Lose-Lose Relationship

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Everyone in Canada pretty much knows about the latest saga which is currently happening between our federal postal service, Canada Post, and its unionized postal delivery workers. At the time of writing this, the union was holding back from any labour disruptions…for at least a day.

The first labour disruption will involve the union workers not working any overtime hours in Alberta and the North West Territories. This arrangement will slowly roll out across the country. Per a radio interview that I heard, that amounts to just over one hour per week per postal delivery worker. Not a large disruption but it also makes you wonder why they have to work that much overtime over the whole system. That would be the subject for another few blogs since it is a pretty big topic.

I was talking to the postal delivery worker who is in charge of my community postal box last week. To say the least, she is not impressed since she does not know what is going on. As of Friday afternoon, the union had told her that they would be calling all workers Sunday night in regards to their work arrangement for Monday.

In talking to her, she said something that got me thinking. ‘This is a lose-lose situation. We are going to lose income while Canada Post is going to lose clients and revenue”. Currently, Canada Post delivers the last 5 kilometers of a packages’ travels for 66% of online transactions. Online retailers will need to look for alternatives or allow revenue to go to other retailers.

As in the case of many government policies, a labour disruption at Canada Post can be a disruptive event which will cause business to change their operations for long term sustainability.

Would a labour disruption at a postal service affect your company? How would you deal with it?

Have an awesome and productive week.

Kevin

Update as of September 6, 2016: Canada Post and the postal workers have come to a 2 year tentative agreement. Traditionally, they develop a 4 year agreement but the major issues were not fully dealt with. Hopefully, over the next 4 years, Canada Post and its union will be talking about solving their differences.

Update as of September 26, 2016: To my understanding, the vote still hasn’t been called by the union to see if the membership accepts the deal.

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.

Kevin is hosting a workshop series known as Entrepreneurial Community Edmonton. The workshops cover different areas of business, including finance, human resources, and collections. You can find more information at http://www.l6sbc.ca/ecyeg.html

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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That Long Stare

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Every once and a while, you wonder to yourself: ‘Why am I doing this?’; or ‘Why am I putting myself through all of these problems?’

Recently, I was asking myself those same questions. For a number of years, I have participated in the MS Leduc to Camrose Bike Tour which takes 1,500 to 2,000 bikers through a 178 kilometers bike ride to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Alberta.

This last tour was harder than most. Day 1 involved 40+ km/hr wind into our faces along with constant rain. For Day 2, the rain and wind eased up a bit but they were still a factor.

During Day 2, while finding my right knee acting up again, there was a bus parked at thesecond rest stop taking riders to the finish line.

I looked at that bus long and hard for a few minutes.  I kept hearing a voice in my head say ‘You have done it 14 other times, it is okay to give up now.’

In the end, one personal characteristics kicked in: not giving up. As a business owner, if you gave up easily, you wouldn’t be trying to fulfill your dreams. You wouldn’t be doing what you.

If your goal is worth working for; if your dream is worth playing out, don’t give up. The reward at the end will be more than worth it.  Success doesn’t come in 5 minutes. Hard work and hustle are needed.

Have you ever had that long stare at the bus? How did you deal with it?  I would love to hear.

Have an awesome and productive 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.

Kevin is hosting a series of workshop called Entrepreneurial Community Edmonton #ECYEG with the goal of helping entrepreneurs with their business. You can find more information at www.l6sbc.ca/ecyeg

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867.

Leadership Part 6 of 6

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Over the last 5 weeks, I went over 5 of the most common reasons why companies are not successful, according to the Small Business Administration of the United States. You will see that there are some common elements to each of the 6. Feel free to look at the original article here.

Leadership is one of those terms used in business which can be considered a catch all. It is the reason why a project progresses or fails, why a product launch is successful or not, or why a company fails or doesn’t. Lack of leadership is the number 1 reason why a company fails.

In saying this, you don’t have to be the most charismatic, the best speaker, or the most visionary person to be a leader of a company. I won’t go into much detail of what is considered to be a strong leader. I am sure that you can find at least 1,000,000 articles on this subject to help you. But in terms of leadership and the success of the company, how does it have an impact?

Vision: Setting a vision for a company can be a scary task for some people. What if you set goals for your company? Setting those goals becomes a building block to what can turn into your vision in the future. Without that goal or vision, where are you going to be going? It becomes even more important when you have employees. Would you follow someone who is walking about in the great outdoors not knowing where they are going or why they are going for a walk? This ties in to having uniqueness with your company.

