Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is more relevant in today’s business world than ever before. The survival of the fittest mirrors our cutthroat economic landscape. This is particularly true for small and mid-sized businesses as they continually strive to reinvent themselves to grow and remain competitive.
As entrepreneurs and business people, we are profit-driven. We don’t have the luxury of deficit financing, racking up losses year after year. In fact, today’s business climate demands our decisions be even more insightful and data-driven than ever before. There is no margin for error, because errors can be terminal.
Governments, on the other hand, don’t appear to be held to the same strict survival standard or natural laws of selection. The concept of “we want it now, but we’ll pay for it later” seems to be a guiding principle for today’s politicians.
In our last blog, I presented how crucial it is to the customer experience that you build trust, and how trust is built through creating a more personal experience. Trust and the customer experience are intrinsically tied to your brand.
If you are like many small business owners, you don’t spend much time thinking about your brand image. That’s a terrible mistake. Many retailers convince themselves that their customers know who they are and what they do. What else do customers need to know?
Here’s what I believe. What makes your business unique and more successful than your competition is your brand. Branding is about the total experience. If that sounds familiar, it should. Brand is the result of a consistent customer experience; it’s about how you engage your customers so they clearly understand that you deliver more than simply products and services.
I’m back! Sorry for the extended absence. I’ve been on the fast-track for the last couple of months, and I’m now looking forward to getting back to Insights.
Let’s get started with asking you this: when was the last time you shared a positive shopping experience with a friend? How about a negative one? How many friends or colleagues did you share your story with?
When thinking about your last great shopping experience, was it a familiar store, or was it a new retailer that you tried for the first time? What made the experience stand out? More important, will you go back?
Recently, I wrote about how legislation being proposed by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau under the auspices of tax fairness was destined to suck the life out of small businesses.
I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Across the country, small business owners and advocates — from doctors and lawyers, to retail owners and farmers, and even Premiers and Liberal backbenchers — spoke out and pushed back. Following the short 75-day consultation period, Morneau tweaked the proposed legislation around the three most troubling areas.
To me, this is a striking example of the power small business owners when they stand up against bad legislation.
It bears repeating; if small businesses in Canada were to close shop, our economy would collapse. Small businesses contribute nearly one-third of the country’s GDP.
The future is now. We’ve been worrying about the pending labour shortage for years, but in many industries, it’s already upon us. Many of us need a hiring strategy today to deal with the dearth of talent.
Over the past year I’ve witnessed first-hand how difficult it is for our suppliers, dealers, and even the contractors we serve across Canada to find good young people willing to work within our industry. I’m not talking just about skilled trades! I’m also referring to young unskilled workers who have an opportunity to learn, grow and excel within the building/construction industry.
Fact: as millions of Canadian baby boomers retire and exit the workforce, we are witnessing a massive shortage of workers, both skilled and unskilled. Even with more boomers working into their 70s, it’s still inevitable.
In July, Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced a draft legislation proposing to overhaul taxation for private companies, ostensibly to eliminate “unfair tax advantages” that Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPC) are perceived to have.
The supposed goal may be tax fairness, but the proposed changes couldn’t be less so. Instead they unfairly target a group of the population taking all the risks, and claw back incentives that exist to incentify small business (and, in turn, jobs), that help owners succeed in the face of economic uncertainty.
Proposed changes: Are they counterproductive?
We’ve all heard it: there’s never enough time in the day, week, quarter or year to get everything done. Businesses run lean and time is perceived as a precious commodity.
But you can master time and make it work for you. Time, and your management of it, can become your competitive advantage. The better you manage time, the more you can achieve, and the better you feel about what you’ve achieved.
Here are a few top-line strategies to consider when making time your ally instead of your enemy.
Know what you want from your time
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we have an amazing opportunity to serve others. I’ve written in the past about the qualities and benefits of servant-leadership. The most successful leaders focus on others. This article, however, is going to focus on more – our ability as leaders to make a difference through volunteerism.
Anyone can volunteer, and I urge everyone to play their part – there are lots of worthwhile causes out there to be a part of. But as leaders, we can do something more: we can mobilize people and teams. And ultimately, that’s a rewarding experience few of us ever forget.
For entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders, hard work is in the blood. Long hours are part of the territory and the concept of work-life balance isn’t something most of us give much thought to.
For most successful entrepreneurs, work is life. The two are closely entwined. It’s not a distinction we draw with some imaginary line on the clock. You work hard and long to see your businesses grow and take joy when your efforts come to fruition. This is how many entrepreneurs thrive.
We all know there is a skills shortage, and we need to find a solution, quickly.
Our aging population and declining birth rates are expected to create a shortfall of one million construction workers by 2020. Skilled trades are already the hardest employees to find and hire.1 (See “Where have all the Tradespeople Gone.”)
This isn’t just a Canadian problem – it’s a global one. Employers are struggling to fill positions within any industry that requires engineers, management, technicians, IT staff, sales representatives, and even office support staff. Meeting the current and growing shortage in Canada will require a comprehensive strategy (involving governments at all levels, along with businesses and academia to address our future labour needs.)