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:

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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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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

BusinessCast Round-Up

Well, Robert and I have done over 20 shows since our last BusinessCast Podcast round-up. These shows are always popular because they give all entrepreneurs — i.e. new subscribers and loyal listeners alike — a quick and easy way of hearing what business-critical issues we’ve covered over the last handful of months. So, in BusinessCast Podcast #89 – Greatest Hits Vol. 3 we highlight some of the most essential topics and key learnings from BusinessCast episodes as far back as episode #67.

Specifically, in Greatest Hits Vol. 3 we highlights shows AND key BusinessCast blogposts where we provided practical tools and advice to help entrepreneurs address key issues such as:

  • Building Profile for Your Business
  • Developing Sales Incentives That Increase Revenues
  • Tackling Crisis Communication
  • Establishing a Strong Foundation in Mobile Marketing
  • Speaking Confidently in Public
  • Securing Financing
  • Emerging Stronger When Good Employees Leave
  • Finding the Right Business Partner
  • Increasing Cash Flow
  • Dealing Effectively with Cross-Generational Values
  • Overcoming Sales Objections

In so doing, we also recount some of our most memorable guests, including:

  • Catherine Swift (Canadian Federation of Independent Business)
  • Michael Younder, Senior Product Marketer (Research in Motion)
  • Paul Chato, President of YourWebDepartment and member of the Canadian comedy troupe the Frantics
  • Bruce Hunter, Fortune 500 heavyweight and insightful author

And, we do it all in under 20 minutes!

As always you can listen to each of the shows we touch upon in Greatest Hits Vol. 3 by clicking on the BusinessCast Podcast Archives.

Finally, a quick thank you to all BusinessCast Podcast fans who voted for us in the 2008 national blog and podcast competition. The BusinessCast Podcast Canada’s was voted as Canada’s 2nd most favourite podcast!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Piercing the Business Fog for Entrepreneurs

Wow!! Have you ever wanted to learn key insights from the senior level of the most respected and successful brands in the World? Well here’s you chance!

This week on the BusinessCast Podcast we have an exceptional guest — Bruce Hunter — a seasoned business leader and manager. In fact, Bruce has been a senior executive at several Fortune 500 companies and completed strategic deals for these companies valued at billions of dollars!  On BusinessCast episode #87 – Coming in from the Fog, Bruce shares some valuable lessons from his new book that are applicable to all businesses — regardless of size, geographic location, age, industry or vision!

After listening to the show, check out Bruce’s book, Fog Lights, Piercing the Fog of Everyday Business which is available at:

You can also read a sample about *pricing* from the book at Bruce’s own website. Enjoy!

Finally, it turns out that several of the themes that Bruce highlights in this show, we’ve covered in detail during previous BusinessCast Podcasts. For those of you who want to dig a bit deeper, here are a few episodes well worth re-visiting:

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Music In the Workplace: “Happy Together” or “Don’t Bring Me Down”?

Now that portable music devices like the iPod and mp3-enabled phones have revolutionized the way people listen to music — more and more people are listening to music (and podcasts like the BusinessCast) at work.

So, where do you stand on listening to music at your work place? Sooner or later, you’ll need to put a ‘stake in the sand’ and define a policy around this practice — particularly, if your team consists of people in their 20s.

Of course, your policy about listening to music at work will vary according to the nature of the work. But, here are some practical questions for you to think through as you pull together guidelines about music at work:

Clients. To what degree does listening to music prevent employees from responding to or interacting with clients?

Deadlines/Concentration. Are there specific times of the day, week or month that require special attention to ensure accurate completion of highly technical and/or deadline-driven tasks?

I.T. Department. Does listening to music cause an unacceptable drain on the I.T. infrastructure – to initiate or support? This can be the case if ‘streaming music’ is being used.

Reputation. What image are you sending to people coming to your place of work when people are seen listening to music at your work place? Is it an image that you’re comfortable with?

Employee Recruitment/Retention. Do your employees look upon listening to work as a ‘right’ or as a privilege?

Management. Do the rules about listening to music at work apply to everyone — including you and your senior management team?

Productivity. Does listening to music at work make for a more pleasant and productive environment?

Finally, whatever your policy, you’ve got to work through how it will be introduced, monitored, measured and maintained.

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Make sure you check out the BusinessCast Podcast ‘Blog Review’ Episode where we outline how you can get some practical business – books for free!**