Is It Time to Start Now?

Thanks to the BusinessLink for the opportunity to write this blog a few weeks ago. You can find the original posting at:http://businesslink.ca/blog/now-time-start-business

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With the recent developments in the economic landscape, Albertans have experienced significant change. Companies have seen a decrease in sales and are right sizing their operations to be affordable, but yet meet the current demand. More than 70,000 Albertans have been affected by company restructuring and they are looking for their next opportunity.

In many cases, the next opportunity may lie in starting up their own business. But is it the right time? Everyone is cutting back.

A number of strong and vibrant companies started during an economic downturn. Microsoft, FedEx, Hyatt Hotels, and Smashburger are a part of a long list of companies that started during an economic downturn. Here are 5 suggestions on how you can make your startup a success.

Lean and Mean: Seeing that ‘times are tough’, your first priority should be to run your business within a strong and realistic budget. That skill will become valuable in the future.

Innovate: Are you stuck in a pattern of running your business the way you always have? This is the time to re-examine your strategies and processes.

Marketing: For many companies, their first reaction to a slowdown in sales is to cut their marketing budget. Look at this as an opportunity to get your message in front of your target market with less noise from the competition.

Relationships: Spend more time with your current clients and target market. Get to know them on a deeper level. Find out what their pinch points are and reverse engineer them.

Improvement: Listen to your customers and use that knowledge to improve your offerings. Maybe use that information to create a new product line or service offering?

Be realistic! Start a new product line because it is within your budget and it solves a problem for your target market. You have limited resources. Remember when you develop a new product or offering, you are taking resources away from your core product.

An economic downturn is a fruitful time to start up a new venture. This was my perspective when I started my business in the last recession of 2008-09. This is your opportunity to be open to new ways of thinking, and build on what you have.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (L6SBc.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller & CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Kevin is hosting Entrepreneurial Community Edmonton, a series of workshops with the goal of helping business owners/managers with their company. For more information, please visit L6SBC.ca/ecyeg.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

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This Is How We Do It!

This is how we do it

Social media, like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, are great tools to connect with other people, learn new perspectives, and develop a sense a community. Granted, social media does not create a sense of community like a neighborhood BBQ with friends and family.

As with anything else, there is a dark side to social media which needs to be monitored and managed. Social media is a very common means to give ‘feedback’ to organizations on their lack of performance, based on the perspective of the consumer.

Venting in person to someone in regards to the person’s or their company’s performance still occurs in our society. These pieces of feedback are possible gems which can help anyone in improving their offering.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a concert at the Winspear Centre where the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra played various hits by Pink Floyd with help from a tribute band.

I will admit, the first half of the concert was very disappointing. You were not able to understand the words that were sung. The band and the orchestra seemed to be competing against each other with the drum set constantly winning over all over instruments. During intermission, a friend and I noted that it seemed that the show was off and not impressive.

As a lover of social media, I sent out the below tweet to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra:
Tweet pic 1

After the intermission was completed, we returned to our seats wondering what the rest of the concert was going to be like. To our pleasure, we could crisply here the voices of the singers to the point we could identify each single person. No instrument was prevalent to the others and it turned into one of the better concerts I have seen.

The next morning, I received a tweet back from the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra:

tweet pic 2

To use a saying that has been repeated many times: that is the power of social media. If social media was not around, it is possible that the sound issues would not of been resolved which would have created a bad listening experience for myself and my friends.

With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra responding to an online inquiry, not only did they make a spectator’s experience more enjoyable, they made a fan of their organization even more engaged.

What social media successes have you been a part of? What about failures? I would love to hear.

Have a great week!

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

#SpiderMabel

Mable

This past Monday (September 28), the city of Edmonton was able to help Mable Tooke’s wish come true. Mable has been fighting Leukemia for 2 years. While in the hospital for treatment, she grew attached to Spiderman through his adventures in comic books and his TV show.

