Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No Other Business Does What I Do - BS!

Complete BS.

If you seriously think whatever you're doing has not been done or is not being done by someone else right now - let me tell you, it WILL be done by someone else SOON, really soon.

Or for those that say other businesses can't do what they do - again - BS.
Have you thought about the number of substitutes out there that do exactly what you do?

Example:  Need: Quench Thirst
Substitutes: Coke, Water, Tea, Icetea, Nestea, Sprite, 7-UP, Beer(sssssssssss), Lemonade, the list goes on for about 5 million other choices

Example 2: Need: Foreign Exchange
Substitutes for PFX: Banks, Foreign exchange houses, online brokerages, online banking platforms, foreign exchange booths at airports, MoneyMart, Western Union, etc. the list goes on for another 5 million other choices.

TOKYO - MARCH 17:  Traders monitor stocks at G...
Example 3: Want/need: Staying connected with friends

Substitutes: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, Blackberry Messenger, Whatsapp, MSN Messenger, Skype, etc.  This list also goes on for another 5 million choices.

SO....if you still think you are the ONLY ONE satisfying a consumer need/want, then you seriously must be from another planet.  Unless you've discovered a new need/want that we don't know about yet - which I must ask that you kindly share with us what it is and why it's so "new".

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Sunday, June 27, 2010


...because it limits your creativity for what you can do with your business.

IMO, and this is similar to one of those theories that Dilbert makes up, the word should was not in our dictionary when we came into this world (yeah yeah, neither were the other 10 billion words we would soon learn). 

As soon as we learned the word should, here's what happened.

...you should eat your vegetables.
...you should not try to fly - somebody gonna hurt real bad.
...you should not stay up late.
...you should word hard at your academics.
...you should this, that, you get the idea.

Same goes for business.
...you should build your business this way because it's been proven.
...you should cater to this group of customers because according to research this group has the most money.
...you should hire so and so.
...you should fire so and so.
...you should get senior people on the team.
...you should not badmouth the banks.
...you should not take a stand early in your business to be "under the radar".

I think I've hit a spot where I am seriously sick and tired of the word should and how I have been running my business by it.  SO. Everything needs to get put back in its place. 

Who cares if that customer group has the most money?!  If they don't love what we have to offer, then they're not going to pay us!

Who cares if so and so is a superstar in the industry?!  If they don't love selling what we have to offer, they're not going to generate results!

Who cares if we upset some people out there by positioning ourselves as an anti-something?!  If we don't upset some people then we're neutral to everybody and the business might as well be dead.  I take a stand for what I believe in. It's time I let my business do that too.

So how is the word should screwing over your business or even your life?  Delete it from your vocabulary.  One book I recently read suggests replacing it with the word want.  Works if it's something that you need to get done.

For example:
I want to hire so and so.
I want to spend on marketing.
I want the company to be positioned like this. 

YOU. YOU. YOU.  You own and run the business.  Once you start using the word 'should' you are letting other things that exist determine what you should do.  That ties your hands, and feet, from doing and creating whatever awesomeness will come out of your business. 
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Friday, June 25, 2010

We Humans are Social Animals

The herd crowd questions Mark EarlsImage by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten via Flickr
According to the new book titled "Herd" that I've picked up and just started the first few pages.  It'll have to wait until I finish "Rework" today :)
Caught this excerpt from one of the blogs that I follow Inc.com by Max Chafkin.

Social networking? Feels kinda like falling in love. Over at Fast Company, Adam Penenberg talks to neuroeconomist Paul Zak who discovered that social networking--much like falling in love--triggers our brains to release of a "generosity-trust" chemical. Says Penenberg, "That should be a wake-up call for every company." In Zak's lab, Penenberg subjects himself to various experiments to find out why humans are "compelled to be social animals online and off" and what that could mean for brands, companies, and marketers.
This is a similar concept that I'm reading about in the book "Herd" and it is interesting that though we all insist on being individuals and having our own style, values, opinions...often times we see crowds of people sharing the same interest, activities, values, opinions.  Kind of makes sense, since if we were true "individuals", and no one shared our opinions and activities, etc. we would have no one to talk to about them - pretty boring I would say.

I'll give an update on my thoughts on this after finishing "Herd".  Stay tuned.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Planning Extremes - ZERO or 5 years out?

37Signals Rework BookImage by adria.richards via Flickr
I started reading "Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  I picked it up because on its front cover it said "Ignore this book at your own peril." - Seth Godin.

Just kidding.  I flipped through and it did appear to be written by founders of businesses and not some businessperson who has never built a business before themselves lecturing us on theories and what not.  Looked like it was in plain English :)

I started it yesterday and noticed that they basically said "Screw Planning Anything!" (at least that was the feeling I got) and I think to myself, well, I agree that for a start up you do have to do things differently as you go...I think we can all agree that the so-called business plan in the initial phases is like what the authors call business "guesses".  Sure. Since we all know that it definitely never goes according to plan with these things.  I also agree that it's silly to plan ahead for 5 years because you can't account for all the extraneous factors that will effect your business outcomes.

Here's the other side of the coin.

The business plan should be considered as business thoughts.  I use it as a place where I put down my thoughts on the who, what, when, where, how given the current situation.  It also makes you think about what you would do if sh*t hit the fan.  That's the key word - THINK.  If you stick to going through your day-to-day operations without ever THINKING about this how do you figure out your end game and how to get there?

Planning is almost a dirty word for entrepreneurs/starters/doers whatever you want to call start up business founders.  Why?  We want to be creative, innovative, whatever, that planning gives us the perception it inhibits our creativity.  This is why business plans are a pain - because of how we think of planning.

What if I told you that business planning as just taking a piece of paper out and jotting your thoughts down on how to get things done towards a specific goal?  Not so hard now is it?

