Penetrating New Markets

One of the most exciting times in any entrepreneur’s business life is when they successfully penetrate new markets. Of course, “new markets” can mean a different segment, a different industry, a different geographic region, etc. But, whatever the focus, the key to success is applying discipline — but, where to begin?

To answer this question, for BusinessCast podcast episode #119 — Penetrating New Markets — Robert and I sat down with Tony Lourakis, CEO of Markham-based, Complete Innovations. Tony shares his insights about how, in under nine years, he has successfully taken an innovative niche business into new markets. At the same time, Complete Innovations has earned accolades such as being named in the Profit Hot 50 and the Profit 100.

Listen to BusinessCast podcast episode #119 — Penetrating New Markets — and you’ll gain practical insights on how and when you can penetrate your next new market!

A special thanks to Victoria Freeman at High Road Communications for introducing us to Tony.

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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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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.

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Leveraging LinkedIn – Online Networking for Entrepreneurs

More and more entrepreneurs are jumping on LinkedIn — which is one of the most popular online/social networking tools. But, to what end? So, Robert and I dig into this question.

In BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, we speak with Doyle Slayton who has done a terrific job at using LinkedIn to build his professional profile. Doyle shares some of his experiences of how he’s used the LinkedIn to successfully build the “SalesBlogcast Group” to be one of the largest, fastest growing, most focused and user-friendly resources on LinkedIn.

Whether you’re new to LinkedIn or are an experienced user, here are some useful LinkedIn- related resources:

1) Why Use LinkedIn – This often quoted Guy Kawasaki article is ususally mislabelled “How to use LinkedIn” but really answers the question “why this tool can be useful”. So, while it doesn’t give you any hands-on insights, it still is worthwhile reviewing to determine whether LinkedIn is right for you. For those entrepreneurs who want some more background, here’s a source that prides itself on being the “unofficial source for all things LinkedIn“.

2) Who is on LinkedIn anyway? Here’s a PowerPoint presentation that gives an overview of the demographics of LinkedIn users.

3) Thinking about using LinkedIn to build your business and business network? You’re not alone. While there are thousands of articles that chip away at how to answer this question, here’s one that provides some good hands-on advice.

After listening to Doyle’s passion in BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, you’ll likely want to check out and sign-up to his thriving SalesBlogcast Group or his SalesBlogcast 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.

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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!

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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

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

Franchising: A Business Model for the Times

A few weeks ago — in BusinessCast Podcast #94 – Franchising for Entrepreneurs, Robert and I had a lively discussion with Lorraine McLachlan, President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (www.cfa). We wanted to get a clear sense of the role that franchising can play for current and future entrepreneurs. And, Lorraine provided us some keen insights and plenty of enthusiasm!

To help you decide if/how you can leverage this powerful business model, the CFA undertakes some powerful research. And, recently, they released some news on the latest franchising trends . Given the current state of the economy, it turns out that this may be the best time in years to explore franchises — whether you’re a potential franchisee or franchisor.

Robert and I will be at the Franchise Show on February 21st and we’ll bring you the real scoop from franchisors, franchisees and other entrepreneurs just like you who are wondering how to tap into the wealth of franchising experience, this tried-and-true model and the CFA.

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

Overrule Any Sales Objections

Sales Objections. They’re part of any sales process. And, how you deal with them can make the difference between you having a banner sales year or falling into a sales slump.

That’s why, Robert and I sat down with Nicole Jansen — a Toronto representative from Sales Partners Worldwide. In BusinessCast episode #86 – Winning the Sales Fight — Nicole gave us some tips that anyone can use when confronted with the most common sales objections.

But, because dealing with sales objections effectively is such an important topic, Robert and I put our heads together, did some research and summarize here some of the most fundamental principles you should use prior to, during and after a sales conversation when confronting objections:

1) Keep in-mind there is no “silver bullet” response to any real customer/prospect objection. Addressing real customer objections takes time, patience and commitment to understanding their priorities.

2) Anticipate objections. That means, prepare for ALL of the major objections and the subtle nuances that come with them. Role play with colleagues, friends and relatives. Don’t try to develop an ‘out of the box’ script. Rather, rehearse tackling each objection from several different angles.

3) The more you learn about the prospect/customer before your sales discussion, the more success you are likely to have dealing with objections. This also shows respect for your customer/prospect and helps to demonstrate that you care about helping them succeed.

4) Recognize that regardless of how well you probe, there are simply some objections that you cannot overcome during a particular conversation. That’s okay. Not everyone is going to be a customer in the short-term.

5) How you deal with sales objections sends a very strong message to your customer/prospect. As a result, always be respectful, enthusiastic, courteous, professional and honest.

6) Don’t take any sales objection personally. Objections are not a reflection of you or your product/service.

7) Apply what you learn through the discussion about the objections in subsequent discussions. That means, make sure that you always leave the door open to carry on the discussion at an other time. That means promise some kind of follow-up deliverable and meet that deadline.

Finally, while there are literally thousands of “how to deal with sales objections” resources available, here are a couple of the most practical:

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