The City of Edmonton, including the Mayor, police, and its citizens, put their support behind #SpiderMable  as she was on the case of finding out who kidnapped Oilers Captain Andrew Ference.

The story of this 6 year old running all over the city to find a lost hockey player was tracked on Twitter around the world.  The event received tweets with an origin as far away as Brazil, China, and Australia. As with other things that have gone viral, there are certain traits which we can all appreciate.

Emotion: There is an emotion tied to the background story of the event. The raw emotion of hearing about a young child having to go through cancer treatment is not something that many can relate to, but it is something that we can feel. In the case of #SpiderMabel, there was also the emotion of finding a beloved hockey player from our favourite team. The authenticity of the invite was developed with a breaking story being broadcasted on local airways asking for the help of #SpiderMabel. Seeing the children of Andrew Ference asking for #SpiderMabel to return their father to their home increased the emotion of the event.

Spidermable

Dreams: In the case of #SpiderMabel, there are very few kids in North America that have not dreamed about being a superhero for a day. During that day where #SpiderMabel was running around Edmonton doing different activities, we were all being superheroes along with her.  The things that she was doing were all things that we have dreamed of doing ourselves.

Spidermable2

Financial: There was no financial consideration involved at all with #SpiderMabel. Thinking back to other viral events, like #BatKid, the event did not have an attachment to anything fiscal. In the day and age that we are currently living, it is not often that something happens and there isn’t a financial consideration attached to it. #SpiderMabel, however, has been able to use her new found fame to raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation via autograph signings and t-shirt sales.

What do you think are the common elements or components of having something go viral? Have you ever tried to make something go viral? What went right or wrong? I would love to hear.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

ReBlog: The Walmart Way

Over the next few weeks, I will be re blogging my most popular blogs from the past year.  I will be back blogging about business news and concepts in September. If you have any suggestions for blogs, feel free to contact me.

walmart

Walmart is known to be a retail destination where you can buy almost anything for the lowest price around. As you can tell, they are following the value proposition of operational excellence. That can be a scary value proposition to take on because there is always the threat of another company entering the market and being even lower in cost to the consumer. As with anything, rules are only a general concept to follow. Walmart has been able to create a leading market space for itself. This model helped the company become the largest company in the world, when measured by revenue[1].

Walmart is able to leverage its buying power and purchasing contracts to maintain or decrease the cost of an item before it hits the shelves. Walmart has sophisticated data mining abilities to tell the marketing team which 500 items you are most likely to buy that week. Those items are placed in the flyers to entice people in the door. Personally, I have shopped at Walmart (5 times), but I have yet to buy anything. I have been able to find the same item at another retailer at a cheaper price.

Walmart does not only use its buying power to help keep its costs down. As you can see below, Walmart is not a high wage payer within the retail industry. In comparison to Costco, Walmart’s average wage is more than $4 less. Benefit costs are also lower for Walmart but when you look at the second part of the chart, you will see that Costco is able to get more from their employees than Walmart is. As you can tell, employees and employee relations are not high on the strategy list for Walmart. As a matter of fact, a few of Walmart stores have undergone organized labour drives. In the case of one union drive, the store was immediately closed after it was certified[2].

Walmart

I know that many people are unhappy with Walmart’s treatment of their employees, but as I said, it is not high on their list and it is still working for them. I personally know a few people that work for Walmart and they love working there.

Walmart may not treat their employees well, based off your perspective and knowledge, but with 2.2 million employees, they have to be doing something right!

Have an awesome week

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

L6S Business Consulting will also be holding 3 sessions in regards to better understanding and using social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). For more information, please email: info@L6SBC.ca

 Social Media Seminars

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue

[2] http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/#!/content/1.2689646

Hydro One Firing

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Over the last week, national news in Canada has been highlighted by a group of young men yelling “FHRITP” into a microphone while the female reporter was doing a live report before a soccer match in Toronto. Please click here to see the footage.

 After the event was aired nationally, Hydro One, an Ontario-based electrical company, fired the soccer fan found in the picture above. This person didn’t yell the obscenities into the reporter’s microphone but ‘defended’ his friend for having the ‘right’ to say such things.