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Monday, June 21, 2010

The G20 - Ground Level Woes?

G20Image by roch lasalle (farinn veiĆ°a) via Flickr
I've just returned from Toronto and luckily avoided the G20 that's happening starting this weekend. 
There hasn't been a lot of positive press for the G20 happening in Toronto, especially on the point where many are criticizing us for the large sums we've spent on the event to date.  Here's what The Economist had to say about it in their online feed:
LEADERS of the G8 group of rich countries gather in Muskoka, a Canadian holiday resort, for a two-day summit starting on Friday June 25th. The meeting overlaps with the two-day G20 summit that begins the next day in Toronto. Both get-togethers will give the opportunity to world leaders to discuss global financial regulation, reforming international financial institutions and responses to the crisis in the euro zone. The Canadian hosts have been criticised at home for the vast cost of the summit, in particular on the creation of a huge artificial lake for the media centre in a country with more real lakes than anywhere else in the world.
 What about the people that are actually in the middle of all this?   Residents of Toronto downtown that are discovering that the G20, which is supposed to boost the economy and bring in additional revenues, is transforming the downtown core into a tourist town, but ironically with no restaurants or services open?  Here are a couple things I heard at the ground level speaking to people around town.
  • Waiter was saying if he knew that his restaurant would be closing during the G20 period, he would have taken more shifts outside of the downtown core.
  • Person working at CIBC said that her company is transferring a lot of employees to either work from home or work from Mississauga - definitely increased expenses for the company since they have to pay for transport; also takes a toll on the employees, who now have to wake up extra early to get out of the downtown core
  • Restaurants have said that they will be closed for fear that they will incur damages to their property due to expected protests in the downtown area
  • Residents down by Queen's Quay, which is pretty much center of the G20 action (and road closures) are renting out their apartments for $1500 a day 
So what we have are companies that are cutting back/relocating their services and an influx of tourists that would need services.  Great.  Would like to see how it plays out in over the next couple weeks for those living in Toronto.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

CTV News Website - Florence's article "Learn Lessons from Failure, but Do it Fast"

So a while ago Darren Dahl from the Sauder School of Business asked me to chat with him about some lessons that every start up owner should know or may have experienced and be able to relate to.

I had just gone through an entire revamp of my website and made a decision to severe our ties with our old system, essentially incurring significant sunk costs.  It was worth it though, and a lot of times entrepreneurs hang on to poor decisions just because they feel like they've vested time into the process.  Doesn't work that way - you can't turn a poor decision into a great one by sinking more time and effort into it. 

Here's the article where Darren and I discuss some key things about mistakes in business and how to make sure you keep getting up when you hit your face on the pavement in business.

Learn Lessons from Failure, but Do it Fast
(Source: CTV News)

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Three Roles of Great Entrepreneurs

I've shared this link on Facebook already (see below) and when I read it I can agree with the fact that our list of to-dos just pile up everyday, but entrepreneurs start out getting all frustrated about why they can't finish everything on the day that they planned for it. THEN, we realized that out of all of our to-dos, there are multiple ways to deal with it, I think my different categories just off the top of my head include:

1) Priority - if I don't do this today it's the end of the world
2) Leave this end of day in my one hour of time to work through it at superman speed
3) Get someone else on the time capable of doing an awesome job to handle it
4) Not worth my time right now - this includes spam emails, emails that have no point, bad sales pitches, etc. You know what I mean

The article's a quick read and summarizes, as it states, the 3 roles of great entrepreneurs. Rarely is an entrepreneur good at everything, so use this as a quick moment to reflect on what you're good at. Just because you are the leader does not mean you're Superman/Superwoman - often times it means you are SUPER at picking out great people that can do amazing things - ie. Joe is great at managing financial ops, Susan is spectacular at customer service and sales, Mark handles the entire company's treasury operations in the morning within 10 minutes before the breakfast meeting (all fictitious names but I wish these people existed my company right now!)

So have a read, everyone has strengths and weaknesses, realize yours - and realizing it isn't enough - DO SOMETHING about it.

The Three Roles of Great Entrepreneurs

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"How to Give the Best Performance Reviews to Your Team and Employees" - a PeerFX Power Tuesdays Webinar

Here we go again! 

Our team has been traveling the country to bring on board quality salespeople, and met some interesting businesses that I thought we could feature in our webinar series. 

I came across Rypple, and I see it as an online collaborative platform that makes performance reviews, an exercise that most managers dread and most employees hate because it's vague and fluffy, easier and more cost efficient. 

It's not just for large corporations, Rypple has actually tailored its platform to small teams and growing businesses as well.  This fits right in with PeerFX's user base, and that's why their Head of Community and Sales will be sharing some tips on how to give better performance reviews, what trends are in the market today and a quick demo of the Rypple platform to show you how they can make your life easier.  It's free to try so WHY NOT?

Register for your seat today at this link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/150007648

We look forward to seeing you online next Tuesday!
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Positive "Networking" = GIVING FIRST

I think within over the past 2 days I've had this same conversation with 4 different people.  How do you network?  How do you build your network?

I have to say that I rarely think about how I'm expanding my network, because I think what I do is build relationships instead.  Some people still like to tie it to the word networking, hence the term positive networking. 

The way to do it is just find out about the other person's business, what they are involved in, and how you can help them with your services or connect them to other people within your own network.  GIVE something first and don't expect that they will or can reciprocate right away.  Just know that when they do come across something that relates to your business, they will think of your first.  The power of building business relationships instead of just having a network of acquaintances is so, so, SO important in business.

I found all of my advisors, employees and investors through this type of relationship.  If you don't genuinely care about the other person's business, why should they care about yours and want to help you?

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