Tips to be a more effective Networker

Tips to be a more effective Networker

As small business owners, one of the key sources of new business will be your network.  That means that the more effective you are at the art of networking, the more likely you are to generate quality leads and increase your business and professional footprint.  For those seeking new employment, the principles are the same but the target audience might differ.  I offer these tips not as someone who considers themselves as an expert in the art of networking, but as someone who is constantly learning and evolving - someone who is reaching for the stars and developing his networking skills to get there.First of all, I have to mention the best book that I have read on the subject and highly recommend that you go out and buy it and read it today:  Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (click the link to go directly to Amazon.ca and buy it now).Let's get started with the tips:Yes You HAVE To Network Problem #1 for...
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Interesting Small Business Statistics

Interesting Small Business Statistics

While these statistics aren't particularly new (they come from a 2005 Industry Canada report) I came across them this week while working on a white paper and I think they bear some brief discussion here.In Canada, 94.6% of businesses by number are 'small' meaning that they have less than 50 employees.  The actual number startled me a bit when I read it so I felt I had to dig deeper.  Looking across the provinces and territories, the numbers are fairly uniform - all within one percent or so - something that really surprised me.  I would have expected to find higher percentages in the prairie provinces where there is a higher percentage of agriculture or in Ontario and Quebec, the hotbeds of economic activity.  The report really gets interesting when you look at employment and GDP however.  These same small businesses that make up almost 95% of the business environment employ only 40% of the population (26.7% in goods producing sectors and 73.3%...
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The 80/20 Rule and Your Market

The 80/20 Rule and Your Market

We all know the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle.  We've heard it over and over and seen the power of the rule in our own businesses.  80% of our business comes from 20% of our customers.  80% of our problems are solved by 20% of our efforts.  The richest 20% of the people in our world own 80% of the resources.  It's powerful because it's true.  Unfortunately we don't take the principle into consideration enough when we are looking at our markets and deciding where to spend our time.Consider it as a balancing act except that given the rule, we should already know that things won't be balanced (nor should they).  One of the steps I take my clients through is the identification of markets - the analysis of where they are selling their products and services today and the identification of other markets where those same products and services (or a slightly modified version) may be just...
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Packaging Matters

Packaging Matters

As I noted in my last entry, platform thinking is a problem when you try to communicate the value of your product or service offering to a potential client.  The problem is that I have been struggling with the same issue for the past couple of months and only now have been able to put together the compelling story for my own business.  (Something that several in my network have been pointing out to me for a while now).Putting together the compelling story that will sell your product or services can feel like either finding a needle in a haystack (if you are unsure of who your target market is) or limiting your potential (if you are guilty of platform thinking).  I have always been sure that my target market is the Entrepreneurs who run new and small businesses in Halton and Hamilton so I didn't have the problem of the haystack, but I come from a generalist background so colour me guilty...
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Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

I've had some great conversations with some really smart people in the past couple of months since I got started working with small businesses and new Entrepreneurs in this capacity.  There is one common theme that seems to be emerging though as I work particularly with young technology entrepreneurs: unclear value.Perhaps a good way to start this discussion is with a quote from the yoda of business management, Peter Drucker:"Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality."To illustrate an example of unclear value I'm going to use an example from a recent discussion (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). ...
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Great Business Books for Small Business

Great Business Books for Small Business

I've been known for some time as a voracious reader and I'm often asked for recommendations of good books for specific situations.  I promised in an entry earlier this month that I would list some of my favourites, so that's what today is all about.This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will introduce you to some new titles or authors that you might not have otherwise picked up that may be able to help you in some aspect of your small business.  This isn't about navigating the corporate heirarchy or mastering MBA level statistics or theories, it is a list designed to address the specific needs and challenges faced by small businesss and Entrepreneurs.  The list is in no particular order (I'm not big on rankings) so the last book on the list might be just as helpful for your specific needs as book number one.  I hope you enjoy!Buy on Amazon.ca Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets to Success,...
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It’s All In The Follow Through

It’s All In The Follow Through

It's been said many times that follow up is key to success, but I would suggest that it goes deeper than just a simple follow-up if you want to dominate in your field.Just like a good golf swing, the best hitters in baseball, and a great slapshot, the key to exceeding the expectations of your clients and colleagues is the follow through.Following up is a simple one time activity that anyone can do.  Leaving a meeting with an expected 'follow-up' date or meeting is easy (provided the meeting went well), but committing to something of real value during a meeting that would require you to 'follow through' is much less common.I had a meeting at the end of last week with a new network connection in which we both spent some time going over the types of services we provide to our customers and the types of customers we are most interested in being introduced to, and I was surprised and...
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The Power of Connected Advisors

The Power of Connected Advisors

This week I have been lucky enough to meet a number of dynamic new people that I am happy to have added to my personal and professional network, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to have met them, learn about their businesses and challenges, and hopefully help them in some way to achieve a greater level of success.But it also occurred to me that it is as a result of my being open to listen to their comments, accept their criticisms, and make my own commitments to them that I am finding such early success with the launch of Key Consulting.I am surprised every day as I go out and meet with business owners and leaders how many people work as a team of one, whether as an Entrepreneur or in a career position.  Unfortunately these people never achieve the level of success that they are dreaming of and they never achieve those 'big goals' that they seem to...
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Great Tips from Mike Splinter

Great Tips from Mike Splinter

I was reading the current issue of Fortune Magazine and there is a regular section in the Technology pages called 'The Best Advice I Ever Got'.  This week I particularly enjoyed the tips that were shared by Mike Splinter, CEO of Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) in California.  In my opinion he has really hit the nail on the head in terms of some of the characteristics and key behaviours of true leaders.Mike first speaks about the best advice he ever got, from former Intel CEO Andy Grove.  Grove was giving a talk to new management hires trying to provide them with some foundation and understanding of the Intel culture.  In his talk he told them to "always assume it's your responsibility."Always assume it's your responsibility.What a great concept and an incredible underpinning for a corporate culture.  What if everyone in your business assumed that everything was their responsibility?  As a small store owner can you imagine a world where all of your employees took it upon themselves to sweep...
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Intelligent Perseverance Yields Results

Intelligent Perseverance Yields Results

In my last entry I talked about some of the key traits that an Entrepreneur needs to have, one of which was an ability to 'relish the door slam'.  Ironically shortly after I wrote that entry I received this week's Harvey Mackay column (highly recommended) that spoke about perseverance in tough times.While Harvey was speaking in general about the state of the economy and its effect on business in general, I think that the element of perseverance is even more important when it comes to small business owners and Entrepreneurs.  Even beyond the ability to relish the door slam, Entrepreneurs require the discipline to stay the course when finances are tight, the work/life balance is hopelessly out of alignment, and when nothing seems to be going right for weeks on end.This is not to say that Entrepreneurs should stick to their same routine when things aren't going their way.  Dr. Phil is famous for asking "how's that working for you" and while I can't say I watch...
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