Plan:  Now that you have your goals set out, how are you going to reach them? Do you want to offer the best customer service? How are you going to do that? Is it scalable for when you grow? Offering a new product and/or service and believing that it will go viral is not a plan. A local businessman believed that his company was going to go viral once his product or services hit the market. He had no plan on how it was going to happen. To make a long story short, the company is just now starting to get traction in the market place, but nothing near as expected. Don’t forget: develop a budget with your plan.  You don’t want a lack of financial management to be the reason your company does not survive. The development of the budget will help to ensure that the business model which you will be operating under will be sustainable. Lastly, the plan will help to manage your future growth.

Execution: You now have a goal which helps you understand where you want to go and develop a uniqueness with your customer. You have developed a plan (including a budget) which tells you how to get there. Now, it is to sticking to the plan, wherever possible, to attain your goals. That plan, of course, will have some bumps in the road and may require change, especially if you are well connected with your customers and you are receiving feedback that change is needed.

As you can see, leadership or the lack of it is a bi-product of the other top 6 reasons why a company does fail.

Where have you seen strong leadership take a company through dark times to a profitable place? Have you seen leadership being the root cause of a failure? 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.

Kevin is hosting three social media workshops at 14920 Stony Plain Rd NW, Edmonton, AB T5P 3X8 (Pura Vida Mind Body Soul). The March 29, 2016 workshop will be about Facebook, April 26, 2016 will be about Twitter, while the May 24, 2016 workshop will be covering LinkedIn. All session run from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. Food and refreshments will be available. Contact Kevin to register.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867.

Growth & Expansion: Part 1 of 6

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Over the next 6 weeks, I will be going over the top 5 reasons why companies are not successful, according to the Small Business Administration of the United States. You will see that there are some common elements to each of the 6. Feel free to look at the original article here.

When someone starts a new full time business venture, in general, they want that venture to earn enough for them to live a comfortable life. When you start from nothing, and you want it to develop into something, growth is needed.

I have seen and heard a number of stats in regards to business and the need for growth. Some people say that if your company is not growing, it is dying. That would have to come with certain parameters. For example, there are not many companies that grow during a recession or an economic depression. The second interesting statement I have heard is that if a company has the same revenue level over a 2 year period, there is an 85% chance that the company will not exist 5 years from now. In other words, your company needs to be able to constantly grow to be able to survive and thrive into the future.

As you can tell, growth is a very important part of a business. Sadly, it is also considered to be the 6th most common reason why a company fails. You might be thinking now, how could a company fail that is growing? Very easily, there is no proper plan or research conducted.

Plan: What is the strategic plan with the new product or service? Who are your competitors? How are you going to differentiate your offering from others that are currently in the market? What is your budget and timeline for future viability of the product?

Research: With a new product or service that you are offering, are you actually fulfilling a market demand? What problem are you solving for the consumer? One reason why growth hurts company because no research is done in terms of the product or service they are offering and the target market. Asking your loved ones or friends does not constitute research.

Resources: Do you have the internal resources to be able to expand with a new product or service? Do you have to hire extra people? What will their skill set be like? How much will it costs to hire those people? Can your business model handle those costs? Do you have the internal capacity to make or deliver the product? Is a capital investment required?

I personally know a local Edmonton firm that underwent a parabolic growth profile. Sadly, their growth was not properly managed. Currently, this firm is letting go staff because their customers, new and old, became very displeased with the services they received. The decrease in revenue is not economically driven. They deliver an essential service and their customers are now spending their dollars with their competitors.

Have you seen growth backfire on a firm? How was it handled?

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.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867

Are the Walls Moving?

Walmart somewhat surprised a number of people last week in closing 269 stores around the globe.[1] For many retailers, this would drastically effect the company but in the case of Walmart, the stores being closed only reflect 1% of total sales and square footage.  The majority of the stores being closed are of the small variety, while Walmart still plans to open over 135 larger format stores within the next fiscal year starting February 1. In total 16,000 people will lose their jobs due to this restructuring.

Seeing that the majority of stores being closed are of the small variety, it can be ascertained that Walmart is looking at decreasing their own internal costs by increasing the retail square foot per employee at a store.

Walmart has developed a poor reputation in numerous communities by driving prices down where local stores can’t compete and paying employees’ minimum wages. In many cases, this has increased the strain on the social services offered by governments. Walmart, somewhat to its own credit, has started to increase wages for its employees, at least in the States.[2] While Walmart has grown with the number of locations it operates, it has become harder for it to find employees to operate the locations.