Hydro One stated that the actions of the employee harmed their reputation. At the time of the incident, there was no evidence of what company the person was employed with. The linkage between the heckler and Hydro One started to be leaked out via social media and certain local media outlets.

I understand Hydro One’s decision to dismiss their employee for their involvement in the incident due to the fact the work environment would not be safe or comfortable for people who would deal with the heckling supporter. What I personally don’t agree with is the fact that Hydro One stated that the act hurt the reputation of the company. How the person could hurt the company’s reputation if nobody knew where the person worked?

According to a few media reports like here, Hydro One may have a very hard time to prove that their reputation was hurt by the incident. It will also be hard to show to the courts that the incident has made the workplace unsafe.

After the dust has settled, the biggest question I have left is what happened to the person that actually yelled out the obscenities?

Do you think that the situation was handled properly by Hydro One? Should the employee have been sent to a training session or counselling? Please let me know what you think.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S Business Consulting offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.

Oops, They Did It Again!

iwatch-conceptAs many as you know, I am not a true fan of the products that Apple offers. I have been using an iMac for approximately 5 years now and I do see some advantages with the technology and quality placed into their machines. There is some functionality that an iMac can bring to a task that a PC is not able to fully deliver.

On Monday, Apple unveiled their latest product which devotees will purchase in a heartbeat, the iWatch. The iWatch is an extension of the iPhone in that it has a lot of the same functionality and user interface, but instead of taking your phone out of your pocket, you can do it on your wrist.

The iWatch is not expected to have a large impact on Apple in terms of sales or margin. Before the iPad was unveiled, 30% of Apple users stated that they would be interested in purchasing such a product. When a comparable survey was done for the iWatch, only 7% of Apple users stated that they would buy one. Is it possible that Apple is ahead of the consumer again? Will the Apple brand be able to get consumers to believe that their product solves a problem?

In 2013, there were 1.2 million smartwatches bought across the world[1]. The number is not large, especially relative to the number of smartphones in the world. Last year, 1.3 BILLION smartphones were shipped around the world.[2]

The functionality of the iWatch is consistent with the functionality of smartwatches which are already on the market. Apple, however, will change the market because now people will know about smartwatches, their functionality, and the different possibilities on ones wrist. As with other things, like the smartphone for example, Apple will bring the technology to the masses.

What do you think about the iWatch? Are you willing to pay over $300 to avoid taking your iPhone out of your pocket?

Have an awesome week

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is the CEO of L6S Business Consulting Inc. L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin holds his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups, his condo board and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinics on a bi-weekly basis.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wearable_technology

[2] http://www.statista.com/statistics/271491/worldwide-shipments-of-smartphones-since-2009/

A Fairy Tale

pixar-animation-studios

Often you hear that a great marketing campaign or brand tells a story, but how do you do that exactly? How do you lay things out? How do you create that sense of emotion that makes people interested in why you do it, not what you do?

Last week, we went over the three parts (trust, engagement, and inspire action) needed for an effective communication plan. That same presentation from Liisa Sheldrick detailed how to tell your story using the Pixar model.

Every Pixar film is and has been developed based off this model.

Simply fill in the below blanks:

Once upon a time there was: _____________

Everyday:_______________

One Day:________________

Because of that: ___________

Because of that: ____________

Until Finally: _______________

A story could sound like this:

Once upon a time there was a new young employee.

Everyday, he would go to work noticing that some things were being done in a way not consistent with the company’s values.

One day, he decided to ask his direct supervisor why they were doing it differently.

Because of that, people got trained.

Because of that, people changed.

Until Finally, everyone went home safe.

Try it yourself! How do you see your story playing out? Do you have a storytelling model that you would like to share?

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

You can visit Liisa Sheldrick’s website here or follow here on Twitter @liisamarjatta. You can also find a copy of the presentation at: http://www.slideshare.net/Liisamarjatta/communicating-for-safety