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

The Most Well-Known and Under-Used Secret to Business Success

If I told you that you could save significant money in the short- and long-term when it comes to your next product launch would you be interested? How about, if I suggested a way that you could increase the likelihood that customers would purchase more of your services? How about, if I could point to a sure-fire method of making sure that your brand message actually “sticks” with the right audience?

Well, the truth is, most entrepreneurs have the capacity to achieve such savings and ensure their success. In BusinessCast podcast show #55 – Feedback – Or Is It Just Noise? we tackle the most well-known and under-used secret to business…smart, deliberate, focused research! At the same time, we know asking for feedback and conduct research is the least glamorous part of marketing. But, think of it this way: because your competitors are most likely not doing it or not doing it well, it can yield a significant source of insight that can actually see you leapfrog you ahead of them!

The challenge for many entrepreneurs is the feeling that they know precisely:

  • Who their market is;
  • Where the market is;
  • How the market is evolving;
  • What the market wants now/in the future;
  • What the market feels it needs now;
  • What priority their products/services have in the mind of their market;
  • How each market segment behaves;
  • What the market is prepared to pay;
  • What obstacles their customers have to overcome; and
  • How competitors are better/different from them.

That typically means that entrepreneurs rarely solicit feedback.

In fact, the reality is that markets, competitors and your own business evolves so quickly that it is impractical and unlikely that all those insights are captured, organized, analyzed, updated and applied on an on-going basis in your company. The prospect of research then becomes so daunting that many just ignore it completely or discount it. But, you don’t have to do everything at once. That’s why in BusinessCast podcast show #55 – Feedback – Or Is It Just Noise?, we review some of the key elements of gathering feedback from customers and the market-at-large.

And, while we know that you’ve got to run a business, we just want you to think about those questions posed in the first paragraph. You can achieve those benefits and savings. To that end, here’s a very useful summary chart to help you put into perspective the different methods for pulling insights from the market – along with their benefits and limitations.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Get New Employees Up and Running – Part 3 – Secrets for Your Success

In BusinessCast podcast show #59 Get New Employees Up and Running, we tackle employee orientation. Why should you care? If you want to achieve any of the following objectives, listen to the show:

  • Give the impression that your company is a good place to work
  • Give an accurate sense of what it is like to work at your company
  • Reduce new employees’ ‘ramp up’ time for getting familiar with your company’s culture, required skills and technologies
  • Reduce employee turnover rates – and associated costs
  • Inspire new employees to become ambassadors for your company

Chances are that you want to achieve several of these objectives. So, here are some of the key secrets you need to include in your employee orientation initiatives:

  • Identify those meetings that new employees need to attend, or participate in, so that they feel as if they’re part of the culture. 
  • Keep in mind that how a new employee thinks about your company begins prior to the first day on-the-job (i.e. during your recruitment and interviews).
  • Make sure that employees feel like they are part of the team. A great way of doing this is by assigning a ‘buddy’ during the first six-to-eight weeks of a new employee starting work.
  • Spend some time with your new employee to learn about their skills and career aspirations.
  • Think of your potential new employees as your most important prospect. So, make sure that every interaction your company has with them is professional, respectful and reinforces your company’s core values.
  • Ask your current employees to provide input in developing, monitoring and updating your employee orientation program.

Developing a successful employee orientation will save you time, energy and money. And, now, you’ve got some of the essentials tools to get underway! Remember, let us know about the innovative ways you orient your new employees.

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

 

Get New Employees Up and Running – Part 1

 

You’re always perfecting the processes for getting your newly acquired customers comfortable. It’s one of your keys to success. And, its an area you would never think about neglecting.

 

But, what about doing the same thing for an audience that is just as important as your customers – probably even more important – your employees!

 

A good employee orientation is so much more than just making sure that key forms are filled out or that new employees know where to find the nearest Tim Hortons. The truth of the matter is that if you have a well-developed employee orientation you are going to have much better employee retention. And, all entrepreneurs know the importance of retaining good employees.

 

In BusinessCast podcast #59 – Get New Employees Up and Running – we provide answers for questions that entrepreneurs are always struggling with, including:

  • How important is a good employee orientation?
  • What should a good employee orientation look like?
  • What are the key components of an effective employee orientation program?
  • Who should design, participate, lead and measure your employee orientation program?
  • When does orientation truly begin?
  • How do you know that your employee orientation is successful?
  • How can you/when should you review and improve your employee orientation?

If you’ve ever wondered about how best to orient your new employees, now’s the time to get a quick primer: Listen to BusinessCast podcast #59 and you will truly Get New Employees Up and Running.

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

 

Trade Your Business – Part 3 – Resource Round-Up

 

There’s something compelling about bartering – potentially saving costs, quickly acquiring new customers and eliminating unwanted inventory.

 

But, as we’ve explored in “Trade Your Business” (show # 60), each entrepreneur needs to consider several items before they begin bartering, such as: 

  • Establishing a barter-specific rate card
  • How to report barter activity in your annual taxes
  • Implications that bartering can have on your brand
  • Managing expectations

As a business owners/manager, you also need to determine how much you are prepared to trade and accept in barter. As Robert quite rightly pointed out, “you can’t pay your mortgage with barter!”

 

If you find that bartering does work for you, here are a few barter networks that you may want to explore:

Finally, review the New York Times article on online bartering networks.

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

 

Trade Your Business – Part 2 – Getting In Agreement

 

In “Trade Your Business” (show # 60) we “unbundle” bartering. One of the tools we identify that can help ensure that bartering helps your business – as well as prevents time-consuming and potentially expensive misunderstandings – is a bartering agreement.

 

Here are some of the key components that you should include in such an agreement: 

  • Description of the product/service being exchanged
  • The dollar value of the items/services being exchanged
  • Acceptable substitutes (if any)
  • Start date (if a service is being provided)
  • Key milestones (if a service is being provided)
  • Delivery date (or end date – if a service is being provided)
  • A measure of quality
  • Acceptable form of remuneration – if the bartering is not completed in the specified time period (e.g. returning a percentage or withholding work)
  • Indication of whether the bartering contract can be transferred to someone else or held over to another date
  • Sign-off by those entering into the agreement
  • A signature by a trusted third-party who has read the agreement and has witnessed its signing

Going through this process is invaluable because it clarifies expectations and helps you identify those people with whom you do/do not want to barter. Of course, it may also highlight the fact that you may need further legal advice or that bartering isn’t right under certain circumstances.

 

Before your consider bartering as a good business tool to control costs, enter into new networks or dispose of unwanted inventory, make sure you listen to “Trade Your Business” (show # 60).

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes