Waste not, want not and your business will profit

When you need to find savings in your business, look at the areas of systems, energy, people and inventory

Waste not, want not and your business will profitI was eating breakfast with my son Caleb the other day and noticed he left his crusts on the plate. “Caleb,” I said, “do you know how many kids in the world would beg for scraps of food like you’re wasting?” Watching him made me remember my parents’ reminders about the millions of starving children…

The cost of a smile – and the big payoff for your business

People are more likely to buy from those who are smiling. And happy staff solve problems easier than sombre workers

The cost of a smile – and the big payoff for your businessI was in a business recently where I couldn’t buy a smile. You know the type. You walk in and the clerk or receptionist seems to be having a bad day. Maybe you crack a joke or offer a compliment, but there’s no change in the demeanour. You feel awkward, like you’re an imposition to…

What’s wrong with Canada’s tech sector?

Technology entrepreneurs are locked behind bars of asset ignorance

What’s wrong with Canada’s tech sector?Everybody has a story or two about an exciting new technology that was going to change the world; but was never heard from again. What happens to these great ideas? It’s all very puzzling. But, it does raise a serious question: what’s wrong with Canada’s tech sector? Is there a structural flaw? The short answer…

The entrepreneur’s tricky work-life balancing act

Our business problems are difficult to leave behind, especially when the business is tied to us personally, financially or emotionally

The entrepreneur’s tricky work-life balancing actI was in Jose’s office one morning recently and he asked why I hadn’t brought up the business at hand when we were at the ball game a couple nights before. “I didn’t want to bother you with my problem in your off time,” I said. “I figured I would see you at our next appointment…

The biggest mistake most small business owners make

We need to develop systems of hiring and monitoring our employees to ensure we have the right people

The biggest mistake most small business owners makeBob was frustrated, stressed and upset. One of his key employees, Keith, had just left to start his own business and had taken another staff member with him. I wasn’t surprised. I’d been working with Bob for several months and had met Keith several times. My impression wasn’t favourable and I had discussed this with…

The painful – and necessary – lessons that losing teaches us

Losing gives you greater clarity and insight, adds a little humility, and builds resilience

The painful – and necessary – lessons that losing teaches usI’ve been called a loser more than once. Often it’s by my kids, who don’t like some stupid joke I just played on them. But I’ve also made a bucketful of mistakes in my time on this Earth and have lost everything from money to employees to elections to friends. I’ve even lost the trail…

Five things your business could learn from Starbucks

Customer service, exclusive products, ambience, pricing and systems are all important to the coffee giant – and you

Five things your business could learn from StarbucksMy wife Margaret likes Starbucks but when I ask her what she likes about it, she can’t quite put her finger on just what it is. She tells me that the coffee is good (I don’t drink coffee so I wouldn’t know) but I have friends who say that McDonald’s coffee is even better. She…

How leaders project charisma

Any leader can be perceived as more charismatic if he or she practices and improves a few basic skills

How leaders project charismaLet's face it, in business dealings, charisma counts. A lot. And charisma is as much about body language and impression management as it is about issues and substance. I've seen many qualified people get passed over for promotion (or lose a sale or fail an interview) simply because they couldn’t project a sense of professional…

Take your values off the walls and display them in the halls

Values must be integrated into processes, policies and organizational behaviour before they become tangible

Take your values off the walls and display them in the hallsA sales manager read an article about his company’s refusal to deal with any country where under-the-table money was part of the negotiation process. He circled the article and wrote the words “Right on!” in the column, and mailed it to his CEO. The attached note said: “I’m proud to work in a company whose…

Your business might be losing money on first impressions

Many companies spend more fixing their mistakes than setting up the systems that could prevent them

Your business might be losing money on first impressionsI want to tell you three stories about first impressions that happened in one recent week. First, my friend Freddy was mad. Freddy took his wife’s car into a dealer and had a terrible experience. The worst thing for the dealer was that it was Freddy’s first time dealing with them. If they were trying…

Despite government subsidies, Canadian innovation wanes

Burdensome regulation, limited competition and unfavourable taxes hold Canadian companies back

Despite government subsidies, Canadian innovation wanesStudies show that innovation is the driving force behind long-run increases in incomes in developed countries. But Canada is falling behind. The implementation and adoption of new methods of producing goods and services, along with the introduction and use of new products and new ways of organizing businesses, remain critical to improving living standards. Canada’s…

Five radical strategies to excel at collaboration

Working easily and fluidly with others is simply how things get done in the 21st century

Five radical strategies to excel at collaborationThe ability to collaborate with others is a must-have skill to be successful in work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a project manager, a self-employed editor or the chief financial officer, part of your success is probably going to hinge on how well you can work with colleagues. Our work world is a complex system,…

Sweet music for business: setting goals and reaching them

Establish ways to be accountable and do the same for your staff and the benefits will follow

Sweet music for business: setting goals and reaching themDo you play your guitar at work? In 1988, business was so slow that I would go to my office at the back of our store, close the door, take my guitar out, put my feet up on the desk and start strumming. While it was soothing for the soul, it wasn’t very productive. After…

Using social media to make connections with customers

Ernest Barbaric of Ernest Media talks about adopting an agnostic and agile approach

Using social media to make connections with customersErnest Barbaric is a digital marketing strategist at Ernest Media, lead designer and instructor for digital marketing strategy at the Canadian Marketing Association and founder of the Social Media for Business program at Calgary's Mount Royal University. What's your feel about how businesses today have used social media to better their bottom line? Barbaric: Social…

Ten questions to power up your “Leadership Presence”

Leadership presence is far from mysterious. At its core is a set of practical skills that you can learn, employ, and improve

Ten questions to power up your “Leadership Presence”I was once asked to coach a senior-level manager from a technology firm in Silicon Valley. I learned that this man’s work was of the highest calibre and that his advancement had (up to this point) been fast-tracked. But now his career was stalled. When I asked why this high performing manager needed coaching, here’s…
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