As you can see, a large proportion of Walmart’s decisions are financially based. Of the 4 value propositions (low price, customer experience, product leadership, and quality), Walmart is competitimg with the proposition that many consider to be the weakest to defend. It should be noted that of the largest companies in the world. Walmart stands out as being possibly the only company that competes fundamentally on price to the consumer.

Has the value proposition undertaken at Walmart starting to hurt the giant? It is widely known that its suppliers are expected to decrease their unit costs over a set period of time.  Has that sponge been squeezed dry? With prices going up at other retailers, do this allow Walmart some availability to also increase their prices?

I recently read an article (you can find it here) stating that this could be the beginning of the end for Walmart. I see this as a small reorganization of the company. Walmart has closed stores in 2013 and has actually abandoned Germany as a market.

What are your thoughts on the Walmart store closures? Is this the beginning of the end?

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.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867

[1] http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2016/01/15/walmart-continues-sharpened-focus-on-portfolio-management

[2] http://www.wsj.com/articles/wal-mart-to-increase-wages-for-most-u-s-store-workers-1453315937

Oh Those Lists!

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My usual Saturday mornings consist of checking out the activities from the stock market and learning. I love to read and during the week, I collect my favorite articles from various business publications to find out what is new in the world of strategy, management, leadership, and other things. During the last few weeks, I have noticed a trend which has become stronger and stronger: everything is listed out!

20 Easy Things That Will Make You The Next Millionaire

10 Biggest Motivation Killers and How To Fix Them

Want To Be a Great Leader? Avoid Saying These 10 Things.

7 Habits of People with Remarkable Mental Toughness

10 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Never Say

Do You Have the 10 Skills Entrepreneurs Need?

The above are all article titles from various publications that I found on Twitter. I will admit, I do share a lot of these articles. There is thoughtful and relevant information that can be used, but how many people are able to retain the information to be able to apply it?

The advice in these articles are, of course, very generalized. Take for example, all of the leadership articles that are floating around. You are not going to use the same leadership style for someone that is 50 years old versus someone that just graduated university. The articles need to be taken with a grain of salt, as with any information that is distributed to the masses.

Personally, I do wonder what has happened with asking for feedback or being mentored. I have received my most personalized and applicable improvements this way. It is much easier and effective if someone is able directly let you know how you can improve on something that you just did.

One caveat however: as with anything else, if you are not open to learning or improving yourself, you are not only wasting your own time with reading the articles, you are wasting the time of your colleagues who are trying to help you out.

Have an awesome week!

Kevin

Photo Credit: Set Lists from Flickr Common Community

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.

A New Year is Coming

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Every year, as we start and look ahead into the New Year (which is only weeks away), we ask people around us “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” I found that approximately 40% of people actually make a New Year’s Resolution while 8% are able to meet that resolution[1].

I don’t see myself as someone that sets resolutions, but I do set S.M.A.R.T. goals for myself. You may say that there is no difference between setting a goal and setting a resolution. A resolution is “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad”[2] while a goal is “a desired result a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development.[3]

From this standpoint, a goal has a timeline and a plan. A resolution is a change you want to make but with no timeline, plan, or point of interest in mind. With these items lacking, it makes sense that resolutions are not kept.

For the coming year, when you are thinking about your New Year’s Resolution, how about making it a S.M.A.R.T goal.

S: Specific – I want to lose 15 pounds is a much better goal than I want to lose weight.

M: Measurable – You are able to measure 15 pounds using a scale.

A: Achievable – It is very possible to lose 15 pounds with a good diet and exercise but it might be harder to lose 150 pounds within the same time period, depending on body stature.

R: Relevant – Does it make sense to say you want to lose 150 pounds while you weigh 225 pounds already?

T: Time Specific – Do you want to lose the weight during the year, 2 years, or 2 weeks?

What goals are you going to strive for during 2015? How do you see your to do list for 2015 developing? I would love to hear.

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.

Feel free to contact Kevin at @L6SBC or www.putechnologies.tk

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/ Dan Diamond, January 1, 2013

[2] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/new-year-s-resolution

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goal

Photo Credit:  Steve Jurvetson

Managing vs Leading

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Do you think that there is a difference between managing someone and leading? Personally, I think there is a huge difference. I find that there are three general categories that people fall into when they answer this question.

The first group does not believe that there is a difference between managing and leading. The second group believes that there is a difference between managing and leading but they do not know what it is. The third group believes that there is a difference between managing and leading and they are able to explain the difference. This group, sadly, would be the minority.

If you look on Wikipedia, you will find the definition of management ‘is an art that coordinates the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively’.[1]

When the same search is done for the definition of leadership, you will that it is ‘a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task’.[2]

The definitions are quite similar but management involves all elements of business (materials, people, supplies, etc.) while leadership is people centric.

I will fully admit, I have been managed before and it is not a great feeling. Certain things were going through my head when I was being managed.

Over my Shoulder: Whenever I got that feeling that my boss was watching everything I did, I knew that I was being managed. Leaders are a resource for employees to use when needed.

Where am I Going? When working for a manager, I did not know what I was working for. While working for a leader, I knew what the end goal was and how I was a piece of the puzzle to getting to that goal.

Challenge Me! Managers are happy with keeping you in the same role with the same duties and responsibilities. They challenge you by increasing your workload, which ends up making things even more boring.A leader is always challenging the people around them with new duties, projects, or thought process. How else would you expect to develop your next set of leaders?

There When Needed: Managers may always have their doors open but being available to help might be a different manner. Leaders understand that they are there to serve their employees. Leaders, in some sense, know that they are at the bottom end of the totem pole. Whenever possible, leaders put everything else to the side to help.

Do you think that you are a manager or a leader? Why?

This leads me into a possible topic for next week, Titles. Do you think that you have to have a title to be a leader? Are they important to you? Do you identify yourself or other people with a title? Does a title gives you a sense of entitlement or creates expectations of others in your eyes?

Have an awesome week!

Kevin

Photo: Business Meeting from Shutterstock.com

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

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership

Matter of Perception

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Perception can be a very funny thing. Depending on the viewpoint taken on the same situation, different conclusions can be taken. The cat above sees itself as the King of the Jungle but the rest of us sees it as a house cat.

Information reported to you can be interpreted in different ways, depending on who is doing the interpretation. The United States Department of Labor is currently reporting an unemployment rate of 6.3% for the month of May 2014 (1).

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That number seems to be great upon first observation, but when you dive into it a little bit deeper, you will find something that isn’t so good. The United States labor participation rate (people currently working or actively looking for work) is at an all time low of 62.8% of the population above 16 years old (2).Image

In other words, 37.2% of the US population, above 16 years old, is not actively looking for work. There are some possible reasons for this. The baby boom generation is starting to retire which would drive the participation rate down. More people are returning back to school to upgrade their skills, which means they are not currently working or looking for work. And lastly, a portion would be people who stopped looking for work since they have given up.  If you add these people to the mix of the unemployed, you would get a truer number reflecting the unemployed in the US.

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As with any number that you are given, drill down to look at the specifics. Find out what numbers or methodology was used to develop that number. The real story, the real cause of the situation will be found there.

As a leader, you are charged with the responsibility of giving the clearest information to all that you have relationships with. Not only will it cause the proper actions to be taken at the proper time, but also ensure that everyone has the tools and knowledge to do the best that they can.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Kevin

(1) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000, Published June 14, 2014

(2) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000, Published June 14, 2014

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Professional Development

Professional Development

As kids, we went to school not only because it was expected of us, but to help improve ourselves. With these improvements, we became ready for future challenges. These challenges tested our limits and allowed for more improvements.

These opportunities are always available in the workplace. Making an error has negative associations to it but good things can come out of it as well. Coaching and self-improvement opportunities are available to not only help decrease the error rate, but improve systems and for training of other staff members.

Some progressive companies make a training fund available to their employees. I worked at an industrial construction company where 6% of an employee’s salary was placed in a fund that the employee could use towards professional development. The 6% did not come from the employees pocket but was an investment from the company into their employees. Rarely did this money get spent and oddly enough, most positions that would be a promotion for employees was filled by an outside hire. It is possible for companies to bring their employees down the path of self-improvement, but the employees have to be willing to partake in it.

As you can correctly assume, I am huge advocate of constant self-improvement. I am currently working on attaining my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. 5 years previous to that, I completed my CMA (Certified Management Accountant) accounting designation. In between my certificates, I attend various workshops, conferences, and webinars with the end goal of making myself a better employee, manager, leader, and all-around person.

Please feel free to leave me any comments.

Kevin