inspired by Matthew because he shares our philosophy of business which is: “by sharing best practices and tools, every entrepreneur wins!”

Make sure that you listen to next week’s episode as well — particularly if you’ve ever thought about franchising your business or investing in a franchise. Robert and I chat with Lorraine MacLachlan, President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (www.cfa.ca). Lorraine brings passion and excitement to the topic of franchising. And, the timing couldn’t be better because the CFA is hosing the Canadian Franchise Show on February 21 and 22. FYI, Robert and I will be at the show gathering compelling stories, lessons and insights for you from franchisors and franchisees.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

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